Pain you can’t even imagine.


Frosty pine tree

If you aren’t in the ag world, you most likely haven’t heard about the devastating loss that ranchers in western South Dakota are struggling with after being hit by winter storm Atlas.

For some reason the news stations aren’t covering this story. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t. This story has heartbreak, tragedy and even a convenient tie into the current government shutdown. Isn’t that what the news is all about these days?

But the news isn’t covering this story. Instead the story is spreading around on social media, Bloggers are writing from their ranches in South Dakota. Bloggers are trying to explain how the horrible happened. And now I am going to join them to tell you the part of the story that I know and I am going to ask you to help these people, because if you are here reading this blog I know you give a crap about these people.

Last weekend western South Dakota and parts of the surrounding states got their butts handed to them by Mother Nature. A blizzard isn’t unusual in South Dakota, the cattle are tough they can handle some snow. They have for hundreds of years.

Unlike on our dairy farm, beef cattle don’t live in climate controlled barns. Beef cows and calves spend the majority of their lives out on pasture. They graze the grass in the spring, summer and fall and eat baled hay in the winter.

In winter these cows and calves grow fuzzy jackets that keep them warm and protect them from the snow and cold.

The cows and calves live in special pastures in the winter. These pastures are smaller and closer to the ranch, they have windbreaks for the cows to hide behind. They have worked for cows for hundred of years.

So what’s the big deal about this blizzard?

It’s not really winter yet.

The cows don’t have their warm jackets on. The cows are still out eating grass in the big pastures. Atlas wasn’t just a snowstorm. Atlas was the kind of storm that can destroy the ranchers that have been caring for these cattle for hundreds of years.

Last weekend Atlas hit. It started with rain. The rain soaked the cows and chilled them to the bone. Inches and inches of rain fell. The rain made horrible mud. Then the winds started. 80mph winds, hurricane force. When the wind started the rain changed to snow. A lot of snow.

The cows were wet, they were muddy and they didn’t have their winter jackets when the wind and snow came. Wet snow. Heavy snow.

The cows tried to protect themselves. They hid in low spots away from the wind. The low spots where the rain had turned the ground to thick mud. Some got stuck in the mud. Some laid down to get away from the wind, to rest a little, they were tired from trying to get away from the weather when they were already so cold.

The snow came down so heavy and so fast the the low spots that the cattle were laying in filled with snow. Not a few inches of snow, not a foot of snow.

Enough snow that the cows and their calves were covered in snow.

The cows and calves suffocated or froze to death.

The caretakers of these cattle had no power to save them, they had to stand by and take the lashings from Mother Nature. They had no options. When it was all over, they went out to discover what they had left.

The aftermath of Atlas. Photo by Lacey Weiss

The aftermath of Atlas. Photo by Lacey Weiss

Can you even imagine what that would feel like? Standing with your hands tied as your life’s living, breathing and mooing work is destroyed. I can’t imagine, I don’t know how I would recover from a loss like that.

This wasn’t just one or two herds of cows. This wasn’t just one or two families that lost animals. This wasn’t just a few cows. Tens of thousands of cows are gone. Some ranchers lost their entire herds. All of their cows, gone.

In the fall a cattle rancher sells their calves to someone who specializes in raising them for market, it’s how a ranch generates income. Calves are the lifeblood of a cattle ranch. Most ranchers had not yet sold their calves when Atlas hit. Their calves are gone. The cows that made those calves were pregnant with with next year’s calves.

Those cows are gone, those calves are gone. 

Meanwhile in Washington DC, the shutdown has doubly screwed the ranchers. The people that are supposed to try to help these people are unable to do their jobs. The farm bill is held up again. No one knows when, how or if help is going to come.

Insurance? Not likely.

When a flood comes and your corn is flooded out you have some options. Insurance for cattle is expensive and it comes with hundreds of loopholes that make the gamble of farming without it the most practical choice for many.

There is no way around it, this storm has put some ranchers out of business. Time will tell just how many.

The AgChat Foundation has partnered with several organizations to create a grassroots effort to help the people who have lost so much. To read more about their efforts or to make a donation please click HERE.

You don’t have to give money if you can’t. You can help in other ways. Share this post with your friends, send up a prayer or just keep these people in your hearts and minds as they continue into a new chapter of their lives.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for anything you are able to give.


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215 Comments on Pain you can’t even imagine.

  1. Monte
    October 13, 2013 at 7:23 pm (6 years ago)

    God bless you Carrie, for your thoughts and prayers for our ranchers out here. I don’t ranch, but did farm, with cow-calf pairs
    back there in Wisconsin…a long time ago. These folks devastation is unimaginable to most folks in our society today. We will
    help out on these ranches where we can.
    Love your blog!

    Rapid City SD

  2. AndrewEatsCows
    October 13, 2013 at 7:54 pm (6 years ago)

    That picture is absolutely heart breaking. Prayers and condolences to all the ranchers in South Dakota.

  3. Stephany N
    October 13, 2013 at 9:51 pm (6 years ago)

    Reading this made me cry! I can’t even imagine the pain that they are feeling. Animals that many have raised from young calves, tender loving care all gone due to bad timing for mother nature! Thoughts and prayers for them and their herds!

    • Erin Roberson
      October 16, 2013 at 11:20 pm (6 years ago)

      Exactly how I felt. After seeing that cow being lifted and the title of the blog entry I was surprised it was mainly about the farmers loss. 🙁 Tragic.

  4. Diana Staresinic-Deane
    October 14, 2013 at 12:10 am (6 years ago)

    That’s so heartbreaking. It’s a terrible loss for the ranchers, and it’s terrible to know those cows suffered like that. I don’t know why the reporting hasn’t covered it. I am remembering when the EF5 tornado hit Greensburg, Kansas, no one talked about the fact that thousands of cows were swept up into the storm and dropped all over the prairie. Like these poor blizzard victims, the Greensburg cows couldn’t be saved. But no one reported it.

  5. iluvbears
    October 14, 2013 at 5:11 am (6 years ago)

    You don’t hear anything about it in the national media because if it doesn’t happen on one of the coasts and/or possibly Texas or Chicago, it isn’t worth reporting.

  6. Barbara
    October 14, 2013 at 5:49 am (6 years ago)

    This is quite possibly the saddest story I have ever heard. I cannot begin to fathom the losses or what it’s like to face such a daunting (not to mention heartbreaking) clean-up.
    You did a good job telling the story, Carrie. I wish for the ranchers’ sake that more folks were hearing the story…they’re going to need a lot of help!
    Prayin’ for all those affected.

  7. Brian
    October 14, 2013 at 7:53 am (6 years ago)

    I disagree with your assumption that the news isn’t covering the story. I watched Fox News and they covered it multiple times both the 12th and 13th. Also, I am sure local news stations and papers are covering it as well. Just because you haven’t seen it covered doesn’t mean it isn’t being covered. Love the assumptions!

    • the south dakota cowgirl
      October 14, 2013 at 8:55 am (6 years ago)

      Brian – the national media picked up the story a full week later. This is equivalent to our Sandy, Our Katrina. They estimate this will have an economic impact in the billions. So why wasn’t it covered earlier? That’s the rub. It should have been front and center Tuesday Morning as news broke of the catastrophe, like it was on my blog. People were so starved for news that by Wednesday I crashed a server in Dallas.

      • Glynda
        October 14, 2013 at 3:33 pm (6 years ago)

        This was not covered in the mainstream media because it does not fit the theory of man made global warming.

        • dairycarrie
          October 14, 2013 at 4:10 pm (6 years ago)

          I don’t think this story has anything to do with the theory of global warming and I think to debate that here is to miss the point of the post.

      • sciamachy
        October 15, 2013 at 6:26 am (6 years ago)

        Global warming is to do with the entire world’s climate, averaged out. Global weather systems mean that you get some parts of that globe warmer or colder than others. For instance, global warming stopped the Atlantic Conveyor current a couple of years ago during winter, & the UK, which is normally warmed by warm waters flowing up from the Gulf of Mexico, suffered a winter like they’re used to in Moscow or Chicago. One thing global warming predicts is much more severe weather – including severe winters, ice storms up in Canada, desert zones spreading.

      • C.D. Gardner
        October 16, 2013 at 8:30 am (6 years ago)

        Global warming is a hoax. Only a real moron would buy into that.

      • pussytoes
        October 17, 2013 at 11:21 am (6 years ago)

        I used to work in television news, so my first thought was from that perspective. (Well no, my second thought. My first thought was sorrow for the ranchers who got hit so hard.) I suspect there may not have been enough film/video during and immediately after the storm and the discovery of its gruesome aftermath. Television naturally requires this because it is a visual medium.

      • pussytoes
        October 17, 2013 at 11:27 am (6 years ago)

        Glynda, actually, it does, perfectly. Global warming has already begun to trigger the freak storms, tidal waves, and so on that climate scientists have been predicting for years. This storm was exactly the kind we can expect more of, largely thanks to the deniers who are preventing appropriate changes in the way we live on this planet.

    • Sheila
      October 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm (6 years ago)

      It doesn’t do much good for locals to be told what’s happened. They’ve already lived it, but thanks for caring.

