The drive from Garden City, Ks. to Kerrville, Texas takes you through a lot of the country so devastated by the drought of 2011. The wheat pastures are green and make you think that things are better until you look close and realize that, without rain in a short while, they will be brown again. In a part of the country where normally there are thousands of head of cattle out on pasture, only a few are grazing on wheat fields.
The stock ponds in the major ranch areas near Throckmorton, Texas are full, but the grazing land will take a lot of time to heal and come back to life. There are no cows to be seen and one can’t help but feel sad for the ranchers who are struggling to keep their herds together. I had never seen cactus plants in stress before. An example of just how stark the drought has been came in a video I got this morning of Lake Travis near Austin showing miles and miles of bare lakefront. According to the video, even with the rains this spring, they are still 40 foot below normal. See for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m0uQnS9Ik4&feature=youtu.be
Changes in the feedlot industry are also showing the effect of a much smaller herd. Feedyards are moving from finishing cattle to providing a place for displaced cows and if you should tell a feedyard manager you have some cattle to feed, he will probably hug you − twice. It will get a lot better but there is still a long way to go.