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We're Still Blessed

Written by Dennis Sun
     As I wrote this column the middle of last week, the weather forecast was for more stormy weather in the days ahead. I have heard through the years that a wet, cold spring wouldn’t break until Easter. So, I guess I need to call Don Day, the weather guy from Cheyenne, and clue him in. It does sound like it should be warmer this week, we’ll see.
    The past month we have all heard stories about the wind, deep snowdrifts and cattle and sheep losses and the ones that were saved, but after a constant month of rough weather. I’m always worried about the men, women and kids that did the saving. I figure it was a human element that ultimately took the toll of bad weather. The best day of spring was the day you didn’t need overshoes or mud boots to walk to the barn or to catch a horse.
    This, as our good friend from the University of Wyoming Mike Smith tells us, has been great moisture timing for a grass growing spring. I sure want to see more coming up in the pastures than prairie dogs.
    We are fortunate in Wyoming. Texas has received some rain lately, but every county in the state is suffering from drought. The extended drought has cost agriculture in Texas close to $1 billion. This drought, along with Hurricane Ike last fall, has really raised havoc for Texas agriculture. At this time of the year a snow bank in Wyoming doesn’t stick around too long, I can’t imagine what a hurricane with all the winds and four or five feet of water would do, especially concerning livestock.
    Another part of the country where agriculture is really hurting is the San Joaquin Valley in California. As a result of a couple of years of drought and low snow pack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, farmers in the valley are forced to let their irrigation water stay in the river to protect the endangered delta smelt, a three inch fish. This action could cost the state as many as 95,000 agricultural jobs. Wow, that could break Mexico, too.
    Agriculture is just two percent of California’s economy, but it is the source of half of the fruit, vegetables and nuts sold in the United States. One farmer’s response we heard was “60,000 acres on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley has a zero allocation for water this year. Our water bill for this year will cost over $400,000 on 500 acres of nut trees, all because of a stupid fish.” We can sympathize with him on what we have been through on the North Platte River.
    Due to low milk prices and higher feed costs, the dairy business is also in poor shape this year. They are slaughtering close to 12,000 to 15,000 dairy cows a week and their cooperative is expected to cull 150,000 head of dairy cows in the coming months.
    Come dawn on Easter, pause and thank God for our families and His blessings.
Dennis