Blizzards and Bullshit.

102

December 30, 2015 by dairycarrie

Pardon my language.

Earlier this week a massive storm marched across half of North America. I’m not really sure when the powers that be decided to start naming winter storms but they called this one “Winter Storm Goliath” and to be honest, it seems those in charge of naming storms came up with a pretty fitting name this time around.

While here in Wisconsin the storm caused us headaches at our farm by dumping snow, then sleet and then a fine layer of ice, we dealt with everything and moved on. Goliath was barely a blip on our radar.

However, the farmers and ranchers in New Mexico, West Texas and the Oklahoma Panhandle ended up with far more than a blip on their radar. Goliath pummeled the area and now early estimates are saying that up to 20,000 cows and calves are dead. Just like Winter Storm Atlas, this story isn’t making the news and most of the people in our country will never know the story behind what will one day be known as the Blizzard of 2015.

A cow buried under a snow drift in New Mexico.

A cow buried under a snow drift in New Mexico.

There already seems to be a lot of people out there blaming the farmers for losing animals in this storm. The area hardest hit is home to many large dairy farms and feed lots, what many would define as “factory farms”. Some are placing blame for the death of these cows on the size of the farm. Others have said that if these farmers cared more or worked harder they would have saved them. I’ve seen comments that these cows should have been in barns and if they were they would still be alive. The worst part is that many of these comments have come from people in agriculture. Instead of supporting their peers, they are taking pot shots at people facing incredibly heartbreaking challenges because they farms differently than they do.

I think that’s bullshit. I absolutely hate seeing people in our own industry tearing each other down.

So let’s look at the facts of this storm and some of the stories and photos direct from the people who survived it.

 

Steve Hanson owns Desert Sun Dairy in Clovis, New Mexico with his family where they milk 2,800 cows. He and his 3 sons, who work with him on their farm and a handful of employees rode out the storm on the farm. While some parts of New Mexico get snow, in Clovis a 6″ snow fall is considered a pretty heavy snow. This storm dumped far more than 6″ of snow, and reports are that it snowed upwards of 18″ but you could hardly get an accurate reading because 85mph winds were moving it fast into massive drifts.

An F1 tornado has wind speeds of 73-112mph. This blizzard had winds at tornadic speeds.

The wind dropped the temps from the 20s to -16 in Clovis.

One of Steve’s sons lives 1/2 mile from the dairy, after doing everything he could do, he headed home to rest at 1:30am. However his truck was snowed in and the roads were impassible so he called home and had his wife pull their Jeep around the house and flash the lights so he could walk the 1/2 mile in the blizzard without getting lost.

Steve’s family’s cows went without feed for 36 hours because the snow had made it impossible to mix and deliver the feed to them.

The roads around Steve’s farm were completely blocked and the milk trucks couldn’t get off the dairy. This one family alone had to dump over 250,000lbs (approximately 30,000 gallons) of milk because they simply couldn’t go anywhere with it.

Andrew Schaap and his family own North Point Dairy, also in Clovis, N.M. Andrew shared how his family got through the storm, “Both of my brothers and my dad’s trucks got stuck so I was the only one with wheels and got tasked with driving back and forth between town shuttling employees. The whole day of the blizzard we couldn’t get to the dairy because of the intensity of the storm. I felt sick to my stomach all day not being able to get to the dairy and do anything. But even if we were there it was impossible to see. My brother in law was more prepared than we were and had sleeping bags and food so the guys could sleep at the dairy and be there when it hit but they weren’t able to milk all day either. There was absolutely nothing we could do with 80 mph gusts in whiteout conditions. Moving the cows was an impossible task and each hour the alleys filled with more and more snow. 48 hours later and we’re still clearing snow out of the feed lanes. We had 100 calves in hutches and half of them were buried alive.”

Nancy Beckerink and her family have a dairy farm in Muleshoe, Texas. Before the storm came they used large bales of bedding and even their milk tankers to help block the wind. The day before the storm they bedded their calves with extra bedding and prepared as best as they could for their turn to dance with Goliath.

