Be warned, this is not my typical post here on Little House Living. It won’t tell you how to make Homemade Lotion or the best way to save money on organics. But this is a unique situation and it’s very near and dear to my heart.
The national media seems to have forgotten South Dakota. In the midst of everything else going on in the country, it appears that tens of thousands of people are unimportant. But they are so very important to me. This is my home state, born and raised, and will always live here. These are my people, my family and my friends that are effected.
Over the weekend I updated you a few times via our Facebook page about Storm Atlas and how we were personally effected. We went without power for a few days and were snowed in for a few days after that. I wrote all about it here. But what I didn’t know until after we got out and got back up to speed with the community was the effects of everything around us. The effects the storm had on our neighbors and friends.
I called my sister on the day before we got out of our snowed in camper. She had been with her in-laws all weekend, snowed in without power in a very rural area since they are all ranchers. She told me about how after the storm stopped, they spent the next few days doing nothing but digging dead livestock out of the snow. Hundreds and hundreds of cattle, gone in an instant. Later that same day we were finally able to plow out and head to town for some much needed propane. During the 15 mile drive to town all we saw littering the fields and ditches was dead cattle.
I apologize if that doesn’t paint a pretty picture in your mind but this is real life. My own family has cattle and they were lucky enough to get snowed in their pen so they did not perish but I can’t imagine the heartbreak and the financial loss we would have had if we wouldn’t have been so lucky.
My heart is so broken for these ranchers. These friends. These neighbors that have lost so much. Right not the current estimates is that most ranchers lost 20-50% of their herds, if not more. Preliminary estimates with fly-overs say that tens of thousands of cattle have been lost. Not to mention those that are alive but have been wandering far from their homes, lost and confused. (Here’s an incredibly sad story, straight from one of these ranchers.)
You may not understand how this might happen so let me explain it. Ranchers in western South Dakota and surrounding areas generally have hundreds or even thousands of cattle. These cattle are open range and do not live in barns but on pastures. Before the storm hit it rained for about 12 hours. It was a very heavy, wet cold rain. Then the blizzard hit and these cattle that were already soaked were frozen in this scary, early season blizzard. There was nothing that could have been done about it.
Many ranchers will not be able to recover from this loss. Several counties including my own have filed as a disaster area. Between the downed trees, debris, flooding, snow, and dead animals, the devastation is disheartening. This loss has been almost completely ignored by the national media. Why? We don’t know.
How can you help with this devastation? How can you help these ranchers? Here are some things that have been put together so far. I will update this list as I can with more information.
1. Pray for the ranchers and their families. This wasn’t a loss of human life but a loss of income, a loss of jobs, a loss of livelihood, and a loss of pets.
2. Consider giving financially. The Rancher’s Relief Fund has been set up to help the ranchers with some of this loss. Please understand that no government help will be given to these ranchers because of the government shutdown.
3. Keep your eye on this Facebook page. They are trying to put together a silent auction to help the ranchers and their families.
4. Help find lost cattle. If you are actually in this area, post found cattle on this Facebook page and help ranchers find lost cattle.
5. Help move cattle. Also if you are in the area, please consider helping to round up and move cattle for the ranchers. Cattle need to be moved into various pastures to help their chances of not contacting any disease from the dead animals. Call 605-274-1407 or 605-274-1408 if you can help.
6. Share this post. Tell the nation about this devastation and pass the word along to those that can help.
**Update** More ways to help!
7. Give a kind word. Encourage those ranchers going through loss by sending them a note of encouragement. Notes can be emailed to: [email protected]
Please keep South Dakotans in your thoughts and prayers over the next few weeks and months as we recover from this mess.