Hard work. Big Rewards. Bigger blessings. Life on a South Dakota ranch.
My heart is breaking as I sit and write this post. So many in this area of the world had devastating livestock losses. My prayers are split between prayers of thanks for sparing us from the brunt of the storm, and prayers of strength and healing for those that lost so much. I find myself feeling guilty that we were spared when so many others were not. I know how hard everyone works to keep their livestock safe and healthy, and to lose your animals is losing more than just your livelihood. You are losing your blood, sweat, and tears. You are losing your friends. KBHB Radio shared the first news that made me cry. There is so much emotion.
We lost power on Friday morning. It had rained throughout the night and morning, and was followed by a heavy, very wet snow, and then wind. The Big Guy got the generators going and I turned on the oven to warm the house a little. We have cove heating and one heater pulls so much wattage that hardly anything else can use electricity at the same time. It is much easier to just warm up the upstairs with the oven. Fortunately, the temperatures never got too cold. During the first day I went several times and cleaned off the branches of the trees in our yard to try to save them from breaking off. That is really all we could do as it was snowing and blowing too much to get to any cattle. All our cattle are still out on summer grass and the yearling bred heifers are the closest to our home place; they are 12 miles away. We weren’t able to get to anything on Friday.
By Friday evening and early Saturday, most of the roads West River in South Dakota were closed. A Rapid City Journal story reported that the interstate was closed from Murdo, South Dakota to Sheridan, Wyoming— a distance of about 380 miles. The National Weather Service in Rapid City shared that this was the most snow Rapid City has ever received in October, the most 1-day snowfall for Rapid City ever, and the second most 3-day snowfall (the first was in April of 1927). Our area seemed to be hit by the least amount of snow compared to most other places West River. It doesn’t really matter the amount, though, when the winds are blowing with gusts around 60 miles per hour. It is white-out conditions with lots of blowing, drifting snow, and sadly livestock drift with the wind.
Saturday afternoon we had several blessings– the electric company restored power to our community and we were finally able to get to our cattle. We were enormously blessed in that although we had some calves through some fences, overall we were spared losses. We are the minority. We have friends in other areas of Western South Dakota that suffered catastrophic losses. We have friends that are still assessing their losses as they aren’t yet able to account for all their livestock. However, as the livestock losses continue to pile up, please keep all these people in your prayers. These losses are financially devastating, as well as emotionally devastating. Pray for strength as they dig these animals out of snow banks and deal with all the carcasses. Pray for comfort as their hearts break. Pray for healing, both emotionally and financially. Just PRAY.