Despite the calves being completely engulfed in snow, Nancy reports that they only lost one baby calf in hutches, none of their slightly older calves in the group hutches and only 3 older heifers. Unfortunately the storm caused the death of 200 of their milking cows. (Learn more about calf hutches HERE)

Dutch Road Dairy, Summer 2014.

Dutch Road Dairy, Summer 2014.

Tara  Vander Dussen and her family own Rajen Dairy, also in Clovis. They milk 10,000 cows on three farms. When the storm hit Tara was stuck in the house with her baby, unable to help her family. Thankfully they kept power however, her husband’s grandmother was not so lucky. When her husband tried to go and get his grandmother to bring her to their home where she would be warm, his truck got stuck. He got out the tractor and tried to get to her in it and the tractor got stuck. He was unable to reach her as her house grew colder and colder. Thankfully she was able to stay warm until her family could reach her after the storm.

Tara posted on her facebook about the storm and got a strong enough response that she decided to start her own blog, you can follow along HERE.

Traci van der Ploeg and her family own Mid Frisian Dairy also in Clovis. At one point during the storm someone was so desperate to free their vehicle from the snow that they stole one of the dairy’s tractors, getting it stuck and damaging the tractor.

These are just four stories from the countless people that were affected by this storm. Every person I talked to lost animals. Every person I talked to had to dump their milk. Every person I talked to repeated that they did everything they could but it just wasn’t enough to protect all of their animals.

So those are the stories, now let’s look at the facts.

Why were the cows outside and not in barns?

Despite what many animal rights activists would have you believe, dairy cows don’t spend their lives locked away in barns. In the areas of the country that don’t often have inclement weather, many cows live outdoors, on dirt, in open air lots.

Instead of barns where it can be a struggle to keep cows cool in the higher temps, the cows live out in the open where strong breezes and sun shades keep them comfortable, clean and content.

Dairy heifers hanging out in their lot.

Dairy heifers hanging out in their lot.

It would be impractical to expect farmers to build barns to hold all of their animals just in case a 100 year blizzard like Goliath, came around. It would be like expecting every home in America to be built to withstand earthquakes, wild fires, floods, snow load and tornadoes even though some areas are extremely unlikely to have those natural disasters happen there.

Our cows in Wisconsin live in buildings but if we had 80+ mph winds and this kind of snow I can guarantee that cows here would be hurt or killed when barns collapsed or roofs were torn off.

As farmers, we do our best but Mother Nature is the boss.

If these cows were on small farms, they would still be alive.

This comment really ticked me off. Mother Nature doesn’t give a crap what size your farm is. If the cows on these farms had been divided up on 100 small farms in the same area it would just mean that there would be dead cows on more farms.

We milk 100 cows which is slightly below the average herd size in Wisconsin. We are a pretty small farm. Even with the paltry in comparison shot that Goliath gave us, we had a lot more work to do in a day to care for our cows. I simply can’t imagine how hard it would be for our family alone to care for our cows during a storm like this, not to mention digging out after it.

Not to mention, this area isn’t all large farms. There are many smaller herds and they lost animals too!

These farms are so big they will bounce right back, why should I care about them? 

While the farms may be ale to recover from the massive financial loss of having to dump thousands of gallons of milk, the aftershocks are yet to come.

More cows are going to die. Cows that go without feed and who are stressed get sick. While the farmers are going to do what they can to keep their girls healthy, the unavoidable fact is that some cows will not be able to recover.

The loss of milk doesn’t stop once the milk trucks can get to the farms. As a cow goes through her lactation she will have a peak where she produces the most milk and then she her body will start to slow production before she is stopped being milked in preparation for her to have her next calf. The cows who were at peak production will probably not get back to that level of milk per day after this. The cows that were slowing themselves down towards the end of their lactation may have been triggered to stop production by not being milked and they will have dramatic drops in their daily milk. A herd who averaged 80lbs of milk per cow, per day could easily drop to 60lbs after something like this. It will take time for the cows to recover.

Then there are the humans to worry about.

Can you imagine watching your life’s work being crushed under the weight of the snow? Can you imagine seeing the animals you raised and cared for dead in their pens?

