DUDLEY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Many Big Country residents saw snow flurries in the early afternoon Tuesday, but the potential for a winter wonderland covering the area was toned down by the cold, heavy rain. However, for Big Country farmers and ranchers, the rain was a more than welcomed sight.
The 150 head of black angus cattle roaming the Chrane Ranch in Dudley had a little different look this January. They were soaked, muddied hooves and haunches, and a normal black nose colored light brown from the now wet ground.
While you could see the hot breath come as they bellowed, it was a welcomed sign. Some rain, any rain, that Daphna and Terry Chrane had been praying for months for had finally arrived.
Chrane Ranch was established nearly 120 years ago in 1905, and its owners said they had never had a string of years quite like the last two.
“We fed during the summer like we normally do in the winter, like every other day,” Terry said.
The severity of the year-long drought in 2022 saw Chrane Ranch take a financial hit. Regular coastal hay bales costing an average of $90 shot up to $250 in a matter of weeks, and cattle cubes upwards of $500 for a pallet.
The brown noses on their black angus is not something to graze over, either. No pun intended.
“Our animals have just ate it all off because of the two and three years straight,” Daphna said. “That had our pastures down to nothing.”
Without ample rainfall, the natural grasses their cattle feed on year-round was non-existent, the same could be said of their winter wheat harvest.
“I said if this – if we don’t get this week crop up, it’s sale time,” Terry said. “You know, the good Lord has a way of getting your attention every once in a while, and He had it.”
Daphna said the Chranes hit their knees in prayer, asking God for a miracle before potentially selling out of their family business.
At the time, 91% of the Big Country was in extreme or exceptional drought conditions, with nearly 10 inches below the rain bucket, according to KTAB Chief Meteorologist Sam Nichols.
With the help of late December showers and the half-inch of rain we received January 24, it gave hope to the Chranes, and many others across the Big Country.
Nichols echoed that sentiment, saying there is a good chance for good rain in the coming months.
“There’s a 70% chance that at the end of February we’ll be transitioning from a La Nina pattern to a neutral pattern,” Nichols explained.
The neutral pattern means average rainfall for March, April and May, but we could see another uptick in rain in the months following.
“Hopefully, towards the end of May and into the summertime, well transition into [an] El Nino pattern, which is typically wetter for this part of the United States,” included Nichols.
This weather has been a good sign for all farmers and ranchers, no doubt, as 2023 is just beginning.
For the Chranes, though, it was their faith through the toughest drought that helped keep their heads high.
“We’re just stewards of what’s here, and hopefully were good stewards of it, but in the end it will be that relationship with our Creator,” Terry said.
Plus, a strong family pride in the work Terry’s grandfather put into their operation that got them over the hump and into a new year.
“Far be it from me to be the one who has a little drought, a little cold weather, and throw up my hands and say, ‘I did my best,’” added Terry.
The Chranes said during the summer of 2022, they were feeding their cattle every other day like they would in winter when the grass is dormant, making for a quickly rising expense for their 150 head of cattle.