Tag Archives: blizzard


SD Sunrise JARWFirst of all, people have asked where they can help those who suffered storm losses.  Here is some information for you.  Thanks for all who have emailed looking to help.  May GOD bless you all abundantly.  To those suffering, please know we are praying with you, hurting with you, and will help in any way possible.  The sun will continue to rise. Please take care of yourselves and those you love.

Rancher’s Relief Fund on the web.

Rancher’s Relief Fund  on Facebook.

Secondly, this will be my last post regarding the negativity and the cruel comments that are circulating surrounding the livestock lost in the snowstorm.  I figure my time is much more valuable and better spent trying to educate about agriculture and what it is that we really do, rather than trying to understand the cruelty, lack of compassion, and lack of education being shown in the comments.  However, I am truly perplexed by some of the comments.  The negative comments posted on articles by those who don’t live our life and have no knowledge of agriculture I can understand way more than the negative comments posted by people who profess to “once being” a rancher or farmer.

I have seen comments by “I was once a rancher” passing judgement on who is a good rancher versus who is a bad rancher based on what livestock was lost.  Are you kidding me?  The storm didn’t chose where to hit the hardest based on whom Mother Nature deemed a bad  rancher. There were comments by “I was once a rancher” stating that all of THEIR livestock “back in the day” would have been in protection of barns, trees, wind breaks etc.  There was livestock killed while being protected in barns after the roofs collapsed from the weight of the snow.  There are pictures after pictures of animals who blew out from protected areas and later died many miles away after going through multiple fences, draws, etc.  There were comments from “I was once a rancher” stating everyone had enough notice and the cows shouldn’t still have been in the summer pastures.  The storm warnings changed from day-to-day.  It went from a couple of inches one day to several more inches the next, and so on.

Lastly, the craziest part of all of this is that all this time I thought there was shared sense of camaraderie among people in agriculture— whether those currently in agriculture or those “I was once-ers”.  Our world surely is changing as I never dreamed that fellow ranchers would be bashing each other over bouts of bad fortune.   I never dreamed that fellow ranchers would be twisting the knives a little deeper in the guts of those already hurt and suffering.  Here I thought we lived in the best part of the world, lucky to live the best life, and honored to be part of a time-honored way of life where you help out your neighbor, cry with them, pray with them, hurt with them, and do everything you can to help them.  Guess not.  At least not all of us.  Maybe I’m not praying for the right people.  I will add the “I was once-ers” to my list of people to pray for.

Until next time— JARW



The character shown by the Western South Dakota farmers, ranchers, and community members is a blazing example of what kind of people live this life.  Through all the devastation, heartbreak, and condemning words, they are trudging through and picking up the pieces.  May GOD bless each and every one of you dealing with the losses– whether your own loss or helping someone else with theirs.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  Ephesians 4:29

As for those condemning…  Animal cruelty?  Seriously?  These livestock losses were NOT because of animal cruelty or neglect.  I’ve read some comments posted on the internet on news stories about the storm and the storm losses.  I am NOT at a loss for words.  I have lots of words for these people.

First of all, to the person who posted that his family used to ranch and they never lost a cow.  Baloney.  That is like saying “I was once a member of a family and we never had a death.”  Phooey.  People die.  Animals die.  It is the circle of life.  We lost our old cow dog earlier this summer.  It was not due to cruelty.  He was  a member of our family, he was old, and he died.  The circle of life.  I believe this person also stated that ranchers should only have the number of cows that can all fit in their barns at one time.  Again… Baloney.  It is hard to make a living with only the number of cows that can fit in your barn.  In addition, there have been cases where livestock in a barn perished from suffocation.  So what comment would those passing judgement have in a case like this?

