The weather continues to make life interesting. I am tempted to say the weather makes life difficult. If that were true, life always would be difficult because, as long as the Earth spins and continues its rotation around the sun, the weather never will be uninteresting or constant.
In fact, if the weather quit changing, that would mean the Earth stopped rotating. At that point, we could rightly say that life is difficult.
Sorry if a bit of reality is hard to swallow, but farming and ranching have been and will continue to be a game of chess between Mother Nature and a producer.
Because Mother Nature is unwilling to take any advice, all the preparation and planning rests on the shoulders of the producer.
Currently, the drought or excessively dry weather card has been played. Although the scene is very similar to previous droughts, driving across lifeless, parched land is discouraging.
As summer comes to a close, the first step is to establish an inventory of our cattle, remaining pasture availability, carryover hay and potential hay production.
The ability to survive will be measured by a producer's ability to balance cattle inventory with feed inventory. Given that feed purchases may need to be made, each purchase comes with an obligation to commit money with the expectation that those funds will be paid back in future cattle revenues.
This is step one and is the most important point to the whole discussion of buying feed or selling cows. If no short- or long-term profit can be penciled in, then step two needs to happen. That is tough but life is tough, and living in denial only makes life tougher.
Regardless, the summer growing season is departing and fall decisions will need to be made.
Step two is to evaluate and adjust cattle inventories. In other words, now is the time to cull those extra market cows and bulls. The culling needs to be deep. However, culling deep is not a new concept to seasoned cattle producers.
Times change and, with that change, stocking rates and feed resources change as well. As a reminder, those changes in inventory should start with a no-excuse mind-set. All open or structurally unsound cows need to go.
Even though the cows were evaluated last spring, now is the time to pregnancy check and evaluate for summer injuries that only will become major as time goes on. In addition, look for cows that are dry, even though they were sent to pasture with a calf at side.
Calves have a way of finding milk, even if their own mother was not the source, so poor mothers must go. Wild mothers also must go.