Pain you can’t even imagine.


October 13, 2013 by dairycarrie

Frosty pine tree

If you aren’t in the ag 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 the story is spreading around on social media, 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 blog 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 they can handle some snow. They have for hundreds of years.

Unlike on our dairy farm, 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, 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. Atlas 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, they were 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.

The aftermath of Atlas. Photo by Lacey Weiss

The aftermath of Atlas. Photo by Lacey Weiss

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.

The AgChat Foundation has partnered with several organizations to create a grassroots effort to help the people who have lost so much. To read more about their efforts or to make a donation please click HERE.

You don’t have to give money if you can’t. You can help in other ways. Share this post with your friends, send up a prayer or just keep these people in your hearts and minds as they continue into a new chapter of their lives.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for anything you are able to give.


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215 thoughts on “Pain you can’t even imagine.

    • Sheila says:

      So sorry for the huge losses in South Dakota. I grew up on a dairy farm and my mother cried every time we lost a cow. I can’t imagine the grief knowing hundreds died in the cold. You are in our prayers

    • Marshall says:

      Please. I don’t know any hurting ranchers. They took all the land, they killed all the wildlife, their stock continues to spread disease to wild populations of ungulates. They made an entire continent dependent on their product and then jacked up the prices. Big houses, big vacations, big property. They break other country’s economies and destroy the ecosystem in the mass production of one of the least efficient and most destructive food sources on the planet. The fact they get any government breaks at all is disgusting when people are starving on city streets because they CAN’T AFFORD THE MEAT THESE PEOPLE RAISE. They’re hard working for sure and it’s sad about the animals, but they don’t deserve coverage and even more help at a time when the entire world teeters on economic crisis.

      • Dawn says:

        you don’t know any hurting ranchers because you do not know any ranchers. Your ignorance and judgement are repulsive. Learn about life and people and those who work extremely hard for their living. They don’t get raises and they don’t have insurance offered. Their livestock is their income, their way of life and their 401K….lost now. Could you live like that? I seriously doubt it.

      • Suzi from Queensland, Australia says:

        Meat is cheaper in the USA then in Australia. And I guess you don’t know any ranchers or graziers as we call them here….I was born in the suburbs of Southern California, but I have worked on several beef properties and I can tell you for sure…the profit margin in raising beef is not that fantastic. People do it as a way of life, not just to make money. There are easier ways to make a living….

      • llepke says:

        THE PEOPLE THAT RAISE THE MEAT DON’T SET THE PRICE. We can thank our government for that.

      • CountryGirl says:

        You must not know any ranchers…Our stock probably is better taken care of than most people’s pets. They get meds and supplements to keep them healthy. We watch out for wildlife, even down to putting “bird walks” in our tanks so that birds don’t drown. Because of no till farming we won’t have another dust bowl.
        We haven’t been on a vacation for 20 years. Ranchers work 7 days a week for most of the year. And lots of the ranchers I know live in mobile homes or the old family home which is probably 50 plus years old.
        The people that make the money on cattle are the middle men, not the ranchers. And meat isn’t the only thing that comes from cattle. Many medications, including insulin, Heperin, blood factors and collagen are made from beef products. Like to listen to music? Most strings for instruments come from beef products, too. As do paints, cosmetics, fabric softeners, crayons, shaving cream, air filters, chewing gum, and those leather shoes most people wear.
        Most ranches are family businesses where everyone works. And it’s not a 9 to 5 job. I teach school as my main job (in South Dakota, where teacher pay ranks 50th in the nation) because most ranch families depend on outside income and health insurance through the wife’s job. Then during my free time I rake hay, clean bins, bottle feed bum calves, raise a garden for extra food, paint corrals, clean the barn, and do a multitude of other chores to help keep our place going.
        Ranchers and farmers in the USA feed a lot of people, both at home and abroad. I’m not making any one starve…

      • PMiles says:

        well aren’t you the uneducated narrow minded fool.

      • QinVA says:

        I think you have the farmers of America confused with the large processors and big agra business organizations. Typical ignorant response from someone that knows only the negative BS that is so easy to find in our media in this country, and no real knowledge of the situation.

      • You don’t have a clue about Ranchers Marshall you are a complete moron, God bless our Ranchers my prayer’s are with you.

      • C.D. Gardner says:

        Marshall, you don’t have a clue!

      • Lynette Nelson says:

        I think you need to spend time on a farm and get your head out of your butt, and see how hard we really do work!!! I wish I had a big house went on vacations and big property. I have worked my butt off for everything I’ve got, Your whats wrong with society!!!!

      • vmunro says:

        What a heartless monologue from someone that obviously is ignorant to who supplies the food for the population of this country. Go crawl in a hole and gnaw on a carrot….if you can find one. They would be grown by a farmer and I guess in your eyes they don’t do anything either. And by the way…..cattle ruin the ecosystem? Really. Manure is the best fertilizer there is. Very organic! People even pay good money for it! Yet you can always find someone that’s “full” of it! Maybe someone named Marshall!

      • Beth says:

        You ignorant person… I was born and raised in South Dakota. My neighbors are ranchers. NEVER do I see them leave on big vacations. If they leave it is for one or two days because they can’t afford to be away from the ranch. Many if my friends are ranchers that lost their entire herds. Loosing their herds means that they will possibly loose the ranches that they were raised on. Ranches that had been in their family for generations. You have no idea of what these ranchers have lived through and lost. Until you have walked a mile in their boots, you have no room to talk. Before you spew disgusting volgarities about ranchers on the internet, how about you educate yourself…

      • Amanda says:

        You are one ignorant person. Let me put this simply. I don’t know if you have children or even a dog from the sounds of it your a hobit somewhere in an apartment screaming bahumbug every xmas. I want to just give you a news flash. Ranchers are what created the west, excuse me the US. People traveled by horse and buggy so they could purchase LAND to create homesteads for themselves. But what I’m getting at, lets say your child is out playing in the snow down from a hill. And that snow comes crashing down around your child and there is no help to save your child, you call the police … But they do not show up because they are too busy with another call. I want you to let that senario settle in your skull. This is the feeling those ranchers have right now. I have been raising cattle and showing them nation wide my entire life. Losing one may not kill our pockets but it hurts just the same. These people just lost their entire lives in one storm! Something they have been working for their entire lives. While you sit behind a desk with your boxers in a bunch all day playing it up like a big man, why don’t you sit back and reread what you posted. You are very selfish and you damn well deserve that white collar. Blue collars are what built this god damned nation! We work, sweat and bleed for this country and it’s assholes like you who run it and screw it all up for all of us. I want you to think about all of this the next time you start to cut into your Grade A Prime beef! That we are the ones out here working our butts off so you can have that steak! That is their livlihood! You sir are a god damn fool.

