Southern Wisconsin farmers, still feeling the effects of the worst drought in more than 20 years, now face new challenges from scam artists.
The Columbia County Sheriff's Department said it is investigating a report of a hay scam from Arlene Frutiger, a hobby farmer west of Portage.
The drought, which weather experts classified as "extreme" this summer, led to hay shortages and sent farmers calling friends, neighbors, and out-of-state feed suppliers.
Frutiger bought hay locally but four of her horses died after pesticides in the feed poisoned them, she said. That sent her to the Internet, where she found Kinser Farms in Louisville, Ky.
Frutiger said the supplier, Chad Kinser, offered to deliver hay if she sent a $700 money order first. Three weeks later, she's gotten plenty of excuses but no hay, she said.
"I felt (wiring the money) was necessary," said Frutiger, who has several goats and 10 horses. "That's what I feel very stupid about -- I shouldn't have. And that's one thing I'm stressing -- if they say they want their money, say 'when you deliver it.'"
Frutiger filed a complaint, although the sergeant on call at the Sheriff's Department said he couldn't comment about the details of the investigation.
News 8's sister station, WISC-TV found the Kinser Farms website didn't have a phone number or e-mail address. A message on the "Contact Us" form wasn't returned Sunday.
The tough year got better for Frutiger when she found a local supplier who this week will drop off enough hay to get her through the winter.
"It's got to be a better year next year," she said. "I've been doing this 14 years and I wouldn't stop for anything. It's fulfilling, it's like a therapy, (the horses) are like your kids."