Tag Archives: Water

National Day of Prayer

The Drought of 2012 is predicted to go down in history as the worst drought in 50 years.  People all over the United States and the world are being affected by the lack of rain.  Crops have withered away, pastures are not growing, and farmers are looking for a way to keep clean water available to their livestock. With harvest just starting in some states we will begin to see just how bad the drought has affected the corn crop along with the other commodities.   In the next few months many farming and ranching families are going to be feeling the affects of higher feeding costs for their livestock.  Many people have also been affected by prairie fires that have taken lots of pasture acres that were so desperately needed.

 Today Thursday, Aug. 23, the American Farm Bureau Federation is asking Americans to join them in a National Day of Prayer for the people being affected by the drought.  There are many individuals and families facing severe struggles due to this year’s devastating drought.  There truly is not a person involved in agriculture this year who has not been adversely affected by the drought of 2012 in at least some way.  Even every consumer will also be affected.

Please join the American Farm Bureau and all of us farmers and ranchers in a National Day of Prayer.  Let’s pray for abundant rain to start nationwide and for those people are dealing with such hardship.  It is a great way to support everyone being challenged by this ongoing drought.

Learning to Ride the Farming Roller Coaster

Have you ever heard of the phrase, “Life is a Roller Coaster?!?” This describes the life of a farmer very well. I am Crystal Wooldridge and I didn’t grow up on a farm, so adjusting to a farmers way of life has been a learning experience for me! I have been on my husband’s family farm for four and half years now and seem to have settled in pretty well. It did take a little getting used to, but I’ve learned you just pick up, go with the flow, and help where help is needed and WHENEVER it is needed.
 
Last spring everything was going great. We had 46 new heifers that we were raising to calf in the spring of 2012 and the hay meadows were looking great. We got all of hay equipment serviced and started getting geared up for an amazing hay season!! We have on gentleman that works on the farm with my husband who has been there since he was 16 years old. He is now 70 and can’t quite do everything that he used to. So, when it comes to cutting, raking, and baling the hay – Marty and I do most of it but he has a few friends that will come help him during the day while I am at work. Before I leave my office, I change into my hay baling clothes, and head to the field. We had some very late nights last spring. We baled about 400 acres – 1,500 bales – from the middle of April to the middle of June, mostly by ourselves!
 
It took me about two years to convince Marty that I could do this!!! He just didn’t want to ask me to come work in the field with him after spending a long hard day in the office. I kept telling him that it was a different kind of work for me! I enjoy getting on MY tractor with the radio going (and air conditioning) and just raking away. There were many evenings I had to make him turn on his lights, just so we could finish and get those last 10 bales baled!! He then accused me of working him too hard.
 
I have to admit that I was glad to see the end of that first cutting, but I had no idea it would be the ONLY cutting of hay for 2011. Around August or September, Marty tried to cut one field but it just wasn’t worth it. It was the first field we cut for the year and we only got a fifth of the bales we got out of the first cutting. He decided that was it, no more. We were officially in a drought, the worst drought in 11 years. Going into the fall, we started feeding cubes with my newest wedding/anniversary/birthday present – the cuber or the cube wagon. We fed cubes three times a week for about 2 months with minimal hay, until we HAD to start feeding a full serving. We then started cubing twice a week and putting out hay.
 
After about 150 days without rain and 100+ days with 100+ degree temperatures, we started getting about one inch of rain a week for quite a few weeks in a row. Then we got a couple of inches a rain once a week for a few weeks in a row, and we have never been so happy to see this wonderful rain falling from the sky! Over the next three months, with lots of rain and mild winter, the pastures are greener than they have ever been and the cows are “happy cow!!”
 
Around March 7, 2012, the 46 heifers that we were raising started calving. As of today, we have 4 left!!! We are currently in the processing of getting our hay equipment serviced and getting geared up for an AMAZING hay season. We have a new tractor and a new baler this year, and we are hoping to break them in right next week.

Water, Water, Water!

Take a look at recent headlines and many have something to do with water.   “Lingering Drought Dims Prospects of Winter Wheat Crop,” “China’s Problem is Water,” “Irene Relief Continues as Some Areas Still Under Water” and this is just a small sampling from popular press articles, take a look through your favorite magazine and I bet you’ll find something about water.  Some areas have too much water, others are in a drought, and still others have to worry about the safety of their water.  With the following thoughts, I hope to create discussion and challenge you to think about what you would propose as possible solutions!

What does water mean to you and your family?  Living on the Ogallala Aquifer, we take water for granted on our farm, this is until we have a pivot that is broken down and the crops are without water for a week or two.  Even more alarming is when we have an empty dam or broken water tank, then is time for fast action to get water to the cattle or hogs NOW!  Think about it for a minute, we use water in everything we do at home and in agriculture.  According to http://www.usgs.gov/ each person uses nearly 80-100 gallons of water a day in the U.S. and this is just for personal use.  As I think of water, I think of 2 things: weather and controversy.

When we look at raising enough food to feed a rising population (expected to be 9 billion by 2050), one of the key reasons that decision making in agriculture is different from other businesses are the biological and physical laws of nature.  If I were ranching in Texas right now, I would be considering my options to keep my cattle herd alive with no forage available because of the drought.  If I lived on the eastern seaboard, I would be hoping flood waters caused by Hurricane Irene would recede so that I could have electricity restored to be able to milk my cows without having to run off of a generator.  Our farm is irrigated, we have the option to mitigate some of the challenges thrown at us by Mother Nature, but we still dealt with some flooded acres this spring. 

Controversy continually surrounds water and its use.  Who determines exactly what reasonable use is, how would we manage water markets if we were to move water beyond being a free good, what about water rights, and the allocation of water?  I wouldn’t want to forget to mention the debates surrounding water regulations at the local, state and federal level.  Water also creates controversy and war around the world.  Water.org states that nearly 1 billion people lack access to safe water-think on that statistic for a few minutes.   Are there ways we can increase the supply of water that is available for our use?   Water is currently a free good in most settings and its use is encouraged, over time will it become subjected to the challenges of scarcity everywhere?

In our own backyard, we look at the court challenges of the Republican River Compact between Nebraska and Kansas, the restrictions on well drilling, and who could overlook the current debate over the Keystone XL pipeline proposal to cross through the Sandhills of Nebraska.  Water is a limited resource and I only wish that I had all of the answers to solve the controversy the will continue to surround the use of water, but I don’t.  I just hope that anyone who reads this thinks about our water use and appreciates that we still have access to a safe and abundant supply of water at this time in much of agriculture.  We need to realize that water is going to become more important as we move into the future.

As farmers, we are expected to feed the world, but we have to be able to raise a crop that needs a lot of water.  Who decides who gets the water; does it get diverted from food production for use in urban areas?  Who decides how water quality will be regulated, water has long been a limited resource issue and the state and local governments have had jurisdiction, but what happens when the EPA starts to regulate more through the Clean Water Act provisions?  These are all thoughts to ponder, so I will end with a statement that my students are sick of hearing; Water will be the commodity of the future in agriculture.  It may be confusing and impossible to ever be an expert, but water is an issue that we had better try to understand and start formulating how we will handle the water issues that each of us will face as we strive to feed the world!