Can you put yourself in the shoes of these emotionally and physically exhausted people?

This is not something someone just recovers from overnight.

Beef cattle trying to ride out the storm. Photo by Andrew Schaap.

Beef cattle trying to ride out the storm. Photo by Andrew Schaap.

My wish for those of you reading this is to understand that these people did everything that they could do. They are not at fault for Mother Nature’s fury. Please keep these men and women in your thoughts and prayers as they struggle to dig out physically and emotionally after Goliath.

102 thoughts on “Blizzards and Bullshit.

  1. Laurie says:

    The people who complain about cows not being in barns are the same people who complain about them being in barns.

    • jan says:

      They will also be the same people who will complain about the price of milk rising due to the enormous cost to recover from this. Stay strong because these short-sighted people will never be able to see beyond their egotistical bubble they live in. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to farming, no matter the struggles.

    • J PAK says:

      Forget the complainers. What are farmers going to do next time round ? Read the Weatheraction.com forecast of solar-lunar parameters, keep an eye on the wind patterns over at earth.nullschool.net and the f10.7 radio flux readings at one of the space-weather sites. As a farmer you may learn to predict when these extreme events are due and at least huddle up your livestock together with some extra feed for the duration of the storm.
      Hang in there cos worse is yet to come.

  2. “I think that’s bullshit. I absolutely hate seeing people in our own industry tearing each other down.” Well said! I couldn’t agree with you more!
    -Natalina

  3. TikkTok says:

    Nevermind the roofs caving in…..

    We recently moved from Roswell after almost 20 years. We are still part of the dairy {processing} industry.

    Roswell got 24+ inches of snow. The desert is not known for its snowplows Most roads statewide were shut down. Much of the milk for the cheese plant in Roswell comes from Clovis /Portales.

    Roads are still not clear, and it’s snowing again right now. Please pray for these folks {and the cows!}- they are appreciated.

  4. Erin says:

    Thank you so much for posting this blog. People need to know what farmers and ranchers are facing right now in our state and Texas.

    • Edna Bobbitt says:

      Amen! People who have not been brought up on a farm or ranch have no idea. Some are way too quick to criticize something they know absolutely nothing about.

  5. R. Hackman-Indiana says:

    Dairy Carrie–right on target, again!! These farmers will feel the loss for many months. My prayers are with them!

    • D. Strack says:

      No one should be commenting on the storm unless they have lived thur it. We are from Wis. but spent 5 yrs in Colorado and what a mess it can suddenly become. In wis. we are prepared for storms and yet a roof can fall in and power go out.

  6. Mary says:

    The people that complain need to walk a mile I the shoes of those in Goliath I pray for you every day this is not an easy life any way but you do it because you love it.

  7. Kevin Dickson. Lubbock Tx. says:

    This reminds me of the 1960 Ice storm in Eastern New Mexico.
    Dad owned a 100 head dairy 5 miles north of Causey.. Lost power for over a month. The National guard would come by once a week with a Generator for a couple hours.
    We would thaw water pipes with a Forney welder & get the well pumping . Fill water jugs, get a bath and wash down the milk barn.
    Had to use the pickup’s engine vacuum to slowly milk only 2 head at a time. Started 1st milking @ 3:00 am till 3:oo pm. Then a one/ two hour lunch break / nap and start milking again till 1 or 2:ooam .
    The only vehicle we could get around in was an 8N Ford tractor.
    Then , to top it off, The Health inspector show up on a surprise inspection to an unsanitized milk barn and rejects the milk for multiple reasons.
    The inspector should have considered Dad’s stress level before he ended up pinned against the barn wall with a warning to never show his face there again. LOL
    Somehow we survived and I don’t recall losing any cows , but Dad lost over a years megar income in the one month long disaster due to extra feeding cost & cows going dry ,etc.. Most miserable time of our life on the farm beyond a doubt.

    • gretchen maine says:

      We are semi-retired dairy farmers in waterville, ny. You can’t imagine how hard we laughed over your stressed dad and the milk inspector! Sounds like something that would have happened here!

