Usually this time of year, he’ll see tall dark clouds rolling in over the pasture. Arriving with thunder and lightning, the storms douse the land and nourish the grasses. When the monsoon rains come, the grasses will turn so green, McFee said that “it almost hurts your eyes.” But this year, the monsoon hasn’t come. The summer has brought just a few sprinkles and unrelenting blue skies. The rangelands across eastern Arizona have been left parched.
In low-lying washes where runoff usually collects, ranchers have built earthen barriers to form ponds — “dirt tanks,” they call them — for their cattle to drink.
This summer, with those ponds bone-dry, Trenton Hancock has been hauling more water by truck for his cows.