Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Winter, Storms and Golf
This winter has been so open in our part of Wyoming that it reminded me we are still in drought. We need snow, we’ll take rain, but we need snow. Hope the weather is not setting up for another disaster like the one in 1886. Won’t happen because we are better prepared today than the ranchers of more than a century ago, we hope.
The Wyoming summer of 1886 was hot and dry; cattle went into winter in less than perfect condition. In November heavy snow came and it stayed for two months. In late January the snows came again, snowing for four days and three nights before letting up. By spring the bad news was apparent, piles of dead cattle, many others were wobbling from starvation. Wyoming in 1886 proudly boasted of it being the greatest place on earth to raise livestock with over nine million cattle on the range. By 1895 only three million were left.
The main lessons learned from drought and blizzards were simple. Put up hay for winter feed and sell down when the grass is bad in the summer. Cattle once again cover the pasture lands of Wyoming, but never again will ranchers overdo like days past. We are getting better and proud of it. But we still need snow or rain.
How dry and warm has it been this winter? I have played 18 rounds of golf since the first of December, shouldn’t happen in Wyoming. Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying the golf, but right now I would rather go sledding, sit by the fire and sip hot chocolate.