Monday, February 8, 2010

It Is Precipitation... Be Thankful!

Oklahoma has had an unusual amount of snow this season. Cities that were not built to handle snow and students and residents not used to having so much snow to deal with are facing frustrations daily. Ranchers across Oklahoma are not used to dealing with much snow at all. They are having to use tractors to feed and equipment is breaking down. Ranchers up north might find this situation to be amusing, they deal with feet of snow from October to April or May. To talk to an Oklahoma farmer or rancher here lately, you might find underlying tones of frustration, exhaustion and disbelief. The snow is trying their patience and wearing them out.

The flip side of this coin is that Oklahomans are getting precipitation. Ranchers across the country are praying for much needed precipitation. While Oklahoma has received it's fair share of moisture, other ranchers, north of Amarillo for instance, are just now receiving the precipitation that they desperately need to get through the summer. Unfathomable to Oklahomans is the fact that not all states or regions of the United States get rain during the summer. Many states rely on winter rains and snows to provide them with enough groundwater, snow runoff and tough grasses to get them through the summer. Cattle grazed on ranges west of green Oklahoma rely primarily on the retainment of water and the growth of forages who gain their strength and grow the most during the snow laiden and wet months of the winter. To run cattle in the spring and summer months following a dry winter is something I wish on nobody. Imagine having to feed hay all summer...or having to move cattle monthly to try and saver what range you have...or for a minute try to imagine what it might be like to run momma cows in a place like Tucumcari N.M. after a dry worries me plenty just thinking about it.

Oklahoma is getting precipitation, it might be in the form of rather annoying wet snow, but snow is moisture none the less. Thanks to the help of El Nino ranchers out west who are just now coming out of long periods of drought are receiving their best recorded rains in years. Praise the Lord. If you've ever lived to see a drought, or had to sell cows for lack of feed, or had to take cows hundreds of miles to find irrigated lease pasture, or seen a cow belly deep in mountain grasses once the snow melts, or lived on snow runoff for water from April until October or November, you might not complain so much about the snow or rain. If you've ever run cows on a dry dessert in the summer or stockers on a wheat pasture suffering from lack of rain in the panhandle of Texas in January, or even run cows in a place that wasn't green all summer, you might tolerate the snow. You may even be thankful for the snow.

Next time you find yourself wanting to complain about the hassle of feeding cows in the snow or calving out heifers in the snow, or even something as silly as wet pant legs, think about the ranchers, many of whom are just like you, who pray daily and desperately need the precipitation. Whether rain, snow,ice or sleet It Is Precipitation....Be Thankful!

1 comment:

  1. I know exactly what you are talking about. Where I worked in Wyoming last summer, they depend on the snow melt for annual irrigation. That is their only means of forage growth because they only receive 8 inches of water annually. This last summer there were a few warm spells in the late spring, and come August the creeks/rivers were nearing low levels and some irrigation had to be shut down before the growing season ended. This limited the amount of stockpiled forage for winter grazing. So yes, despite all our moans and groans, we had better be thankful for our abundant moisture; whatever form it may arrive in. haha