On the Horizon: Devastating Drought

Few times in my life have I experienced something where I was moved to tears. When I traveled to Southwestern Oklahoma and saw the devastation brought on by the severe drought, my tears were some of the only water around. The temperature was so brutal; my equipment was too hot to touch at times. My hands were blistered from grabbing my tripod and camera.

This area has not seen any rain since October of 2010. Their grass is dried up, if it has not been burned by fire, and most of their ponds are history. Livestock and equine producers are forced to sell out because they simply cannot feed or water them. We stopped by the sale yard in Apache, OK, and the sight there was almost unbearable. The average number of cattle that runs through there is about 3,000 head of bulls and steers on Thursdays. Because of circumstances beyond control, there were over 6,000 head already there and trailers kept rolling in. When it was all said and done, auctioneers sold until 4:00 the next morning.

Growing up in Washington State, I never knew drought. I did grow up on the “dry side” of the state but we have a wonderful irrigation system that has made Eastern Washington a prime agricultural area. I never dreamed I would see the day where Americans are restricted in their water use. It was a wakeup call for me as I drove through Cement, OK, and saw very few people watering their lawns. Even when the time came to where people could water, many forfeited their chance to save water for the firemen.

A lot of times, stories like these create awareness and people take a stand to change things. Unfortunately, in this case, the change that needs to be made is RAIN. So say an extra prayer, do a rain dance, or whatever it is you may do. Because the people, the livestock and the land in Southwestern Oklahoma are drying up and are running out of options.

~Andy Barth

On the Horizon: Devastating Drought from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.



7 thoughts on “On the Horizon: Devastating Drought”

  1. It’s tough. I was happy to sell several yearlings and two year-old ewes to help stretch the grass a bit, and I’m wondering where the heck I’m going to get alfalfa soon. No rain in the forecast, and if we flip to another La Nina this fall (as some models predict), it could be catastrophic for a large number of Oklahoma farms and ranches.

    1. Orangepower~

      I hear you on the alfalfa. I grew up raising sheep in Washington state and my family told me alfalfa is available up there but is over $250 a ton. I’m glad you were able to sell some sheep. Prices are pretty good right now. I can’t imagine what it would be like if it floods after this drought. I haven’t been here that long to have experienced it. Keep truckin’ my friend!!


  2. I certainly have been keeping Oklahoma & Texas in my thoughts — lots of friends there and the impact on the farmers & ranchers has been horrible. Thanks for helping tell the stories of small towns.

    1. Janice~

      Texas and Oklahoma are both taking a pretty hard beating. I heard the other day that we may not see the end of the drought until October. I hope your friends aren’t affected too bad. Stay cool!!


  3. It is so very sad. Disturbing too, really, considering that in the eastern part of the state we had a 100 year’s flood last spring. Excellent writing Mr. Barth, I’ll look for more from you in the future.

    1. Faith ~

      I’m glad you enjoyed the piece. It is one of my favorites. It was definitely one of the hardest stories to shoot as I watched the auction unfold. It’s amazing how part of Oklahoma is so hot and dry while other parts of the country are flooding. My family lives in Washington state and they have had an unusually mild summer. Very weird weather this summer. Thanks for the compliment. Hope to talk to you soon!!


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