      • Dan says:

        Leave it to the inspector to come and make matters worse, rather than helping the situation. Typical of Government.

      • Dan says:

        Farming is so hard, there is very little you can do when mother nature comes at you like this. We all need to be supportive of these people in their time of need. If we live so far away we can’t go and physically help, the least we can do is not be critical of them

  8. Nancy Taylor says:

    I think most people don;t know what these farmers go through to save their livestock. Big or small. You cannot predict such weather. We got the same haters when it happened in South Dakota. Most the Ranchers would give their right arm not to lose any life.

  9. Stephanie Bushman says:

    Farmers and Ranchers, Love what they do. Thank God for them. They are strong and resilient. Its sad that there are people who dont understand and make judgements. The Old saying ” To Wear another mans shoes.” can go along way here.

  10. Reg Quist says:

    I grew up in Alberta where harsh winters are a given. Unless a person has lived through those challenges there is no way to make them understand. In my novel Hamilton Robb, I tried to describe the famous ‘Children’s Blizzard’ of 1888. As extreme as some of the writing in the novel is, I knew the reality was far worse. Some times there just ae no words.

  11. Norm and Marge Nelson says:

    We live in NW PA and I can’t imagine a storm like that! So sorry for you all!

  12. gretchen maine says:

    Dear Carrie,
    Thank you for what you do. People who aren’t farmers just don’t get it. It breaks my heart to see that so many animals were lost in the storm and the idiot remarks made about the farmers who had to go through it. Our biggest storm in central ny was probably the blizzard of “66 when milk still went in milk cans and we didn’t see a plow for several days. I just can’t imagine what those farmers went through with “Goliath”.

    • I went through that one. Dad shoveled steps up to the top of the snow so us neighborhood kids could walk to Hempstead Tpke to get basic groceries for all the neighbors. Snow was about 4-5′ high & solid as a rock

  13. Leslie says:

    I agree with you 100%!! Shouldn’t matter if you grow grain, orchards, or livestock, you are a part of agriculture and should be united and support each other. There is enough crap being spread from people who have no clue about the industry without tearing each other apart for what you should or shouldn’t do.

  14. Charlie Strawn says:

    If some one can read this and not either rethink their ideas about who is to blame or have some compassion, they are what I refer to as fact free non thinkers. I pity their misinformed view of the world. Those who have lived this life and know, already realize it is a time for support and prayer. America should thank God for farmers, ranchers and dairymen three times a day when they say grace at each meal.

  15. Stan says:

    We drove through the area on Monday the 28th right after the blizzard. I have never seen so much snow piled up. I also have never seen so many cars, semi’s and anything else abandoned along the roads or even on the road itself. Any farmer with any kind of tractor or anything else were trying to move snow. in towns businesses were closed, as well as stores, restaurants, because employees could not get to work as the side roads were not dug out yet. Meanwhile stranded travelers could not find anywhere to stay as the motels were filled, but no one could get anything to eat because everything was closed. I can only imagine what the dairy’s were going through.

  16. Lisa Halbert says:

    I’m so glad you posted this Carrie. It is a very challenging and horrific act of Nature & she wouldn’t have shown any mercy on the “free” wildlife either. While people focus and like to blame the cattle losses on “big farms”, these storms kill EVERYTHING in their path. The dairies are doing their best to care for and save their animals. I’m across the lake from you & our dairy and others have used the big square bales like they did in NM to block wind in the winter, like the past 2 years with horrific windchills from the SOUTH. Having barns and hutches face south is supposed to allow sun in (when Michigan has sun in the winter ; o) and block NW, and primarily prevailing West wind. Nope we got -50 F from the south. I call these events ” desperate times, desperate measures”. We may learn some of helped saved animals (either preparation, during or afterwards….and it will be LONG AFTERWARDS-just imaging frozen teats, mastitis risk, eventually all thay snow melting, deep mud on already tired cows and people, aborted calves), improved infrastructure (electric lines -are they above ground or buried? We have buried ours after numerous outages), It is really hard telling how unusual or “common” these bizarre these extreme weather events are or if they may become patterns we dairy farmers will be stuck dealing with if/when further climate change is upon us. Having “average”/normal seasons seem to have gone out the window in Michigan at least & I can’t imagine 180 countries (or whatever the #) got together in France if there were not global concern.