      • Marshall: All the farmers I know live paycheck to paycheck. They work their butts of in all kinds of weather; EVERY DAY! They rarely get even just a Sunday off. If they’re lucky, they can come home for breakfast after feeding the cows at the crack of dawn before going back to work again to fix fence, or herd the cows to another location, or watch mama cows who are due to have babies at 2:00 in the morning..and the list goes on and on. This is their life! They enjoy what they do but it’s definitely NOT glamorous, with “big houses” and “big vacations”! Where are you getting your information. Your are truly misinformed. We depend on these farmers for MANY things, not just the meat that you are talking about. Look it up. I’m sure the car you drive, the shoes you wear, the shaving cream you use, or the furniture you sit on has something to do with cows. The farmers I know take excellent care of their cattle and do everything they can that would allow for an easier life for them, including shelter from the weather. You cannot group ALL farmers together. A lot of it depends on what part of the country you’re talking about. And, YES…they DO deserve coverage. Give me a break. Do a fact check next time, before spewing your vomitus ridicule of things and people you don’t understand!

      • Ed says:

        You don’t know anything about ranchers if you think there are big houses, big vacations or big property. I’ve been a rancher all my life and I don’t know very many with these perks. It is a twenty four seven job in all kinds of weather. The money might seem big, but the bills are bigger. I don’t think you would last long without them.

      • Corrina says:

        Marshal. You should be ashamed of yourself. Have you ever been to South Dakota? Doubtful. Shame on you. I hope you don’t have any children to spread your stupidity to.

      • Grace says:

        I agree with Dawn on this one. Ignorance is mostly shown when someone with out knowledge opens their mouth.

      • Holly says:

        Wow! The empty wagon really DOES make the most noise!!
        Isn’t it sad that an individual could be so utterly clueless, yet, in spite of having absolutely no first hand knowledge of his subject matter, feel comfortable in advertising his ignorance, intolerance and lack of compassion on a public forum?
        I’m embarrassed FOR you Marshall.
        I suppose the ranchers/farmers would be better advised to culture meat products in test tubes, donate their land to housing developments, and offer what little profit they earn to the government who can continue to squander it in whatever way they see fit. Yup, that makes perfect sense!!!

      • Evidently you are a vegetarian. You better be because beef will be so expensive we will have a tough time affording it. (if YOU CAN FIND IT.)

      • Jason says:

        You truly are an idiot. Enough said.

      • Ian says:

        Your ignorance is astounding! My hat goes off to any person who makes their living in agriculture. They are rarely in it exclusively because of the money. If they are blessed with owning a big house and the ability to take a vacation every year, it’s only because they have earned it. They do what they do because they can’t imagine doing anything else. Every day of good weather is a blessing. If enough good days are strung together to make a good season, it’s almost a miracle. In no other profession will you find people, families, entire commuinities working together every day from before the sun rises to after it sets so people like you can feed yopur families. Every single day, including Sundays and holidays. And when a storm of this magnitude strikes, every person, family and community suffers the same agony.
        I live in a community with Mennonites who still work the land and live without electricity, cars or running water. They are the nicest, hardest working people you will ever meet, The same love of farming that runs in their veins, runs in the veins of all farmers and ranchers alike.

      • Lannea Rae says:

        Your negative comments are as cruel as the storm. Shame on you for not recognizing the loss of life for the cattle and how the ranchers must feel. You are an insensitive slug< Marshall

      • heather says:

        Marshall, you have all the sensitivity of a big rock. Ranchers are the beginning of the meat processing chain, which means they are the bottom of ladder for prices. As it goes up the ladder, each entity that takes possession adds a percentage. The prices you see at the grocery store are greatly inflated from what the rancher received in payment for his stock. But it’s not just the loss of their livlihood that is making those poor ranchers heartsick. Ranchers everywhere feel such a tremendous sense of responsibility for the welfare of their herds. The sense of grief is probably overwhelming to those poor people. Imagine the tug you feel at your heart when you see a dead dog on the side of the road. Now multiply that by 10,000. Even if you don’t appreciate what ranchers do or even if you feel that they don’t have a right to what they own, you could at least acknowledge that the loss of life was a tragedy. I hope you are not expecting compassion from anyone when you experience loss in your life. You get what you give in this world and you are pisspoor in that department.

      • lora polak says:

        This has to be a joke folks…….NO one person can be this stupid….

      • dm says:

        all these posts following yours are speaking about how ignorant you are….. but there is a GLARING absence of mention by these ranchers of government subsidies, not to mention the costs we all bear for lost productivity and medical costs associated with beef production and consumption. no matter how great of a life you think you are giving livestock, the fact remains that the animals’ lives are cut dramatically short, and a great life is not cut short to feed the gluttony of the meat-eating population. there is no reason to eat meat, other than taste and tradition. forget the mass quantities of waste polluting waters, forget the ozone, forget your arteries, forget deforestation to create grazing land all over the earth — let’s all smile and continue the fantasy of the ‘happy cow.’ these individual farms may not be the largest contributors to all the problems associated with meat production, processing, and consumption, but they are certainly not without their piece of responsibility. the thought of all those animals dying that horrible death sickens me. but you pegged the situation — and, oh yea, marshall YOU are the ignorant one. and me, too. but i don’t see us putting on rose-colored glasses to describe a norman rockwell painting of american life where a hellish nightmare is closer to the truth. perhaps it is time to consider farming something that is more nutritious that, if ruined, will not wreck farmers’ income for two or more years in a row. like edible plants….

      • Athena says:

        do not be taken in by this idiot’s remarks he/she reminds me of our politicians making a response that has nothing to do with the crisis at hand skirting the issue and being self serving respond to the ranchers,I am in SC so wish I was able to help I do know some people there that just moved there a few months ago living in campers until they can get shelters built not expecting this blizzard snowed them in. they are looking at the devastation and relaying it to us it is unthinkable that this could happen and not even the politicians have addressed it once, our president spends more time knocking down conservatives,republicans,talk radio,etc he could give a rip about them and the rest of us but make sure all the nations that hate us kill our service boys,girls get our money to throw away I want to see 600 million go to the ranchers that will be the day God Bless them and all that can help them Athena

      • Chris says:

        Come on Marshall, are a vegetarian? Can’t afford the meat these people raise. BS. If they can’t afford it, they most likely get food stamps, which means they can afford it.

