MART, TX — While we batten down the hatches to prepare for the big freeze headed our way, some in the agriculture business have begun working overtime to protect their investment and our next meal.
Cattle rancher Craig Travers says he dreads the days when he has to work against the clock to protect his herd from the below-freezing temperatures. He knows once the ice covers the grass, his cows won't have a food supply, so he and his friend, Bubba Moran, make sure they have plenty of emergency hay rations.
"I usually do about a bail to ten cow," he explained.
The hay will fill the cows up until the thaw melts the ice and they can go back to grazing.
”Yeah it gives them a little protein there and that's it. Give 'em a little roughage there, a little protein, something to keep their bellies full, and we'll give them little cubes too to go along with it,” said Travers.
The rancher says he and Moran have worked sun up to sun down to make sure their herds get enough to eat.
Farmers and ranchers don't really like the cold, windy, blustery kind of weather because it doubles or triples their workload. As the wind picks up and moves in moisture, hypothermia could become a problem, especially for people who go out unprepared for the cold temperatures and even colder wind chills.
On the other hand, Central Texas farmers had only recently begun to prepare for planting. Experts at Texas A&M say it's not so much the cold spells that harm plants. It is the warm periods in the winter.
”When you have these warm spells in the middle of the winter, the plants react like it's springtime and lose some of their acclimation, so they lose a little bit of their cold-heartiness," explained Larry Stein of Texas A&M's AgriLife Extension office.
But with nothing in the ground, farmers can sit back while their cattle counterparts try to prevent "cowcicles".
Both know preparing for what nature brings will keep them in business.