It’s about people, but not just people

This goose has been swimming in the stream and pond on Wayne and Angel Smith's property.

Angel and Wayne Smith have both had health problems after their tap water turned a murky rust color. They now drink from a $11,000 water filtration system that they paid for themselves.

All of their chickens have died. The single rooster that’s left wakes up randomly, sometimes at noon instead of dawn.

They lost three dogs and a horse.

And several cows. Starting in 2007, a cow would lose all motor function, fall over in the field, and lay there until it died. They lost one last year too.

The herd hasn’t been able to breed back; some cows don’t conceive, others have miscarriages and stillbirths. They lost four calves in 2007.

These are beef cows. The kind people eat. Angel and Wayne are afraid to eat their own cows and agonize over selling them to market.

And one of their geese, pictured above, has developed a strange bump. Angel called it a second beak, but actually its bill has become soft and distorted and its tongue is sticking through it.

It spends all day splashing in a spring fed pond and a stream that the Smiths know is contaminated. They don’t know if the goose’s beak is related to the contamination, since it could be a coincidental injury or a chance condition.

But not knowing is what can be so hard. What exactly were they exposed to? Has the exposure stopped? Will they be okay? Or are they still breathing and ingesting things that are truly unsafe?

Angel still worries about the times she let her grandkids drink tap water when they visited, not knowing that it contained dangerous levels of arsenic.

You can listen to the Smiths talk on Binghamton’s Spore Collective Radio or read some stories about their experiences.

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