Author Topic: South Dakota ranchers reel after 'catastrophic' storm leaves up to 100,000 cattle dead  (Read 2883 times)

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Offline Rapunzel

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http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/10/11/south-dakota-ranchers-reel-after-catastrophic-storm-leaves-up-to-100000-cattle/?intcmp=latestnews

South Dakota ranchers reel after 'catastrophic' storm leaves up to 100,000 cattle dead

By Joshua Rhett Miller
Published October 11, 2013
FoxNews.com
 

Ranchers in South Dakota fear they may lose everything after a freak storm dumped up four feet of snow in parts of the state last week, killing as many as 100,000 cattle.

Matt Kammerer, a 45-year-old rancher whose family has operated in South Dakota’s Meade County since 1882, told FoxNews.com that he lost 60 cattle in the storm, or one-third of his entire herd.

    " ... It’s just dead cow after dead cow, where they’ve gotten caught in dams, streams, fences, you name it. They’re dead everywhere."

- Rancher Matt Kammerer

“You’re talking about $120,000 of assets that are just gone,” Kammerer said Friday by phone. “And we still owe the banks, too. It’s like driving a brand-new pickup off a cliff and still having to make payments.”

Kammerer painted a gruesome scene north of Rapid City, where a record 23 inches of snow fell.

“It’s just unreal,” he said. “There are cattle that are 8 or 9 miles away from the pasture they were in, just lying dead. And within that whole stretch, it’s just dead cow after dead cow, where they’ve gotten caught in dams, streams, fences, you name it. They’re dead everywhere.”

Carcasses of mature cows as well as calves were floating downstream local waterways in droves, Kammerer said, stoking fears of a potential outbreak of disease.

“If you don’t get those picked up and buried, you’re looking at the possibility of disease or possibly contamination,” he said. “You’ve got to get them all picked up.”

Most ranchers in the state lost anywhere between 50 to 75 percent of their herds, according to Silvia Christen, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, which represents 1,500 ranching operations.

“We’re certainly looking at tens of thousands if not pushing 100,000 at this point,” she said of the dead livestock.

Aside from the economic losses, which will be severe once finally tallied, the unprecedented storm has left an “incredible emotional burden” on the state’s ranchers, Christen said.

“They know how dependent these livestock are on them and they’re absolutely emotionally devastated at the losses they’re seeing,” she said. “It’s been extremely difficult.”

In the days since the storm, Christen said ranchers are now focusing on providing medical care to the animals that did survive.

“That really has to be the priority before we start counting loss,” she said. “They need to make sure they’re safe and that they stay healthy now.”

Complicating matters is this weekend’s forecast, which calls for heavy rain and strong winds just a week after the early fall blizzard. Crews in South Dakota and North Dakota are also still working to restore power to thousands of customers left in the dark.

The storm also killed a man in the Lead-Deadwood area of South Dakota and damaged numerous buildings, causing at least one to collapse from the weight of snow and relentless winds.

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard and U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., flew over the affected areas during an aerial assessment Thursday afternoon. The state’s congressional delegation has also vowed to push ahead for quick passage of the stalled farm bill to provide immediate financial relief to ranchers.

“We need to be doing everything we can to help the livestock producers whose livelihoods have been endangered by this storm,” Thune said in a statement. “Last weekend’s devastating storm is another example of why we need to complete work on the Farm Bill for our farmers and ranchers.”

Christen said passage of the legislation is critical for the region.

“It’s a disaster situation here, like a hurricane in other parts of the country,” she said. “We’re not looking for a handout or any kind of special subsidy, however, we’ve had a devastating loss to our industry. It’s critical to our economy in South Dakota and frankly the entire agriculture industry that we pass that. These cows feed a lot of this country.”

Gary Cammack, a 60-year-old rancher near Union Center in Meade County, said he lost about 15 percent of his herd, including 70 cows and some calves, which normally sell for $1,000. A mature cow usually brings in $1,500 or more, he said.

