For many parts of cattle country, the drought is far from over. A Dust Bowl-style dust storm in the Texas Panhandle was a stark reminder of that reality.

Burt Rutherford, Senior Editor

March 19, 2014

2 Min Read
The Case Of The Disappearing Mesa

No, this is not a Hardy Boys-Nancy Drew mystery. (And those of you who know of what I refer have immediately aged yourself). Instead, it was the scene out my window as a Dust Bowl-style dust storm blew across the Texas Panhandle.

The day started out with a bluebird sky full of promise, and no promise at all. The promise was for a bright, warm day, the kind of spring day that makes being outside a pleasure. For many of us who continue to crane our necks for a glimpse of storm clouds, however, the day held no promise at all.

Indeed, like most other days this year, and last year, and the year before that, and especially the year before that, the day started out dry. By lunchtime, the temperature was pleasantly in the 60s. But then, as has happened every few days this winter, a dry cold front blew in.

But this one felt different. The temperature drop was sharper, the wind keener.

My office window faces west, and I can see several mesas, for which the ranch country west of Amarillo is known for.  As the afternoon wore on, the scene out my window became more and more surreal, until the dust completely blotted out even the largest mesa.

This is not the first dust storm we’ve had this winter, but it was certainly the worst. I cannot begin to imagine what it was like in the 1930s or the 1950s, but now I know why Dad and Grandpa always rinsed out their water glass before filling it at the kitchen sink.

Yesterday’s dust storm was a stark reminder that, for my part of the world anyway, the drought is far from over.As I watched the mesa slowly disappear behind the dust, I thought of the question we’re posing on the website about forge prospects this spring. Here, where I’m at, I think I can safely say that until it rains, forage prospects this spring are essentially nonexistent.

Many of you have “enjoyed” more winter than you really want. I pray that someday we can share that problem.



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About the Author(s)

Burt Rutherford

Senior Editor, BEEF Magazine

Burt Rutherford is director of content and senior editor of BEEF. He has nearly 40 years’ experience communicating about the beef industry. A Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in agricultural journalism, he now works from his home base in Colorado. He worked as communications director for the North American Limousin Foundation and editor of the Western Livestock Journal before spending 21 years as communications director for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. He works to keep BEEF readers informed of trends and production practices to bolster the bottom line.

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