Texas Cattle Ranchers Whipsawed Between Drought And Deluge

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by HK_User, Jun 9, 2015.

  1. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Hard to believe, what with an over full row of water tanks but I need rain! I need rain to wash the dirt off the leaves of the grass I still have.
    You see the constant rain before now caused a loss of top soil, ruined some grass stands by washing away the grass en mass and covered other pastures' grass with a fine silt that is just now disappearing and allowing the grass to produce new leaves and seed,since the sunlight can now be used by the plants.

    Raising food!

    Ahhh if it was easy anybody would be doing it.


    Texas Cattle Ranchers Whipsawed Between Drought And Deluge

    June 09, 2015 3:40 AM ET

    Cattle stand in floodwaters at 44 Farms in Cameron, Texas. The water demolished fences and ruined crops planted as feed.

    Katlin Mazzocco/44 Farms
    The drought finally broke for Texas ranchers late last year. The range and pasturelands on which cattle graze began to recover. Then came the spring. In Cameron, about 140 miles northwest of Houston, the rain began falling at the start of May — and didn't stop all month.

    "People don't give water enough credit for how much damage it can do," James Burks says. He's general manager of 44 Farms, a cattle ranch bounded by a tributary of the Brazos called the Little River. On Memorial Day, the Little River crested nearly 40 feet above flood stage.

    The waters demolished fences and ruined crops planted as feed for the cattle. Still, Burks and his men had been watching the river closely. They were able to get their herd to higher ground before the worst of the flood hit.

    Other ranchers weren't as lucky. At the Liberty Bell Ranch, roughly 50 miles northeast of Houston, about 500 head of cattle were trapped by the rising waters of the Trinity River.

    "It was decided by the cattle owner that we would just try to drive 'em out," Liberty County Sheriff Bobby Rader says.

    "Water was over the levee. It was washing out the levee. It was really, really swift waters. The water was deep in many places, up to 20 foot deep that the cows had to swim through on one of the routes that we took."

    Most of the animals did reach safety, but several lost their footing and drowned.

    Flooding can have another nasty side effect for cattle. Standing water is a perfect breeding ground for insects.

    "The flies become a real issue, and then with flies comes transmission of disease, primarily pinkeye," says Bob McClaren, owner of 44 Farms. "And if one [cow or bull] gets pinkeye, flies get in their eyes and then they land on another one. So it's easily transmitted."

    McClaren has to keep a close watch on his cows and bulls: untreated, pinkeye can destroy an animal's sight.

    Farmers in Texas have gone from having to deal with too little water to too much.

    Katlin Mazzocco/44 Farms
    Flooding has taken a toll on other parts of Texas agriculture, particularly along the Gulf Coast. Cotton farmers have seen their crops ruined. The rain has been so heavy this spring that many weren't able to plant at all. But for many ranchers, the wet weather ultimately works in their favor.

    "I expect as soon as the waters drain off, we're going to have the greatest grass and forage and hay yield of all time," says John Robinson, an economist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

    Around the Nation
    Drought Puts Texas Ranchers, And Cattle, At Risk

    The Salt

    Ordinarily, Texas is home to about 15 percent of the entire U.S. supply of beef cattle. The drought forced the state's ranchers to sell off roughly a million animals they couldn't afford to feed. That sent beef prices soaring at grocery stores all over the country in recent years. If the deluge helps pastures recover this summer, ranchers will have an easier time rebuilding their herds. Eventually, that will bring beef prices back down.

    "We can manage through the mud and the rain," McClaren says. "It's when you don't have any moisture at all that it gets to be real dire and a bigger concern. So, we're blessed to have the moisture, and we're not complaining about that."

    That's not to say McClaren isn't concerned. The last time he saw severe flooding was in 2007. The drought began not long after the waters went down. The Cameron rancher is hoping history isn't about to repeat itself.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2015
    Motomom34 likes this.
  2. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    That's one problem with the weather, it's very easy to get shuttled between too much and too little of whatever weather you want. And one thing I've learned in the past few years, being a farmer/rancher just means Mother Nature makes you her b****.

    Glad we've got a ranch selling their beef at farmer's market. All the 4 leggers got fresh liver yesterday to celebrate Scruffy's 6th birthday and the 1st birthday of the kittens who showed up last July(and it was mom's birthday too). Well Pepe turned his nose up at liver, but Little Miss Sunshine was happy to eat his share. Hedgehog disappeared Sunday night and has not returned, so he didn't get anyway.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  3. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    Farmers and ranchers are the world's biggest gamblers. Who else gambles with the weather.

    We cannot live without them =)
    Motomom34 likes this.
  4. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    At this point over 1000 square miles of Texas has been or is in flood stage conditions.
    The topography, arable land, soil composition and the extended 6 year drought in Texas allowed the 20 + inches of rain to crest many dikes and levees. This is our prime growing season so the idea of "dyke up the fields after harvest" is not viable.

    I have built conservation lakes and ponds as well as maintained terraced pasture and water run off control that has been in place since the 1930s. Those Projects were completed using Drag Lines powered by Mules as part of the post DUST BOWEL projects to protect the land.

    Then again maybe you missed one of my projects. The first two panes were empty a month ago and I used the area as a road to other pastures. Near the middle of our month of rain that planned water catchment rose 9 feet in one night to near the level you see, 4 days later it started raining again and the catchment area gathered another 4 feet in depth. Even then I still have two access points to those pasture.

    I live on the side of a hill and have planned my homestead to survive, none the less Mother Nature will always prevail.
    If I want a flat space I make it, if I need pasture I make it. For the most part I leave the land as I found it. Texas Storm  How Highs the Water Momma 1.JPG Texas Storm  How Highs the Water Momma 2.JPG Texas Storm  How Highs the Water Momma 3.JPG Lake Runneth Over.JPG
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015
  5. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Our Rice fields along the gulf coast are a lot like you have, levees that flood and then drain the crops. Great place for Snow geese hunting in the fall.
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