Farmers and ranchers are wondering how they are going to survive hot, dry weather.
Small rains were enough to bring up spring crops, but drought has persisted in many parts of the county since November. Pasture ponds have dried up, hay crops are sparse, and growing crops could dry up without more moisture.
“Everything looks like August here,” said Sandy Carlson, who farms with her son, Andy, south of Burdick. “We hope it will turn around, but it doesn’t look too promising.”
The temperature reached 96 degrees and the heat index hit 106 degrees Friday before the air turned a bit cooler over the weekend.
Carlson said she and her son were cutting back on cow numbers to conserve feed. Two of their three pastures have windmills that haven’t been used for years. They plan to see whether the wells still have water and need new pipes. They may have to drill new wells.
Roger Will of Tampa cut and baled a field of poor wheat. He was hoping to plant the field to millet for a winter feed crop if rain is forthcoming in a week or two. His first cutting of alfalfa was poor.
Almost every cattleman Will knows is hauling water to one pasture or another. Even people with windmills have problems when days are too calm to turn blades and pump water.
The drought is even affecting structures. Carol Wituk, who lives northwest of Pilsen, said bricks on one corner of her house were starting to come apart. Homebuilder Ralph Klenda had looked at it and said he couldn’t fix it.
Wituk is planning to spend $10,000 for a Wichita powerlift company to repair it. The contractor blamed the problem on lack of moisture in the soil. Otherwise, he said, the almost 90-year-old house was well built and sound. It sits on a century farm.
Some businesses also are feeling the effects of the drought as farmers tighten their belts and forego purchases.