"It's bad. It's really bad. I'm the eternal optimist and this is really bad," Cammack told The Associated Press. "The livestock loss is just catastrophic ... It's pretty unbelievable."

Livestock were initially soaked by 12 hours of rain before 48 consecutive hours or snow and winds up to 60 mph, Cammack said.

"It's the worst early season snowstorm I've seen in my lifetime," he continued.

Kammerer said his ranch will be able to recover, but he’s more worried about his fellow cattlemen.

“We just had one of the worst droughts ever and now we take a hit like this,” Kammerer said, his voice cracking with emotion. “It’s just catastrophic. I’m going to be fine; it’s my counterparts … it’s my neighbors, my friends, the people you can’t even look in the face to tell them that you’re sorry.”
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline Rapunzel

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http://www.columbian.com/news/2013/oct/12/blizzard-ravages-south-dakotas-livestock-industry/

Blizzard ravages South Dakota's livestock industry

By John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times

Published: October 12, 2013, 3:02 PM



South Dakota rancher Scott Reder, who lost 200 head of cattle in a recent blizzard, displays ear tags of his dead animals on Oct. 11. (John Glionna)

BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. — From inside a small plane cruising over cattle country here, Scott Reder spied the carnage and felt sick to his stomach.

Mile after mile, half-buried by snow, the dead animals lay huddled in groups, calves close to their to mothers - carcasses by the dozens strung out along field fences and packed into ditches, black hooves poking up through the drifts like macabre stakes.

"In 20 years of flying, I've never been sick, but I had to let my friend take over," Reder recalled. "I looked down and saw 120 of my cattle laying there dead. After I'd finally had enough. I said 'Let's go home.' "

Reder is among thousands of ranchers who last week watched helplessly as a killer early-autumn blizzard decimated 80,000 head of cattle. Calling it the state's worst economic disaster in decades, officials say the storm has ravaged South Dakota's $7 billion livestock industry.

On Friday, as rain pelted the region near the historic Black Hills, ranchers continued tallying their grim toll, roaming the soggy backcountry, collecting carcasses from melting snow, knowing that perhaps tens of thousands more still lay buried.

Silvia Christen, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, called the die-off a "perfect storm" of bad weather and - amid the federal shutdown - worse political timing.

The disaster has already caused a "noticeable jump" in the price of live cattle, a rise that could eventually be felt by consumers, she said. "Beef prices will depend on how fast we can get cattle to market again," Christen said. "If people want to help, go out and buy a steak tonight."

South Dakota ranks sixth in the country in livestock production, with nearly 4 million head of cattle. Officials say 6,000 ranching operations suffered losses from the storm.

Quote
The blizzard hit just days after 80-degree weather, before ranchers had moved their herds from less-protected summer grazing lands. Most ranchers were set to bring calves to market - the satisfying payday after another year of grueling labor. Thousands of head had been recently relocated here from Texas and New Mexico to escape punishing droughts in those states.


"Some ranchers lost all their cattle. They've yet to find one alive," Christen said. "They're facing absolute destruction."

Yet Washington's shutdown has deprived people here of a traditional safety net: Congress hasn't passed a new farm bill to subsidize agricultural producers, and the lockout means legislators won't be voting on the topic any time soon.

These days, Reder passes a federal Farm Services Administration office whose doors are closed. Like most American ranchers, the 47-year-old is a resilient small businessman used to tending to his own problems, with help from neighbors whose families settled this land generations ago.

Still, he's frustrated and feels that federal lawmakers have turned their backs on the nation's heartland in a time of need.

"We're just a bunch of ranchers from South Dakota - it's hard for our voices to be heard," he said, sitting at the kitchen table at dawn Friday, drinking coffee, fielding calls from fellow cattlemen. "You see crises across the country, the hurricanes and tornadoes, and officials are on right on top of it. But something of this magnitude, that has just about leveled this part of the country, and there's nothing."

Many residents in this conservative region had supported the government shutdown as a way to make Washington more fiscally responsible. "But one appropriate role for these guys is to lend a hand after disasters like this," Christen said, "and they're not here."

