We went up to my father in laws house this last weekend to help some of his neighbors move the cows home from the summer pasture closer to home. Since my foot is bothering me I elected not to ride and stayed back at the horse trailers with the kids. The kids had a great morning and were covered in dirt by the time we left. I read an entire book. Unheard of these days, so really it was a great success.
It is a 7 hour drive from our house to Ronan so I feel like a hug portion of our weekend was spent cooped up in the pick up trying to keep the kids entertained and myself.
I did spend some time reading about the blizzards in South Dakota and the devastation that has followed. I had to stop reading at times because it is so heartbreaking. Ranchers lost huge portions of their cattle herds and so many people instead of wishing them well made angry accusations that the ranchers were not caring for their herds properly and heartlessly let them die in the storm.
Obviously these people have no concept how much ranchers care for their cattle, depend on their cattle and the things that all came together to make the blizzard such a "perfect storm" for devastation. Most of you know I am a Team Beef Montana member and do most of my running on my family's ranch. This is so near and dear to me I want to help get their story out.
Some of these people lost not only this year's income, the calves that would be shipped in the coming weeks, but next years in the form of the pregnant cow that perished.
Here is a personal account
Just east of Box Elder, two more families suffered incredible losses, The West family and the Simpson family. The West family who live 20 miles south of Union Center, sat in their house as the storm raged on, praying to God that he comforts the livestock in their pastures. When they were finally able to get out on Sunday, they went out to see what the storm had left behind
“What we first saw didn’t look too bad, but when we went and looked off over a bank unto the river bottom, our hearts sank. There were our cows, all dead in piles. They were trumped in mud and over in our hay field, baby calves and cows tried to get protection from some round bales we just put up, but not many were very lucky,” explained Amber Bruce West. “As we were riding through the pastures, looking at all these dead mama’s and babies that we raised and cared for, I came across 5 baby calves that were born during the blizzard we had back in April. We brought them in and kept them in our bathtub and those little suckers fought for their lives, we fought together and they made it through that storm and to see them lying dead after this storm was absolutely heartbreaking. It broke my heart into a million pieces. Those were our babies. Those were ours and there was nothing we could do to bring them back.”
Amber started counting how many they had lost but stopped counting when she got to 80 cows and 70-some calves that had been lost.
“We heard of a family close by that lost 350 out of their 400 head of cattle. That large number of cattle helped feed and support not only one, but two families! We were only 11 days from taking ours to the sale. We were hoping to pay off a good chunk of our cattle loan and get me a newer truck since mine was on its last leg. Now we don’t know what to do.”
“The worst part about it is we were not prepared for this storm. The weather channel told us we would be getting only a couple inches of snow but what came instead was a blizzard of epic proportion. The wind gusts were over 70mph and with that and the snow and the rain, even if your cattle had shelter and wind protection, the snow and rain likely suffocated"
if you want to read the whole story and the rest of the article check it out HERE It is worth the read.
There are a lot of questions certainly and I did come across a blog that answered them very eloquently. Questions like why weren't those cows in a barn, don't they have insurance and didn't they know the storm was coming.
It seems like the news has been pretty quiet on this so I am curious if you have heard much about it where you are and I would love to answer any questions you have.