This is NOT the time for comments condemning these ranchers for their losses.  I would bet that many of these men and women were risking life and limb trying to find their livestock before and during the storm trying to make sure they were in safe spots.  I am equally as sure that as soon as possible after the storm had subsided that these same people were out looking for their livestock to try to make sure it was okay, to make sure that it had food and water, making sure that it was safe, and digging to get to livestock that was covered with snow to try to save it.  To those passing judgement, did you even do this for your next door neighbor?  To those passing judgement, did you push your way through snow drifts even 50 feet to make sure your neighbor was not suffering?  These people were traveling many miles, on foot, on horseback, on snowmobiles, on four-wheelers, to check on their own stuff AND to help their neighbor.  Is this what was going on in your community?  Is this what those condemning the ranchers and farmers were doing?

It is easy to sit behind a computer and pass judgement on someone else.  It is easy to stick a pen name on your response to really NOT put yourself out there and be judged.  Isn’t it funny that it is so easy to judge others behind a fake name?  These people suffering losses aren’t afraid to share their name and their story.  They aren’t afraid to put it out there and be judged.  They have broad shoulders and are carrying the weight of the world around on them most days.  They are proud people with LOADS of character and strength.  Their hearts are broken.  Many of them won’t make it through the financial hit from the loss and have to sell out.  Some of their relationships won’t last due to the strain from this event.  The stress of the losses and hardship will make some physically ill.  Still want to pass judgement?

Instead of passing judgement calling us “money-hungry cattle barons” why don’t you pick up a shovel and go help them?  You go help dig out the livestock and watch their heart-break with each new carcass they find.  You can dig through snow drifts looking to see if there is anything underneath all the snow.  You can cut out ear tags  and try to find brands to see if the livestock is even yours or if it is your neighbors.  You can go help pull livestock out of the dams and creeks and listen to the sobs of the world crashing down a little farther while they deal with the aftermath.  You can go walk a mile in their shoes BEFORE you so selfishly and so hurtfully question their character.  I guarantee you that these people would do all they could to help you if you were in a similar situation.

As my friend Mary stated:  “What the majority of America is not comprehending, is the fact that these farmers and ranchers have mortgaged their cattle and calf crop and probably their land (borrowed money using them as collateral) to pay for the things they need to keep their ranch going from day to day such as seed for the next crop, fuel, machinery payments, fence posts and wire, pasture lease payments, cake and hay for winter feeding, salt mineral and medicine for livestock, parts, repairs and supplies, payments if they have purchased cattle for replacements or expansion, bulls, ranch liability insurance, crop insurance, vehicle insurance, taxes..all this stuff costs thousands of dollars. I haven’t even mentioned any living expenses. Now that the calves and cows are dead, there will be no money to pay the banks. Hopefully the bankers will work with these people. We don’t have the luxury of raising our debt limit and we can not borrow our way out of debt. The next course of action if ranchers can’t make their payments is bankruptcy and foreclosure, which means the banks take the ranch away from their owners which may have been in the family for generations. Such an emotional toll as well as financial. My heart goes out to those that have lost darn near everything. It could have been my neighborhood so easily. I pray that the good Lord has his caring arms around these people in the days to come. They will need it. ”  Great words, Mary.  Thank-you.  

Also, for the people who think that they are not affected whatsoever by the loss, let me assure you that you and/or your loved ones certainly are affected.  There are a LOT more uses of cattle then just beef to eat.  I would venture a guess that those thinking this problem doesn’t affect them use beef products whether they think they do or not.  Let me show use some uses of beef.


For all those asking how they can help, here are some resources.  May GOD bless you for opening your hearts and helping through whatever avenue you choose… whether through prayer, through labor, through encouraging cards and notes, through fundraising efforts, or even through donations of goods, services, or money.  I urge you to keep praying for all those who suffered losses.

Beef Magazine:  5 Resources for South Dakota Ranchers…

Black Hills Area Community Foundation:  Ranchers Relief Fund

South Dakota Cattle Locator website. 

Lost and Found Black Hills Blizzard

 South Dakota Stockgrowers

Atlas Blizzard Ranch Relief and Aid

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18  

To all those suffering losses, please know that you continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.  Until next time… JARW



Blizzard Casualties

20130925_063458My 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.

Until next time– JARW