      • dairycarrie
        October 14, 2013 at 4:13 pm (6 years ago)

        Sheila, I’m confused by your comment. Can you clarify what you mean?

      • Tom Linenbrink
        October 15, 2013 at 5:51 pm (6 years ago)

        Carrie, I think Sheila was referring to Brian’s comment: “Also, I am sure local news stations and papers are covering it as well”. Of course they are, but that doesn’t get the word out to folks outside the affected area. This needed National coverage, and what it got was too little too late.

  8. Fred Abels (@AbelsFred)
    October 14, 2013 at 8:14 am (6 years ago)

    I asked our Pastor to include farmers and ranchers affected by this terrible storm in Sundays prayers and the prayer chain. My heart goes out to those farmers and ranchers.

  9. TikkTok
    October 14, 2013 at 9:06 am (6 years ago)

    What makes me the most angry is the attitude of numerous commenters that it’s somehow they ranchers’ faults that they died- if they had had shelter, they wouldn’t have died.

    The ignorance is astonishing.

    I’ve seen reports by folks who lost animals IN the shelter. One rancher lost horses in the paddock, snuggled up to the house.

    Others lost most of their sheep who were inside the sheep barn when the roof collapased on them.

    I’ve read about Rainbow Bible Ranch which lost 90 horses. (

    And yet, the ignorant think that somehow man is responsible for the losses resulting from nature’s wrath.

    They don’t understand the storm. They don’t understand the calendar. They don’t understand animals and the winter coats they grow, or the lack thereof.

    I am still sick at heart over this- the loss; the devastation; the lack of the media doing its job and reporting real news with the proportion it deserves.

    I wrote about this last week ( and with links to relief information: and I’m still getting people telling me they haven’t heard anything about this.

    This storm spawned a tornado in Nebraska that had destruction, and I haven’t heard anything about that. I know people in a state away who as of last week had not heard anything, either.

    When it’s a hurricane, we hear all about it. Apparently there are other stories the media would rather focus on. 🙄

    • Jill Smith-Sivyer
      October 15, 2013 at 11:08 am (6 years ago)

      I live in Michigan, and I stumbled upon this. I hadn’t heard a word about this! I am disgusted that we only hear what the government wants us to hear. Next people will wonder why beef prices are so high? What? What do you mean blizzard in the fall? Why didn’t the media let us know? What has happened to America? We the people NEED to stick together or the America WE THE PEOPLE know WILL CEASE TO BE!

      • TikkTok
        October 15, 2013 at 5:47 pm (6 years ago)

        It is astonishing , isn’t it, Jill? I’m further east with strong ties to the west {this Mi girl was accused of being a foreigner more than once :lol:} At this point in my life, I’ve lived nearly my entire adult life out west.

        Here is is, more than a week later, people are still just now hearing about it.

        And still, people keep asking the same questions. If I could, I’d drop each one of these folks on a ranch out there. If they haven’t ever been in the rural west, they simply cannot imagine the acreage (or head of cattle) that we’re talking about.

    • Cindy Kettunen
      October 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm (6 years ago)

      The reason this isn’t “news” is because it all happened in the fly-over states. We are not important enough for the “news”. We aren’t on the East or West Coast, those places have celebrities of all kinds and that’s more important. We feed the nation, as well as the world, but we don’t warrant a moments consideration. Once their food prices start to sky rocket they’ll take notice but then all we will hear is how unfair it is that the rancher/farmer is getting such outrageous prices.
      I cry for all the lost animals. I cry for the generations that put the hard work, long nights, and worry into developing and maintaining good stock to feed the generations to come. Gone…all gone…..

      • TikkTok
        October 15, 2013 at 5:32 pm (6 years ago)

        Me too, Cindy, me too.

        I don’t know if it’s so much location in the country as much as it is urban vs. rural. Is there a large urban population that is conservative? I try really hard not to think along political lines, but I think we shouldn’t rule it out this time. Maybe it doesn’t rank because bullets weren’t involved…… {shrugs}

      • Joyce
        October 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm (6 years ago)

        I live on a farm in Saskatchewan. I heard about the storm from a rancher here, not on the news. This is a huge story! Such a terrible event, such horrific loss!

        I understand the “fly-over states” comment. We feel like the same way in the Canadian prairie farming and ranching provinces. This is so sad! Our hearts and prayers go out for all the ranchers!

    • Peg
      October 15, 2013 at 9:03 pm (6 years ago)

      One of those tornadoes hit my neighborhood. But the devastation to farmers, and the cruel deaths of these animals breaks my heart. it should bring a country together that cares about the losses faced by people who are devastated. I heard about this awful storm on the weather channel as it happened. But we need more than facts in the story, we need to care.

      • TikkTok
        October 16, 2013 at 7:31 am (6 years ago)

        I could not agree more, Peg. I’m so glad y’all are ok.

  10. Nancie W.
    October 14, 2013 at 11:03 am (6 years ago)

    I had heard briefly about this on some news report but I agree that it should be covered MUCH MUCH more. It is one of the saddest Ag events ever. I cannot even imagine the desperate, horrible feelings these ranchers faced during the storm, after the storm when they actually saw their cattle and looking toward a bleak and scary future. My heart is so heavy for them. Prayers to everyone on affected by the Atlas storm. May they find some help from many sources.

  11. Anne
    October 14, 2013 at 11:24 am (6 years ago)

    Weren’t the ranchers warned a blizzard was on the way? I’m sure they must have been so wouldn’t they herd the cattle back to ranch…to the wind blocked pastures? Did they really just “awe, it’s too early for anything too serious…”? I’m sorry to sound critical but those poor creatures died a horrible death and I’m sure it was the lack of urgency on the part of their ranchers that killed them, not the storm.

    • dairycarrie
      October 14, 2013 at 11:27 am (6 years ago)

      Anne, moving the cattle isn’t a one or two or three hour operation it takes days to do it. First you have to find and gather the cattle in 1,000 acre pastures, then you have to start to slow walk of moving them many miles to get back to the winter grazing areas. The weather reports did not give an accurate picture of what was coming in time for this to happen. No one knew how bad it would be.

      • Anne
        October 14, 2013 at 11:33 am (6 years ago)

        Yeah, I didn’t understand how it works out there…sorry.

        • dairycarrie
          October 14, 2013 at 12:43 pm (6 years ago)

          Thank you Anne. I appreciate your open mindedness. I too would love to have someone to blame so it doesn’t happen again but in this case there isn’t one.

      • TikkTok
        October 14, 2013 at 12:13 pm (6 years ago)

        Not to mention:

        1) 12 hours of soaking rain before the snow came

        2) hurricane force gusts with 60 mph *sustained* winds

        3) 20 ft high snow drifts. These animals were literally buried and suffocated

        4) all this with NO WINTER COATS

        5) people lost livestock IN THE BARNS resulting from collapse due to the snow load

        6) people lost horses IN THE PADDOCK snuggled up to the house because they got buried and/or froze

        No. This was not the ranchers’ faults.

    • dairycarrie
      October 14, 2013 at 11:31 am (6 years ago)

      Your lack of knowledge on this topic is understandable but your assumptions are horribly insulting.

      • Sarah
        October 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm (6 years ago)

        I lived in a small community in Wisconsin and have worked with cattle and know how extremely hard it is to try to find the herd and bring them in. I know that with rain and mud it makes it all that much harder to do. While I understand that no one really had a good idea of how bad it could be and the weather people on the news don’t always give an accurate picture, I would like to think that most farmers would want to start thinking about bringing their cattle in just so they could stay warm inside the barn or in the winter grazing areas if they were predicting snow. I understand that cows are able to handle some snow and the cold because of their fur and thicker skin, but I would be bringing them in just in case. I also understand that barns collapse due to extreme snow buildup on the roofs as well, but I would think that you would want to have them closer to the barn where they could have better shielded themselves against the storm and could come in and out as necessary. With this being said, I know that it is a horrible tragedy and am saddened that all of these farmers have lost their livestock and have to figure out how they will make ends meet.

        • dairycarrie
          October 15, 2013 at 2:36 pm (6 years ago)

          Here in Wisconsin a big pasture would be maybe 100 acres. Usually they are close to the home farm. In South Dakota the areas these cattle are in are thousands of acres and are often far from the winter areas. It takes days and lots of people to find and move hundreds of cattle long distances. Earlier in the week it had been 80 degrees and the forecast wasn’t accurate enough ahead of time for the ranchers to know that there was this kind of storm headed towards them. Farming in the West is very different than farming here.

      • Sarah
        October 15, 2013 at 4:31 pm (6 years ago)


        I know plenty of farmers who have far more than just “100 acres of land” in my neck of the woods in Wisconsin. I am not saying that it wouldn’t take lots of man power and time to get these animals in, I KNOW that it takes that kind of time and man power since I HAVE worked on a farm before. I have also read on other peoples blogs that people in Minnesota and Wisconsin had heard about this storm hitting at least a week or two before it had hit in South Dakota. I am not saying that that is accurate or that people in South Dakota had necessarily heard about this storms magnitude. I am also sure that farming is different in the west than it is in the Midwest.

    • Anne
      October 14, 2013 at 11:32 am (6 years ago)

      I’m sorry. After reading everyone’s comments I see I don’t really understand ranching in that part of the country…I’m just so sad the poor creatures died so horrifically and I guess I wanted a fall guy when there isn’t one. I’ll spread the story so people know what’s happening out there. Blessings.

