The pond was almost empty and the cattle were thirsty. There's grass for the cattle to eat. Rotational grazing practices help soil absorb rain water and long grass roots go deep to suck up moisture. But what to do about the lack of surface water in this drought?
We move our cattle from pasture to pasture throughout the summer to allow grass to recover from grazing. In this way we have lush green grass for our cattle to eat for seven to eight months. Often there is grass to eat all the way into December. In each pasture we have different water sources. Pastures with wells still have water but a couple of our pastures use pond water. We fence the cattle out of the ponds to protect surface water from contamination from the cattle and pump the water to holding tanks which feeds water troughs from which the cattle drink.
This year, for the first time in seven years, one of our surface ponds is almost dry which means that though the cattle have plenty to eat they have nothing to drink. To solve this problem we are getting 6,000 gallons of water delivered by a swimming pool water truck to fill the empty pond!
Many people are annoyed by lawn watering or car washing restrictions. For farmers like us, water means life or death for our cattle. Other livestock owners are doing the same as us, relying on “swimming pool” water or other creative water delivery systems to keep their critters alive.
The Northeast is typically immune from droughts like this one. Let's hope it ends soon so that swimming pools can be filled, ponds don't dry out and we have water for cattle.