Drought Has Oklahoma Ranchers, Including Travis Meyer, Praying For Rain

Sunday, July 15th 2012, 8:27 pm
By: Tess Maune

With the entire state suffering through a drought, many are praying for rain.

The lack of rain is hitting Oklahoma ranchers especially hard.

When News On 6 chief meteorologist Travis Meyer isn't manning the Warn Weather center, you'll likely find him in his boots and jeans, working cattle out on his ranch in Glenpool.

"When I went to college, I said I'm not gonna be a farmer or a rancher, and then I came back to this, for some odd reason, in my extra time," Meyer said.

For Meyer, it's more of a hobby that gets him outside, but for so many others, ranching is what brings home a paycheck each month.

And right now, times are tough.

"Ranchers are in trouble," Meyer said. "The pastures around here that would normally be at least knee-high, if not up to the thigh in some cases, with some good prairie hay, and it's like somebody mowed it… besides the cows."

What's happened on his ranch, the cattle ate up the grass, and normally it would grow back, but with no soaking rain, there's no way for that to happen.

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"Unfortunately now, people are having to take their hay supplies for winter and already use them in the middle of July," Meyer said. "It's costly, and then you won't have hay for the winter."

But there's more: Farm ponds are drying up and blue-green algae is forming on the stagnant water, so the only option is to truck in clean water.

And as the costs add up, so do the decisions.

"So you're either gonna have to trim your heard down, somehow or another, or you're gonna have to sell out and hope for better days ahead," Meyer said.

So what would it take to recover at this point?

Meyer said 3-5 inches of slow, steady rain would do the trick.

"Unless you get a tropical system or just some weird weather air mass that will come in, or just the type of set up that will give you a lot of rain, which doesn't happen in July and August around here," Meyer said.

A slim chance, yes. But when it comes to Oklahoma weather, anything is possible.

Meyer said the drought is so big, if a rancher does decides to trim down his herd, it's going to be tough to find a place to send the cattle because so much of the Central United States is dry.

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