Purchase photos

Drought taking toll on pastures





ELLIS -- Darrell Schmeidler focused on the fencing repairs before him.

He already knew what was within the confines of the fence, and he wasn't at all pleased about it.

"There's not very much at all," he said of the grass awaiting an onslaught of cattle near the first of May. "If it doesn't rain, I'll feed them for a while."

Schmeidler's pasture southwest of Ellis, a half-section of ground, is like many across northwest Kansas. There isn't a bit of green in the pasture, which was clipped short by cattle last fall.

"You can see a mouse run out here," said Schmeidler's son, Tom.

He lives in Salina but runs cattle with his father.

"We can feed them through the end of May," Schmeidler said of his cattle. "Hopefully by that time, we can get some rain."

While the grass was virtually table-top flat on the south half of the pasture where he was working, Schmeidler said that's because the water tank is there.

"The north has more grass," he said.

Conditions are the same in pastures he has north of Ellis and north of Emmeram.

"We just need rain," Schmeidler said. "Not only the grass, but the wheat."

If it rains, he's thinking the pasture might carry approximately three-fourths of what would be considered normal.

"If it doesn't rain, I'll probably bring half out and let them graze," he said.