    • Gloria James says:

      We were in the cattle business in this area for over 30 years. Climate change? No. Bad storms such as Goliath happened several times. Only there were not many dairies in the area years ago. My grandparents were large dairy farmers from Germany. They settled in Southern Arizona. Having livestock in the panhandle region in the winter is cruel.

      • Miss Mac in TX says:

        Yeah, bullshit. Wisconsin has plenty of cows and damn cold winters, too. I grew up in Iowa, surrounded by cattle, swine, and dairy farmers…family farmers! I drank RAW MILK right out of the DeLava storage tanks. It was glorious!!!
        There is nothing “cruel ” about raising cattle on the Texas high plains. Lots of grass, lots of room to roam.
        This was a FREAK STORM!!! Snownado. I now live in Dallas area. We are cleaning up from the 12 tornadoes that took out over 350 homes as total losses. Guess what? Same storm!!!

        • D. Strack says:

          Thanks. Some days bullshit just fits like no other word! Like translating something from German, not always a word to fit.
          Sorry for your loses, can’t remember when the country had so much damage at the same time. Think the Lord is trying to get our attention!

  17. marc says:

    The naming of Winter storms is all to do with the climate change agenda,not to belittle Goliath but by naming them it gives the impression that ordinary Winter weather is not ordinary winter weather anymore.

  18. Susan says:

    A good post … people who don’t know farming are quick to judge and yak it up from gut reactions … the story is always more complex when one investigates all sides of an issue/event. Thanks for your thoughtful approach here …

  19. Taryn says:

    Wonderful stories! I am not in the farm or dairy business but live in the area you are talking about. Another big issue around Lubbock is loose herds. With all the wind and power outages a lot of cows got out. There were even cows loose on the loop and in residential yards. Farmers are still a week later trying to round up cows.

  20. hank good says:

    No one works harder then a farmer. GOD BLESS EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU. There will allways be those that think making others look bad some how makes them look good. As for the other critics , I can only say where were they during the blizzard ??.

  21. judy rauser snellman says:

    to all stock owners and workers, my heart goes out to each and everyone of you. it is horrible to have to worry about the livestock when you can do nothing about it. people have no idea the extra work involved when the weather turns to shit. they also have no idea that this is someones whole way of life. it is very devasting. thanks for posting. good luck

  22. jill says:

    We know farmers work dawn to dusk and i appreciate the effort. Sometimes nature at its worst just can’t be handled. I am sorry about the lose of livestock and wish all the best. I also know that as a farmer you will not give up.bless you all and good luck

  23. Kim sokolic says:

    People need to live a day in the farmers shoes then they would understand how devastating this storm was I pray for all the families to recover from this massive storm

  24. Chris Whidden says:

    Your painful story has reached even us Canadian farmers in the eastern Maritimes. I feel sick from reading it. That feeling is familiar to us in the Maritimes as the winter of 2015 stands out with record snowfalls, power outages, barn roofs collapsing, heart attacks from constant struggling with clearing snow, such extreme difficulty getting feed and fodder to animals, losses from dumped milk and – exactly as you describe it- lost production from all the stress. Our winter from hell started mid January and lasted until April and even later for some areas. I could go on, but I only want you to know we can relate to your feelings of pain and being overwhelmed by a killer storm that shouldn’t have happened in your part of the world in the first place. All bets are off now, where it concerns the weather. Maybe you will never have such a storm again for 100 years; I’m afraid you will, just as I’m afraid we will have another miserable winter. Good luck to you and all farmers dealing with this weather bomb; I will watch for your blog for updates.
    -Chris Whidden, Stewiacke, Nova Scotia.