      • Farmgirl says:

        Marshall, Why are you even on here? I suspect that you live in, oh let’s say, New York City; or maybe in a big city in California. Because, really, the east and west coasts are the only places that really count in this country. If you do live in between somewhere, or even live in the country. You have a spoon fed knowledge of what you think a ranchers life is like. They worked for the land, most ranchers know that wildlife must be used, killed and eaten to prevent diseases or over population, you probably don’t eat meat from the sound of it. I was raised on a farm and the farmers or ranchers do not set the prices you see in the supermarket. That is out of their control. We raised crops for a long time, then raised black angus cattle. I know how much we used to get per hundred weight at the sale ring. No I was not raised on a huge ranch, but my feelings are always for the family farm or ranch, regardless of size. You are really hating the corporate farms and ranches that are only a business. Most family owned farms and ranchers love and take good care of all their animals. It hurts when you lose one cow or calf or whatever animal you raise from newborns.
        Besides, most ranchers work 12 to 14 hours a day. I remember us going on vacation just 2 or 3 times while I was growing up. Most farmers or ranchers are hands on and don’t like to get away for long periods of time. No we did not have a big house or a lot of land. Do you get up at 2:00 or 3:00 A,M. to help pull or deliver a calf to help a cow who is in trouble? It is working on the coldest day of the year or the hottest day of the year, outside. Bringing a calf in to warm up in front of the gas stove in the house so it won’t die and still having half of its ears frozen off. Giving cows and calves shots yourself, grinding your own feed, putting up your own hay, putting in your own garden, helping a fellow rancher with his own set of problems,……I could go on and on. If you haven’t walked in a rancher’s shoes, don’t hold yourself above them and talk down to them or be nasty about something you don’t understand. We, unlike yourself, like to eat meat and you are not going to stop that no matter how much you would like to. You had better thank your lucky stars there are people that love the land and try to take care of it for future generations. Doing away with farmers and ranchers will not keep people from starving in the streets. The greed of corporate America is at fault there. Why is the plight of the ranchers and their loss of cattle not as newsworthy as hurricane Sandy, floods, drought, or any other natural disaster? It was a freak, very early blizzard. You are a bitter person and need to have someone to blame for all the problems you see.

    • Unfortunately most of America won’t care about this until it hits them in their pockets when the price of beef goes up at the grocery store.

    • WIdairyeducator says:

      My sorrow goes out to the ranchers in South Dakota. I have friends that own dairy farms and when disaster strikes their area it is sad when they report dead cattle.

      For those of you who bash the farmers, SHAME ON YOU. You do not know how much work these farmers have to do year round and they do not get a break. They do not get a vacation. Even though I live in the inner city of WI, I know what farmers go through. I have been on a couple of dairy farms, I have been to one beef farm, and I have seen other farms as well. Part of my job is to help tell the farmer’s story. Farmers are not greedy. Farmers like to give back to their communities. They like to be active in their community and help out. I encourage everyone to THANK a farmer for all their hard work. Thank them for the crops they grow, the dairy products, for the meat products, and other goods they provide.

      I also encourage people to check out the different agricultural websites your state provides. See how agricultural plays a key role in the economy. Better yet get in touch with your Farm Bureau and see how you can get involved or get educated on how agriculture has a POSITIVE IMPACT in your state.


    • Ok, guys; “The easy way to share” is not sharing? I have ‘+’ tho…

    • Crissy Fate says:

      I am so very sorry, my parents have beef cattle from the bottom of our hearts we are sorry

  1. Monte says:

    God bless you Carrie, for your thoughts and prayers for our ranchers out here. I don’t ranch, but did farm, with cow-calf pairs
    back there in Wisconsin…a long time ago. These folks devastation is unimaginable to most folks in our society today. We will
    help out on these ranches where we can.
    Love your blog!

    Rapid City SD

  2. That picture is absolutely heart breaking. Prayers and condolences to all the ranchers in South Dakota.

  3. […] story….Again, we are thankful for the break we got, especially in light of the disastrous freak snowfall in Dakota, which claimed the lives of over 75,000 head of cattle last […]

  4. Stephany N says:

    Reading this made me cry! I can’t even imagine the pain that they are feeling. Animals that many have raised from young calves, tender loving care all gone due to bad timing for mother nature! Thoughts and prayers for them and their herds!

  5. That’s so heartbreaking. It’s a terrible loss for the ranchers, and it’s terrible to know those cows suffered like that. I don’t know why the reporting hasn’t covered it. I am remembering when the EF5 tornado hit Greensburg, Kansas, no one talked about the fact that thousands of cows were swept up into the storm and dropped all over the prairie. Like these poor blizzard victims, the Greensburg cows couldn’t be saved. But no one reported it.

  6. iluvbears says:

    You don’t hear anything about it in the national media because if it doesn’t happen on one of the coasts and/or possibly Texas or Chicago, it isn’t worth reporting.

  7. Barbara says:

    This is quite possibly the saddest story I have ever heard. I cannot begin to fathom the losses or what it’s like to face such a daunting (not to mention heartbreaking) clean-up.
    You did a good job telling the story, Carrie. I wish for the ranchers’ sake that more folks were hearing the story…they’re going to need a lot of help!
    Prayin’ for all those affected.

  8. Brian says:

    I disagree with your assumption that the news isn’t covering the story. I watched Fox News and they covered it multiple times both the 12th and 13th. Also, I am sure local news stations and papers are covering it as well. Just because you haven’t seen it covered doesn’t mean it isn’t being covered. Love the assumptions!

    • Brian – the national media picked up the story a full week later. This is equivalent to our Sandy, Our Katrina. They estimate this will have an economic impact in the billions. So why wasn’t it covered earlier? That’s the rub. It should have been front and center Tuesday Morning as news broke of the catastrophe, like it was on my blog. People were so starved for news that by Wednesday I crashed a server in Dallas.

      • Glynda says:

        This was not covered in the mainstream media because it does not fit the theory of man made global warming.

      • sciamachy says:

        Global warming is to do with the entire world’s climate, averaged out. Global weather systems mean that you get some parts of that globe warmer or colder than others. For instance, global warming stopped the Atlantic Conveyor current a couple of years ago during winter, & the UK, which is normally warmed by warm waters flowing up from the Gulf of Mexico, suffered a winter like they’re used to in Moscow or Chicago. One thing global warming predicts is much more severe weather – including severe winters, ice storms up in Canada, desert zones spreading.

      • C.D. Gardner says:

        Global warming is a hoax. Only a real moron would buy into that.

      • pussytoes says:

        I used to work in television news, so my first thought was from that perspective. (Well no, my second thought. My first thought was sorrow for the ranchers who got hit so hard.) I suspect there may not have been enough film/video during and immediately after the storm and the discovery of its gruesome aftermath. Television naturally requires this because it is a visual medium.

      • pussytoes says:

        Glynda, actually, it does, perfectly. Global warming has already begun to trigger the freak storms, tidal waves, and so on that climate scientists have been predicting for years. This storm was exactly the kind we can expect more of, largely thanks to the deniers who are preventing appropriate changes in the way we live on this planet.

    • Sheila says:

      It doesn’t do much good for locals to be told what’s happened. They’ve already lived it, but thanks for caring.

      • dairycarrie says:

        Sheila, I’m confused by your comment. Can you clarify what you mean?

      • Carrie, I think Sheila was referring to Brian’s comment: “Also, I am sure local news stations and papers are covering it as well”. Of course they are, but that doesn’t get the word out to folks outside the affected area. This needed National coverage, and what it got was too little too late.

  9. I asked our Pastor to include farmers and ranchers affected by this terrible storm in Sundays prayers and the prayer chain. My heart goes out to those farmers and ranchers.

