It is a tough time to be in the ranching business, especially when you are dependent on it for income. Cross Creek Cattle Company is a working family-owned and operated ranch; we do not do this as a hobby. This year has been especially tough because of the drought. It is the worst drought in recorded history in Texas.
Because of the lack of pasture grass, we have been forced to find other sources of grass to continue our grass fed beef operation. Hay, alfalfa cubes, and alfalfa pellets are all different forms of grass that we are using to keep up the condition of our herd. Usually during the summer we do not have to purchase grass, we simply rotate our herds from green pasture to green pasture. This year our costs have skyrocketed by having to buy forms of grass.
Now that winter is approaching, we are struggling to find enough hay to fill our needs. The price for a roll of hay is going through the roof to unimaginable prices. My dad used to buy round hay bales for $35.00 delivered. This year they are asking over $100.00 a bale. It is not a good time to be a rancher.
As we try to fill our hay needs for the winter, we also decided to plant winter grass in several pastures. My husband spoke with an expert at Producer’s Co-op in Bryan, Texas, who suggested planting a week early because of the slight possibility of rain last weekend. My husband decided to follow this man’s advice and with my father’s blessing purchased enough seed to sow between 20-30 acres on different pastures.
We brought the seed home late Thursday evening and began sowing the seed mid-morning on Friday. Lane and I devised a system that we thought would be the most efficient. He drove the big tractor pulling a disk with which he barely scratched the surface. We were trying to decide if we should risk disking up the soil since it has been so dry and windy, but again we followed the advice of the seed salesman. He suggested that we try to give the seed a head start by lightly disking the soil. I drove the small tractor over the lightly disked land while spreading the winter grass seeds.
If you have ever driven a tractor, then you know that the hum of the engine drowns out all other sound. It leaves your brain isolated from your surroundings. You are left with only your thoughts. I get some of my best thinking done either mowing on a riding lawnmower or when driving a tractor. For two days as I spread the winter grass seed, I was left to my own thoughts.
These are the facts. We are 20 inches behind in our rain fall here. We have been praying for rain everyday several times a day for months now. Several times the wind has picked up and the sky grows dark, but no rain falls for us. It has stormed literally a few miles away without even so much as sprinkle here. I was growing discouraged.
As I watched the tiny seeds spray out of the implement and land on the incredibly dry soil, I prayed. It was not your typical prayer; it was more a conversation between me and my Heavenly Father. For two days I asked for rain. I first began asking for one inch. Then I thought if I am going to ask for anything I might as well ask for what I think we need. I increased the amount to three inches.
I reminded myself, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). Another verse from the book of James ran through my head. It reads, “But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord…” (1:6-7).
When I finished sowing the last of the seed, I expectantly looked up to the sky waiting for any signs of rain. There was not any. I showered and enjoyed my evening confident that rain would come. Sunday morning I turned on the weather and rejoiced when I saw the line of showers headed our way. I encouraged my son to go milk earlier than usual on Sunday morning so as to not get caught in the rain before church. His reply was, “What rain?”
The church we attend has huge walls of windows on the sides of the sanctuary. It gives you a great view of the parking lot on one side and a green lawn on the other. As we sat there listening to the sermon, the rain began to fall. I immediately offered up a prayer of thanksgiving and one that the rain would continue. Too many times it has started to rain that it has just as quickly stopped. The rain did not stop. Instead, it grew harder.
It was not a thunderstorm. Lightning did not threaten to start a fire. Thunder did not roll. It simply poured. It was such a beautiful scene that I could not help but just gaze out the windows. A smile spread over my face and I delighted in my Father’s blessing. The best thing was that the rain did not stop. It continued to pour for hours. Even late that afternoon it was still raining!
When the rain stopped right before darkness settled over the land, I walked out to check the rain gauge. God had not given us the one inch I first asked for. He had not given us the three I eventually asked for. Instead he gave the perfect amount of 2 1/4 inches of beautiful, soaking rain. I have no doubt that our winter grass will grow and nourish our cattle throughout the winter. What a blessing!
If you know of any reasonably priced, good quality hay for sale, please let me know. We could use any and all tips. You could be a part of another answered prayer.