    • Andrew
      October 16, 2013 at 1:46 am (6 years ago)

      First I’d like to say that I feel for the families that will suffer financially from this. That being said, freezing to death is pretty much painless, and certainly more humane then what would have happened to these cows once thy where sold. We as a society are all responsible for having created a market for the kind of food systems we use here in the US, but it needs to change. I hope that the local communities rally together and support these families, but I don’t think a dime of tax payer money should ever be spent to replace personal property. The idea that its the governments responsibility to replace personal property and provide for people in general is why we are trillions of dollars in debit and the majority of people want to pass the buck to the next guy.

      • the south dakota cowgirl
        October 16, 2013 at 10:50 am (6 years ago)

        Do you feel that way about the government providing tax payer dollars to flood victims in Colorado, or Hurrican Victims in LA, or NJ? I’m just curious.

      • Andrew
        October 16, 2013 at 11:43 am (6 years ago)

        Yes, I do. For most of earths history it has been the expectation that neighbors and not government will be there for you in a crisis. I think this looking to big government to fix problems has simply created more severe problems. Family, neighbors, communities use to be much closer and more supportive. Now so much of our resources go to feed the machine in Washington that we feel less able and often less obligated to help those in our communities that are suffering. It does not mean that I do not feel for the families that are effected by tragedies but rather I don’t agree with what the best way is to help them. For example I thing our food industry and eating habits in the US are deeply problematic, rather than simply rebuilding what has been destroyed in this tragedy I hope that the families take the opportunity of starting over to make something better for themselves and better for the world.

      • Marla
        October 16, 2013 at 5:46 pm (6 years ago)

        There are several things I would have liked to say to several of the people stupid enough to comment on this blog, but really…this one takes the cake! Since when is a business classed as “personal property”?? Does that mean that when any other type of natural storm destroys any other business that there should be no insurance for that?? Noone else in America (or Canada where we are…) would even think about it – ALL of their offices, vehicles, electronics and product are insured to the hilt – because it can be!

        For anyone in the business, we all know that our animals are so much more than product and even if there was money there to insure the “property”, nothing – and I mean NOTHING – can replace a herd built over a lifetime of hard work (sometimes more than one lifetime’s work) and NOTHING can erase the horror of living through – or cleaning up – a mess like that! For those of you not blessed enough to have really lived as a rancher, you could never understand what it is like to lose and then bury everything you’ve ever worked for, cared about, nurtured and brought into this world…literally. Imagine taking your beloved pet to the vet for euthenasia (a choice you GOT to make) and then ‘take care of that’ 75,000 times over! You don’t have a clue, never will, so please do the rest of us a favour and stop blogging as if you know anything about it! Oh, and by the way…don’t bother to call any of us to bitch when your hamburger, or steak, or porkchop, or chicken breast or any other farm-raised product costs 5X as much as it did before this storm. Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares – namely your government representative – IF you can reach them!

        Andrew, try getting off your high horse and heading out to South Dakota to get your hands dirty, digging out and then burying some – even ONE – of the thousands of animals lost. Trust me, it is not a joy and as you sit surrounded by your “personal property” tonight, just try to imagine the absolute devastation on any one of those ranches. I can and would bet you that any one of those ranchers would trade their house, their vacation or their vehicle – even the few who have the fancy ones as claimed by another blogger – to turn back time two weeks and NOT lose those animals. Would you?

    October 14, 2013 at 1:47 pm (6 years ago)

    Thank you Carrie for bringing attention to this unimaginable event. We have lost turkeys in barn fires, roof collapses, and other acts of nature. The feeling of helplessness is enough to break you. The ache in your heart horrific. Many prayers to those poor farmers and ranchers. I cry every time I think about it! I am helping to spread the word – hopefully donations begin to come in for them, but nothing will heal their hearts and for that we need to pray.

    • Jill Smith-Sivyer
      October 15, 2013 at 11:17 am (6 years ago)

      Very wise words. When there is no one to blame but the natural happening of weather conditions, it is so hard to live with. Prayer can ease the heart and mind and bring them into alignment with Gods plan for our lives. Donate if you can, share the news if you cannot, but I agree; WE THE PEOPLE need to be in prayer!!!

  13. cc
    October 14, 2013 at 4:17 pm (6 years ago)

    Seeing those pictures of those fellow earthlings breaks my heart. Don’t know which is worse death by freezing or when they come to their horrible end at a slaughter house. Glad to be a vegan and not part of any of that cruelty.

    • dairycarrie
      October 14, 2013 at 4:22 pm (6 years ago)

      I hope your smugness in the face of tragedy makes you feel that much more superior.

    • Patti Bro2n
      October 15, 2013 at 11:44 am (6 years ago)

      Arrogance and self righteous seems to be a common trait among vegans.

    • Simone de Rochefort
      October 15, 2013 at 11:56 am (6 years ago)

      Carrie’s reply to you was quite generous. For one, I can’t believe someone would have the audacity to come here and preach about their own lifestyle here when people are in so much pain. Please go think about what makes you behave this way, and why it’s incredibly rude.

    • Valorie
      October 15, 2013 at 4:07 pm (6 years ago)

      If ranchers are sad when their cattle die, then why are they NOT sad when they die in a slaughterhouse? Because they are sad they didn’t get to cash in first. The cattle would have died anyway. I think the fake empathy towards the poor cows is disheartening when you know that they would have sold them for their flesh later. Vegans don’t want to be part of the death and cruelty. I am happy to be one of them. No cow died for me, in a field or at the slaughterhouse. No animal should ever have to suffer for humans. The TRAGEDY is that they have to live and die at all for the tastebuds of humans.

      • Minola
        October 15, 2013 at 8:19 pm (6 years ago)

        Those of us in agriculture are far closer to the realities of the natural world, and we have a peculiar relationship with death. It’s something to be avoided, but not feared, not welcome, but nonetheless inevitable. Valorie, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve never watched an animal die a natural death, because in nature, death is harsh, and cruel and slow. A natural death typically takes several days, while they slowly die of thirst. Predators don’t always wait for death, immobility is good enough for them. I can’t imagine the struggles of these cows as they first huddled, and then piled, and then were crushed under their own weight, the weight of their herd mates, and the weight of the snow. I can’t imagine standing chest deep in ice cold water in a 60 mph wind, being confronted by suffocation, hypothermia and drowning. How long do you think you’d last?
        I know the idea of a natural death is somehow comforting and even appealing, and that might hold true in humans. But the horses, wildlife, sheep and cattle who died it that storm lingered for days.
        Like it or not, slaughterhouses work with incredible efficiency, and I guarantee the ruthless efficiencies of our food system are far kinder to cows than the indifference of Mother Nature.

      • Scott Davel
        October 15, 2013 at 9:49 pm (6 years ago)


        you are telling us that at some point in time during your life, you never once had formula, never once had milk, never once growing up ate a hamburger or a peice of meat. You are saying you never once ate Jello, used or wore leather or had vaccines. You are telling US that you have never driven a car that burned gasoline? The TRAGEDY here is that you have no idea what it’s like to lose the ones closest to you. Imagine if you had gone to work and learned that all of your coworkers died in a freak accident. Imagine if when you get home that your spouse, your children and your parents are all dead. This is the pain that WE are going through. These are living breathing beings that have parished. Yes we raise them for slaughter, but during their time on this earth we treat them like family.

      • Amy
        October 16, 2013 at 11:58 am (6 years ago)

        I’m with you, Valorie. I’m sorry that those farmers suffered such a loss and that those animals died so horrifically, but a slaughterhouse death is just as horrific. Glad to be vegan and not a part of any of it.

      • moon
        October 16, 2013 at 10:42 pm (6 years ago)

        I say a prayer for all those who lost, nightly. I know you don’t get vacations or live in fancy houses. The economy has already had an impact on ranchers and farmers and this added to your struggle. Keep your faith that in the end there might be something left.

        Valorie. Your choice in eating style is your own but, then I’m left to wonder why you’re checking out this blog to begin with. To stir the pot and draw attention? Go back to your comfort zone sunshine. This is something you don’t know anything about. When your carrot freezes to death because you failed to pick it on time then come on back. Then again, you’re probably too lazy to grow anything. Just go to the grocery store and make sure your carrots were grown in the United States. At least you’ll know that worker earned an honest wage instead of the sweat laborers in neighboring countries that can’t buy even the veggies they pick because they work for almost nothing.

    • Ruth Lee Caron
      October 15, 2013 at 4:10 pm (6 years ago)

      not all the cows go to slaughter houses so when you assume you make an arse out of yourself. I raise chickens does that mean Im slaughtering them? NO I show them. People show their cows, milk their cows, NOT ALL COWS GET SLAUGHTERED. IF you dont like meat its your choice but dont be rude to these people. BE RUDE TO THE WEATHER. IF you are so cool give them MONEY and help out.

    • CountryGirl
      October 16, 2013 at 9:35 pm (6 years ago)

      Even if you are a vegan you probably use other products from beef, such as medication and make up, the adhesive on bandages, the air filter in your car…the list is huge. If you own any thing made from leather, anything, you use beef products.

