Tales from the O-NO Ranch: This too shall pass
April 14, 2006
by “Mad” Jack Hanks
No children, we ain’t talkin’ about kidney stones, we re talkin’ about the drought. I keep tellin’ myself that this too shall pass. It will. I know that to be a fact. The questions remains, when? Well, I know the answer and so do you.
It always rains after a dry spell, that’s what I’ve always heard and King Richard (our local man of the hour) says it this way: It always rains just before it is too late.
I keep thinkin’ that it’s gonna be too late in about 15 minutes. On this, the first day of May, I witnessed a few snow flakes and light rain to barely dampen the sidewalk. The weather person swears that there will be moisture late this evening, tonight and through lunchtime tomorrow. Yeah, whatever.
The rumor mill has it that some of the old-timers are sayin’ they ain’t seen the county this dry EVER! My yard looks like the top of my head and if you’ve ever seen the top of my head you would have a clear visual of how sparse the grass is in our yard. Not a pretty sight, no sir.
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All of us that have owned or run cattle have been through times like these before and somehow we find a way to survive it and even have elaborate discussions about it at some later date over coffee. The worst dry spell I ever endured was in Texas in an area where the average rainfall was 48 inches.
As a general rule we would put up about 3,000 round bales of hay from our summer crop of rye and Bermuda grass in four cuttings of hay. In the summer of 1980 we managed to put together less than 60 bales.
Fortunately for me, it wasn’t my cows, my hay or my money that was on the line. The folks that owned the ranch had deep pockets and we just did the best that we could under the circumstances without going overboard on expenses and the winter that followed was a bugger bear!
When your livelihood is on the line and it is yours or yours and your banker’s cows, it makes for sleepless nights, depression, and a total void of any humor in your life. If you are in that boat and you’ve just lost an oar, I feel for you, I really do.
Remember what that old Chinese philosopher Confuse-us once said, “things could always be worse.”
Truth is, that is the truth and thoughts like that can produce enough concern to make yer pacemaker quit workin’. What if yer widowed mother-in-law married a cowboy poet or a financial planner just out of prison and her estate sifted away like sand in the hour glass? Hummm! how about them apples? That’s worse, ain’t it? What if Michael Jackson wanted to have another child with yer only daughter? That’s worse yet, right? See, as the good book says, rain will fall on the just and the unjust.
Well, when ya waller that around in yer mouth for a bit, it’s hard to determine just exactly where you fit into the great scheme of things when you don’t get no rain at all! If you ain’t considered just or even unjust, just what are ya? Go figure.
The auction markets are filling up with cows and yearlings ’cause there just isn’t any place to go with them where there is sufficient grass. I would like to run a few steers here this summer at the O-NO Ranch like we usually do, but unless the weather person is right and we do get rain and a good bit of it in the very near future, there won’t be any steers here this year.
I spotted a grasshopper in the pasture back early in March; that should have been my first clue. Actually, it was a clue and I thought about runnin’ down the main street of Wellington screamin’, “SELL YER COWS, SELL YER COWS, GRASSHOPPERS IN THE PASTURE, SELL YER COWS!” Of course, that would have been a little silly of me to do that, but then again, I might now be known as King “Mad” Jack and there would be no King Richard.
Stay tuned and check yer cinch on occasion. By the way, occasionally you might dump the dust outta yer rain gauge, just in case it does rain a little; the dust will dry it up and you will swear that ya got no rain at all! C. ya.