Rain spells brief relief

Chelle Delaney

Thursday night’s rain brought sighs and smiles of relief to many ranchers and farmers in Quay County. And none could be happier than the Sidwells, a ranching couple, who own and operate the JX Ranch near the Caprock.

“It’s the best thing that could have happened. We’re just going to ride around, check out the ranch and gloat,” said Mimi Sidwell on Friday morning.

And even the loss of a steer to the rain couldn’t dampen her spirits.

Nevertheless, the rain, which fell hard and fast, is no quick fix to the drought.

“Now, what we need is nice, slow steady rains,” she said.
Mimi and her husband, Tom Sidwell, were out on Highway 209 fixing water gaps and fences broken by the rain so that their cattle couldn’t wander.

Nearby, a road crew was out scrapping the dirt off the highway near mile marker 66 where it washed over in two places during the night.

The rain gauges showed that between 1.6 and 2.5 inches of rain fell on their nearly 7,000-acre cattle ranch around the Caprock, Mimi Sidwell said.

In fact, it rained so much that the Rincon Creek “ran the highest we’ve ever seen it,” said Mimi Sidwell, adding that they’ve owned the ranch for two years. Caught in the swelling creek, the steer was out about a mile and a half, she said.

Tom Sidwell said, “It’s doubled the rainfall we’ve had in the last nine months.”

At several rancher meetings, he said government officials have reported that it has been the driest here, between October 2005 and April 2006, since 1895.

It rained so hard and fast, “it probably won’t do much for the grass, but it definitely helps,” Tom Sidwell said.

Dirt tanks on their ranch have filled and hopefully will last their 400-head of cattle through the summer, he said with a big smile.

“The wells were weak and we were fixing to run out,” Mimi Sidwell said.

Last night’s rain, she added, “means our salvation and survival.”