  10. […] Pain you can’t even imagine. ( […]

  11. TikkTok says:

    What makes me the most angry is the attitude of numerous commenters that it’s somehow they ranchers’ faults that they died- if they had had shelter, they wouldn’t have died.

    The ignorance is astonishing.

    I’ve seen reports by folks who lost animals IN the shelter. One rancher lost horses in the paddock, snuggled up to the house.

    Others lost most of their sheep who were inside the sheep barn when the roof collapased on them.

    I’ve read about Rainbow Bible Ranch which lost 90 horses. (

    And yet, the ignorant think that somehow man is responsible for the losses resulting from nature’s wrath.

    They don’t understand the storm. They don’t understand the calendar. They don’t understand animals and the winter coats they grow, or the lack thereof.

    I am still sick at heart over this- the loss; the devastation; the lack of the media doing its job and reporting real news with the proportion it deserves.

    I wrote about this last week ( and with links to relief information: and I’m still getting people telling me they haven’t heard anything about this.

    This storm spawned a tornado in Nebraska that had destruction, and I haven’t heard anything about that. I know people in a state away who as of last week had not heard anything, either.

    When it’s a hurricane, we hear all about it. Apparently there are other stories the media would rather focus on. 🙄

    • I live in Michigan, and I stumbled upon this. I hadn’t heard a word about this! I am disgusted that we only hear what the government wants us to hear. Next people will wonder why beef prices are so high? What? What do you mean blizzard in the fall? Why didn’t the media let us know? What has happened to America? We the people NEED to stick together or the America WE THE PEOPLE know WILL CEASE TO BE!

      • TikkTok says:

        It is astonishing , isn’t it, Jill? I’m further east with strong ties to the west {this Mi girl was accused of being a foreigner more than once :lol:} At this point in my life, I’ve lived nearly my entire adult life out west.

        Here is is, more than a week later, people are still just now hearing about it.

        And still, people keep asking the same questions. If I could, I’d drop each one of these folks on a ranch out there. If they haven’t ever been in the rural west, they simply cannot imagine the acreage (or head of cattle) that we’re talking about.

    • Cindy Kettunen says:

      The reason this isn’t “news” is because it all happened in the fly-over states. We are not important enough for the “news”. We aren’t on the East or West Coast, those places have celebrities of all kinds and that’s more important. We feed the nation, as well as the world, but we don’t warrant a moments consideration. Once their food prices start to sky rocket they’ll take notice but then all we will hear is how unfair it is that the rancher/farmer is getting such outrageous prices.
      I cry for all the lost animals. I cry for the generations that put the hard work, long nights, and worry into developing and maintaining good stock to feed the generations to come. Gone…all gone…..

      • TikkTok says:

        Me too, Cindy, me too.

        I don’t know if it’s so much location in the country as much as it is urban vs. rural. Is there a large urban population that is conservative? I try really hard not to think along political lines, but I think we shouldn’t rule it out this time. Maybe it doesn’t rank because bullets weren’t involved…… {shrugs}

      • Joyce says:

        I live on a farm in Saskatchewan. I heard about the storm from a rancher here, not on the news. This is a huge story! Such a terrible event, such horrific loss!

        I understand the “fly-over states” comment. We feel like the same way in the Canadian prairie farming and ranching provinces. This is so sad! Our hearts and prayers go out for all the ranchers!

    • Peg says:

      One of those tornadoes hit my neighborhood. But the devastation to farmers, and the cruel deaths of these animals breaks my heart. it should bring a country together that cares about the losses faced by people who are devastated. I heard about this awful storm on the weather channel as it happened. But we need more than facts in the story, we need to care.

  12. Nancie W. says:

    I had heard briefly about this on some news report but I agree that it should be covered MUCH MUCH more. It is one of the saddest Ag events ever. I cannot even imagine the desperate, horrible feelings these ranchers faced during the storm, after the storm when they actually saw their cattle and looking toward a bleak and scary future. My heart is so heavy for them. Prayers to everyone on affected by the Atlas storm. May they find some help from many sources.

  13. Anne says:

    Weren’t the ranchers warned a blizzard was on the way? I’m sure they must have been so wouldn’t they herd the cattle back to ranch…to the wind blocked pastures? Did they really just “awe, it’s too early for anything too serious…”? I’m sorry to sound critical but those poor creatures died a horrible death and I’m sure it was the lack of urgency on the part of their ranchers that killed them, not the storm.

    • dairycarrie says:

      Anne, moving the cattle isn’t a one or two or three hour operation it takes days to do it. First you have to find and gather the cattle in 1,000 acre pastures, then you have to start to slow walk of moving them many miles to get back to the winter grazing areas. The weather reports did not give an accurate picture of what was coming in time for this to happen. No one knew how bad it would be.

      • Anne says:

        Yeah, I didn’t understand how it works out there…sorry.

        • dairycarrie says:

          Thank you Anne. I appreciate your open mindedness. I too would love to have someone to blame so it doesn’t happen again but in this case there isn’t one.

      • TikkTok says:

        Not to mention:

        1) 12 hours of soaking rain before the snow came

        2) hurricane force gusts with 60 mph *sustained* winds

        3) 20 ft high snow drifts. These animals were literally buried and suffocated

        4) all this with NO WINTER COATS

        5) people lost livestock IN THE BARNS resulting from collapse due to the snow load

        6) people lost horses IN THE PADDOCK snuggled up to the house because they got buried and/or froze

        No. This was not the ranchers’ faults.

    • dairycarrie says:

      Your lack of knowledge on this topic is understandable but your assumptions are horribly insulting.

      • Sarah says:

        I lived in a small community in Wisconsin and have worked with cattle and know how extremely hard it is to try to find the herd and bring them in. I know that with rain and mud it makes it all that much harder to do. While I understand that no one really had a good idea of how bad it could be and the weather people on the news don’t always give an accurate picture, I would like to think that most farmers would want to start thinking about bringing their cattle in just so they could stay warm inside the barn or in the winter grazing areas if they were predicting snow. I understand that cows are able to handle some snow and the cold because of their fur and thicker skin, but I would be bringing them in just in case. I also understand that barns collapse due to extreme snow buildup on the roofs as well, but I would think that you would want to have them closer to the barn where they could have better shielded themselves against the storm and could come in and out as necessary. With this being said, I know that it is a horrible tragedy and am saddened that all of these farmers have lost their livestock and have to figure out how they will make ends meet.

        • dairycarrie says:

          Here in Wisconsin a big pasture would be maybe 100 acres. Usually they are close to the home farm. In South Dakota the areas these cattle are in are thousands of acres and are often far from the winter areas. It takes days and lots of people to find and move hundreds of cattle long distances. Earlier in the week it had been 80 degrees and the forecast wasn’t accurate enough ahead of time for the ranchers to know that there was this kind of storm headed towards them. Farming in the West is very different than farming here.