  14. Sheila
    October 14, 2013 at 4:30 pm (6 years ago)

    dairycarrie, you said you didn’t understand my reply…I was referring to the comment someone made who said it had been reported in the local news as though that should be enough. My comment referenced the fact that locals didn’t need to be told over and over. Locals understand the loss and the impact,,,outsiders might be the ones to benefit from the stories and pictures with greater explanation.

    • dairycarrie
      October 14, 2013 at 4:33 pm (6 years ago)

      Gotcha, it didn’t show up as a reply to a specific comment so I was unsure about what you meant.

  15. Michelle
    October 14, 2013 at 6:06 pm (6 years ago)

    This is awful. Thank you for informing us. I hadn’t heard, either, and I have the news on a good bit. I will pray for those affected and share on my FB page. Thank you, Carrie.

  16. Donald Pollari
    October 14, 2013 at 7:15 pm (6 years ago)

    So sorry for the devastation. Does anyone think that this unusual storm had anything to do with Climate Change? I do. (I’ve been studying this issue for decades and DENIALISM of anthropogenic climate is no longer acceptable by people of common sense).

    • Devin A Giguere
      October 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm (6 years ago)

      I don’t think that ‘Climate Change’ even covers it. I do NOT beleive that this stuff is an accident, entirely. I think that the tinkering through chem trails and seeding the clouds, has begun to take it’s toll.

    • pussytoes
      October 17, 2013 at 11:52 am (6 years ago)

      Unfortunately, this is absolutely the kind of thing that is caused by climate change. Such “freak” storms have been predicted by climate scientists for years.

  17. swmissouriaggie
    October 14, 2013 at 9:02 pm (6 years ago)

    This event was truly devastating. Your blog in response to this is amazing. Thank you for caring enough about these farmers and ranchers to write about them and to set up a way for people to donate!

  18. anaudaciouspoet
    October 14, 2013 at 9:39 pm (6 years ago)

    I’ve actually been following these stories on some of the mainstream media. They aren’t making the front page, but they are being reported on. My heart goes out to the folks affected–I’m from farm country in upstate New York and the people who go into agriculture work hard and often go un-thanked. Thank you so much for the link! I hate reading about these situations and not being able to do anything about it.

  19. Joy
    October 15, 2013 at 12:25 am (6 years ago)

    As a former South Dakota girl this has broke my heart! The images, even though horrific, need to be seen! Not just in SD but through out the country. I’ve been sharing like crazy on my Facebook and twitter. My prayers go out to all of my friends in SD.

  20. Michael Wharton
    October 15, 2013 at 3:26 am (6 years ago)

    This is such a heartbreaking story. God bless you; my prayers are with you.

  21. Nigel Betts
    October 15, 2013 at 4:21 am (6 years ago)

    What an apalling situation for all concerned (not least the animals). I live in the UK and have just viewed this on the BBC news website so it is getting some coverage around the world at least. I do hope that all those adversely affected get the help and support they need as soon as possible – we all know that modern farming is hard enough as it is without this type of catastrophe to contend with.

    It does sometimes feel that if it’s not on CNN, it hasn’t really happened – I guess this is the downside of the modern news media landscape but hopefully good people will still do good things regardless (they usually do just that, often just at a right time).. and soon. If it was in my powere to help, I would.

  22. Lese Majeste
    October 15, 2013 at 5:22 am (6 years ago)

    We kill people on a daily basis in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria and other places and not a tear is shed.

    But some cows die in a snow storm and the tears come out in force.

    • Arthur Sido
      October 15, 2013 at 10:46 am (6 years ago)

      There is tragedy aplenty in the world. Smugly implying that people care about cattle and not about people around the world is ignorant and ugly. I care very much about innocent life lost around the world, children as collateral damage in various wars and killed here in America in the name of choice. I care about orphans and widows and grieve when they suffer, doing what small part I can to aid them. I also can and do feel the pain of those who make their living as ranchers and have seen their lifework and the legacy they hope to pass on to their children and grandchildren wiped out. It is not an either-or, either you care about people dying around the world or you care about ranchers suffering loss. Save your self-righteous smugness, your ill conceived and inaccurate comment does nothing to help those in South Dakota or the people you allegedly care so much about in far away lands.

    • Psheri
      October 15, 2013 at 10:48 am (6 years ago)

      OMG… Lese, the cows & calves are innocent animals but people on the other hand are IRRESPONSIBLE creatures (idiots really)

  23. sciamachy
    October 15, 2013 at 6:51 am (6 years ago)

    According to the stories on South Dakota’s Black Hills area lost about 5% of its cattle in that storm, & they’re estimating that to be around 20,000 head of cattle. This must be quite awful for you, and if you’re a rancher who’s lost nearly all your cattle, that’s a heck of a blow. You have my sympathy.

  24. Emily Grace
    October 15, 2013 at 7:10 am (6 years ago)

    Thanks for your post.

  25. Linda
    October 15, 2013 at 8:29 am (6 years ago)

    Many prayers go out to the farmers and ranchers. As a fellow dairy farmer I know the effects that mother nature has and how we are at her mercy at all times for crops, animals, the amount of milk produced, etc. This is so devastating. I cried before I even saw the pictures. How sad that this is not on the forefront of the news. To all fellow farmers you have our prayers and our heartfelt sympathy, knowing the feelings of how it is to lose so much and not be able to do anything but watch it all happen.

  26. Jo
    October 15, 2013 at 10:30 am (6 years ago)

    I am so sorry to all those ranchers who have lost their livelihood for the next 2 years. What galls me are the people who are so blasé about this horrific tragedy that affects not only the ranchers, but the animals as well. “Vegan” I hope someone slips you a cow pie…..your stupid comments were not called for…and to the one who mentioned all the people killed in other countries…that is a choice of war and they chose it…..I commend all the ranchers and farmers who work so hard for so little…..they care for the animals that they raise and without them where would we be. My heart goes out to all of you and wish that I could do something to help. Maybe just pointing out to unfeeling and “uneducated” people about how much we rely on our ranchers and farmers is enough. My prayers are with you !!!!

    • Jill Smith-Sivyer
      October 15, 2013 at 11:44 am (6 years ago)

      Not too many people “choose” war. That decision is left to the big wigs in the government, then WE THE PEOPLE are left dealing with the aftermath. I pray for ALL people everywhere effected by war, famine, flood, fire, earthquakes, violence of all kinds, ect… This unusual storm is no different, and I pray for ALL involved in it! I feel sorry for those who judge, like the so called vegan, they shall be judged the same.

  27. Sandra
    October 15, 2013 at 10:39 am (6 years ago)

    Your right, the story isn’t out there. I found out from reading a blog!
    The Blaze finally picked up the story after receiving tweets about it. Mercury One is collecting money with 100 percent of the proceeds going to help these Ranchers.
    It is sad to me that the Mainstream Media has not reported on this story.
    Very sad!

  28. Dave Ventresca
    October 15, 2013 at 10:45 am (6 years ago)

    First, I am sorry happened and the pain from losing even a single life is ALWAYS unimaginably horrible; not to mention THOUSANDS. Even as a lifelong vegetarian who disagrees with the meat-eating lifestyle, my heart goes out to all the ranchers who’s livelihoods and love are permanently and irreparably destroyed. However, this post leaves out a critical consideration that we all seem to overlook consistently: Climate Change (not global warming – that’s a misnomer). Climate Change is serious and we should be taking it seriously. If not for the environmentalists, the rainforests, the countless species that go extinct everyday (most before they have ever been cataloged or discovered); then for ourselves. We have plundered this planet to the point of irreversability and the result is that we have created a world that we will not want to live in a few years down the line. This has real, human implications and we will all need to adapt in order to survive.

    I am not an angry environmentalist, but rather a creative problem solver who has a genuine interest in creating applicable solutions that INCREASE the happiness, productivity and quality of life of ALL people on this tiny EARTH which we must all share. In that spirit, I will end my comment with a question. In what ways might ranchers protect their herds from unimaginable & unpredictable disasters such as these? In what was might those who share in the bounty that these ranchers provide be part of that solution?

    • Ann Larson
      October 15, 2013 at 7:18 pm (6 years ago)

      I appreciate the tone in which you present your comments. Seriously, these comment feeds often turn so negative!

      I don’t know much about the theory of climate change, so I can’t address those questions.

      However, there is something that could be done to help be part of the solution. As Carrie has mentioned, this was a freak storm that no one predicted. You don’t hear about tens of thousands of cattle dying every winter in the plain states, so ranchers are doing well to protect their cattle when possible.

      What would really help would be passing the new Farm Bill. It is my understanding that there is an emergency fund with services (much like FEMA) strictly for livestock producers written into the Farm Bill. It was created specifically for situations such as this one. The issue is that the Farm Bill hasn’t been passed, so that program is not in place. Also, with the government shutdown, which I really don’t want to get into, FSA offices are closed. This means no damage evaluations can be submitted so no disaster relief can be properly distributed. Sec. Vilsack could move FSA workers to the essential worker list, which would put them back to work, but they haven’t been, to my knowledge, moved to that list yet.

      In summary, contact your legislators!