Reder's losses are steep. Out of 750 head of cattle he grazed across 40,000 acres, 200 are dead and others are missing. He lost 100 of the 450 calves he had planned to market this month. He says he's already lost between $250,000 and $300,000 and expects the losses will grow.

Many exhausted cattle could die in coming months. Ranchers also face the task and expense of burying their lost herds and are scrambling to beat any warm spell that would spread a reek of decomposition across the range.

"These dead cattle will burden people here for a long time," said Butte County Sheriff Fred Lamphere. "If these ranchers aren't under enough stress, they now have to dig trenches for livestock they've spent years cultivating. I've watched good men break down. I feel for these people."

Ranchers described how the fluke storm struck Oct. 3, with heavy rain that rapidly turned into flurries. By the next day, as much as four feet of snow, combined with 70 mph winds, doomed cattle and sheep trapped out in summer grazing land known as gumbo fields for their soft sticky soil.

Lamphere, a former ranch hand, said the cattle lacked their warmer winter coats to protect them from wet snow that stuck to bodies already chilled by freezing rain. He said cattle caught in the open field by bad weather instinctively head downwind, their heads low, as they seek shelter.

"They go into survival mode," he said. "Some animals walked 12 miles, breaking through fences, crossing highways, until they finally met their end."

Unable to see, many livestock fell into ditches, quickly covered by trailing animals in a tragic chain reaction. Some animals were so weary they stood frozen in groups, eventually suffocated by piling snow. Cattle collapsed along fences, perishing from hypothermia, others hit by passing cars.

Last Saturday, snow plows moved scores of dead animals from roadways. "I found two cattle still alive laying in the road," Lamphere said. "They were just flailing on the pavement, unable to get up." He finally put them down with his .45-caliber service pistol.

On Sunday, when the blizzard finally quit, Reder and his wife, Angela, rode snowmobiles into isolated country miles from any road, stopping to collect the ear tags on cattle that carried their brand. Locating one animal they had given to their 9-year-old son, Reese, they hugged each other and wept, standing in the field in their snowsuits.

"These aren't just inanimate objects. I personally know each and every one of these animals," said Reder, a tall rangy man in a well-worn cowboy hat. "I bottle fed most of them as calves."

Ranchers here have survived freak weather. In 1996, a spring squall killed numerous livestock, but that time the federal government responded with partial compensation, often paying ranchers a third of an animal's cost. The last year brought drought, and many ranchers sold off parts of their herds rather than pay for expensive store-bought feed.

The fall blessedly brought rain, turning brown fields to green, and many started to feel good again.

And then, this.Rancher Steve Schell, who lost half his herd, said he can't bear the idea of finding more dead animals beneath the melting snow. "I'm just so damned whipped," he said. "I'm played out."

The 52-year-old recalled the shock of seeing mountains of dead animals. "I can't explain what it's like because, mister, you can't imagine it until you witness it with your own eyes," he said. "To see 15 or 20 cattle piled up - the fruits of all your hard labor - you just have no concept
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline Rapunzel

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http://www.worldmag.com/2013/10/south_dakota_staggers_under_early_blizzard

South Dakota staggers under early blizzard
Posted Oct. 10, 2013, 05:10 p.m. by Jill Nelson   

 Record-breaking storm buries cattle and horses under several feet of snow

 One of the worst blizzards in South Dakota history plowed through the region during the first weekend of October, leaving a wake of destruction in its path. It will be days, maybe weeks, before ranchers can locate missing livestock, but estimates are they will find tens of thousands of dead cattle.

On Oct. 9, I was able to reach the Reinhold family, who live on a ranch in Meade County. They were in day six of a power outage, and phone lines had just been repaired the night before. “It just socked us,” Larry Reinhold told me in a sober tone. “It’s really, really bad. We didn’t lose as many cattle as some of our neighbors, but we lost a lot of horses. It’s a pretty big blow.”

The storm began with two inches of rain on Oct. 3, soaking livestock that had not yet grown their winter coats. Winds in the 60 to 70 mile an hour range added to the freezing temperatures as the rain converted to snow and dumped an unprecedented amount for the unusual October storm. 

