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Drought Conditions Leave Hay Makers KOed

It's hard to believe that it was pouring rain just months ago. Take a look at a hayfield, and you'll wonder where it all went. Rancher Mike Kristynik does.

"It was kind of a double whammy," he recalls. "We started off the year with so much rain, we weren't able to get in the fields to fertilize and make the first cutting. Then, the nights were really cool, so the grass didn't grow real good until after the first of May. Then, the last good rain we had was on Mother's Day. Since then, it's like somebody turned the faucet off."

Climatalogists will tell you that June usually marks the tail end of the wet season in Texas, and it tends to fall off after that. The rains shut off early this year, and now, farmers and ranchers are hoping they turn back on.

"This time last year, in July of last year, I had made over 400 large round bails and a barn full of square bails," Kristynik said. "This year, I've made about 130 round bails.

"Even the folks that raise hay and sell it for a living are having a hard time putting together enough hay to sell," he said.

By this time usually, the second cutting of hay is underway, but now, they're just now getting to the first cut, and there's no hope for a second this summer. That means ranchers, still needing to feed their cattle and horses, may need to pay even more out of pocket.

"You can always go out of state and buy alfalfa, have it imported in, but that's costly," Kristynik said. "You can always buy supplements at the feed store, and that's costly."

And money doesn't grow on trees. Not much grows without water.

"We're one day closer to good rain, and one of these days, it's going to start raining again, and we might wish that it would quit," Kristynik said.

But it has to start first before people can wish it away.

Normally, hay is fed to livestock in the winter, but ranchers say the feeding season may have to begin sooner because of the drought.


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