The spring of 1903 started out pleasant and Derry folk were picking mayflowers in March. April however proved to be miserable with snow and ice. The ground was too frozen for farmers to plow their fields. In May, it warmed up but now Nutfield went in to a drought, where for months there was hardly any measurable precipitation. And farmers who put out their tomato plants on Memorial Day had them soon killed by a three-day frost.
The dry-spell continued into the summer and wells went dry. Men could only shake their heads in disgust as the hay crop became stinted by the lousy weather. June was cold with an easterly wind blowing nearly all the time. July and August were described as “the coolest in this section that has been known in the memory of man.” The drought and the winds continued to the end of the season. As fall approached, the streams and brooks were bone dry and the lakes and ponds weren’t looking all that good.
The first frost came early in September, killing what crops that had survived the drought. This was followed by a terrible storm on Sept. 6 with several houses hit by lightning. The storm was also accompanied by hail — some of which measured up to 3½ inches in diameter. Hundreds of window panes in the Nutfield area were smashed by the hail. Any apples still on trees were made worthless except for cider.
The drought ended in December but by this time the ground was frozen rock solid. Any rain that fell just puddled on the surface and didn’t get absorbed into the ground to refill the wells and springs. Farmers had to carry water long distances to supply their livestock. Lakes and rivers remained low and some mills that depended on water power were closed.