Monday, August 6, 2012

'Till the Cows Come Home

When I'm looking at greeting cards, I seem to naturally gravitate toward ones that have a rural theme. Since I have several farmers in my midst, I'm always looking for a clever card to stick in my desk drawer, ready to pull out, stamp and send for a birthday or anniversary wish.

If I see a cow in a pointy party hat, I don't need to open the card to discover the tired and predictable, "Party 'till the cows come home" on the inside.

There isn't much celebration going on in Kansas pastures these days. Randy and I went to two of our pastures Friday morning and the drought was particularly evident at the Rattlesnake Creek. The U.S. Geological Survey stream-gaging station at the Rattlesnake isn't getting much of a workout. There is no stream to gauge.

Here's how the Rattlesnake looked at what we call the Big Pasture on Friday morning.
Compare that to a snapshot taken in the summer of 2010. That year, I said the cows and calves were on their summer vacation. This year, they're having to work a little harder on their summer break. Instead of sauntering up to the creek for a quick sip, they must travel to a couple of different locations on 560 acres of pasture land to find water.

For more than 100 years, Randy's family has been taking cattle to this summer pasture. It's disheartening to see it so dry. Randy can remember times that the creek hasn't been flowing, but there were still pools of water in the creek bed. This year, it's bone dry.
It may have made Randy's fence fixing job less wet on Friday.
However, he would gladly have squishy tennis shoes like he did in 2010.
This is the second summer that drought has impacted summer grazing. Last summer, we still had water in the Rattlesnake. This August, there's none.
It's no different on the eastern border of our pasture. The beautiful scenes from 2010 are just a vague memory. We sound like old-timers talking about the good old days.
Randy and his cousin, Don, share the pasture. Together, they have 91 pair of cows/calves and 3 bulls at the pasture. Randy and Don are already talking about taking the cattle off the pasture by the end of August. We usually do that at the end of October or the first of November.

So when will the cows come home? It won't be much of a party to again figure out whether we have enough feed to keep feeder calves this winter. Last year, they went to the sale barn early. The verdict is still out right now.

Tomorrow - Water solutions at the Rattlesnake.

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