 In nearby Rapid City, nestled in the Black Hills, 19 inches of snow fell on Oct. 4 alone. By day three, total snowfall reached 31 inches near Mount Rushmore and close to 5 feet of snow blanketed the hardest hit parts of western South Dakota. Hurricane-force wind gusts raged through the hills, breaking branches and uprooting massive pine trees already covered in ice.

For ranchers, the storm amounts to a tremendous financial loss. A few days before the storm, 17-year-old Molly Reinhold spoke with a friend who planned to sell 83 calves this weekend. Only 33 made it through the storm. Many of the family’s neighbors lost 20 to 50 percent of their livestock. 

Some ranchers are turning to social media sites, posting heart-wrenching pictures of dead horses and cattle and venting frustration at the lack of national media coverage. President Barack Obama has yet to acknowledge the state’s disaster. Some are asking for help finding livestock that may still be alive.

In addition to raising Quarter horses and Hereford cattle on Lonetree Ranch, the Reinhold family operates Rainbow Bible Ranch, a summer camp where kids learn to ride horses and herd cattle on the wide-open prairie of their 4,250-acre ranch. Sharing the gospel is the camp’s cornerstone. 

When I called to check in today, Larry Reinhold said he had received an emotional call from his wife Robin that morning. The three older children had ridden out to the pasture where they hoped to find the rest of the camp’s horses alive. Instead, they stumbled upon a sobering scene. They now estimate a total loss of 90 horses, including 15 to 20 of their 25 best camp horses and the horse 11-year-old Caleb got for his birthday last year. Many suffocated in the massive snowdrifts, with hypothermia playing a part.

The storm took lives at random, with older horses found alive, and young, sprightly horses found unresponsive. Flicka and Majesty, two camp favorites who were around during my seven summers as a camp wrangler, made it. They were close to 30 years old. Tealight, a close pal to my son and daughter, did not. “We’re still trying to figure out how to share this news with campers,” Reinhold said. “It’s going to hit kids hard.”

For the Reinhold family and many others, the loss is more than financial. “They’re my best friends,” 19-year-old Rachel Reinhold said. “Horses don’t let you down like people can.” Danny Reinhold, 13, said he saddles those camp horses all summer long and can picture the kids who ride each one.

As state officials tally the multi-million dollar impact of the storm, ranchers are venturing out to search and dig for missing livestock, cutting ear tags during each emotional discovery to track their losses. Some cattle drifted up to five miles during the storm.

With the government shutdown and Congress’ failure to pass a farm bill, ranchers are concerned about receiving the indemnity funds many say are necessary to make it through the year. Each cow down is an average $1,500 loss, and fewer calves this spring add to the financial impact. Horse value is generally much higher.

The next challenge ranchers will face involves immediate disposal of the carcasses, a task necessary to prevent the spread of disease. With more than an inch of rain forecasted for Friday, muddy conditions will complicate the task.

Quote
Larry Reinhold is no stranger to the destructive wrath of Midwest storms. He lost two brothers in 1979 when the winds of a rainstorm overtook their fishing boat. Rainbow Bible Ranch was born out of that deep loss.


 “We’ve seen storms, and we’ve seen trying times,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you don’t shed a tear.” The theme for last year’s camp was “Just Trust.”

“God has helped us before, so we’ll keep going,” Reinhold said.

It was very quiet in the Reinhold home on Wednesday evening as the six homeschooled kids and their parents processed the losses, silently shedding tears of grief. There were a few tears shed in my household as well.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline rangerrebew

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Gee, I wonder why this isn't being covered by the MSM? :woohoo:  You don't suppose their covering St. Algore, do you? :whistle:
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Neither Obama nor his butt-licking media could care less about rural America.

