Decisions to make
There have been better days, not so long ago, Pfeiffer said. In April and May, the pond he walked through was full. Now it's dry, except for a little pool that's maybe a foot deep.
Even the wheat pasture on the hill, planted around Labor Day, got off to a good start. But instead of a nice green blanket, it's got the look of a somewhat threadbare carpet. He's turned cattle on it to get what grazing he can while the wheat lasts. There are fields, such as one he planted in early October, where the wheat looks good. He planted it later with the intention of keeping cattle off it and harvesting the wheat for grain. But he has decided to put cattle on it awhile.
The current drought really started in the fall of 2010 and has had more on than off moments since.
“We were pretty fortunate that we'd rented some extra ground a year ago,” Pfeiffer said. “And so we've kind of moved (cattle) around and we've been able to buy enough hay to keep them together. We've made a conscious decision that we're getting ready to buy grain to feed a set of heifers that we really don't want to lose. What it's really going to do is just wipe out all of the profit. But to lose them would be like a 10-year setback.”
Besides prayer, something that helps Pfeiffer the most are the words of his late grandfather, also named John Pfeiffer, who went through droughts in the 1930s and 1950s.
His grandfather said, “We're a day closer today to the rain than we were yesterday.”“He's right,” his grandson said. “That's what you have to hang on to, that you're a day closer than you were. It's always rained in this country before, and it will again. If you're going to stay in agriculture, you've got to be optimistic to make those things work.”