      • Dave Ventresca
        October 16, 2013 at 11:05 am (6 years ago)

        Your solution is to contact your legislators? Really? I’m not sure if you have noticed, Ann, but our government is nothing short of complete and utter incompetancy. Your reference to FEMA actually made me laugh. Did you know it took FEMA more than 10 days to get water to the Super Dome during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina? If you think that our government is the solution to natural disasters, then you are disillusioned. Sorry to be blunt, but I do my research and I have read the farm bill of which you speak. Sure it would help a few farmers, but it is far from comprehensive and if you actually read it, you would know that it will take years for farmers to receive any benefit from the proposed legislation and that they would have to pay for damages themselves initially; the bill only suggests that farmer’s could be reimbursed for costs accrued and paid for after a disaster such as this. I would also suggest that you spend some time researching the detrimental effects of Climate Change and how they might affect you in your area. I think you might be surprised…

    • llepke
      October 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm (6 years ago)

      First of all, I have to say this is one of the most constructive comments I’ve read by a vegetarian/vegan on Carrie’s post!! Thank you so much for staying open-minded regardless of your, or others beliefs. I was born and raised on a dairy farm, and am proud of it. But honestly, don’t know many people who are vegetarians/vegan. I hope most of them share your open-minded opinion.

      You can look at this natural disaster just like any other. The tsunami, or hurricane Katrina, for example, were natural disasters that NO ONE could have prevented. They took thousands of lives, human and animal. These disasters have been happening for thousands and thousands of years (goodbye dinosaurs!!), and there has been nothing we can do to stop it. Ranchers do everything they possibly can to protect their animals, just as we do to protect ourselves and each other. Sometimes there just isn’t anything we can do. Donate if you have the means, otherwise all we can do is provide our sympathy.

      • Dave Ventresca
        October 16, 2013 at 11:10 am (6 years ago)

        Thanks for your words. While you are correct that natural disasters are simply that… DISASTERS that no one could possibly prevent. Does that mean we shouldn’t prepare or expect them? I tend to think not, though it is my belief that eventually Mother Nature will cleanse humans off of this planet to make way for the next stage in the evolution of life here. My point is that while Ranchers have traditionally done everything needed to protect their livestock, the circumstances have changed dramatically and drastic actions will need to be taken from here on out. EXPECT the unexpected. Find new, creative and inventive ways to ranch so that when a rogue storm appears, there is some possibility that this cannot happen again. I do not have answers, but I know that inaction will only result in more destruction. It’s high time that we learn to respect nature once again…

  29. Psheri
    October 15, 2013 at 10:56 am (6 years ago)

    My parents raised beefers in Wisconsin for quite a few years. We were closer to the animals than most humans we had to deal with. Even tho they have hundreds or thousands of head I understand the loss and devistation in losing even a few causes. We will ALL know about this when the price of meat and other products go way high at the grocery store and no one can figure out WHY. Since a large populated city with a lot of ‘material damage’ was not effected we will not hear about it. Heck, (for example) I don’t think the WEATHER CHANNEL even knows Wisconsin exists… we are to close to Chicago and of course they are all that matters. Something is ‘out of wack’ with that!

  30. State of Georgia Tea Party, LLC
    October 15, 2013 at 11:21 am (6 years ago)

    I have a question, but first let me say that I find this situation very sad. With that said, why didn’t the ranchers take steps to protect their herds? Shrimpers watch the weather and put their boats in port prior to hurricanes. Farmers put up sand bags prior to floods. Why didn’t these ranchers herd their cattle in the smaller fields with wind breaks? Why not put up inexpensive shelters with food? Don’t the ranchers harbor some responsibility for this mess, and is it the responsibility of a watermelon and squash farmer to pay for their loss?

    I’m saddened for all this mess.

    • dairycarrie
      October 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm (6 years ago)

      As I said to another commenter with the sane question, it’s not as simple as it sounds. In the spring, summer and fall the cattle are grazing in massive areas that are far from the ranches. To find these cattle, round them up and drive them (drive as in cattle drive not as in vehicle drive) to the winter pastures isn’t something that can be done in one or two days, it takes a lot of time and people. Earlier in the week the temperatures in this same area were in the upper 70s and 80s. The weather forecast didn’t call for this severe of a storm in time for the cattle to be gathered and brought to better pastures. It was truly a freak storm.

  31. Barbara Murray
    October 15, 2013 at 11:37 am (6 years ago)

    Carrie, good job. I live in NYC and I did see it on the news, mostly as a weather story, though. I watch NY1 (local cable channel) and CBS, so probably saw it on CBS. I haven’t seen much coverage of the losses, not with anywhere like the detail you provided. Loss of 75,000 cattle was almost a footnote. I’m sorry. Govt shutdown blew almost everything else away. I did not know that storm had a name until I read your blog, which one of my friends put on Facebook. Keep up the good work.

  32. kgbooks
    October 15, 2013 at 11:49 am (6 years ago)

    I am so sorry to read how badly these ranchers have been affected. Although we heard of a blizzard in the area a little while ago, there was no mention of the devastation the ranchers were experiencing. I will for sure share this on my FB page and hope all others will share as well. And when I am able, I will make a donation. Even if I don’t eat that much meat anymore, a livelihood is a livelihood and it is always very sad to learn that families are suffering so much. I hope and pray that the U.S. gov’t finds a way to put their differences aside and help these ranchers. My thoughts and prayers for all.

  33. kgbooks
    October 15, 2013 at 11:51 am (6 years ago)

    (I tried posting this earlier but did not see it when I logged in. If this is a double post, please delete. Thanks)

    I am so sorry to read how badly these ranchers have been affected. Although we heard of a blizzard in the area a little while ago, there was no mention of the devastation the ranchers were experiencing. I will for sure share this on my FB page and hope all others will share as well. And when I am able, I will make a donation. Even if I don’t eat that much meat anymore, a livelihood is a livelihood and it is always very sad to learn that families are suffering so much. I hope and pray that the U.S. gov’t finds a way to put their differences aside and help these ranchers. My thoughts and prayers for all.

  34. thegoatlady
    October 15, 2013 at 11:51 am (6 years ago)

    No words can describe the heartbreak and exhaustion those folks are facing. Praying for them.

  35. Homesteader
    October 15, 2013 at 12:55 pm (6 years ago)

    Thanks for writing about this—somebody needed to. But please stop saying “hundreds of years.” I don’t believe there was much cattle ranching in western SD in 1813.

    • dairycarrie
      October 15, 2013 at 12:59 pm (6 years ago)

      My statement about hundreds of years applied to how cattle have been cared for and existed in general not just the cattle in South Dakota. Furthermore, this is something I wrote, there is no “stop saying” involved.

  36. Aleister Nacht
    October 15, 2013 at 2:07 pm (6 years ago)

    Reblogged this on Aleister Nacht and commented:
    Take a moment and read about this heartbreaking story of loss and true pain.

  37. Lesley Gebhardt
    October 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm (6 years ago)

    I live in Montana and we had the same storm….Not as bad as in South Dakota but still it was horrible…This huge huge huge HUGE loss not only affects the Ranchers and Farmers of South Dakota it affects all of us Americans!!! South Dakota is a harsh state to begin with and our Ranchers there work the skin off their bones to make sure WE as the consumer have meat on our table…guess what the price of meat will go up and it is no ones fault…The really sad SAD story is that our government has failed our Ranchers and Farmers! I can not help financially but I sure can get the word out and pray that there is help out there for our Ranchers and Farmers of South Dakota and surrounding States that got hit by Atlas.

  38. blankenmom
    October 15, 2013 at 3:07 pm (6 years ago)

    Reblogged this on My Blanken World and commented:
    I don’t normally reblog a whole lot, but I’m not hearing nearly enough about this on the news and should be.

  39. catherine
    October 15, 2013 at 3:07 pm (6 years ago)

    This a terrible tragedy! I will pray daily for these Ranchers and their families and will do anything else I can, whenever I can. I will help to put the information out to others by all the means I have available. This is a sad, sad story.
    Thank you Carrie. You did a great thing reaching out to us to help our Brothers and Sisters through this pain that, no, we can’t even imagine.

  40. Brian James
    October 15, 2013 at 3:13 pm (6 years ago)

    I could care less about these people. They’re in the murder business. Maybe they should have given their animals a way to NOT DIE when it freezes outside. Maybe this should point out that we’re murdering an entire species just for hamburgers. Maybe these people should treat their animals with more respect. Will they? No. They’ll whine and cry and moan that everything is horrible and that we’re supposed to make it better for them somehow. No. Treat your animals better.

    • dairycarrie
      October 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm (6 years ago)

      Brian, I think you need to go back and read this again. There wasn’t anything that they could do. If they could have protected their cows from this they would have.

    • Ann Larson
      October 15, 2013 at 7:06 pm (6 years ago)

      No matter your stance on meat, farming or the treatment of these animals, I would hope that if you found yourself in a situation where you could lose your livelihood due to natural disaster people would show you more compassion than you are showing these ranchers.

      It is my choice to eat meat, just as it is yours to abstain from eating meat. I appreciate that these ranchers are enduring hardships like this to ensure I am supplied with a food source that I see as nutritious and as a crucial part of my diet.

