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.
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.
Drought may yield benefits for wineries and wine lovers
Visit Eatocracy’s new home
Don't miss a single new story. Visit us at our (temporary) new home on CNN.com