Offline Rapunzel

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While the rest of the media pretty much ignore this story, Glenn Beck's Mercury One charity organization has sent help in to these ranchers.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline Lando Lincoln

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My son attends South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City.  25 inches of snow with 68 mph wind gusts in the city.  Campus was closed for 4 days as was the interstate.
For the progressive, there is very little to love about the United States. Washington, Jefferson, Madison? A bunch of rotten slaveholders, hypocrites, and cowards even when their hearts were in the right places. The Declaration of Independence? A manifesto for the propertied classes. The Constitution? An artifact of sexism and white supremacy. The sacrifices in the great wars of the 20th century? Feeding the poor and the disenfranchised into the meat-grinder of imperialism. The gifts of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Morgan, Astor? Blood money from self-aggrandizing robber barons. Nat Rev

Offline Rapunzel

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My son attends South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City.  25 inches of snow with 68 mph wind gusts in the city.  Campus was closed for 4 days as was the interstate.

This is just so incredibly sad.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline Lando Lincoln

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This is just so incredibly sad.


He called me and said there was no place for the cattle to go.  Flyover country.  Who gives a hoot?  Not the media, not Washington in general and certainly not Obama.  The wind was ruthless in piling it up.


For the progressive, there is very little to love about the United States. Washington, Jefferson, Madison? A bunch of rotten slaveholders, hypocrites, and cowards even when their hearts were in the right places. The Declaration of Independence? A manifesto for the propertied classes. The Constitution? An artifact of sexism and white supremacy. The sacrifices in the great wars of the 20th century? Feeding the poor and the disenfranchised into the meat-grinder of imperialism. The gifts of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Morgan, Astor? Blood money from self-aggrandizing robber barons. Nat Rev

Offline Rapunzel

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Did you ever read the book Cadillac Desert?  In it they talk about a winter where in NB, ND and SD a freak storm blew in and this very scenario too place killing off most of the herds.  The description in the book is very similar to what I read in these articles. 

And, yes, it really angers me that this is basically being totally ignored.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

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"Who cares about a bunch of hick ranchers" say the MSM, safe in their little burrows in the cities, chewing on their nut loaf.

I feel for the ranchers. Creating a good herd or flock is a multi-generational undertaking. They haven't just lost money. They have lost a lot of history on the hoof. Bloodlines started by their great grandparents. Unique breed lines that can never be replicated.
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Offline Cincinnatus

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Quote
Miles City man starts 'Heifers for SD' to help ranchers


Quote
MILES CITY — A Montana rancher says more than 130 heifers have been donated to South Dakota ranchers who lost cattle in this month's devastating blizzard and need to replenish their herds.

Ty Linger, of Miles City, set up the "Heifers for S. Dakota" Facebook page in an effort to get ranchers in surrounding states to pledge cows to those who lost at least 25 percent of their herd.

He says that he's close to being established as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and has 17 branches set up in Montana and other states to help with the effort.

He also set up the website helpforsouthdakota.com so people can also send monetary donations.


http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/miles-city-man-starts-heifers-for-sd-to-help-ranchers/article_5e5ff2dc-26fb-5992-8c87-702ff0efe6bf.html
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Offline Lando Lincoln

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« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 04:20:14 PM by Lando Lincoln »
For the progressive, there is very little to love about the United States. Washington, Jefferson, Madison? A bunch of rotten slaveholders, hypocrites, and cowards even when their hearts were in the right places. The Declaration of Independence? A manifesto for the propertied classes. The Constitution? An artifact of sexism and white supremacy. The sacrifices in the great wars of the 20th century? Feeding the poor and the disenfranchised into the meat-grinder of imperialism. The gifts of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Morgan, Astor? Blood money from self-aggrandizing robber barons. Nat Rev

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The photograph is incredible.  How devastating for the ranchers and all in the path of this thing.  I think Glenn Beck is trying to help a little with the Mercury One foundation.
How could any living thing survive?

Offline musiclady

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The photograph is incredible.  How devastating for the ranchers and all in the path of this thing.  I think Glenn Beck is trying to help a little with the Mercury One foundation.
How could any living thing survive?

Yes............it's the 'heartless' conservatives who help out their fellow Americans when things like this happen.

Obama hates the whole center of the country.  I'll be surprised if he ever acknowledges what happened here.