      As for treating animals with respect, I believe that if you looked further into the story you will see it in the faces of these ranchers that they had more than respect for the animals lost in the storm. Many of these were cows they lost, they’ve had for years and had hand selected to part of their herd.

    • SlowMoneyFarm
      October 15, 2013 at 7:56 pm (6 years ago)

      Compassion isn’t for just one species. There’s no winning – be it inside or outside there’s always a critic.

    • Chris Chinn
      October 15, 2013 at 8:07 pm (6 years ago)

      Choosing to be vegan or vegetarian is a personal decision and I respect your decision. It would be nice if you could show the same respect to others who choose to include meat, dairy and eggs in their diets. These ranchers have dedicated their lives to ranching, in the blink of an eye they lost everything they have worked their entire lives for. This is not the time or place to fight over food choices. If you were a neighbor to one of these ranchers, they would be at your house in a heartbeat if you had a tragedy occur in your life…and it wouldn’t matter to them if you were vegan or not. These ranchers are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters and they have huge hearts full of compassion. Please be respectful.

    • Scott Davel
      October 15, 2013 at 10:00 pm (6 years ago)

      Brian, perhaps you would care more if you got stranded in a snowstorm like the one in South Dakota and were left with nothing because you had no idea it was coming, or was going to be that bad. Perhaps you would care more if you had witnessed a blizzard trying to save lives out in it, and not just in the confines of your warm castle. Perhaps you would care more if it were your loved ones out in the storm. I don’t care why you are a vegan, but perhaps you would care more, if you put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

    • Marla
      October 16, 2013 at 5:59 pm (6 years ago)

      Brian, you better hope that you don’t EVER need help in ANY state or province where ranching is a way of life…with comments like that friend, who needs enemies! Most any rancher I know would be the ONLY one to stop to pull you out of the ditch in a snow storm or put gas in your car when you didn’t fill up before leaving the city and couldn’t get to the next station or heaven forbid, invite you to his/her table for coffee or a meal when you were lost or hungry. Try knocking on a stranger’s door in the city (or better yet, the White House) and let us know if you were welcomed in – or escorted to jail for trespassing?

    • Ben
      October 19, 2013 at 2:07 am (6 years ago)

      Brian, Why on earth would someone care for hundreds, or sometimes even thousands of cattle if they weren’t going to make any money on it? Do you think food, medicine, or shelter are free? Let’s say everyone immediately converted to veganism, and the open prairie/pastures are instead needed for crop ground? What do you suppose would happen to the cattle? They certainly wouldn’t be dated for. If there were enough grass around, they MIGHT be ignored, but more likely, they would be seen as a threat to the crops and killed and left to rot where they fell. If they were ignored, left to roam the range as the buffalo once did, they would have died in exactly the same way they did.
      And as far as the cynical attitude toward the “lost profit” that I’ve seen so often in the comments, as the author explained, they’re looking at the better part of two years’ income, frozen in their pastures. If you lose your job, you just go get a different one, but what jobs are to be had in these small ranching communities? You can’t go work for a neighboring rancher, because he lost his herd too. A couple of people can sell gas in town, or work at the bank, or maybe even a restaurant, but the whole town can’t, especially once the ranchers lost their income for the next two years. So now your option is to move to Minneapolis or Denver or Kansas City or an even farther away city to look for a job, with no money (did I mention that already?) and your only work experience is not exactly transferrable.
      Yeah, it’s bad.

  41. I'Post Comments
    October 15, 2013 at 4:37 pm (6 years ago)

    No Insurance. Check
    Many of these farmers were pro government shutdown. Check
    Now asking the government for help. Check
    Feeling sorry for them. Left Blank.

    • Cassandra
      October 15, 2013 at 11:23 pm (6 years ago)

      Wow. Heartless. Where is the humanity in your statement? Sometimes we have to leave our politics at the door, friend, & just do what’s right. Probably wouldn’t hurt you to take a refresher course in compassion. Just saying’.

    • Donna
      September 30, 2015 at 5:40 pm (4 years ago)

      I was researching mother cows and came across this blog, I was aware of what happened in 2013 and I’m shocked at this persons reply. Who acts like this in the middle of a tragedy? Do you think if your home or livelihood or business was wiped out by a natural occurrence that you wouldn’t need some help? What does insurance coverage or government shutdown politics have to do with being compassionate over the huge loss of these animals. Most of these farmers and ranchers are not only invested in this type of work for business and money, they have an emotional and moral connection to their animals too. Your callous response, whoever you are (I don’t see your name here, typical of someone who loves to spit meanness in all forms and hide their faces and names) shows you don’t know the meaning of helping others in time of need, regardless the circumstances. And nobody asked YOU (least of all the embattled ranchers) to feel SORRY for them. They don’t need or want your cold-hearted pretend pity. They will recover to go on and continue producing their cattle and passing their livelihood on to their children and grandchildren, while you will pass on what? Selfishness, contempt, small mindedness, and a very narrow, limited view of life on Earth. On the contrary, I feel very SORRY for you.

  42. Chrissy
    October 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm (6 years ago)

    Our Canadian news covered this story the day after it happened. I think in part because we have suffered major farming losses due to sever snow storms and floods. I lost my entire cow herd several years ago in an unexpected snow storm that lasted two days and dumped two feet of snow on us in the middle of April The snow would have been manageable but it was the couple inches of rain first that turned the hilly pastures into glare ice. Can’t do much to help these poor animals when they split their pelvises coming down the hill to shelter

  43. Sarah
    October 15, 2013 at 7:43 pm (6 years ago)

    If a family owned book store in town had a fire I would be there to deliver coffee and cookies to the volunteer fire fighters and I would show up for the fundraiser to help them rebuild.
    If the neighbors dog was lost I would help them search, I would have my family help put up signs.
    If small business owners in Kansas who owned a ranch had a catastrophic storm that devastated their livelihood, caused injuries and deaths, and changed their lives, I would be there to help and support in anyway I could.

    All we have is each other, and without heart and human kindness the world is an ugly place. Yes we all have choice to the foods we eat and the things we believe in and for that I am thankful.

    • dairycarrie
      October 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm (6 years ago)

      Amen Sarah!

    • Robert
      October 15, 2013 at 9:17 pm (6 years ago)

      Thank you Sarah for so eloquently saying what so many should have said before you. And thank you Carrie for writing such a great piece. I’m just an LA city slicker, but was raised in the hills in the area. While I can’t imagine the pain and suffering the ranchers are going through, I can make a small donation to the cause. Every little bit helps, right?

  44. Pat
    October 15, 2013 at 8:47 pm (6 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing more of the story. We are beef farmers in Virginia but I can only imagine what these ranchers are going thru. They are a tough breed but there comes a breaking point. God help the ranchers.

  45. Victoria Pettit
    October 15, 2013 at 9:46 pm (6 years ago)

    I do not understand why this is not on the news. This needs to be heard- We have to help these farmer. They feed us- they need us now.

  46. Loha
    October 15, 2013 at 10:40 pm (6 years ago)

    I heard about this on a visit to our veterinarian last week, then came home and looked it up. Absolutely heartbreaking. My husband works for FSA and is on furlough but also on call and I told him about this story. We’ve had the news on pretty well non stop and never saw anything.

    P.S. I’m also vegan and am nothing but heartbroken for these poor animals and the ranchers who I know are more devastated by the loss of the cattle than by the lost income.

  47. Sherry
    October 15, 2013 at 10:46 pm (6 years ago)

    I wish there was some way to help so I send prayers for you all. I live just north of Montana on the Canadian side and we heard right away. We know it can happen to any of us at anytime.Our thoughts and prayers to you all.

  48. Cassandra
    October 15, 2013 at 11:16 pm (6 years ago)

    I’ve been praying for the animals & their caretakers since the storm hit but clearly not following it close enough. I had no idea the scope of the tragedy & devastation. I hope the President can find a way to ensure that the families in the areas affected are given the aid they so desperately require. God Bless all.

  49. Guillaumé
    October 15, 2013 at 11:41 pm (6 years ago)

    Sweet death, at least better than what happens to them when sent to the knackers yard.

    I think it was Ghandi that said “much can be known of a nation by the way they treat their animals” love them, care for them, mourn for the loss of profit when they die and then kill them
    at a slaughter house and make much money.

  50. Dave
    October 15, 2013 at 11:41 pm (6 years ago)

    This story, and replies bring many thoughts to mind. First I want to say how sorry I am for the ranchers and all that they have lost. I respect them and all they do everyday. Do I feel they deserve help from the government? Absolutely. Do I think they will get it? Not a chance. A majority of the ranchers are conservative in nature and supported the sequester and now the government shut down. Obama on the other hand is out to make those that disagree with him feel the pain. Here is a good chance for him to play that card. Sorry, guys. You wanted the shut down? I can’t help you. He closed the mall to the vets but opened it for illegals to rally. He Is doing as much as he can to divide this great country. In closing, I want to say I think rnchers are the best and America needs you. Unfortunately, due to the storm, ranchers now need Americans and I hope they get all the aid they are in need of. God bless.

  51. Guillaumé
    October 15, 2013 at 11:50 pm (6 years ago)

    “Pain you can’t even imagine.” excuse me but is this the title of this days blog?
    Who’s pain are we talking about.