      • Sarah says:


        I know plenty of farmers who have far more than just “100 acres of land” in my neck of the woods in Wisconsin. I am not saying that it wouldn’t take lots of man power and time to get these animals in, I KNOW that it takes that kind of time and man power since I HAVE worked on a farm before. I have also read on other peoples blogs that people in Minnesota and Wisconsin had heard about this storm hitting at least a week or two before it had hit in South Dakota. I am not saying that that is accurate or that people in South Dakota had necessarily heard about this storms magnitude. I am also sure that farming is different in the west than it is in the Midwest.

    • Anne says:

      I’m sorry. After reading everyone’s comments I see I don’t really understand ranching in that part of the country…I’m just so sad the poor creatures died so horrifically and I guess I wanted a fall guy when there isn’t one. I’ll spread the story so people know what’s happening out there. Blessings.

    • Andrew says:

      First I’d like to say that I feel for the families that will suffer financially from this. That being said, freezing to death is pretty much painless, and certainly more humane then what would have happened to these cows once thy where sold. We as a society are all responsible for having created a market for the kind of food systems we use here in the US, but it needs to change. I hope that the local communities rally together and support these families, but I don’t think a dime of tax payer money should ever be spent to replace personal property. The idea that its the governments responsibility to replace personal property and provide for people in general is why we are trillions of dollars in debit and the majority of people want to pass the buck to the next guy.

      • Do you feel that way about the government providing tax payer dollars to flood victims in Colorado, or Hurrican Victims in LA, or NJ? I’m just curious.

      • Andrew says:

        Yes, I do. For most of earths history it has been the expectation that neighbors and not government will be there for you in a crisis. I think this looking to big government to fix problems has simply created more severe problems. Family, neighbors, communities use to be much closer and more supportive. Now so much of our resources go to feed the machine in Washington that we feel less able and often less obligated to help those in our communities that are suffering. It does not mean that I do not feel for the families that are effected by tragedies but rather I don’t agree with what the best way is to help them. For example I thing our food industry and eating habits in the US are deeply problematic, rather than simply rebuilding what has been destroyed in this tragedy I hope that the families take the opportunity of starting over to make something better for themselves and better for the world.

      • Marla says:

        There are several things I would have liked to say to several of the people stupid enough to comment on this blog, but really…this one takes the cake! Since when is a business classed as “personal property”?? Does that mean that when any other type of natural storm destroys any other business that there should be no insurance for that?? Noone else in America (or Canada where we are…) would even think about it – ALL of their offices, vehicles, electronics and product are insured to the hilt – because it can be!

        For anyone in the business, we all know that our animals are so much more than product and even if there was money there to insure the “property”, nothing – and I mean NOTHING – can replace a herd built over a lifetime of hard work (sometimes more than one lifetime’s work) and NOTHING can erase the horror of living through – or cleaning up – a mess like that! For those of you not blessed enough to have really lived as a rancher, you could never understand what it is like to lose and then bury everything you’ve ever worked for, cared about, nurtured and brought into this world…literally. Imagine taking your beloved pet to the vet for euthenasia (a choice you GOT to make) and then ‘take care of that’ 75,000 times over! You don’t have a clue, never will, so please do the rest of us a favour and stop blogging as if you know anything about it! Oh, and by the way…don’t bother to call any of us to bitch when your hamburger, or steak, or porkchop, or chicken breast or any other farm-raised product costs 5X as much as it did before this storm. Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares – namely your government representative – IF you can reach them!

        Andrew, try getting off your high horse and heading out to South Dakota to get your hands dirty, digging out and then burying some – even ONE – of the thousands of animals lost. Trust me, it is not a joy and as you sit surrounded by your “personal property” tonight, just try to imagine the absolute devastation on any one of those ranches. I can and would bet you that any one of those ranchers would trade their house, their vacation or their vehicle – even the few who have the fancy ones as claimed by another blogger – to turn back time two weeks and NOT lose those animals. Would you?

  14. says:

    Thank you Carrie for bringing attention to this unimaginable event. We have lost turkeys in barn fires, roof collapses, and other acts of nature. The feeling of helplessness is enough to break you. The ache in your heart horrific. Many prayers to those poor farmers and ranchers. I cry every time I think about it! I am helping to spread the word – hopefully donations begin to come in for them, but nothing will heal their hearts and for that we need to pray.

    • Very wise words. When there is no one to blame but the natural happening of weather conditions, it is so hard to live with. Prayer can ease the heart and mind and bring them into alignment with Gods plan for our lives. Donate if you can, share the news if you cannot, but I agree; WE THE PEOPLE need to be in prayer!!!

  15. cc says:

    Seeing those pictures of those fellow earthlings breaks my heart. Don’t know which is worse death by freezing or when they come to their horrible end at a slaughter house. Glad to be a vegan and not part of any of that cruelty.

    • dairycarrie says:

      I hope your smugness in the face of tragedy makes you feel that much more superior.

    • Patti Bro2n says:

      Arrogance and self righteous seems to be a common trait among vegans.

    • Carrie’s reply to you was quite generous. For one, I can’t believe someone would have the audacity to come here and preach about their own lifestyle here when people are in so much pain. Please go think about what makes you behave this way, and why it’s incredibly rude.

    • Valorie says:

      If ranchers are sad when their cattle die, then why are they NOT sad when they die in a slaughterhouse? Because they are sad they didn’t get to cash in first. The cattle would have died anyway. I think the fake empathy towards the poor cows is disheartening when you know that they would have sold them for their flesh later. Vegans don’t want to be part of the death and cruelty. I am happy to be one of them. No cow died for me, in a field or at the slaughterhouse. No animal should ever have to suffer for humans. The TRAGEDY is that they have to live and die at all for the tastebuds of humans.

      • Minola says:

        Those of us in agriculture are far closer to the realities of the natural world, and we have a peculiar relationship with death. It’s something to be avoided, but not feared, not welcome, but nonetheless inevitable. Valorie, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve never watched an animal die a natural death, because in nature, death is harsh, and cruel and slow. A natural death typically takes several days, while they slowly die of thirst. Predators don’t always wait for death, immobility is good enough for them. I can’t imagine the struggles of these cows as they first huddled, and then piled, and then were crushed under their own weight, the weight of their herd mates, and the weight of the snow. I can’t imagine standing chest deep in ice cold water in a 60 mph wind, being confronted by suffocation, hypothermia and drowning. How long do you think you’d last?
        I know the idea of a natural death is somehow comforting and even appealing, and that might hold true in humans. But the horses, wildlife, sheep and cattle who died it that storm lingered for days.
        Like it or not, slaughterhouses work with incredible efficiency, and I guarantee the ruthless efficiencies of our food system are far kinder to cows than the indifference of Mother Nature.

