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More Fires in Texas

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Trinity man

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My father-in-law lost his house in Bastrop Texas today and we have a number of them burning around our neck of the woods today. High wind from Lee is all we got and you would have though we lived in West Texas with all the dust. A lot of pasture has turn to dirt with no grass and in some cases no trees even left. It may have been a good thing the state has done away with livestock market reports, because the way it’s looking their will not be any cattle left around here. At my last week of sales we had buyer from Ala, Tenn, Ga, and Fl picking up cattle. One week we had 1355 hd of just cows and the next week close to 1100 hd. It was a good thing because there weren’t any local ranchers buying any. Most of the older ranchers are selling totally out and will not restock. They are saying they will lease out their pasture or maybe make hay on it when it does come back. The younger ranchers are just wondering what to do, because when it does turn around cattle will be so high that they will not be able to afford them. As for myself I still have cattle because of the Trinity River for water for the livestock. The owners of them are bringing me hay for them with supplements for them to. Now if the Trinity goes dry and it get pretty low I guess I will have to close up shop to. Today was the first day without 100 degree temperature in a month or two. So I pray this is coming to an end.
 
A

Anonymous

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Yep-- I agree with what the others said- it definitely is sad...

I was just reading this article before I saw your post:

Drought puts cattle ranchers at a crossroads


By Rick Jervis - USA TODAY - Sept 2, 2011



Most of his cows have gone to slaughter, and the goats have been sold off. But if rain doesn't soon fall on the parched plateau of West Texas, rancher Sam Epperson may be looking for a new line of work.



"I might be driving a truck," says Epperson, a fourth-generation rancher who runs his family's 100-year-old cattle business near Rock Springs, Texas. "I don't know what we'll do. It's that serious."



A blistering, record-setting drought in Texas and other parts of the USA paired with high temperatures and the soaring cost of hay have made it one of the toughest seasons ever for cattle ranchers.



Texas has seen only 7.5 inches of rain this year through August, says state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon. The previous record low for January-to-August moisture in Texas was 10.56 inches in 1956. The last significant rainfall was in September 2010, he says. "It's the worst one-year drought ever," Nielsen-Gammon says.



The lack of moisture means millions of acres of scorched, inedible grass for the state's cattle, says David Anderson, a livestock economist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service at Texas A&M University. This year, Texans have lost $5.2 billion in crops and livestock to the drought, surpassing the previous record of $4.1 billion in 2006, he says.



Faced with starving cattle, ranchers must decide whether to buy enough hay to keep the livestock alive through the drought or sell them off at local auctions, Anderson says.



Texas is the USA's largest producer of beef cows — an estimated 5 million cattle, or 16% of the nation's supply, he says. More than 400,000 of those are expected to go to slaughter this year, he says.



"We're looking at what can be an historically large reduction in the cow herd," Anderson says.



The drought also has spread north of Texas. In Kansas, where more than 90% of the state is experiencing some level of drought, federal officials have allowed ranchers to graze cattle in conservation land usually off-limits to livestock. And ranchers in Oklahoma are bringing record numbers of cattle to slaughter as the state's grazing tracts have dried, says Scott Dewald, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association. "It's going to be tough in this business for awhile," he says.



The drought is most pronounced in Texas, where three-fourths of the state is experiencing "exceptional" drought, the severest classification by the U.S. Drought Monitor, produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies. Texas ranchers also are bringing cows to slaughter in record numbers.



Wayne Geistweidt, owner of Gillespie Livestock in Fredericksburg, Texas, is selling 2,500 to 3,000 cattle a week, including young cows he would ordinarily keep. Selling young cows brings less money than adult cows and leaves fewer to sell in coming years, he says. The next few years will be extremely difficult with a smaller herd and a shortage of young cows, he says.



"It's the worst I've ever seen," Geistweidt says. "No grass, no water. It's going to put a lot of people out of business if something doesn't change."



Under normal conditions, the Decatur Livestock Market, about an hour outside Dallas, sells between 250 and 400 cattle a week, says Mickey Scarborough, operations manager. On Monday, the auction house sold 1,200.



The ranchers are also bringing in 3- and 4-year-old cows to sell, a sign of troubled times, Scarborough says. "If they're selling those now, they're selling the last things they got," he says.



Some are quitting the business altogether. A recent survey of its members by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association found that respondents had sold off 40% of their cattle inventory, compared with 5% to 10% on a normal year, says Joe Parker, association president. Also, 10% said they sold off all their cattle and left the industry...



more

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-09-01/Drought-puts-cattle-ranchers-at-a-crossroads/50230906/1
 

the_jersey_lilly_2000

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Yeap we've already sold off half....and barely hangin on to what we have. We have some fires here too. Went out driving trying to find out where they were when we stepped outside about 5 pm and smelled smoke really strong. Our news people aren't reporting anything very good. We were listening to KBHT..or KVHT....93.5 on the radio....up around Trinity area...and they were reporting the fires at Marque and around there..doin a really good job of letting residents know what was goin on, who was to evacuate etc. But outs here....pitiful reporting.