    Please research ‘exactly’ how cheese is made and know that the calves stomachs are removed before the animal is dead otherwise the enzymes that coagulate the milk, die as soon as the calf dies. Ugly and painful.

    • Scott Davel
      October 16, 2013 at 9:30 pm (6 years ago)

      Gee-yome, I am sorry to hear you think cheese is made from stomach’s of calves. Truth be told, rennet today is artificial, well sort of. We are using bacteria strains, along with different fungi and vegetable sources of rennet. Chris Hansen and a company called DSM, a danish and dutch company respectively, make two of the most widely used rennet sources in USA and Europe called Fermentation-Produced Chymosin. Perhaps you would like to have a lovely piece of humble cheese while studying up on how cheese is made.

    • Donna
      September 30, 2015 at 5:46 pm (4 years ago)

      OMG Stupidity reigns in America. Never fails to amaze me how ignorant people can be and still open their mouths. Does someone pay people to spout this garbage?

  52. Rachel Dubber
    October 16, 2013 at 4:55 am (6 years ago)

    Such a tragedy. As an animal artist living in Cape Town with a good circle of artistic friends what can we do to help. Can we donate an artwork or make cards, prints that could be sold and contribute to a recovery fund.Please let me know so we can pull together to help.

  53. Jen Van De Hei
    October 16, 2013 at 8:25 am (6 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing this Carrie- I was raised on a dairy farm & we currently raise calves for 4 dairies. During one particularly bad snowstorm, while the police issued roads closed & most people were warm & safe in their homes, I got a frantic call from my mother that they were going to lose all the calves. My husband & I packed up our 3 kids & traveled the 3 miles to my parents farm to save our calves. They were in hutches but the blizzard winds whipped the snow up over the top of the hutches & had the calves buried. We have 150 hutches & we had to shovel out each hutch. It was the closest I’ve come to collapsing from exhaustion. I would love for all the haters & naysayers to have watched my parents- in their late 60’s- struggling through 2 or 3 foot drifts in 30 below winds to save these babies. And we did save all but 1! They have no idea the heart farmers have & how much they truly care about the animals. Thank you again for all you do for our industry and our way of life!

  54. followerofchrist3
    October 16, 2013 at 9:23 am (6 years ago)

    Reblogged this on The Healing Homestead and commented:
    Please spread the word, and keep these ranchers and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

  55. Araina
    October 16, 2013 at 9:26 am (6 years ago)

    I have spent half my life on farms and ranches, the other in cities. Most people have no real idea how much these animals are LOVED by those that raise them. Yes SOME of them will be sold for slaughter but not all, some are sold to farmers for pets or other permanent homes where they live long happy lives. I could go on about the truths of this but very few of the people who think and judge farmers and ranchers as cruel, abusive, greedy and other uneducated rude things will not listen for they think they are correct and we are all just ignorant or lying. I have a small farm where I raise organic animals for my family, most are permanent loved members of our family. They provide milk and eggs and we love them even when they do not. Some do become meat but I kill and prepare them myself as I want to say good by and make sure they die fast with no pain or very little. I have never done this without tears but life is not perfect and death is a fact that is not avoidable. I would rather it be a little fear and pain for a short time than long drawn out suffering. May God bless and comfort all who have lost in this horrific tragedy.

    • Donna
      September 30, 2015 at 5:52 pm (4 years ago)

      Well Araina, here’s what all of us know that makes us different. We as ranchers and farmers will survive in a tragedy or horrific event. Everyone else will die because they won’t know how to take care of themselves, their children, raise their own food, or will not have learned how to fix anything and everything that needs it. Those ignorant souls are the first to criticize everyone else’s way of life. Can you imagine the type of change that would go on if it was their lives on the line, and nobody answered the 911 call?

  56. followerofchrist3
    October 16, 2013 at 9:44 am (6 years ago)

    reblogged on

    Thank you Carrie for writing this, and it’s good to see the comments of those who still care for others, both human and animal, posted on here. This world can tend to make me a bit too cynical…yah, there were a few comments that didn’t help with that, too!

    And for the person who thinks a calf’s stomach is removed so we can make cheese….what kind of cheese are you speaking of?? My family have been farmers for generations, never ONCE have I ever seen cheese made that required a calf’s stomach!

    • followerofchrist3
      October 16, 2013 at 9:45 am (6 years ago)

      woops, sorry, didn’t know it posted automatically when I reblogged…fairly new to this blogging thing!

      • dairycarrie
        October 16, 2013 at 9:53 am (6 years ago)

        No worries, welcome to the blogging world!

    • llepke
      October 16, 2013 at 4:17 pm (6 years ago)

      Calf’s stomach to make cheese…..haha!…………Somebody was reading Laura Ingalls Wilder again!!

  57. Charlie
    October 16, 2013 at 11:27 am (6 years ago)

    I have been in the wholesale meat buisneness for over 35 years.I work on Long Island and in the past several years i have witness what mother nature can do. I know Running a catlle ranch or any livestock ranch is hard long hours. To have in one clean sweep most of or everything you worked hard for is gone. My heart goes out to the ranchers.

  58. travelmomof2
    October 16, 2013 at 12:20 pm (6 years ago)

    Reblogged this on travelmomof2 and commented:
    I just thought this was worth reading. Farmers and ranchers are a hidden part of our lives; a part most of us never give a second thought to because they are always there, doing their job and supplying the nation’s food. I’m sure an extra prayer or donation would be welcome.

  59. travelmomof2
    October 16, 2013 at 12:21 pm (6 years ago)

    I also reblogged this. It was a good thing to post, thanks for doing that.

  60. Sonya Siskin
    October 16, 2013 at 7:55 pm (6 years ago)

    Something similar happened to a rancher here in Alberta (Canada). No insurance no fall back, just a hard worker trying to make a living doing what he loved. Some of his cattle had names and he’d had them for years. There was an auction held for him for some relief money. They put some yearlings up for sale and they would pay for them. Then they would run the yearlings through again and someone else would buy them, pay for them. They ran the yearlings through again and so on and so on until they raised a good amount for him to start over again with a reasonable herd. Beef producers, pork producers (and I know because I worked on a hog farm!), poultry, eggs, farmers with grain crops or vegetables; these people don’t do it because it makes bags of money for them. They are always on that knife edge to ruin, balancing, hoping that their crop or stock will be okay and succeed. It is hard hard physical labour that you don’t get paid near enough to do. But they do it because they love it and somebody has to. You should always remember do not bite the hand that feeds you! These people produce food for us in Canada and you in the United States and for the world too. Grain crops get shipped all over the world. These people should be treated better by their governments too.

  61. moon
    October 16, 2013 at 10:25 pm (6 years ago)

    I say a prayer for all those who lost, nightly. I know you don’t get vacations or live in fancy houses. The economy has already had an impact on ranchers and farmers and this added to your struggle. Keep your faith that in the end there might be something left.

  62. Erin Roberson
    October 16, 2013 at 11:16 pm (6 years ago)

    I thought this was going to be about the PAIN those poor animals had to endure. So very sad for all.

  63. mike
    October 17, 2013 at 12:59 am (6 years ago)

    Dear Marshall,
    Several things should be glaringly obvious to you by now.
    1) Think before you run your mouth.
    2) Your posting suggests a cushy lifestyle, complete urban, air-conditioned apartment and comfy amenities, but it’s a piss-poor example of the real world, where real people earn their daily bread, so get real for yourself.
    3)Many of us posting here are probably not farmers and some of us are even vegetarians and love the environment, but that’s no excuse to behave like a brain donor, criticizing people that are trying to make an honest buck the only way they know how.
    Your thoughtless attitude is an example of why environmentalists and animal rights activists are deservedly treated the way they are.

  64. A bridge across the divide
    October 17, 2013 at 3:28 am (6 years ago)

    Good Morning. Divided we are it seems. Such a heartbreaking thing to live through, catastrophe’s can happen to anyone and anywhere. At the flood in Nashville in 2010 I was amazed at strangers helping strangers and the community responded with much compassion and strength. These ranchers are suffering right now. Regardless of our opinions on the ag industry, meat/no meat we as humanity need to grieve with those who are grieving and rejoice with those when the rejoice. With ranchers in Montana on one side of my family and fundamental vegetarians on the other I sometimes feel at a unique place to bridge the divide. SO, if I could offer my hands and assistance I would be there in a heartbeat. And when this tragedy has passed and all that is left is the sting of loss. Still love people. Offer empathy. For if we want to truly change the course of our nation we have to first care about each other. We all want the good life; food for our families, shelter and love and protection, a chance to follow dreams and live peacefully.

    May the community of America reach out her hands of support. And may we with open minds and hearts look for solutions to an industry that has caused a gridlock and reliance on a system that is not sustainable. I wonder if there were different practices that might allow these farmers to make a living…a good one, since they work so hard, that doesn’t require so much subsidy from a national government that already can’t afford itself? Where do the reforms need to happen? I don’t know if this will help, but it seems when things were smaller and localized it was easier and better all around. I buy local, I can tell you the farms my meat comes from, I know who grows my produce. I even have harvested some of my own, and you do feel a connection to your food that seems ancient and respectful, though much of our society has lost that.

