Friday, October 11, 2013

In the Face of Tragedy

A photo from our December 2007 ice storm. We were without electricity for 12 days.
The photos from the South Dakota blizzard are painful to see. One came through on my Facebook feed last night, showing dozens of cattle who had perished, revealed as the snow melted from a deep valley. 

I have a blogging friend, Robyn of The Ranch Wife Chronicles who had planned to go to the South Dakota Women in Agriculture convention last weekend. But her husband, J, whom she calls The Rancher, had a feeling. He thought that the predicted winter storm might be worse than anyone thought. 

This is one of those times when I'm sure The Rancher wishes he were wrong. They moved cattle around to try to position them as best they could for the coming storm. They were among the fortunate ones. They don't think they lost cattle, though they won't know for sure until they bring them off summer pastures and get an accurate count. But The Rancher's cousin lost somewhere between 15 and 20 cattle that they know of so far. Others of their friends, neighbors and colleagues lost that many or more.

In fact, some news reports say that ranchers lost between 20 and 50 percent of their herds. Besides the emotional toll, think about how that will impact their financial health this year and for years to come. 

Have you heard much about it on the national news? I haven't. That's a tragedy, too. 

The numbers will continue to evolve as the people of South Dakota dig out. However, as I heard from Robyn by email today, more stormy weather is forecast. So, ranchers are again racing around, trying their best to protect their herds and prepare for the unknown. 

Last weekend's blizzard was unseasonably early. Most ranchers hadn't moved cattle from summer pastures, which offered less protection than the winter counterparts.  The cattle hadn't grown their thicker winter coats yet, providing less protection from the elements.

Yesterday, I read a post by another South Dakota blogger, Just a Ranch Wife. She was not someone in my blog feed (though she will be now). She talked about the ridiculous comments that some people were making in the comment section of stories published in the Rapid City Journal and elsewhere.

There were comments that ranchers shouldn't have more cattle than they could house in a barn. There were comments that ranchers cared more about their big pickup trucks than their herds. 

The ignorance is astounding. The callousness of people who would rather criticize than commiserate is unfathomable to me. Why do people use a tragedy to push their own agendas?

Yesterday, someone from South Dakota shared a photo on Facebook. It showed the vastness of the South Dakota landscape, with fence posts barely peeking out of snow banks. It was from
Amber Bruce West's photo, along with this caption:  

Here's a picture of all the PETA animal rights people lined up to help out with finding, feeding, and helping our poor animals that survived the storm. Can you see them??? But by golly have a circus come to town and they are out in droves.
Here's a picture of all the PETA animal rights people lined up to help out with finding, feeding, and helping our poor animals that survived the storm. Can you see them??? But by golly have a circus come to town and they are out in droves.
  As you can see, there weren't any PETA people in the photo - just miles of snow. 

Photo: www.YourFarmLife.com
Yes, farming and ranching looks easy when you are examining it from your computer screen. It's a lot tougher when you're again out on the 4-wheeler looking for cows and calves to save.

Tragedy has seemed to pile on top of tragedy this month. 

This week, I went to a funeral for a young man killed in an accident a week ago. He grew up farming with his family just to the east of us. He also left behind a wife and two little girls. I was struck by the words shared by his father-in-law during the message. 

"Our families want you to know that God didn't make this happen."

Also this month, my cousin's daughter, who is Jill's age, lost her husband and father of their 4-month-old twins.

It's not part of God's plan to take people away from loving families. It's not part of God's plan to harm animals and affect the livelihood of people who work so hard to care for His creation. 

But God is there to walk alongside us when we grieve and when we try to pick up the pieces of shattered lives. He weeps with us.

If you'd like to help the South Dakota ranchers, here's a link for a Rancher Relief Fund. 

For another blog from a South Dakota rancher, check out this one from Opened Door: Broken Dreams and Hearts on the Western Dakota Prairie


  1. Well said Kim! Prayers for those family members struck by many tragedies of nature and man made. Our God is a loving God.