Lillian farmer Tim Bartl works to beat the weather and get hay out of the field.
LILLIAN, Alabama -
It's that time of year when tractors and farm equipment are almost as common as trucks and cars on rural roads.
"I'm fourth generation farmer," says Tim Bartl. "We're farming around 2 thousand acres."
Farming is never easy. "We're trying to beat the weather and get in the hay," thieves and vandals make it even harder.
"We had some cattle shot and we've had some other equipment that was vandalized," says Bartl.
Expensive farm equipment and livestock is an easy target for thieves. Investigators specializing in rural crimes were lost to budget cuts leaving farmers dependant on local law enforcement. They'll tell you they are limited in what they can do. "They have a way of tracking that and the networks through the state cause they are transferred so far. It's just easier for a state investigator than a local agency cause we don't have the resources to do so," says Elberta police chief Stan Devane.
Like a lot of farmers in this area the Bartl's have had their brush with the criminal element. It takes thousands of dollars to replace the animals and equipment that is damaged but one thing that can't be replaced is the time that they lose.
"That's what farming is today. You gotta get it done, it's gotta be done now. It's gotta be done immediately," says Bartl.
The people that shot Bartl's cattle and vandalized his equipment were never caught. "For every penny or dollar they got out of it we had to spend hundreds of dollars to get it back."
If it happens again, this time he may not be the only one paying for the crime.