It’s been weeks now since the dreadful Atlas Blizzard struck Wyoming, South Dakota, and Nebraska. My post subtitled “10 Things You Might Not Know About the Atlas Blizzard and Cattle” received many, many hits. Outpourings of sympathy flooded my blog and facebook posts, and I thought it might be time for an update.
Since the storm, many great things have been happening.
First of all, ranchersrelief.org has been set up. A “clearinghouse” of sorts for donations of money, services, and, with caveats, live cattle. If you want to donate something… a good saddlehorse, or proceeds from an auction, this is the place to go. If you are planning an event, and want to post it on their calendar, feel free! If you can donate fencing supplies, large trucks, or a day’s work, post on their Community Exchange tab. They are connected to Give Black Hills which I mentioned in an earlier post.
The AgChat Foundation, a group of farmers and ranchers and ag professionals, quickly set up a donation site on their website. They’ve raised over $27,000. Even better, they teamed up with Tyson Foods for a tweetchat to raise money. What’s that? Well, for an hour on October 21, for every post on Twitter with the hashtag #rancherrelief,Tyson Foods donated $10 to the relief fund. You might have noticed mine on the sidebar of this blog. In that one hour, ag people and their friends and family kept posting 6,221,188 times! Tyson hit their limit of donations… $50,000!!! It was a generous offer from Tyson Foods and I thank you!
Live cows are being donated as well. It’s much more involved, including transportation, health papers, brand inspection, vaccinations, to start. Ty Linger out of Montana has taken on that challenge. If this is something you feel you can help with, check out his website.
Sweatshirts were sold… Auctions have been held… Dinners with silent auctions are in the works. Contact your local beef council, FFA, or cattlemen’s/women’s associations, and most likely they’re holding a benefit. It’s been a great outpouring of help from the ag community who know what helping their neighbor is all about.
As far as the ranchers themselves? They’ve been busy, cleaning up the mess. Even our hunters coming in from Minnesota and Wisconsin told of seeing the dead cattle by the interstate. Thankfully, numbers of losses appear to be less than first feared… but it was still a devastating event. The South Dakota governor signed some exemptions into law to help… one being lifting the weight restrictions on trucks hauling away carcasses.
Think on that a bit.
There are enough dead cattle that the *governor* temporarily changes the laws of the *state* on weight limits on *carcass* trucks.
I’m sure as time goes by… and fences are rebuilt and power is restored, cattle are sorted and returned home, and storms quit coming for a while (another one due Sunday night here), that we will hear a little from these ranchers. Some will choose to tell their stories. Others will not. There is the epic sadness of Atlas that will linger. The horses, the favorite cows, the big calves ready for market, the lambs and sheep all lost. The ones we want to hear, the stories of digging live sheep out of snowdrifts 3 days after the storm, or the tiny little Hereford calf that pulled through, that’s the stories I’ll try to gather next.
Because as bad as things get… it is the stories of hope and love and caring… that let us carry on as ranchers. As people.