    Such a deep tragedy for people that value hardwork & community. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    • pussytoes
      October 17, 2013 at 11:55 am (6 years ago)

      The most meaningful and long-lasting response to this tragedy is to recognize that the brutal effects of climate change are on us. It’s happening exactly as predicted. We must change the way we live on this planet, and do it quickly, before life itself become unsustainable.

  65. Guillaumé
    October 17, 2013 at 6:32 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Scott

    As I understand it there are no manufacturers of plant only Rennet.
    O.K. I live behind the moon in South Africa.
    Chymosin I understand is animal perhaps not calves stomach.

    Calve Rennet is made in many, perhaps even most, countries by cutting out the calves stomach and making an emulsion from this and it is then called Rennet. it is the babies stomach that contains the enzyme to coagulate the milk into a semi solid lump as is the process in human babies.
    If the animal is dead then the enzyme decays with it, so the animal must be alive. Unless the animal is bolt shot and then the stomach it cut out very soon afterward but I don’t think slaughter houses have this facility. Could be wrong as I have never been in one.

  66. Brenda Spradlin
    October 17, 2013 at 10:49 am (6 years ago)

    This had me in tears for the people and the animals. I am praying for all of the families affected by this horrible tragedy. God bless them. It is disgusting to me that the media has not covered this.

  67. Tony Wilke
    October 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm (6 years ago)

    Prayers to the ranchers and their familys. Those of you who chose to be ignorant about the farmers and ranchers need to get educated. I grew up on a farm and ranch and spent alot of time feeding them during the winter months.

  68. sybil
    October 17, 2013 at 12:41 pm (6 years ago)

    Condolences from Canada. Just ignore Marshall. We have idiots up here too. 😉

  69. Karen Noble (@ponderthis1too)
    October 17, 2013 at 12:46 pm (6 years ago)

    Devastating to say the least…My prayers and thoughts go out to all the animals lost in this storm… the rest of you humans can find your own way.

  70. Michelle
    October 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm (6 years ago)

    Very well-written article. For those who talk about moving the animals, you need to understand the terrain in western South Dakota. It’s not a nice easy green pasture. It is rugged and it takes time to move the animals, and there are a lot of animals who don’t want to be found easily. On top of cattle, many ranchers have other livestock. There simply wasn’t enough notice of the severity and direct path of the storm for the ranchers to get everything prepared. I’ve also seen pictures of buildings in the Black Hills that collapsed due to the weight of the snow. So even if they were in barns, and I know of very few ranchers with barns that would hold their entire herd, they would not necessarily have been safe. I had friends in the Nebraska Panhandle who had been told to expect 4-8 inches of snow. They received many times that. By the time the forecasts were being changed, it was too late for many of the ranchers to do much of anything. Also keep in mind that most ranches don’t have a lot of nice plowed roads so many ranchers couldn’t even get to the animals without risking their own safety.

    I live in the area of Nebraska that was hard hit by the tornados. We were very lucky in our area, but many of our friends were not. The weather forecasts were completely off with regard to forecasting the storms. I was on the road and would not have left the house if I had had any idea that the storms were going to be coming so quickly and so hard. I don’t think the schools would have been holding their football games if they had known that storms of this intensity were coming. There was a lot of livestock lost in our area also, including a feedlot owned by our high school football coach’s family which took a direct hit. But it’s the Midwest so don’t expect to see a lot on TV.

    With regard to national media, we don’t live in an area with large media centers. We will never have this area covered by the national media. During the summer of 2011, our area suffered a flood that lasted from May through October. Portions of the interstate to Omaha were closed for the majority of the summer because they were under water. Flash flooding on the east coast was covered extensively by the national media, but the only time we were mentioned was when the floodwaters got close to a nuclear power plant.

  71. J.C. Tripp
    October 17, 2013 at 10:28 pm (6 years ago)

    I feel for these ranchers and hope they recover. A tragedy no doubt. Things like this are happening more frequently, we had more rain this year than in history. The science on climate change is clear, we have to respect the system we live in. That simple. Life is a fine balance and our presence on this planet, spewing bilions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere clearly has real ramifications. Let’s be practicle and take the emotion out of it. We have to maintain the planet, just as one would a car or a farm.

  72. jim gagnon
    October 18, 2013 at 9:50 am (6 years ago)

    Jim Gagnon Indiana

    A wise saying fills my imagination;

    Never approach a horse from the rear, A bull from the front, a fool from any direction…Don’t worry Marshall there is no one in your close proximity.

  73. Peggy Mann
    October 18, 2013 at 10:51 am (6 years ago)

    P. Mann

    You call a 4 foot snow blizzard in Oct. Global Warming!!! And what are you going to do about the volcanos that spew all those carbons into the air? You better start blameing St. Helens for our weather patterns and,spewed more into the air than humans have in last 200 years. Last I knew the ash that covered centeral and eastern Wash. helped that grain producing area produce better crops. Also, the result of the forest and brush fires every year that are caused by the lack of taking care of the forests and grass lands. Not the Forest Service fault, they try, but can do nothing with all the supid law suits, that stop the loggers from getting rid of the bug infested trees before they catch on fire. Grazeing forest and grass land prevents these fires from becoming so huge. And the last science class I took 50 years ago taught me that plants have to have carbon dioxide to live. I really don’t need the smoky summers we have here in western Montana every summer now. Its not Big Sky Country now, you can’t see the Big Sky.
    “THERE IS NO CURE FOR STUPID” as our representatives in Washington D. C. have proved this month.

  74. Deb
    October 18, 2013 at 11:31 am (6 years ago)

    My heart goes out to the ranchers and all of the animals lost. Prayers and love for a swift recovery from this tragic loss.

  75. Jean
    October 18, 2013 at 12:45 pm (6 years ago)

    The purpose of the article was to get help and prayers for the people who lost their animals.Poor Marshall decided to take the limelight and put it on him by making such a pathetic statement.Just ignore him…

  76. Bruce Goldberg
    October 18, 2013 at 9:13 pm (6 years ago)

    Really? We’re supposed to feel sorry for these people, not the cows who suffered and died?
    The meat industry is causing climate change, and now they’re complaining because they lost a profit? Talk about greed!

    These cows would have died a terrible death regardless of the blizzard. At least this way they dealt a blow to the industry that enslaved them.

  77. Lane
    October 18, 2013 at 11:12 pm (6 years ago)

    My prayers are for all who lost their herds/livelihood..very tragic!

  78. Jennifer
    October 20, 2013 at 10:26 am (6 years ago)

    It appears that these folks have learned a tragic lesson. When you scream that you don’t believe in government help and your GOP reps voted against helping the folks who lost so much in Hurricane Sandy, well, what you sow – you shall reap. Do what the GOP wants. Beg and hope for the best and/of just suck it up!

    • Donna
      September 30, 2015 at 6:04 pm (4 years ago)

      Dear mind blocked Jennifer: I don’t recall any of these ranchers asking for help, and they are a lot more capable of “sucking it up” than you would ever be in a similar circumstance. Most of you naysayers against the cattle industry are missing the point. It’s not about the cattle industry, its about people and families and their livestock caught in a tragedy, one that most Americans would jump in to help with, instead of blaming the cattle industry and looking for “I told you so’s”. Unbelievable how people act.

  79. Tracie B.
    October 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm (6 years ago)

    So well written. I will be linking to your blog post today on Basin Electric’s blog. (Basin Electric is a generation and transmission electric cooperative. We supply the power for 137 rural electric cooperatives across nine states, and are headquartered in North Dakota.)

  80. The Raven
    October 21, 2013 at 8:10 pm (6 years ago)

    (In passing.)

    The Sioux Falls Argus Leader covered it on the 10th and the Washington Post picked it up on the 11th, two days before you posted. The New York Times and Reuters picked it up on the 16th.

    So there was reporting in local and national newspapers.


    • dairycarrie
      October 21, 2013 at 8:56 pm (6 years ago)

      Yes, some news was reporting it but it was hardly making national headlines.

  81. Ken
    October 22, 2013 at 8:26 am (6 years ago)

    One commenter blames cattle for deforestation etc. my question is if no trees were ever cut where would our food come from and where would we live? I am from Wisconsin and the growth of cash cropping, mostly a corn bean rotation leads to more not less chemicals and more erosion issues because without cattle pastures and hayfields are not needed. Ken

  82. Cindy
    October 23, 2013 at 9:08 am (6 years ago)

    We raise cattle in South Dakota, lucky to be east of the snowstorm. We are treating our calves for pneumonia from all the rain. Pretty sure we won’t be able to afford beef at the supermarket after this tragedy. We personally know 4 families that have retired from raising beef and we will in the next few years. Where will the beef come from? You want to eat beef from China? Grain farming is a lot less labor intensive, and there are several down time months to enjoy those big houses and vacations that Monsanto has subsidized . Just saying, I love my cattle!

  83. Ellen
    November 3, 2013 at 9:20 pm (6 years ago)


    So what can we (poor state college students) do to help, if anything? I am from NC and know how devastating this would be to our ag community if it happened here.

    Condolences and prayers.

    • dairycarrie
      November 3, 2013 at 9:23 pm (6 years ago)

      Ellen, say a prayer or send good thoughts. Share their story. Thank you for caring!