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Drought…

By February 18, 2014Ranch

2013 - dry levy

Dry creek bed

Definition of DROUGHT: [noun] a period of dry weather, especially a long one that is injurious to crop. Dictionary.com

Last month the governor declared California officially in drought condition.  For those of us involved in farming and ranching, we did not need the governor’s declaration to realize we are in trouble.  We have felt the effects of this drought for the past 18 months.  We are seeing it in our ranches, our animals, our water sources and feeling it in our pocket books.  Many of you are likely feeling its effects when you head to the grocery store and see the increase in grocery costs.

For those of us out West, drought is an all too familiar condition.  If you grew up in a city you have likely experienced water rationing, if you grew up in a farming community you have felt its effect on your operations or seen it effect your neighbors.

I grew up in a city in Southern California with parents who were hippies (Not your free love, pot smoking type, just love the earth, conserve it for the next generation type!), so water rationing/conservation was a part of our lives, even in non-drought years.  My dad used to time our showers so that we weren’t wasting water, my mom always washed full loads of laundry, using cold water only and then hung them on the line to dry.  We only watered when necessary outside and never left the water running while brushing our teeth!  It was only natural that after I graduated from college I went on to work as an irrigation engineer at a county water district, where the primary focus of my job was working with farmers on water conservation…now that I am a rancher’s wife, drought has become even more personal!

You may ask why this water situation so important to us.  All of our cattle spend their life roaming on pasture we have in the hills of Mariposa County.  This pasture is native and consequently the only source of irrigation is rain.  We’ve received 1.25” of rain this season, compared to the 9” we’re supposed to have by now.  Without this rain, the grass can’t grow and the cattle can’t eat.  But don’t worry, we aren’t letting our cattle starve, instead we’re at the ranch feeding grass hay every day or so.  We’ve had three semi-truck loads of hay delivered to the ranch this season…which is a lot of hay.  We believe in the primary reason we raise grass fed beef, which is to allow our cattle to behave as they should, out on pasture and never in a feedlot; consequently, our cows are still roaming the open range on one of our ranches.  We have another ranch down the road, but there aren’t any cows there, because although there is feed, there is not a water source this year, the creek dried up!

2014-02 Morning feeding

Early morning feeding

As you read this post, as you cook Open Space Meats beef, as you go about your daily business, please think of the choices you are making and how they are affecting the water supply we all have.  And if it strikes your fancy, send up a prayer for some serious rain, do a rain dance, take a shower that’s 5-minutes shorter.  It all helps!  In the meantime, we’re going to keep doing the best we can with the little water and resources we have…and we’re going to keep on praying for moisture.

Mica Nitschke

Author Mica Nitschke

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Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • Mark says:

    keep up the good work and God bless you.

  • Robert says:

    Raised the same way. Never understood why people waste. Thank you.

  • hikaru says:

    Doing a little rain dance right now, though I suspect fix may require more concerted effort…for all of us, hoping for the best…hang in there!

  • Erin says:

    New to the site and loved learning about your ranch, your sustainable approaches, and your family. Happy to be ordering the first time!
    Thanks for what you do and the reminder that we ALL can do our part to conserve.

  • I think doing a rain dance is a great idea. I’ll get on it!

    http://www.healyourlife.com/article-detail/let-it-rain

    For every pleasing thing, there is an unpleasing counterpart, for within every particle of the Universe is that which is wanted as well as the lack of that which is wanted. When you focus upon an unwanted aspect of something in an effort to push it away from you, instead it only comes closer, because you get what you give your attention to whether it is something that you want or not.

    In the midst of what the television weatherman was calling “a serious drought,” our friend Esther walked down one of the paths on their Texas Hill Country property, noticing the dryness of the grass and feeling real concern for the well-being of the beautiful trees and bushes that were all beginning to show signs of stress from the shortage of rain. She noticed that the birdbath was empty even though she had filled it with water just a few hours earlier, and then she thought about the thirsty deer who had probably jumped the fence to drink the small amount of water that it held. And so, as she pondered the direness of the situation, she stopped, looked upward, and—in a very positive voice, with very positive-sounding words—said, “Abraham, I want some rain.”

    And we said immediately back to her, “Indeed, from this position of lack, you think you will get rain?”

    “What am I doing wrong?” she asked.

    And we asked, “Why do you want the rain?”

    And Esther answered, “I want it because it refreshes the earth. I want it because it gives all of the creatures in the bushes water so that they have enough to drink. I want it because it makes the grass green, and it feels good upon my skin, and it makes us all feel better.”

    And we said, “Now, you are attracting rain.”

    Our question “Why do you want the rain?” helped Esther withdraw her attention from the problem and turn her attention toward the solution. When you consider why you want something, your vibration usually shifts or pivots in the direction of your desire. Whenever you consider how it will happen, or when, or who will bring it, your vibration usually then shifts back toward the problem.

    You see, in the process of taking her attention from what was wrong—by our asking her why she wanted the rain—she accomplished a pivot. She began thinking not only of what she wanted, but why she wanted it; and in the process, she began to feel better. That afternoon it rained, and that night the local weatherman reported “an unusual isolated thunderstorm in the Hill Country.”

    Your thoughts are powerful, and you have much more control over your own experience than most of you realize.

  • Carole says:

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your blog!

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