February 27, 2019
On Jan. 12, after a big snow, I was feeding my 83 feeder calves as I’ve done every day since I weaned them in October. I was also sorting out a few as I planned to sell the majority the next week.
It was in the late afternoon and the sun was shining on the snow. All of a sudden the calves stampeded out of the feed lot, hitting the gate, breaking off the corner posts and flattening another fence. By the grace of God I was out of the way or I’d been fatally injured as the stampede was quick and fast. The calves calmed down and came back to eat, but soon stampeded again. This time I noticed the cause. Since the sun is lower in the winter and the wind turbine was just barely turning, a big black shadow from the wind turbine blades was quietly and slowly moving up behind the calves on top of the snow, spooking them. One was killed and two were crippled.
Besides the loss of these three calves, I will have the expense and labor of fixing my fences when the weather is fit. I noticed the same thing happening again with the shadow. Conditions have to be just right – snow on the ground, sun low in the sky, and a light breeze from the southwest slowly turning the turbine blades. Since the calves I had confined in the lot before had been sold, there wasn’t a stampede. In the “Successful Farming” magazine, February 2019, there’s the article, “Ways to Stay Safe While Handling Cattle” by Libby Eiholzer, Specialist. In it is stated, “Cattle also have poor depth perception, which can cause them to be nervous in the dark, around shadows, and skittish of foreign objects.”
I have fed and sorted cattle on this concrete floor for over 50 years and have never had a problem with them stampeding. I had nothing to say about this wind tower causing the problem as it isn’t on my land, but I shouldn’t have to take this loss. I feel this is an injustice to me as I was here long before the wind turbine. I can’t get insurance coverage on my cattle for this type of loss as it is a man-made hazard. I raise cattle on my land without infringing on the rights of others and I believe this should be the same with those who produce energy.
Iowa agriculture has an exemption to county zoning in the Iowa Code (Iowa Code 335.2). Yet a few years ago I was threatened by the Madison County Zoning Commission that I could be fined $750.00 a day. They wrote that I must obtain a county permit, something I didn’t need under the Iowa Code as a farmer erecting a farm shop to be used for farming purposes on a farm zoned for agriculture.
The wind tower southwest of my farm was erected on land zoned only for agriculture and which never has been rezoned. This tower was also erected without notifying me of any hazards it might cause. The stampede as a result of the wind tower shadow could have caused my death or the death of a helper, since it was an unforeseen occurrence. The shadow from the tower blades will be a hazard to me and any future owners of this farm as long as the wind turbine is in its present location.
The only solution that will correct this situation is the removal of the turbine.
Letter published| Winterset Madisonian, Wednesday, February 27, 2019