Jul 16, 2012 7:29 PM by Matt Stafford

Drought devastating the family ranch

Cattle ranchers Harold and Jean Meinzer have been forced to deal with 10 years of the driest conditions they can imagine.

"We're just trying to hang on like everybody else," Harold said. "We haven't had the ponds filled since ‘02."

The Meinzer's ranch, Four Corners Ranch, sits on four different counties in Colorado; Pueblo Co., El Paso Co., Lincoln Co., and Crowley Co. It's dry everywhere, with not a lot of grass to graze on for their cattle; they say that's going to drive up cost in hay prices for them. Usually the Meinzer's buy a ton of hay each year for each cow, but on a drier year like this one they have to buy extra from somewhere else and have to pay for fuel to ship it.

"With the entire mid-section of the nation in a drought hay is going to be gold-plated, it's going to be so difficult to get" Jean said.

Harold and Jean are left with tough decisions. They'll have to cut back on their herd, but they aren't sure by how much yet. They aren't the only ranchers making these choices.

"Our neighbor to the south sold out last year," Jean said, concerned this year might be their turn.

"It's not something I want to see, but it's reality," Harold said.

Their land has been in the family for generations and some cattle have bloodlines dating back to the 1800's in El Paso County, but if the weather doesn't cooperate they'll think about selling.

"Probably better than a 70 percent chance of it happening... Unless those clouds do something," Jean Meinzer said.

All they can hope is for rain to make it in time.



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