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WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 24, 2010, 07:25 AM

North Dakota farmers waiting for water to go away

GARDNER, N.D. (AP) — About all Ken Lougheed and other farmers can do now is wait for the water to go away.

By: DAVE KOLPACK; JAMES MacPHERSON, Associated Press

GARDNER, N.D. (AP) — About all Ken Lougheed and other farmers can do now is wait for the water to go away.

Much of Lougheed's 4,300 acres of wheat and soybean fields were swallowed this week by Red River floodwaters, making the timing for spring planting uncertain. But Lougheed and his wife, Laura, are buoyed by the prospect that past floods didn't prevent getting seed in the ground.

The Red hit Gardner, a farm community of about 80 people, just a few hours after it crested Sunday in Fargo, some 20 miles upstream.

The river normally is more than a mile from the Lougheeds' home but it's crept within yards of the couple's brick ranch home, turning it into unwanted waterfront property. Ducks, which are never seen in dry years, now paddle around near the home, which now sits on a peninsula connected to a gravel road. And farm fields are swamped with several feet of water.

The Lougheeds have lived in the house since 1982 and have fought four floods since then, including three since 2006. But the biggest one came in 1997, a massive flood that devastated Grand Forks about 55 miles downstream.

"After 1997, this is a piece of cake," Laura Lougheed said.

Ken Lougheed hopes the fields will dry out so he can get his spring planting done by late April, just as he did last year when there was even more floodwater on his fields.

"If we can get rid of that water soon, we'll still be on track," he said. "We're probably ahead of last year."

Still, Lougheed isn't looking for record bushels.

"Historically, we see decreased yields after flooding," he said.

South of Fargo, a North Dakota National Guard emergency response team was called to fix a minor leak in an earthen levee — and wound up acting as referees between goats and pigs.

The team responded early Tuesday morning near Kindred to the hobby farm of Bob and Tammy Schmidt, who reported water seeping into a penned-in area shared by about 15 goats, 10 pigs and five cows. The team quickly fixed the leak with about 150 sandbags, 2nd Lt. Chad Worrel said.

Getting the animals out of the water wasn't as easy, he said.

"It was crazy because the goats and the pigs were fighting for dry land. They didn't want to be in there," Worrel said. "The pigs were squealing away."

The goats were carried out and the cattle led out by four Guard members in hip waders, Worrel said. After some discussion, the pigs were allowed to stay.

"We knew those would be a bugger," Worrel said.

Bob Schmidt complained of chest pains and was treated by a paramedic at the scene and later taken to a Fargo hospital, Worrel said. Paramedics were added to the emergency response team for this year's flood, Guard spokeswoman Amy Wieser-Willson said.

Schmidt's condition was not known. One of his neighbors, Joe Brown, said it has been nerve-racking for Schmidt to keep track of both the animals and the rising Sheyenne River.

"He's got a lot of stuff out there," Brown said. "There's a lot of stress."

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