  25. Merrilee Thomas says:

    Anyone who has owned cattle, whether 1000-2000 or just a few like we do 160 head knows how devastating a winter storm can be. We had an ice storm several years back that shut down our electricity for 2 weeks and it was near impossible to get to the fields with hay wagons and flatbed pickups. When we made it none of the water tanks worked and we had to try to move cattle to places where there were ponds where we could break ice so they could drink. The cows didn’t want to go because they could barely stand up on the ice. Those you had newborn calves just abandoned them in trying to keep themselves alive. We lost several calves and a few cows. Losing cattle for a farmer of dairy man is very painful because you are always concerned about them and their well being. Never mind the financial loss which can be huge and take many years to recover from. We have also had cattle during blizzards and below 0 temperatures and many calves get trampled as the cattle try to huddle together to stay alive. A farmer or dairyman is always conscience about their animals and try their best to keep them safe and fed. My heart goes out to these people in N.M. Texas and Ok. May God be with them and help them recuperate their losses. There is no need to critizise them. You should have to talk in their shoes and see the truth with your own eyes. Then maybe you would have some compassion.

  26. Sandy says:

    The next time you feel like bitching and complaining and about how bad we have it in Phoenix…. Take a minute and read this article about the dairies in West Texas…. We truly have no idea how rough it is for these Dairyman and their families!!! God bless our dairies❤❤❤❤

  27. Zama says:

    Wonderfull recounting of the massive task and results of severe weather. I feel great anger that it is NOT COVERED IN OUR NEWS.
    One can only surmise WHY: “they” do not want our people to be aware of and think in time to regain our autonomy.

    • D. Strack says:

      Nothing on the news here that I noticed but there was no time as the reporting time was filled with coverage of riots, same old who shot who and who was or was not responsible. Important too but once would do.

  28. Sue Robinson says:

    You have every right to feel disgusted and I am right behind you! Still, I can’t help but hope that those criticisms come from an uninitiated but loud minority that will gain an education from your explicit post. Just maybe. My parents came from ranches and farms in Colorado to Alaska in 1946 to homestead. Over the years they had a small dairy, logged for their cabin with a team of horses, lived without roads, electricity, phones, dug their first well by hand, built a big log stacker to put up hay, raised beef and 5 kids, and put in the work to build a landmark beautiful place and a very successful construction business. We’ve dealt with a lot of tough situations but none on the magnitude of what you’re describing. Just enough that I can feel the desperation of those farmers and compassion for their critters. Our population gravitates more & more to urban places, jobs, & attitudes and they just don’t share the same experiences. Many of us still understand tho!

  29. John Amey says:

    I have milked cows for 52 years and even though I have been spared from any such storms as have recently occurred in the southwest and other places , I often think of how ill prepared we are , financially and otherwise should a similar disaster ever come our way. I applaud Carrie for her blog and for all the farmers who have commented.
    We must remember that we are all in this together and no dairy farmer intentionally designs a facility that will cost the lives of their cattle. We are stronger if we work together and help each other.

  30. John Wayne says:

    Great story and it illustrates the
    non-farmer environmental uninformed views about many issues. EPA for the most part employs many people who are trying to justify their jobs and their salaries by issuing regulation after regulation.

  31. Wes Young says:

    My Brother-in-law and his wife help run a feed lot near Muleshoe. I know they did everything they could to get to their cattle. They lost 30 total. They worked day and night during and after the storm to get things up and going. They are exhausted and to have others complaining. Be kind, support your fellow farmers and ranchers. This affects all of us. God bless you all in all you do.

  32. David Small says:

    Great story. I went to college in Lubbock, and know the area. So few people understand how food is produced this kind of article is more important than I ever believed.

  33. Sheila jones says:

    Do not criticize thy neighbor until you have walked a mile in their shoes…..
    People that bitch about cows being neglected don’t know a damn thing about what it takes to run a farm or dairy, and I’m a city girl!

    • Dee says:

      You are so right. This is the stuff that America needs to see on the news instead of what movie star is ~~~~~~~~~, this is their food/leather and a few more things and there are only a few (percentage wise) doing all this and at the mercy of gov’t rules and the weather!

  34. Deana says:

    There are lot of people out there quick to judge without knowing what processes are involved. May God heal your worries and take care of you all! Know that you did everything you could possibly do with what Mother Nature gave you. Those complaining will know karma when it is time. Hugs and prayers for quick recoveries.

