WASTA, S.D. (KELO) — After more than a week of cooler temps and scattered rain, the hot dry conditions are making their way back. One ranching family in Wasta, South Dakota, is holding out hope for more rain, as hay production and feeding cattle have become a big concern.

What’s normally a busy time for hay production out in this field, has completely stopped.
Kyle Schell says this only one of the challenges brought on by the 2021 drought.

“On a normal year we try to make about 800 to a thousand bails on this ranch and this year we haven’t been able to make any and we’ve grazed those acres in order to extend our grazing season on our grass and allow our grass as much time to use what little moisture there has been,” Kyle Schell said.

Out here on the oat field where hay is normally produced, these crops are usually up to here but because of the 2021 drought, production is down.

Schell is hoping to hold onto his cattle until Fall but is gearing up to sell if he is forced to.

“That’s the biggest thing, the constant planning and replanning and figuring out how you’re going to make it. It’s just one challenge after the other,” Kyle Schell said.

Kyle’s wife, Carrie, says this has been a very exhausting time for Schell family. She has been working multiple jobs.

“This drought is very stressful I would say for all ranchers and spouses combined, this is kind of the livelihood. Many of us spouses have jobs in town to try to offset expenses as well so that we can be on the ranch because it would be very difficult without dual-income coming in,” Carrie Schell said.

Even with a little more than an inch of recent rain, the Schells are still holding out for more moisture.

“And to really support one another. Right now is just kind of the lull and just doing what it takes to get by everyday. Just encourage each other just to stay strong and there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Carrie Schell said.

A message for farmers and ranchers across much of the state.

The Schell Ranch is a 7,500 acre operation out in Wasta. It runs around 300 cows at this time.