(Those photos are unbelievable, Lando!)
Character still matters.  It always matters.

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The Guardian (U.K.) shares a U.S. blogger's post asking South Dakota's cattle cataclysm: why isn't this horror news?
Quote
If you aren't in the agriculture world, you most likely haven't heard about the devastating loss that ranchers in western South Dakota are struggling with after being hit by winter storm Atlas.

For some reason the news stations aren't covering this story. I don't understand why they wouldn't. This story has heartbreak, tragedy and even a convenient tie into the current government shutdown. Isn't that what the news is all about these days?

But the news isn't covering this story. Instead, it is spreading around on social media, and bloggers are writing from their ranches in South Dakota. Bloggers are trying to explain how the horrible happened. And now I am going to join them to tell you the part of the story that I know, and I am going to ask you to help these people, because if you are here reading this, I know you give a crap about these people.

Last weekend western South Dakota and parts of the surrounding states got their butts handed to them by Mother Nature. A blizzard isn't unusual in South Dakota, the cattle are tough and can handle some snow. They have for hundreds of years.

Unlike on our dairy farm in Wisconsin, beef cattle don't live in climate controlled barns. Beef cows and calves spend the majority of their lives out on pasture. They graze the grass in the spring, summer and fall and eat baled hay in the winter.

In winter these cows and calves grow fuzzy jackets that keep them warm and protect them from the snow and cold. The cows and calves live in special pastures in the winter. These pastures are smaller and closer to the ranch, and they have windbreaks for the cows to hide behind. They have worked for cows for hundred of years.

So what's the big deal about this blizzard?

It's not really winter yet.

The cows don't have their warm jackets on. The cows are still out eating grass in the big pastures. Atlas wasn't just a snowstorm, it was the kind of storm that can destroy the ranchers that have been caring for these cattle for hundreds of years.

Last weekend Atlas hit. It started with rain. The rain soaked the cows and chilled them to the bone. Inches and inches of rain fell. The rain made horrible mud. Then the winds started – 80mph winds, hurricane force. When the wind started, the rain changed to snow. A lot of snow. The cows were wet, muddy and they didn't have their winter jackets when the wind and snow came. Wet snow. Heavy snow.

The cows tried to protect themselves. They hid in low spots away from the wind. The low spots where the rain had turned the ground to thick mud. Some got stuck in the mud. Some laid down to get away from the wind, to rest a little, they were tired from trying to get away from the weather when they were already so cold.

The snow came down so heavy and so fast the the low spots that the cattle were laying in filled with snow. Not a few inches of snow, not a foot of snow. Enough snow that the cows and their calves were covered in snow.

The cows and calves suffocated or froze to death.

The caretakers of these cattle had no power to save them. They had to stand by and take the lashings from Mother Nature. They had no options. When it was all over, they went out to discover what they had left.

Can you even imagine what that would feel like? Standing with your hands tied as your life's living, breathing and mooing work is destroyed. I can't imagine, I don't know how I would recover from a loss like that. This wasn't just one or two herds of cows. This wasn't just one or two families that lost animals. This wasn't just a few cows. Tens of thousands of cows are gone. Some ranchers lost their entire herds. All of their cows, gone.

In the fall, a cattle rancher sells their calves to someone who specializes in raising them for market. It's how a ranch generates income. Calves are the lifeblood of a cattle ranch. Most ranchers had not yet sold their calves when Atlas hit. Their calves are gone. The cows that made those calves were pregnant with with next year's calves. Those cows are gone, those calves are gone.

Meanwhile in Washington DC, the shutdown has doubly screwed the ranchers. The people that are supposed to try to help these people are unable to do their jobs. The farm bill is held up again. No one knows when, how or if help is going to come.

Insurance? Not likely.

When a flood comes and your corn is flooded out, you have some options. Insurance for cattle is expensive and it comes with hundreds of loopholes that make the gamble of farming without it the most practical choice for many.

There is no way around it, this storm has put some ranchers out of business. Time will tell just how many.


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