  35. Jean Estrada says:

    May God bless our farmers, dairymen and women, stockmen and women. Thanks.

  36. Excellent article with devastating photos. I thank you for taking the time and care to educate the rest of us. I have shared this on Facebook.

    I live in a dairy community and grew up on the family dairy, 400-cow milking herd. We faced challenges unique to California but NOTHING like what you describe. I can’t stop thinking about the surviving herds – those who lived probably dried up and that just adds to the losses for these poor dairymen. My heart goes out to them and I hope the weather eases up on them, and the government gives them a hand up and out of this dire situation. I won’t hold my breath for either, however.

  37. Janet says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss and the loses of all farm’s and dairy’s in our area that were affected by this storm. Don’t pay attention to the people that don’t understand your industry. They don’t realize what hard work and dedication goes into the dairy, ranching our farming industries. Keep up the good work you do to keep the rest of us fed. Thank you from one city dweller that grew up in a farm!!!

  38. Sarah Jones says:

    I am reading this from New Zealand and while we have difficulty with Save Animals From Exploitation charity group harassing our farmers to the point of their followers threatening our farmers with abuse (and threatening that of children, or anyone in gumboots) and telling them to top ourselves, we simply cannot compare with this. We hope this doesn’t happen again and that all can recover (to some extent) relatively quickly from this.

  39. Farmers do everything they can to protect their animals! That’s their livelihood. Bad weather happens. That’s farming! But they go on!
    I grow up on a farm. Thanks for all your hard work !

  40. Kenneth Bracelin says:

    This story needs to get out, not only the Dairies, but all the other cattlemen and ranchers! They have terrible losses with this storm! I pray that you all get help for your losses!

  41. Living in South/Central Washington state with horses, goats, chickens and a Rottweiler Rescue Sanctuary, am sure you could easily identify that there is the “city” mentality and some of their unrealistic expectations and then the rural folk who do the hard outdoor work irrespective of the conditions…we just do it. City slickers believe every shred of manure should be mucked off of a 20 acre pasture with 3 horses or find it gross that chickens are the best landscapers following behind the other animals, or why don’t they have blankets on them, instead of thick coats and the list goes on and on…,.

    When extreme conditions hit, there isn’t a pause button while a variety of plans are considered or a rewind to change the conditions of the best decision made at the time. 3 days ago I chose to bail out of our 6,000 lb Suburban as it slid out of control down out steep, curvy, ice rink drive way. I would make the same decision again. The driver had no control but the tires stayed in the grooves and was a more of less controlled slide down, while I opened the door, checked the skid direction and chose to jump for the snow, rather than ice and surprised myself by landing on my feet…and our conditions were no comparison to yours…

    Everyone in those geo engineered conditions made the best deceison at the time considering themselves and livestock…Tell tongue waggers to take a hike!

  42. emsnews says:

    I live on a mountain in upstate NY and used to farm it but due to husband’s severe disability, we ended our farming. One thing about here: we have to always prepare for winter blizzards since they are fairly frequent.

    This means we own chains to put on the tractors, the trucks, everything. We have two snow plows and a snow blower. We have reinforced roofs and outbuildings.

    I grew up on a ranch in Tucson, AZ. We had rare snow storms that melted fast. No chains on tires, no snow machines, nothing. Our animals used sheds for shelter mainly from the sun. Any snow storm that hits Tucson, even small ones, paralyzes the place. Here in NY, we barely notice them unless they are major, major blizzards.

    Many years ago, we had a very severe blizzards with winds over 90 mph and had to move the sheep into the house and the windows facing the blizzard nearly blew out and we boarded them up during the storm as the glass was flexing out of the frames! It was terrifying and the snow drifts took some of the snow over the roof.

