Pins and needles, that is what farmers and ranchers in the Texas Panhandle are sitting on. 

With last year’s tragic wildfires fresh on everyone’s mind, folks continue to rebuild but they remain cautious because this year’s threats for wildfires are even worse. 

“It was kind of the wind of winds,” said Andy Holloway, County Extension Agent, Texas AgriLife-Hemphill County

One year ago this week those winds carried fire and smoke, burning almost 500,000 acres in its path. 

“When you have a devastating tragedy like this, it’s like taking part of your life and just erasing it,” said Holloway.

Those winds also blowing away hopes and dreams.

“It’s very traumatic, it’s very emotional, and its very sad,” Holloway stated.

But it’s not the end.

“Farmers, ranchers, agribusiness people they have to be resilient,” continued Holloway.

He said the rain from last spring and late summer helped jumpstart the rebuilding process, with growing back pastures, and by October, some ranchers, at least those who have rebuilt their fences, had started lightly restocking their livestock. 

While the future is bright, the Texas Panhandle is not out of the clear. 

“Our big handicap now is that we’ve got, we’re right back in the jaws of drought again,” Holloway said, “Our people are apprehensive and very sensitive particularly in lieu of what happened last year.”

They may be apprehensive but they’re not giving up.

“Our people don’t live in fear. They live in hope and they have great expectations for things that are going to be good that are hopefully in our future,” added Holloway.

Holloway told us wildfires and those preparing for them are going to be a big topic of conversation at this year’s annual area beef cattle conference. 

Four people died in last year’s wildfires: Sydney Wallace, her boyfriend, Cody Crockett, and their friend, Sloan Everett died on March 6 while trying to save cattle from a wildfire in Gray County.

Cade Koch died near his home in Lipscomb County during a Perryton wildfire. 

Wildfires will be a topic for discussion at this year’s Beef Cattle Conference and Ag Tour. It’s going on April 24th and 25th. You can register here