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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Drought causes poor pond levels

  • Farmers and ranchers from the tri-county area are hoping they see some rain soon or they are going to have to resort to other measures to obtain a steady water supply for their cattle and crops.


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  • Farmers and ranchers from the tri-county area are hoping they see some rain soon or they are going to have to resort to other measures to obtain a steady water supply for their cattle and crops.
    Even though central Oklahoma, including Pottawatomie, Seminole and Lincoln counties, saw average precipitation levels for the autumn months of 2011, the National Weather Service said the state is still 13 inches below the state’s average precipitation levels. The central Oklahoma climate division had a total rainfall of 25 inches in 2011.
    Shawnee had 22.36 inches of precipitation in 2011, which is 16.36 inches below normal.
    National Weather Service Meteorologist Bruce Thoren said during the peak of the drought last year, mainly in August, most of the state was in the extreme drought category and since then Oklahoma has seen some rain, especially during November and December.
    “Drought conditions had improved,” he said. “Since then, we are starting a drought again so it could be one of these things where we  are trying to get back into it again, but it’s too early to tell.”
    Lincoln County farmer and rancher Steve Buoy said the drought conditions have significantly hindered his operation, and among the 15 or 20 ponds on his properties, all of them are bleak and in need of water.
    Buoy said if he doesn’t see a significant amount of rain by May, then he will be forced to sell his 62 head of cattle off to just break even.
    “We have high feed prices, high hay prices, but there’s no relief from the water,” Buoy said. “These high prices are directly related to the drought we had in 2011.”
    Buoy said he pays $295 a ton for feed and last year this time he was paying around $185 for the same amount of feed.
    He said even if he sells his cattle, he won’t be making a profit, but will be cutting his losses.
    “Sooner or later it’s going to get back to the consumer and we are going to see higher prices on meat, poultry and pork, I imagine,” he said.
    Other farmers in the area are considering taking other measures to get water for their crops and livestock.
    Local farmer and rancher Lucas Cannon said all of his ponds in Bethel are also really low, but he said one of the ponds he has built, actually has more water than any of the other natural ponds he has on his properties.
    He said the man-made pond he built is designed to retain run-off water because it is built at the bottom of a hill, but he is also considering drilling wells to keep the ponds full if he doesn’t get any rain this spring.
    Cannon said he is going to try to go through Shawnee City water to build a line to run to his property to keep the levels up instead of building wells.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It will probably be cheaper for me to buy city water out here in Bethel than it would be for me to have a well dug,” he said.
    Cannon said the waterline might be something he is going to really consider if the rain doesn’t come this year.
    “The only thing I can say is to pray to God that we do get some more rain,” he said. “All we do is just plant the seeds and turn it over to God and let him take control of it.”
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