Blizzards suck, and here's why.
Last week, winter storm Atlas struck parts of Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. An intense blizzard blew though the area dumping rain followed be several inches, and in places several feet, of heavy wet snow followed by severe winds. There are some reports that places in South Dakota received up to 58 inches of snow and almost hurricane-force winds. All those things combined and you are left with the result of one of the craziest winter storms most have ever heard off.
Amid all of the difficulties this much snow brings, shutting down I-90 and paralyzing towns, many ranchers took a direct blow from the storm. Estimates are that upwards of 95,000 cattle, horses, and livestock perished in the storm. That means many ranchers lost all of this year’s calf crop and a good majority of their cow herds. Many livestock were out on Summer and Fall ranges, sometimes miles from winter pastures where shelter is better suited for winter storms. Even horses and livestock in pens closer to the house perished in the feet of snow, strong winds, and cold that came this early in the season. Many cattle trailed with the wind and when they found shelter, many were buried when snow drifted and covered them. In most cases, there wasn’t much that could be done. (Now if you are thinking, What?! What do you mean not much could be done, please stop and continue with this post.)
Now one would think, OMG, this is devastating, heart wrenching, something that our nation needs to know about. These people need help! Somebody call CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC, CBS, Wall Street, anybody with a pen and paper!
Well instead of covering stories about the actual people of this country and more importantly, the people that are feeding this nation, our national media is more interested in our dysfunctional government. Who is actualy no help to these ranchers. We have no farm bill, farm service agencies are shut down, and no government assistance due to the shutdown.
But since a good majority of our national media doesn't seem interested in doing their job, the agriculture community will do it for them.
A single glance threw your Facebook news feed and I am sure you will find tons of links to blog posts by brave ranchers sharing their stories of survival and loss. Thousands and thousands of cattle were lost in that intense blizzard. Cattle that are the heart and soul to many ranchers. These people have spent years building their herds and they care for their livestock with all they have. These animals are their livelihood. So for their entire lifestyle to basically be wiped out overnight, is devastating. And for people to be brave enough to come forward and talk about their loss, is truly honorable.
I love being part of the agriculture community not just because of what we stand for and what our purpose is but because of how we band together in times of need. No matter our differences of opinion, when one of us falls, we help to build each other up and support our brothers and sisters in ag.
This blizzard is no different, fellow ag-peeps are coming out of the wood works to help share the story of these affected ranchers and help gain the attention of the public, the media, and our government. Neighbors helped neighbors dig out of the snow and search pasture after pasture hoping to find live cattle and helping each other cope with the heartbreak of finding cattle buried under feet of snow.
That is plain proof, that the agriculture community is strong and no matter what storms blow our way, Odds Are That We Will Probably Be Alright.
We are proof that even when our country is in a bit of government shambles, we take care of our own. There has been a Ranchers Relief Fund established to aid the S.D. folks impacted by this storm. Here in Nebraska, the Chadron Community Foundation has created the Cattlemen Relief Fund in which donations can be sent to PO Box 1125, Chadron NE 69337.
You can read stories of the storm posted by real people here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and my favorite, here.
So in closing, I would just like to tell all the ranchers affected by Atlas, that you will be alright. You will get through it. It won't be an overnight fix, but only time will help rebuild from this disaster. But don't fret, because we got your back!
...that's what she said