Drought

Posted June 30th, 2007 — Filed in Bud's Musings

Droughts have caused some serious problems around the world, both financial and emotional, so I’m not saying that a drought isn’t bad. Yet, in the U. S. more problems are caused by how we handle the drought than the drought itself.

A drought doesn’t start after six months or a year, it starts the first day that it is dry. It may be over the next day if it rains. In other words, it starts the first day. A long trip starts with a single step, not when you are half way or almost there. The first day it is dry is the time to start preparing.

Most people have a long-range plan. They probably use normal conditions when they make this plan. So as we go along, following our plan, everyday that it doesn’t rain will take us further and further away from it. We keep hoping it will rain. Hope doesn’t always help much. By the time we admit there is a drought, we are running out of feed. Because our animals are “too good to sell,” or we have spent years building up a herd to what we want, we keep them, still hoping it will rain. At some point we may be unable to continue to buy feed and have to sell. Other people who are in the same boat are also selling, and the market may not be too good. In most situations our place has been over-grazed which can cause permanent damage, or at least it will take much longer for our land to come back to normal when it does rain. Often, the animals we have spent so much time getting them to what we want are gone.

A long-range plan is good if the weather and the market is also willing to follow the same plan. Otherwise, a long-range plan can be a disaster.

We go outside in the morning and it is dry. This is easy. Even without a plan we can tell that it is dry. This means that a drought has started. Right then we should start to prepare. If it rains the next day, then the drought is over and everything is fine. Being dry for one day doesn’t hurt, but if it doesn’t rain, we will have started to prepare at the very start, not after six months or a year.

It is dry. That means we can see how much feed we have, and we might not get any more. To prepare we need less animals since we will have less feed, or we need animals that eat less feed. We can sell a grown cow and keep a heifer calf. We will receive income from the sale of the cow, the calf will eat less feed, and we will still have the genetics we have worked so hard to develop. If we have 200 cows we could sell 50 or 100 cows and keep heifer calves in their place or whatever number fits with the amount of feed that we have. If we sell early, the price will probably be better than if we wait until everyone has to sell. As we go along we can sell more cows as necessary and either keep calves to replace them or keep the money so when it does rain we can purchase more stock or have money to live on while the heifer calves are getting into production.

Remember, prepare for a drought from the first day, not after you are forced to. Planning is great if you use a 24-hour plan. Prepare for what is happening now, then we can stay financially sound and not hurt our land.

Stay prepared, then you can Smile and Mean it!