Drought hits local ranchers
BY ALYSSA MEIER
With over half of the state facing extreme drought conditions, local ranchers are growing more and more desperate for rain, and for hope.
“It’s been challenging to stay positive,” Pablo Ronderos said. “It really makes a guy analyze his entire operation.”
Ronderos and his wife, Megan, ranch near Washburn, right in the center of the state’s growing drought. As of July 4, the U.S. Drought Monitor put 29 percent of the state in extreme drought conditions. Just a week later, that number had grown to 36 percent. Throughout the midwest, ranchers are feeling the effects of the lack in moisture as they turn to dismal hay production.
“Tough things we are dealing with is putting up enough hay,” Ronderos said, stating that this year, there is about half of what was produced last year. He said last year was half of what it was the year before. “So haying has been tough for two years, which makes a guy have to look for hay to buy.
Ranchers have turned to selling off livestock in an effort to decrease their demand for hay, but cattle has proven difficult to move as crops dwindle. Ronderos, who moved back to his family farm 6 years ago to take care of the cattle, said his only hope is that some precipitation will make its way to the fields before harvest.