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Big Country ranchers and farmers grateful for early rains in 2023

DUDLEY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Many Big Country residents saw flurries early Tuesday afternoon, but the potential for a winter wonderland blanketing the region was dampened by the cold, heavy rains. However, for Big Country farmers and ranchers, the rain was a more than welcome sight.

The 150 head of Black Angus cattle that roamed the Chrane Ranch in Dudley looked a little different in January. They had soaked and muddy hooves and hips, and normal black noses stained light brown from the now damp ground.

As you could see the hot blast coming as they bellowed, it was a welcome sign. A little rain, any rain, that Daphna and Terry Chrane had been praying for for months had finally come.

Chrane Ranch was established nearly 120 years ago in 1905, and its owners say they’ve never had a streak of years like the past 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 has seen Chrane Ranch take a financial hit. Regular coastal hay bales averaging $90 soared to $250 within weeks, and cattle cubes up to $500 for a pallet.

Brown noses on their black angus are also not something to graze on. No pun intended.

“Our animals just ate it all because of the two and three in a row,” Daphna said. “It reduced our pastures to nothing.”

Without abundant rainfall, the natural grasses that their livestock relied on year-round were non-existent, the same could be said of their winter wheat crop.

“I said if that — if we don’t get this week, it’s sales time,” Terry said. “You know, the good Lord has a way of getting your attention from time to time, and he had it.”

Daphna said the Chranes knelt in prayer, asking God for a miracle before potentially selling their family business.

At the time, 91% of the Great Country was in extreme or exceptional drought conditions, with nearly 10 inches under the rain bucket, according to KTAB chief meteorologist Sam Nichols.

With the help of the late December showers and the half inch of rain we received on January 24, it gave hope to the Chranes and many others across the Big Country.

Nichols echoed that sentiment, saying there’s a good chance of good rains in the coming months.

“There’s a 70% chance that by the end of February we’ll go from a the girl model to a neutral model,” Nichols explained.

The neutral pattern means average rainfall for March, April and May, but we could see another increase in rainfall in the following months.

“Hopefully towards the end of May and through the summer, the transition to [an] El Nino model, which is generally wetter for this part of the United States,” Nichols included.

This weather has boded well for all farmers and ranchers, no doubt, as 2023 is just beginning.

For the Chranes, however, it was their faith through the harshest drought that helped hold their heads high.

“We’re just stewards of what’s here, and we hope we’ve been good ones, but in the end it’s going to be this relationship with our Creator,” Terry said.

Plus, a strong family pride in the work Terry’s grandfather put into their operation that carried them through and into a new year.

“Far be it from me to be the one who has a little dryness, a little cold weather, and throws up his hands and says, ‘I did my best,'” Terry added.

The Chranes said that during the summer of 2022 they were feeding their cattle every other day as they would in the winter when the grass is dormant, resulting in a rapid increase in expenses for their 150 head of cattle. .

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