With nothing like this year’s deluge in the heavens, the late rains of early September 20 years ago were a surprise to local farmers, generally a welcome one.
Though some, busy moving cattle to higher pastures, were swearing a lot at the low clouds, thick as baled cotton, tumbling down mountain ridges at them as they and their livestock slipped perilously in knee-deep greasy mud.
During the height of the rainy season, most campesinos here like to keep cattle penned close at hand if possible — precisely to avoid handling livestock in wet weather, and to keep them out of flourishing milpas (cornfields) usually planted on more distant mountainsides. But by August that year close by pastures were exhausted.
So cattle owners pushed their stock up into “open range” fields that weren’t fenced and some that were, if they hadn’t been planted. Sometimes they rent land that has been left fallow. But these high pastures pose the problem of getting livestock water, supplemental feed, and of course, complicates the task of milking.
A couple of young acquaintances, Moises (“Moy”) Chavez and Luis (“Guicho”) Larios, who sold their milk and cheese in pueblos near the western swing of Lake Chapala, rented several parcels of fallow land in the first days of September, and were moving 23 head of milk cows one afternoon.
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