Young farm family among those battling through the extreme drought

Extreme drought spreading in Oklahoma
BY BRYAN PAINTER bpainter@opubco.com Published: April 8, 2011
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Farming was in Zac Harris' heart long before wife Amy found her way to it.

That's why she really can't say she got a vote in the decision to make a living from agriculture.

“They tell me Zac said that he wanted to farm since he was a little boy,” Amy Harris said.

Married in 2003, Zac and Amy Harris raise children, wheat and cattle around Hobart in southwestern Oklahoma. Certainly it was no shock to these 29-year-old parents that the U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday now includes areas of their county, Kiowa County, in the extreme drought category.

Extreme drought now extends from the Red River north to a point just short of the Oklahoma County-Logan County line. While it bullies its way north, the extreme drought continues to push out to the south, reaching both Harmon County in the far southwest and McCurtain County in the far southeast.

A majority of the rest of the state is classified in a severe drought.

It's a historic predicament considering the state was drier in the four months following Thanksgiving than it has been in that four-month span since 1921.

That's a bold statement in Oklahoma, known in part for the 1930s Dust Bowl. So many Oklahomans are left staring at empty blue skies and clinging to their faith.

“Rain is mentioned more toward the first in our prayers and again at the last,” said Zac Harris, a fourth-generation farmer and rancher. “I was trying to be upbeat about it until Sunday, but with not much chance of rain in the 10-day, I just think it's pretty well over.”

Don't take that as a white flag. Instead, the Harrises said they are regrouping before moving forward.

The last rain at Hobart that amounted to much was 2.11 inches Nov. 11-15, according to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. Since then they have had only seven-tenths of an inch.

And that's left more than just the crops stressed.

Decisions

On a farm, the dinner table is the boardroom table. In the next six weeks, the couple will make numerous managerial decisions.

“Financially, we do have crop insurance, which is a savior,” Amy Harris said.

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You know in the Bible it's says pray without ceasing? That's kind of where we stand.”

Amy Harris

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