  43. tom hildebrannd says:

    FARMING!!! the ONLY business in the united states where you are NOT allowed to set prices for what you produce

  44. Tammi Littrel says:

    Thank you for posting this information. As a witness to Atlas I can tell you what we saw and dealt with is exactly what folks are going through now. I have had lots of time and sleepless nights to think about it and would like to offer a few thoughts. Initially it is bad enough to deal with how to get to the survivors, get feed to them and working around the clock against time without negative comments and blogs from people who have no clue. When you don’t hear anything reported about the storm you wonder why no one cares or if ag producers are that insignificant that something this huge and tragic doesn’t make the news. Then you start to hear negative comments and blogs, some that come from folks in your hometown and you get angry. That I will never forget. In our town they actually wanted to call in the National Guard to pick up limbs in their yards while not one mile outside of town tens of thousand of cattle died. They were whining that the town looked like a war zone due to the storm and all the downed trees. I posted they should see the battle field in the countryside with the dead and dying. That was not appreciated I can tell you as finding someone to clean up their downed tree branches was the most important thing to them. I knew then what I had always suspected Ag took a back seat to whatever was going on with the city folk.

    I was contacted by a reporter from an eastern NE newspaper about why the cattle weren’t in their barns when the storm hit. I told her apparently you do not grasp the scope of our ranches or operations( not to mention we didn’t have barns big enough to hold all these cattle and calves). One neighbor who had fall calvers tried to save a group of cows in a barn and lost some due to suffocation. But to this reporter’s credit, she wanted to understand and report from the producer’s perspective. She asked for photos and I sent her some very benign (if there is such a thing) ones which her editor rejected as they would upset their readers. It was then that she began to understand what we were dealing with.

    On our place there are two big cattle burial grounds still not grassed over. We had over 400 head of neighbor’s cows drift in from as far away as 20 miles and die on about 10 sections of land. Finding those cows and having to call their owners was heart wrenching. One owner was an elderly neighbor and I remember telling his daughter,” Don’t let your Dad come up here, its bad”. I just could not stop crying and cried for days at every new discovery of more dead cows but after awhile there were no tears left to cry but the deep soul twisting feeling of loss became a constant companion.

    The days spent sorting storm bruised cattle and orphaned calves and moving them back to where they belonged was hell. Finding dead cows in fences and draws and creek beds seven months after the storm, a vivid reminder of how powerful and destructive mother nature can be. Living through this changes forever how you react to any mention of snow in the forecast.

    Please know that producers who have been through this understand what you are going through and how you are suffering. We are so very sorry for your losses. Our thoughts and prayers are with you now and as you deal with the repercussions of this storm in the future.

  45. jan says:

    Sad and I understand more. Thank you for clarifying. My heart aches for their loss. Pain is unfathomable.jnen

  46. Denton Baker says:

    How do we get the message out to the people not reading this blog. Dairy farms are having a tough time and are some of the hardest working people I know.

    • D. Strack says:

      Sorry to say but if you shoot someone black, you will get air time. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t get air time but that is what is getting the attention. Never mind that the people that make our food and shoe/purse leather are in great need of help and prayers.

  47. Nesikep says:

    The squeaky wheel gets the grease… While the farmers are out *DOING* something about what’s going on, the armchair critics are complaining about branches in their yard, etc. The farmers are too busy doing something about what’s going on to defend themselves from these ignorant idiots with whacky agendas.

    I have a small herd of beef cows, and they’re pretty rugged and can handle some pretty harsh weather.. but one year we got freezing rain on top of a heavy snow, we lost 2 greenhouses, nearly lost the shop and hay shed, and the cows were stuck in the field, unable to move on the snow/ice.. And that was very mild compared to what Goliath brought.

    I wish all the farmers strength in these hard times

  48. Chris Jensen says:

    Thank you for writing this. I am not in agriculture, I do IT consulting. I wanted to understand why the losses were so high, and found your article while doing research. You did a great job at explaining this tragedy. It truly is a tragedy, and you guys are definitely in our thoughts and prayers. And I agree, at times like this it is counter productive to blame the people and businesses that have suffered so much.

  49. Jack says:

    Why isn’t this on the front page of every news outlet?

  50. Francie says:

    You would think the ranchers who lost livestock in ‘Storm Atlas” in October 2013 would be the first to step up to help – since so many came to their rescue. What are those folks doing to help?

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