So sorry to hear about your FIL loosing his home. I've got friends in that area too...they haven't been told to evac yet...but they have their horse trailer, and horses gathered ready in case they have to.

Stay safe and pray for rain!!!!!
 

Jassy

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I too am so sorry about your family losing their home...Fires scare me more than any storm...and the way it looks in Texas,OK, and other southern states, fires are not welcome at all! But on the other hand, the new growth from all the burns will come back better than before...IF ya'll get some rain..Hang in there!!!!
 

Trinity man

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There is big Brahman breeder on I-45 just south of Madisonvlle that has totally bare pastures. Their not even a weed growing there. I asked my wife that drives by it every day if the disk it or something, she said no. She has seen a cow in any of the pastures for about a month now.

Now I am wondering if we will get any grass by after all of these 100 + degree weather we have had. Most of the shallow root plants are mostly dead for sure and never develop any seed for next years growth and the one that did the seed will be dry up. I have rage weed that normally grows 3-4 ft high that is a few inches high and dead. The new rancher next door to me weed spray his pasture back in April and lost every thing. The crawfish ponds now has Wild Coffee Beans growing in them with no water to pump in them. Most of his yearlings he got in the spring are sick with dust pneumonia now and dropping dead. Several people told him several months ago to sell them, but he know it all and kept them and is paying the price now. With cattle prices falling its not look good.

The scary thing is I am seeing logs on the bottom of the river I have never see in my life time. Sand bars in the middle of the river has grass and weeds growing on them now that they been out so long. Houston Texas get most of its drinking water from this river ( lake Livingston ) and if it get any lower they will be in for some hard times down there.

Here is a link to the Texas Forest Service fires.

http://ticc.tamu.edu/Response/FireActivity/

This is what I am talking about ranchers from around the country buying Texas cattle.

In the cattle town of Emory in East Texas, the worst drought in state history is threatening a way of life. Scorching temperatures and a lack of rain have forced many ranchers to sell off their stock.

Normally before being brought to market, cattle are penned in a rancher's best pasture to be fattened. The heavier the cow, the more the buyer pays.

But the animals at a recent Emory auction look pitiful. They're standing in 107-degree heat — that's in the shade — with their ribs showing, stressed out. It's been like this for the past nine weeks — no rain. Although these cows were bred for the heat, they weren't bred for this. They look absolutely baked.

If this were a normal year, an August cattle auction in Emory would see maybe 100 to 200 head. There are more than 700 head today. And that's down from the more than 1,000 head sold here every Tuesday for much of this summer. The sad truth is, East Texas is starting to run out of stock to sell.

Inside the auction room, buyers in jeans and cowboy hats, here from Michigan and Wisconsin, Tennessee and Alabama, raise their fingers in front of their chests to bid. One cow, one calf, one bull after another, until late into the night. The Lone Star State is emptying itself of its cattle.

Stanley Austin is a rancher and a commission-order buyer, which means he buys livestock for farmers and feed yards. He has seen the drought's effects up close, at his family's ranch.

"We've had that place in our family for 75 years," he says, "and it's never been without water. It's been without water now since about the 15th of June."

Austin travels throughout Texas, going to seven livestock sales each week. He says the drought is going to alter the state's rural economies forever.


Scott Olson/Getty Images Cracked mud sits in the bottom of a water tank in a cow pasture near Tulia, Texas. In recent months, the state has experienced its driest weather since records were first kept, in 1895.
"It will change. It will change Texas," Austin says. "A lot of these smaller livestock auctions may have to close their doors due to the lack of cattle."

Farming and ranching in Texas has become mostly an older man's occupation. One look around the auction room confirms that. And the generation gap is going to be a drought-effect multiplier.

"My neighbor, he's an older gentlemen, he's been working on his cow herd for probably 50 years, he has 250 mama cows," Austin says. "He's out of water. He sold all of his cows last week. And he told me, 'I'm 70-something years old. I'll probably just retire.' "

At the livestock auction, cafe farmer C.W. Boen is telling how he almost lost his house the day before. He was off his property when he got a call on his cellphone.

"My neighbor was screaming into the phone that my house was on fire," he says. "I lost my religion and drove like a maniac to get to my house, and found out that some of my neighbors and friends had stopped and fought the fire and saved my house."

Some 3.4 million acres have burned in 19,000 fires in Texas over the past five months. There is charred land everywhere. It's so dry that the blistering sun, magnified through the end of a broken Coke or beer bottle, can start a fire.

And as sad as the cattle look, the horses for sale can look even more pathetic. The vast majority are not working horses, they're pets — and there's no place to slaughter a horse anymore. Last week, a mare and her foal were simply given away at this auction. Watch them parade through, one by one, and it becomes clear that something terrible and perhaps permanent is happening here.

"I believe there will always be cattle industry in the state of Texas," says Texas Farm Bureau spokesman Gene Hall, "but restocking those ranches when this ends is going to be a very expensive proposition."

