Purchase photos

Young farmer battles on despite drought





McCRACKEN -- Chris Petz was busy doing what he knows best, driving a truck and watching his son.

It's just that his son, Chansler, just now 21, was guiding one of two John Deere combines through a field of wheat in a choreographed ballet of sorts forced on them by first cutting out the terraces.

"He took over the farm," Chris Petz said of his son and daughter-in-law, KayLynn.

Health issues forced Chris's brother, Dan, to step away from the 6,000-acre grass and crop farm straddling the lines where Ness, Trego and Ellis counties intersect.

Chris Petz made the leap to Goddard in 2000, where he bought a trucking firm.

His last year on the farm was 1996, but he's back to help his son.

Despite the continuing drought, Petz said the field they were cutting Monday was "doing pretty good."

"This is probably 35-plus," he said of the yields.

Despite the better than expected wheat, it's been a struggle finding grass for cattle.

Petz said his son had to keep his herd on the wintering pasture until just recently, when rains helped boost the growth of grass in a pasture near Cedar Bluff Reservoir.

"We just hauled cattle last week up to Cedar Bluff because the grass was too short," he said, about 45 days later than normal.

But that means Chansler Petz has been feeding the herd on ground where they are normally wintered.

"One-hundred acres at Grandma's," Chris Petz said of his mother, Dolores. "We couldn't take them up to the big pasture at Cedar Bluff. There was no grass."