Drought's grip on Oklahoma strengthens

by Bryan Painter Modified: November 30, 2012 at 4:47 pm •  Published: November 30, 2012

The toes of John Pfeiffer's boots kicked up a little dust as he walked along the powder-dry, well-worn cow path.

While that might not necessarily be uncommon, the path's location is alarming.

It's near the bottom of a pond that is about 12 feet deep when full, he said.

Pfeiffer has about 20 ponds at Pfeiffer Angus Farms in northern Logan County. Six of those are totally dry or are too low to use for watering cattle.

“The others are low and getting lower by the day,” said Pfeiffer, 59. “What has really been strange about the drought this time is normally on pond water, if you make it to the middle of September and you've got pretty decent water, they don't go down any more.

“However, we've had so much wind and warm days that'll you'll come out here a lot of times, and you can see where the pond's actually sunk down like three or four more inches.”

Pfeiffer's area is experiencing an extreme drought. His area is among the 90.50 percent of Oklahoma in an extreme to exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday. That is up from 71.86 percent in those categories in last week's report.

Pfeiffer is only three miles south of an area that is among the 34.46 percent of Oklahoma that is in the exceptional drought classification, the worst category.

Financially, things are pretty tight for Pfeiffer and many others. Even with some profits, they have faced higher input costs, he said.

However, Pfeiffer has kept a smile on his face and remains optimistic.

“Are we going to survive?” Pfeiffer said of his farm. “Yes, we're going to survive because we've been here long enough that we can move some things around and do without some things and make it work. It's not always the most fun time, but that's part of life.

“There's no other place I'd rather be. This is all I've wanted to do my whole life.”

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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