      • Scott Davel says:


        you are telling us that at some point in time during your life, you never once had formula, never once had milk, never once growing up ate a hamburger or a peice of meat. You are saying you never once ate Jello, used or wore leather or had vaccines. You are telling US that you have never driven a car that burned gasoline? The TRAGEDY here is that you have no idea what it’s like to lose the ones closest to you. Imagine if you had gone to work and learned that all of your coworkers died in a freak accident. Imagine if when you get home that your spouse, your children and your parents are all dead. This is the pain that WE are going through. These are living breathing beings that have parished. Yes we raise them for slaughter, but during their time on this earth we treat them like family.

      • Amy says:

        I’m with you, Valorie. I’m sorry that those farmers suffered such a loss and that those animals died so horrifically, but a slaughterhouse death is just as horrific. Glad to be vegan and not a part of any of it.

      • moon says:

        I say a prayer for all those who lost, nightly. I know you don’t get vacations or live in fancy houses. The economy has already had an impact on ranchers and farmers and this added to your struggle. Keep your faith that in the end there might be something left.

        Valorie. Your choice in eating style is your own but, then I’m left to wonder why you’re checking out this blog to begin with. To stir the pot and draw attention? Go back to your comfort zone sunshine. This is something you don’t know anything about. When your carrot freezes to death because you failed to pick it on time then come on back. Then again, you’re probably too lazy to grow anything. Just go to the grocery store and make sure your carrots were grown in the United States. At least you’ll know that worker earned an honest wage instead of the sweat laborers in neighboring countries that can’t buy even the veggies they pick because they work for almost nothing.

    • not all the cows go to slaughter houses so when you assume you make an arse out of yourself. I raise chickens does that mean Im slaughtering them? NO I show them. People show their cows, milk their cows, NOT ALL COWS GET SLAUGHTERED. IF you dont like meat its your choice but dont be rude to these people. BE RUDE TO THE WEATHER. IF you are so cool give them MONEY and help out.

    • CountryGirl says:

      Even if you are a vegan you probably use other products from beef, such as medication and make up, the adhesive on bandages, the air filter in your car…the list is huge. If you own any thing made from leather, anything, you use beef products.

  16. Sheila says:

    dairycarrie, you said you didn’t understand my reply…I was referring to the comment someone made who said it had been reported in the local news as though that should be enough. My comment referenced the fact that locals didn’t need to be told over and over. Locals understand the loss and the impact,,,outsiders might be the ones to benefit from the stories and pictures with greater explanation.

  17. Michelle says:

    This is awful. Thank you for informing us. I hadn’t heard, either, and I have the news on a good bit. I will pray for those affected and share on my FB page. Thank you, Carrie.

  18. As usual, Carrie is awesome!

  19. So sorry for the devastation. Does anyone think that this unusual storm had anything to do with Climate Change? I do. (I’ve been studying this issue for decades and DENIALISM of anthropogenic climate is no longer acceptable by people of common sense).

    • I don’t think that ‘Climate Change’ even covers it. I do NOT beleive that this stuff is an accident, entirely. I think that the tinkering through chem trails and seeding the clouds, has begun to take it’s toll.

    • pussytoes says:

      Unfortunately, this is absolutely the kind of thing that is caused by climate change. Such “freak” storms have been predicted by climate scientists for years.

  20. This event was truly devastating. Your blog in response to this is amazing. Thank you for caring enough about these farmers and ranchers to write about them and to set up a way for people to donate!

  21. I’ve actually been following these stories on some of the mainstream media. They aren’t making the front page, but they are being reported on. My heart goes out to the folks affected–I’m from farm country in upstate New York and the people who go into agriculture work hard and often go un-thanked. Thank you so much for the link! I hate reading about these situations and not being able to do anything about it.

  22. Joy says:

    As a former South Dakota girl this has broke my heart! The images, even though horrific, need to be seen! Not just in SD but through out the country. I’ve been sharing like crazy on my Facebook and twitter. My prayers go out to all of my friends in SD.

  23. Michael Wharton says:

    This is such a heartbreaking story. God bless you; my prayers are with you.

  24. Nigel Betts says:

    What an apalling situation for all concerned (not least the animals). I live in the UK and have just viewed this on the BBC news website so it is getting some coverage around the world at least. I do hope that all those adversely affected get the help and support they need as soon as possible – we all know that modern farming is hard enough as it is without this type of catastrophe to contend with.

    It does sometimes feel that if it’s not on CNN, it hasn’t really happened – I guess this is the downside of the modern news media landscape but hopefully good people will still do good things regardless (they usually do just that, often just at a right time).. and soon. If it was in my powere to help, I would.

  25. Lese Majeste says:

    We kill people on a daily basis in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria and other places and not a tear is shed.

    But some cows die in a snow storm and the tears come out in force.

    • Arthur Sido says:

      There is tragedy aplenty in the world. Smugly implying that people care about cattle and not about people around the world is ignorant and ugly. I care very much about innocent life lost around the world, children as collateral damage in various wars and killed here in America in the name of choice. I care about orphans and widows and grieve when they suffer, doing what small part I can to aid them. I also can and do feel the pain of those who make their living as ranchers and have seen their lifework and the legacy they hope to pass on to their children and grandchildren wiped out. It is not an either-or, either you care about people dying around the world or you care about ranchers suffering loss. Save your self-righteous smugness, your ill conceived and inaccurate comment does nothing to help those in South Dakota or the people you allegedly care so much about in far away lands.

    • Psheri says:

      OMG… Lese, the cows & calves are innocent animals but people on the other hand are IRRESPONSIBLE creatures (idiots really)

  26. sciamachy says:

    According to the stories on South Dakota’s Black Hills area lost about 5% of its cattle in that storm, & they’re estimating that to be around 20,000 head of cattle. This must be quite awful for you, and if you’re a rancher who’s lost nearly all your cattle, that’s a heck of a blow. You have my sympathy.

  27. Emily Grace says:

    Thanks for your post.

  28. Linda says:

    Many prayers go out to the farmers and ranchers. As a fellow dairy farmer I know the effects that mother nature has and how we are at her mercy at all times for crops, animals, the amount of milk produced, etc. This is so devastating. I cried before I even saw the pictures. How sad that this is not on the forefront of the news. To all fellow farmers you have our prayers and our heartfelt sympathy, knowing the feelings of how it is to lose so much and not be able to do anything but watch it all happen.

  29. Jo says:

    I am so sorry to all those ranchers who have lost their livelihood for the next 2 years. What galls me are the people who are so blasé about this horrific tragedy that affects not only the ranchers, but the animals as well. “Vegan” I hope someone slips you a cow pie…..your stupid comments were not called for…and to the one who mentioned all the people killed in other countries…that is a choice of war and they chose it…..I commend all the ranchers and farmers who work so hard for so little…..they care for the animals that they raise and without them where would we be. My heart goes out to all of you and wish that I could do something to help. Maybe just pointing out to unfeeling and “uneducated” people about how much we rely on our ranchers and farmers is enough. My prayers are with you !!!!

