How Does Drought Affect the Environment?

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Brooke, California is no longer in a drought.” And you would be correct. That being said, I think its really important we revisit the past and use it as a tool for the future. Recently I was scrolling though my Instagram feed when I came across a picture I posted on October 10, 2014, smack dab in the middle of the drought here in California. It was a hard time for us in Agriculture. My Mom was feeding alfalfa daily and we had to downsize the herd by about 20% in order to save both the business as well as not stress the land. 

These last two winters, however, we had abundant rain levels in Central California. Levels that quite literally quenched the thirst of the land that had been desperate for so long. So what does this mean for us and the environment on the ranch today? We’re finally back to our normal. Thankfully. We did not have to purchase any extra hay beyond our typical annual quantity, our cattle numbers have slowly grown in the last two years, and feeding alfalfa will commence this week for the younger heifers and bulls and in about 2 weeks for the remainder of the cattle (which is right on schedule for non drought years).

A picture is worth a thousand words. As you can tell from the photos there is a huge difference in the amount of available grass. These photos were taken standing the the same field, in the same spot, only a slightly different angle (so I could get some of the cattle in the shot).

Needless to say, both the environment and us as ranchers are reliant on mother nature and the rainfall. It’s a yin and a yang type of thing. The rains bring the growth of new grass in winter and the cattle turn over the fields by grazing. This kind of regeneration makes for healthy land and healthy cattle. We are beyond thankful for the water and are hoping this winter also provides necessary rain to sustain the environment and the cattle.

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