Victoria farmer preparing for hayless winter spurred by drought conditions

Local farmers and ranchers are bracing themselves for a hayless winter.

VICTORIA, Texas – While there have been scattered showers here and there, they haven’t been enough to pull the Crossroads out of drought conditions. 

Local farmers and ranchers are bracing themselves for a hayless winter.

Before Ryan Keller started growing crops and raising livestock, he was putting out fires as a full-time firefighter. 

“I believe that the firefighting career prepared me better for doing what I’m doing now just being able to roll with the punches because you’re going to get beat up doing farming and agriculture like we’re doing,” Keller said. “Especially in a brutal environment like in South Texas.”

Although October is usually one of the best months for rainfall, Keller said he’s heard other farmers say this has been the driest October on record in the last 20 years. 

Drought Conditions in Texas on November 25, 2020

Drought Conditions in Texas on November 25, 2020. Source: United States Drought Monitor

 “Preparing for drought or a stockpile winter forage by saving half of our ranch and not grazing it throughout the year and just putting that aside,” Keller said. “Throughout the last few weeks, I’ve seen a lot of people transport hay on the highways so that tells me, and I realize it because we’re in the agriculture business too and I see how dry it is, is people are running out of hay.” 

Buying hay isn’t cheap, Keller has noticed prices ranging between $50 to $80 per bale.

“An average of twenty cows can eat on one bale in one day so that can add up very quickly,” Keller said.

To help farmers and ranchers struggling to feed their livestock, Keller recommends buying local as often as you can.

Keller, the owner of Turkey Hollow Farm located in Victoria, is a regular vendor at the Victoria Farmers’ Market, which is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday out in front of the Dr. Pattie Dodson Health Center.