    • Not too many people “choose” war. That decision is left to the big wigs in the government, then WE THE PEOPLE are left dealing with the aftermath. I pray for ALL people everywhere effected by war, famine, flood, fire, earthquakes, violence of all kinds, ect… This unusual storm is no different, and I pray for ALL involved in it! I feel sorry for those who judge, like the so called vegan, they shall be judged the same.

  30. Sandra says:

    Your right, the story isn’t out there. I found out from reading a blog!
    The Blaze finally picked up the story after receiving tweets about it. Mercury One is collecting money with 100 percent of the proceeds going to help these Ranchers.
    It is sad to me that the Mainstream Media has not reported on this story.
    Very sad!

  31. First, I am sorry happened and the pain from losing even a single life is ALWAYS unimaginably horrible; not to mention THOUSANDS. Even as a lifelong vegetarian who disagrees with the meat-eating lifestyle, my heart goes out to all the ranchers who’s livelihoods and love are permanently and irreparably destroyed. However, this post leaves out a critical consideration that we all seem to overlook consistently: Climate Change (not global warming – that’s a misnomer). Climate Change is serious and we should be taking it seriously. If not for the environmentalists, the rainforests, the countless species that go extinct everyday (most before they have ever been cataloged or discovered); then for ourselves. We have plundered this planet to the point of irreversability and the result is that we have created a world that we will not want to live in a few years down the line. This has real, human implications and we will all need to adapt in order to survive.

    I am not an angry environmentalist, but rather a creative problem solver who has a genuine interest in creating applicable solutions that INCREASE the happiness, productivity and quality of life of ALL people on this tiny EARTH which we must all share. In that spirit, I will end my comment with a question. In what ways might ranchers protect their herds from unimaginable & unpredictable disasters such as these? In what was might those who share in the bounty that these ranchers provide be part of that solution?

    • Ann Larson says:

      I appreciate the tone in which you present your comments. Seriously, these comment feeds often turn so negative!

      I don’t know much about the theory of climate change, so I can’t address those questions.

      However, there is something that could be done to help be part of the solution. As Carrie has mentioned, this was a freak storm that no one predicted. You don’t hear about tens of thousands of cattle dying every winter in the plain states, so ranchers are doing well to protect their cattle when possible.

      What would really help would be passing the new Farm Bill. It is my understanding that there is an emergency fund with services (much like FEMA) strictly for livestock producers written into the Farm Bill. It was created specifically for situations such as this one. The issue is that the Farm Bill hasn’t been passed, so that program is not in place. Also, with the government shutdown, which I really don’t want to get into, FSA offices are closed. This means no damage evaluations can be submitted so no disaster relief can be properly distributed. Sec. Vilsack could move FSA workers to the essential worker list, which would put them back to work, but they haven’t been, to my knowledge, moved to that list yet.

      In summary, contact your legislators!

      • Your solution is to contact your legislators? Really? I’m not sure if you have noticed, Ann, but our government is nothing short of complete and utter incompetancy. Your reference to FEMA actually made me laugh. Did you know it took FEMA more than 10 days to get water to the Super Dome during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina? If you think that our government is the solution to natural disasters, then you are disillusioned. Sorry to be blunt, but I do my research and I have read the farm bill of which you speak. Sure it would help a few farmers, but it is far from comprehensive and if you actually read it, you would know that it will take years for farmers to receive any benefit from the proposed legislation and that they would have to pay for damages themselves initially; the bill only suggests that farmer’s could be reimbursed for costs accrued and paid for after a disaster such as this. I would also suggest that you spend some time researching the detrimental effects of Climate Change and how they might affect you in your area. I think you might be surprised…

    • llepke says:

      First of all, I have to say this is one of the most constructive comments I’ve read by a vegetarian/vegan on Carrie’s post!! Thank you so much for staying open-minded regardless of your, or others beliefs. I was born and raised on a dairy farm, and am proud of it. But honestly, don’t know many people who are vegetarians/vegan. I hope most of them share your open-minded opinion.

      You can look at this natural disaster just like any other. The tsunami, or hurricane Katrina, for example, were natural disasters that NO ONE could have prevented. They took thousands of lives, human and animal. These disasters have been happening for thousands and thousands of years (goodbye dinosaurs!!), and there has been nothing we can do to stop it. Ranchers do everything they possibly can to protect their animals, just as we do to protect ourselves and each other. Sometimes there just isn’t anything we can do. Donate if you have the means, otherwise all we can do is provide our sympathy.

      • Thanks for your words. While you are correct that natural disasters are simply that… DISASTERS that no one could possibly prevent. Does that mean we shouldn’t prepare or expect them? I tend to think not, though it is my belief that eventually Mother Nature will cleanse humans off of this planet to make way for the next stage in the evolution of life here. My point is that while Ranchers have traditionally done everything needed to protect their livestock, the circumstances have changed dramatically and drastic actions will need to be taken from here on out. EXPECT the unexpected. Find new, creative and inventive ways to ranch so that when a rogue storm appears, there is some possibility that this cannot happen again. I do not have answers, but I know that inaction will only result in more destruction. It’s high time that we learn to respect nature once again…

  32. Psheri says:

    My parents raised beefers in Wisconsin for quite a few years. We were closer to the animals than most humans we had to deal with. Even tho they have hundreds or thousands of head I understand the loss and devistation in losing even a few causes. We will ALL know about this when the price of meat and other products go way high at the grocery store and no one can figure out WHY. Since a large populated city with a lot of ‘material damage’ was not effected we will not hear about it. Heck, (for example) I don’t think the WEATHER CHANNEL even knows Wisconsin exists… we are to close to Chicago and of course they are all that matters. Something is ‘out of wack’ with that!

  33. I have a question, but first let me say that I find this situation very sad. With that said, why didn’t the ranchers take steps to protect their herds? Shrimpers watch the weather and put their boats in port prior to hurricanes. Farmers put up sand bags prior to floods. Why didn’t these ranchers herd their cattle in the smaller fields with wind breaks? Why not put up inexpensive shelters with food? Don’t the ranchers harbor some responsibility for this mess, and is it the responsibility of a watermelon and squash farmer to pay for their loss?

    I’m saddened for all this mess.

    • dairycarrie says:

      As I said to another commenter with the sane question, it’s not as simple as it sounds. In the spring, summer and fall the cattle are grazing in massive areas that are far from the ranches. To find these cattle, round them up and drive them (drive as in cattle drive not as in vehicle drive) to the winter pastures isn’t something that can be done in one or two days, it takes a lot of time and people. Earlier in the week the temperatures in this same area were in the upper 70s and 80s. The weather forecast didn’t call for this severe of a storm in time for the cattle to be gathered and brought to better pastures. It was truly a freak storm.

  34. Barbara Murray says:

    Carrie, good job. I live in NYC and I did see it on the news, mostly as a weather story, though. I watch NY1 (local cable channel) and CBS, so probably saw it on CBS. I haven’t seen much coverage of the losses, not with anywhere like the detail you provided. Loss of 75,000 cattle was almost a footnote. I’m sorry. Govt shutdown blew almost everything else away. I did not know that storm had a name until I read your blog, which one of my friends put on Facebook. Keep up the good work.

