It had been something like 60 days with no precipitation, and as it is, we only get any measurable precipitation in the winter. Our spring, summer, and fall are typically very dry. We depend on winter’s storms for our annual supply of water. The Sierra Nevada Mountains, a long chain that lines the eastern edge of the state, hold our yearly water in the snow pack that accumulates during the winter months. The snow pack melts during the hot summer months and is captured in various lakes and reservoirs in the foothills above California’s central valley. The water is then sent to California’s towns and cities via a complex aqueduct system that is part of the California Water Project.
Our entire state depends on the winter rains and snow pack. The rain soaks our foothills which allows grass to grow for grazing beef cattle. Without the grass, our ranchers are forced to feed hay which dramatically increases the cost of raising beef cattle.
Without the melting snow pack, the Central Valley’s farmers don’t receive their water allotments from the reservoirs and must instead use pumps to daw water from underground aquifers. This forces farmers to raise the price of their crops.
Without an adequate amount of rain and snow during our wet season, the price of horse-keeping can be driven quite high. When the demand for hay increases, like when the ranchers need it because there’s no grass, the price goes up. When farmers must pay higher electrical costs for using water pumps, the price of hay, grain, and other feeds goes up.
We left town on Saturday morning for a quick visit to our cabin which is located in the southern end of the Sierra Nevada. We were greeted with cloudy skies, wind, and a smattering of snow and hail. It was great to see the white stuff, but disappointing to see so little of it. Come on, Winter! Bring us some snow.
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