In case you didn't know, here's the lay down: a blizzard, Atlas, hit South Dakota, Thursday, October 3 - Saturday, October 5. With 58 inches of snow, and 80 mph winds recorded in places, Atlas hit western South Dakota like a thief, stealing the lives of approximately 75,000 cattle. (That's a rough guess, courtesy South Dakota Stockgrowers Association.) Here's the even worser (yep, worser) part, thanks to the government shutdown, cattlemen could've lost 20-50% of their yearly income to the second worst recorded snow storm in the history of South Dakota, with no insurance guarantees.
Before I precede on, let me share a couple photos to try and show just how bad it really was:
In the aftermath of the storm, ranchers had to dig through the snow to find their cattle, to record who had passed, who was still alive,
and who was still out there.....This photo is from: agchat.org
Current reports and photos show deceased cattle lining the highways
This photo is from: Rapids City Journal
Alright, now that we've established the heart break story, let's establish the next fact: no matter who you are, this hurts. Anti-meat activists love to stress how farmers and ranchers don't care about their animals. Yet, it is times like these that allow us all to realize just how precious those lives are. Whether it be cattle, swine, sheep, whatever....farmers and ranchers' livelihoods depend on these animals.
This is more than just a pocketbook investment, it's a total, all-in, heart and soul commitment. You think it's bad looking at sad pictures from a nice, comfy couch inside? Try living it. Try being the farmer, out in the cold, digging through snow and finding a frozen baby calf ear, cutting the tag out to record the death, then moving on to the next grave. Is it a heart break? You bet.
But, here's the next fact: we wouldn't trade our lifestyle for the world. Tragedies happen, just as in any other profession. But, farming and ranching is so much more than just an ordinary profession. Being a farmer means getting to see the sunrise more than any one else and knowing that it brings promise - like melting five feet of snow away. Being a farmer means seeing lives being born every day. Being a farmer means surviving the tough times, and prevailing forward with hope in your heart, and passion in your soul.
Farming and ranching is not for the faint-of-heart, but for the bold, for the ones that love their lifestyle more than anyone else. So, let's take a moment to say a little prayer for our fellow cattlemen, our fellow American's. Just because farming and ranching holds more tragedies than most, it still hurts every time, even if it's not your own cattle.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the opportunity to live in a country born on freedom. Thank You for the opportunity to pursue our passion. Thank you for the time we get to praise You, and Lord, strengthen us in our time of weakness. May Your peace and everlasting comfort clothe those whose pain we cannot imagine. Father, help us to find hope in a time of hurt, and to grow closer to You in every circumstance. Amen.
Today, may your blessings seem greater, your courage a little bolder, and your cows closer to your heart than ever before.