Half a Lifetime of Drought-A Southeast Colorado's Woman's Story

When Otero County resident Andee Leininger wrote a book about drought, she probably had no idea of the irony.  Soon after its debut, Colorado was out of the drought.  Leininger laughs about it as she shared her experiences that led her to write, Half a Lifetime of Drought.

“Growing up on a ranch during drought really changes your perspective on ranching and rangelands in general.”  She said she learned about the science behind it in college but used her knowledge of growing up on a ranch to apply it to help others.

She continued that she kept hearing about the lack of resources for ranchers that translated the science into layman’s terms.  That’s when she decided to try and be that bridge to make understanding the science of managing drought a little easier for everyone.

“I tried to make everything really relatable and relate it back to the things I had experienced growing up on the ranch as well.  And just kinda make it a practical guide for people.” Leininger shares a little of her story at the beginning of the book and then launches into why it’s important to manage drought.

But how exactly does one manage drought?  Remember that irony mentioned above, she elaborates on how it’s actually a very good time to be discussing drought during a year with above-average rainfall. 

“This is the perfect year to plan for it because you’re not stressed out about where your feed is coming from, you’re not stressed out about finding lease pasture, and the market is actually pretty good, I think better than it’s been in a while.”

Leininger advised using this year to bank the forage for winter grazing which could give ranchers a leg up to start in the spring.  And then comes the caution that this year isn’t normal.  Farmers and ranchers in southeast Colorado already know what Leininger shared next, that the rain won’t always come so plentifully in the years to come.

“The weather is very cyclical of course” Leininger reminded. 

At the time of our interview with Leininger, all 64 counties in the state were out of the danger range for drought according to the U.S Drought Monitor. 

Leininger’s knowledge of drought management is available to others in her small business, SECO Ranch Planning.  She advised having a plan. 

“It doesn’t have to be set in stone, I think a lot of people are like, oh I made this plan and I have to stick with it.  No. Mother nature never stays the same so your plan shouldn’t.  Change with the weather, change with the seasons.” 

Half a Lifetime of Drought can be purchased anywhere books are sold online. 

Leininger is a Certified Professional in Rangeland Management.  Information on her business can be found at www.secoranchplanning.com