CANTON — In terms of rain, the cup is neither half empty nor half full in Oklahoma.
In this drought it's nowhere close to the latter.
But that hasn't changed the perspective of ag producer Brandon Webb, of Canton.
Webb's area is among the 34.56 percent of Oklahoma in an exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday.
With the exception of a few years as a child, the 47-year-old has lived in Blaine County. His great-grandfather, William Haigler, with his dad, James Marion Haigler, and family arrived in the area in 1892.
Webb's grandfather, George Marion Haigler, was born in 1906. He endured the droughts of the 1930s and 1950s.
Cup is ‘half full'
“I think being positive is a choice we make every day,” Brandon Webb said. “I was taught to look at the cup half full instead of half empty. That doesn't change what's in the cup but it sure changes the way in which we handle what's in front of us. I pray for rain and our needs every day but I also thank God for my blessings every day too.”
With that said, Webb points out that their farming and ranching operation, with land in northwestern Blaine County and a little land in Dewey County, is in “full drought mode.”
“Our first priority is maintaining our cow herd,” he said. “Our cow/calf operation is the backbone of our farming and ranching business. We are implementing several different plans of action that differ from what we call normal. We take things a day at a time but are looking ahead 60 to 90 days as far as our hay supplies and grazing that we have available.
“We are weaning calves early and selling calves lighter and younger than normal to stretch what feed resources we have to our mother cows. I think the willingness and decisions to change directions are crucial in times like this.”
Brandon and wife, Cari, have two sons, Clayton, 19, and Wade, 16. Clayton is living and working on the farm, and Wade is a junior in Canton High School and also works on the farm.
They received enough rain in August and September on most of their farms to get their rye and wheat planted in a timely manner. Their intention is to use all of it for grazing in the fall and winter in order to maintain their cattle operation. So, they plant it early to get the most pasture possible.
The Webbs will generally cut 20 percent of their wheat for hay and harvest the remaining 80 percent for grain.
“We graze off most of our rye but due to the drought we hayed about 25 percent of it this last spring,” Brandon Webb said. “I think we'll continue to do so as long as we stay in this drought cycle. Some of our wheat and quite a bit of the rye is showing great signs of stress due to the lack of moisture. They are both hardy drought-tolerant plants so we will keep hoping for the best.”
The U.S. Drought Monitor report shows 90.56 percent of the state is experiencing an extreme to exceptional drought. That is up from 71.86 percent two weeks ago, and slightly up from 90.50 percent last week.
Webb said after two years of drought, many of their ponds are either dry or nearly dry.
On their farm, they use several sources of water. They have a few places with creeks, several ponds, and many wells in which they use electric pumps.
“If electricity is available, it is our first choice but where it is not available, over the last several years we have replaced worn-out windmills with solar-powered electric water pumps to provide water for our cattle,” he said. “The cost of replacing the wind mills and the costs of solar-powered water systems is comparable.”
Even in these dusty days, Webb takes on the “half-full” perspective.
“During this drought,” he said, “I am finding that the real blessing is that our water wells still have water in them to be drawn.”