  35. kgbooks says:

    I am so sorry to read how badly these ranchers have been affected. Although we heard of a blizzard in the area a little while ago, there was no mention of the devastation the ranchers were experiencing. I will for sure share this on my FB page and hope all others will share as well. And when I am able, I will make a donation. Even if I don’t eat that much meat anymore, a livelihood is a livelihood and it is always very sad to learn that families are suffering so much. I hope and pray that the U.S. gov’t finds a way to put their differences aside and help these ranchers. My thoughts and prayers for all.

  36. kgbooks says:

    (I tried posting this earlier but did not see it when I logged in. If this is a double post, please delete. Thanks)

    I am so sorry to read how badly these ranchers have been affected. Although we heard of a blizzard in the area a little while ago, there was no mention of the devastation the ranchers were experiencing. I will for sure share this on my FB page and hope all others will share as well. And when I am able, I will make a donation. Even if I don’t eat that much meat anymore, a livelihood is a livelihood and it is always very sad to learn that families are suffering so much. I hope and pray that the U.S. gov’t finds a way to put their differences aside and help these ranchers. My thoughts and prayers for all.

  37. thegoatlady says:

    No words can describe the heartbreak and exhaustion those folks are facing. Praying for them.

  38. Homesteader says:

    Thanks for writing about this—somebody needed to. But please stop saying “hundreds of years.” I don’t believe there was much cattle ranching in western SD in 1813.

    • dairycarrie says:

      My statement about hundreds of years applied to how cattle have been cared for and existed in general not just the cattle in South Dakota. Furthermore, this is something I wrote, there is no “stop saying” involved.

  39. Reblogged this on Aleister Nacht and commented:
    Take a moment and read about this heartbreaking story of loss and true pain.

  40. I live in Montana and we had the same storm….Not as bad as in South Dakota but still it was horrible…This huge huge huge HUGE loss not only affects the Ranchers and Farmers of South Dakota it affects all of us Americans!!! South Dakota is a harsh state to begin with and our Ranchers there work the skin off their bones to make sure WE as the consumer have meat on our table…guess what the price of meat will go up and it is no ones fault…The really sad SAD story is that our government has failed our Ranchers and Farmers! I can not help financially but I sure can get the word out and pray that there is help out there for our Ranchers and Farmers of South Dakota and surrounding States that got hit by Atlas.

  41. blankenmom says:

    Reblogged this on My Blanken World and commented:
    I don’t normally reblog a whole lot, but I’m not hearing nearly enough about this on the news and should be.

  42. catherine says:

    This a terrible tragedy! I will pray daily for these Ranchers and their families and will do anything else I can, whenever I can. I will help to put the information out to others by all the means I have available. This is a sad, sad story.
    Thank you Carrie. You did a great thing reaching out to us to help our Brothers and Sisters through this pain that, no, we can’t even imagine.

  43. Brian James says:

    I could care less about these people. They’re in the murder business. Maybe they should have given their animals a way to NOT DIE when it freezes outside. Maybe this should point out that we’re murdering an entire species just for hamburgers. Maybe these people should treat their animals with more respect. Will they? No. They’ll whine and cry and moan that everything is horrible and that we’re supposed to make it better for them somehow. No. Treat your animals better.

    • dairycarrie says:

      Brian, I think you need to go back and read this again. There wasn’t anything that they could do. If they could have protected their cows from this they would have.

    • Ann Larson says:

      No matter your stance on meat, farming or the treatment of these animals, I would hope that if you found yourself in a situation where you could lose your livelihood due to natural disaster people would show you more compassion than you are showing these ranchers.

      It is my choice to eat meat, just as it is yours to abstain from eating meat. I appreciate that these ranchers are enduring hardships like this to ensure I am supplied with a food source that I see as nutritious and as a crucial part of my diet.

      As for treating animals with respect, I believe that if you looked further into the story you will see it in the faces of these ranchers that they had more than respect for the animals lost in the storm. Many of these were cows they lost, they’ve had for years and had hand selected to part of their herd.

    • Compassion isn’t for just one species. There’s no winning – be it inside or outside there’s always a critic.

    • Chris Chinn says:

      Choosing to be vegan or vegetarian is a personal decision and I respect your decision. It would be nice if you could show the same respect to others who choose to include meat, dairy and eggs in their diets. These ranchers have dedicated their lives to ranching, in the blink of an eye they lost everything they have worked their entire lives for. This is not the time or place to fight over food choices. If you were a neighbor to one of these ranchers, they would be at your house in a heartbeat if you had a tragedy occur in your life…and it wouldn’t matter to them if you were vegan or not. These ranchers are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters and they have huge hearts full of compassion. Please be respectful.

    • Scott Davel says:

      Brian, perhaps you would care more if you got stranded in a snowstorm like the one in South Dakota and were left with nothing because you had no idea it was coming, or was going to be that bad. Perhaps you would care more if you had witnessed a blizzard trying to save lives out in it, and not just in the confines of your warm castle. Perhaps you would care more if it were your loved ones out in the storm. I don’t care why you are a vegan, but perhaps you would care more, if you put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

    • Marla says:

      Brian, you better hope that you don’t EVER need help in ANY state or province where ranching is a way of life…with comments like that friend, who needs enemies! Most any rancher I know would be the ONLY one to stop to pull you out of the ditch in a snow storm or put gas in your car when you didn’t fill up before leaving the city and couldn’t get to the next station or heaven forbid, invite you to his/her table for coffee or a meal when you were lost or hungry. Try knocking on a stranger’s door in the city (or better yet, the White House) and let us know if you were welcomed in – or escorted to jail for trespassing?

    • Ben says:

      Brian, Why on earth would someone care for hundreds, or sometimes even thousands of cattle if they weren’t going to make any money on it? Do you think food, medicine, or shelter are free? Let’s say everyone immediately converted to veganism, and the open prairie/pastures are instead needed for crop ground? What do you suppose would happen to the cattle? They certainly wouldn’t be dated for. If there were enough grass around, they MIGHT be ignored, but more likely, they would be seen as a threat to the crops and killed and left to rot where they fell. If they were ignored, left to roam the range as the buffalo once did, they would have died in exactly the same way they did.
      And as far as the cynical attitude toward the “lost profit” that I’ve seen so often in the comments, as the author explained, they’re looking at the better part of two years’ income, frozen in their pastures. If you lose your job, you just go get a different one, but what jobs are to be had in these small ranching communities? You can’t go work for a neighboring rancher, because he lost his herd too. A couple of people can sell gas in town, or work at the bank, or maybe even a restaurant, but the whole town can’t, especially once the ranchers lost their income for the next two years. So now your option is to move to Minneapolis or Denver or Kansas City or an even farther away city to look for a job, with no money (did I mention that already?) and your only work experience is not exactly transferrable.
      Yeah, it’s bad.

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