A Cowboy’s Faith: Muddy waterholes become ponds – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: Muddy waterholes become ponds

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Now all we need is a nice steady four-inch rain.”

Rainfall in that amount, even when coming down so there’s soil utilization and runoff, still makes muddy conditions. With moisture shortage in many locales most in agriculture would welcome the water to help replenishment.

Undoubtedly there’ll be some complaining about such rainfall this time of the year. When it’s muddy, native pastures are readily eroded by cattle feeding equipment. Likewise, pastures with waterholes in lowlands make it difficult for cows to birth new babies. Still many ranchers and of course farmers are hoping for rain regardless of problems that come with it.

A number of farmers around the Midwest have had mud and slime cleaned out of nearly dry ponds. No better time to clean ponds than when they’re about dry and then pray for refilling rains come spring. Rainfall is just as important in order to have ample grass to graze.

Heifers to start calving in a few days were moved out of two pastures where the ponds were nearly dry. Shorelines were completely black slime that would readily bog down a cow and her calf trying to get a drink.

Trenches were cut in the old pond dams and what little water remaining was drained out to the draws below. Long armed heavy bucket equipment scooped the thick gooey black mud out down to bedrock.

A bulldozer reshaped the dams higher, longer and stronger than before. Excavating continued to smooth out the big holes so there should be two usable stock water ponds after spring rains.

One small pond in the 90-acre pasture behind the headquarters has been a rancher’s thorn nearly 50 years. Constructed behind an old cropland terrace, now go-back native pasture, the pond was never much. Dad even tried to deepen the pond with a tumblebug decades ago.

It kept getting shallower with less water and more mud and cattails every year. Soil conservation contractors shook their head “no” when asked about renovating the little pond.

Then finally, one said, “Sure, we can make it a nice body of water.” They worked two days with big machines, and with rainfall that “new” pond should be what the rancher’s long envisioned.

Reminded of Isaiah 41:28: “Lands were desperate for water when rains came turning baked clay into a cool clear pond.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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