Listening to the Texas Farm Bureau's reassurance that the cattle industry is not going to go away completely is a revelatory moment. In the midst of a nasty, tenacious recession, Mother Nature is kicking rural Texas right in the teeth

I used to report Emory Livestock Auction. Its use to be the largest two day sale in Texas. But Dallas moving out that away and high property taxes has push many ranchers out of that area.
 

Trinity man

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the_jersey_lilly_2000 said:
Yeap we've already sold off half....and barely hangin on to what we have. We have some fires here too. Went out driving trying to find out where they were when we stepped outside about 5 pm and smelled smoke really strong. Our news people aren't reporting anything very good. We were listening to KBHT..or KVHT....93.5 on the radio....up around Trinity area...and they were reporting the fires at Marque and around there..doin a really good job of letting residents know what was goin on, who was to evacuate etc. But outs here....pitiful reporting.

So sorry to hear about your FIL loosing his home. I've got friends in that area too...they haven't been told to evac yet...but they have their horse trailer, and horses gathered ready in case they have to.

Stay safe and pray for rain!!!!!

The fire was west of the ranch about 30 miles. Do you get KIVY down in your area Jersey? Most of the time they do a pretty good job on let local ranchers know whats going on in the area.
 

efb

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We are about 150 miles north of Trinity man and things are the same here. About 30 fires within 40 miles of us yesterday. And the deer hunters are about to hit the country and that can't be anything but more fires. We have already sold two thirds of our registered herd. I am trying desperately to hold on to the rest. Have hauled every mouthful to them for the past 45 days. Have enough hay to get me into Feb. , will try winter pasture but need a fair amount of rain to get it up. I am 70 years old and traveled the central US from Mexico to Canada over the years and I have never seen anything like it. Have had 77 triple digit days this summer, our normal is 7. It's just too bad transportation costs are so high that we can't get the surplus of northern hay here at an affordable price. Have checked with the railroads, but they require hay to be shipped in closed cars.

We are one day closer to rain.
 

Hayguy

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there was quite a big hay bussiness up here that compressed small square bales of timothy to half size then loaded them into sea containers and shipped to japan. economy has finished that but i would think that if they could go to japan with it someone should be able to get nothern hay to texas.


are ther any gov't aid programs?
 

Faster horses

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I just finished reading this thread and got goose bumps reading
that article that Trinity posted.

I would suggest everyone read Elmer Kelton's "The time it never rained".
It was about a Texas rancher and the government feed program.
In that book, the gov't feed program was a real joke.

It is TOO bad WE northern ranchers can't find a way to help our southern
neighbors. I just shake my head at the bumper hay crop here, and
nothing in Texas/Oklahoma. There's gotta be a way...

Some friends in Oklahoma looked into bringing hay in from southern
SD and the freight per load was $3500.

I just feel so bad for you all that are burning up. And it seems to me
that what Texas gets, so does the northern states in about a year.

We do have some hay we would sell reasonable, but it's not big
squares. It's round bales and they just don't haul well that far.
I sure hope the weather changes for you all in the south. Praying
for it, in fact. Hang in there...
 

Trinity man

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Was at the rancher this morning cutting up trees that fell around my mother house and on a fence line. When we was leaving I seen smoke across the river that looks like away off. I sure hope its is because if a fire got into our sand hill place it would be bad with a capital B. Most of the tree and bushes are dead. Several of them are on the ground after all the wind we had yesterday. I told mom that the Good Lord has open up some new pastures for us at no cost. She smile and said that good when will the cows come back. It pretty hard to explain to her about whats all going on with her having Altimziers. She said I know you will do your best to keep things going. Sometimes it drives me nuts try to keep her happy and my our family. My wife always tell me don't worry about us we will be ok. Just keep pushing and we will be behind you. Sorry about venting a little, but losing my father, job, and no rain in the same year I sometimes just go a little crazy.
 

Mike

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My heart goes out to you man. All you can do is your best and I'm sure you are.

Prayers sent
 

Trinity man

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Trying to get some vidoes from my father-in-laws area. I have it on my facebook pages. http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=2276732711418#!/
 

DustDevil

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I called my Uncle that lives up past Magnolia to see how he was doing, I knew they had a fire somewhere in the area. As I called him he said they were loading up the car and evac'ing. He's in his mid-80's and lives with his daughter. I pulled up the news and boy they've got a bad one going right outside of town.
 

Trinity man

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DustDevil said:
I called my Uncle that lives up past Magnolia to see how he was doing, I knew they had a fire somewhere in the area. As I called him he said they were loading up the car and evac'ing. He's in his mid-80's and lives with his daughter. I pulled up the news and boy they've got a bad one going right outside of town.

I have some family that lives off of FM 1488 and they are leaving now to. It seems when they get one fire out another starts right up.
 

Mike

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Map of extreme fire danger. Big area:

http://webgis.tamu.edu/tfs/rawsd/rawsfcst.png
 

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