By John D. Sutter
Mountain Grove, Missouri (CNN) -- Thunder clapped and rain fell just before Bionce, Sassy and the rest of Mark Argall's prize-winning dairy herd went up for auction.
Had the storm come a few weeks earlier, and if the drought had eased, it might have saved the cows -- some of which were named with a bit of poetic license ("You can spell names however you want," he said) for pop-culture divas and celebrities.
As it was, however, Argall's pasture was so dry that his cattle had nothing to eat, and the farmer was losing $75 a day just trying to feed them.
Five generations of his family have milked dairy cows in this secluded stretch of Missouri's Ozark Mountains, but the inch or so of rain that fell on this recent Thursday was too little, too late. Argall -- a 54-year-old with a wiry, broomstick mustache -- had no choice but to sell nearly all of his cows at a livestock auction.
"We were just trying to hold on, thinking things are gonna change, the grass is gonna grow, the hay is going to be there," he said. "And it just never did happen."
During the auction, he sent a friend outside to roll up the windows of his truck. He never would have thought he'd need to close them because of rain -- at least not now.
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