Drought leaves dark cloud over California ranchers, growers

Beneath unyielding blue skies on a recent afternoon, Ryan Indart knelt down to examine what was left of one of his sheep pastures.

Land that should have been lush with native grasses this time of year has been reduced to powdery dirt, splotched with a few withered strands of filaree and foxtail. And where there's no vegetation, there are no sheep.

A fourth-generation rancher, Indart has already sent 10% of his 4,000 ewes — which he normally would want to keep — to the slaughterhouse because he can't afford the hay to feed them. If the drought keeps up, his hungry ewes won't reproduce as they should to make his investment pay off. Yearlings will struggle to gain weight because their mothers won't produce enough milk. Indart may have to cull more of them if the clouds don't open up.

Read full text in the LA Times