I'm writing today to ask for your prayers. Usually I figure the news has gotten the word out and I need not say anything but on this they have been silent except locally. These prayers are for our fellow kin, those in the agricultural industry. The storm Atlas left many ranchers and farmers devastated for years to come. Click on the purple link for a sample of what one rancher discovered after the storm had passed. http://bigballsincowtown.com/storm2013.htm
"Grubl says some ranchers have lost 20 percent of their livestock, while other losses are as much as 90 percent." one newspaper reported. Cattle, sheep, and horses ran through fences, hid in gullies, died of pneumonia, or under a collapsed barn or shed roof. Some heartlessly commented on facebook how their daddy never lost a cow in a storm. To which I reply, "Your daddy never had very many cattle and they never faced such a formidable force." My daddy managed 1000 head of sheep and a 1000 head of cattle. You don't have barn space for that many. You don't usually need it. For those with fewer head and could put them under roofs, many of those roofs collapsed under the weight of the snow.
Look at these numbers.
Lead – 55"
Deadwood – 48" on the west side of town
Sturgis – 35" on the east side of town
Piedmont – 35"
Rapid City – up to 31" on the city's southwest side
Spearfish – 26" downtown
I guess we got around 20 or more inches but three or four feet of snow.
How do you fight against that in a raging blizzard? One rancher said with what cattle he had left it would take a couple years to get them back to their previous conditioning. Think this is over exaggerating? It's not. I've had several horses that took that long to reach full health. To the point where they became easy keepers not grain and hay guzzlers. Where they weren't susceptible to ticks, diseases and worms. With a large herd you can't put the money into restoration that you can with one, two, or three animals.
Think about the timing of this storm. This is weaning time, the time ranchers sell off their calves. The very ones that perished in this storm as they had less of a chance than the cows. Sheep, well, they are notorious for crawling in a gully and getting buried and suffocating. They are short and short doesn't reach above snows of this depth.
This is the time the corn crop is harvested. The one that is buried and ruined under the snow. Some ranchers said it would take days, weeks, and maybe not until spring if this keeps up before they have complete numbers of all they have lost. Now when beef numbers are down a quart due to years of drought and consequently prices to buy replacements are high these ranchers are in need. Sheep, well I haven't kept a close a track on them since we quit raising them. I do know this disaster came at the time when the tractor bills, the mortgage, the feed costs, the everything would be paid and the next years income secured. Like the Colorado flood, this will ruin lives. There will be those forced off the land of their inheritance. The land handed down for generations. Others who can hang on will scrimp for years to recover.
These are the guys and gals that provide our food. This is the heart of America and it took a big blow last week. So please send your prayers heaven word as these farmers and rancher weep and not just for their financial loss.
My dad kept a little black book in his pocket. Inside were the ear tag numbers, history, and genealogy of every animal on the ranch. Flip through those pages and stories unfolded. How many calves or lambs each one had had. How the delivery went. What kind of a momma she was, illnesses, and yes, even the personality. These animals weren't just my father's livelihood, these were his friends whom he often saw on a daily basis as he rode through the flocks and herds, helped calve - lamb, and fed through the winter.
He once told me he never once dreaded getting up in the morning. He loved his job! So when I look at the pictures of the devastation and think of those effected, I imagine my own father had this been him, with his head in his hands, tears streaming down his face as he looks out upon the animals he loved and served.
So pray with me that answers may come to these men and women's pleading prayers, for the sure knowledge that the Lord is by their side, and for the heart to pick up once more and go on.