It’s still hard for me to get over the fact that water is being rationed. I come from a state where water is everywhere and we never have to worry about how to water livestock, the grass or ourselves. This concept of only being allowed to use so much water per day reminds me of the stories about war time and having to ration food and supplies for the troops.
I have covered the drought from a journalistic standpoint since its beginning in 2011. I’ve witnessed the heartbreak, the struggles, the concerns, and the farmers’ realization that their livelihood may not be a reality any longer. I have sympathized with them and, on occasion, have had to put down the camera and share in their tears.
In this week’s video blog, we take a look at the year 2013 and how all signs point to a continued drought with record setting heat. We talk with a cattle producer whose goal in life is to raise cattle and be the best producer he can be.
In the words of Paul Harvey on the 2013 Dodge Ram Super Bowl commercial, we need someone who will be dedicated to feeding and clothing the world “so God made a farmer.”
The cows are starting to come home in Southwestern Oklahoma. But high prices are slowing down the process. When I traveled to the Southwest corner of the state last year, I found crunchy ground, long trailer lines at the sale yards, and people rationing their water. It was site I prayed I would never have to see again.
As this spring rolled around, the rains poured across North Central Oklahoma where I live. But I wondered what was happening with our friends to the Southwest of us. I was very pleased to find that they had gotten 14 inches of rain by the month of June! Things were definitely turning around for them and I knew I had to get back down there and tell the other half of their story.
In this week’s video blog, we take a look at how the citizens of Caddo County survived the drought and how they are bouncing back and reclaiming their livelihoods.
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.
On the Horizon: Devastating Drought from Alisa Hines on Vimeo.