Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Lost month

October of 2013 was a completely lost month.  The snow storm called "Atlas" happened on October 4 and 5.  We were out of electricity for almost a week.  The first week after the storm it seemed we spent collecting cattle.  Ever day we collected more cattle.  They could be neighbors cattle or your own, but more stragglers kept coming in.  Fortunately the weather stayed mild, but the sun never seemed to come out.  It just stayed cloudy.

Our neighbor to the west had is cattle drift onto our south pasture.  Since most of the fences were snowed under, some fences were under four or five feet of snow, I told him to leave them there as they were content to stay.  Our cattle had congregated on the alfalfa field along the creek around our house.  They spend part of the winter there so were completely content.

This was the scene out our bedroom window one morning.  The cows grazing on the lawn by the house.
A week after the storm it still hadn't froze, so the grass and trees were still green.

Then we started dragging dead cattle out of the pastures and creeks and road sides.  Over here most of our cattle were lost in deep snow as they tried to cross the deep snow in the deep draws.  Some made it to the creek and the snow covered them.  So we had to wait for snow to melt so we could find them.  Then 2" inches of rain fell and brought the creek up and flooded everything.  So then we had to wait for the water to go down and the ground to dry out enough that we could get out on the prairie and the fields.  The carcasses lay rotting in the water and nobody could get to them.  There was a lot of frustration due the constant waiting to do something.

The Meade county emergency management called and asked if they could make a burial pit on a school section that we lease.  The county came in and dug a pit to put 350 head in and if they needed more room they would dig another pit right next to it.  The day the pit was dug we hauled about fifty head to it. About twenty head were neighbor's cattle that were laying on the school section.  Then we hauled from our fields and road sides to get the rest.

Last Monday Mr Micheal Scuse an under-Secretary in USDA that oversees FSA and NRCS came to Union Center and we were among those that met with him then we led him up to the pit on our school lease.  Also Mr.Craig Schaunamen , director of the state FSA was along.  The pit is filling fast.  The ground is drying enough that people can finally get out and haul big loads of cattle across the prairies.

Last Thursday over here at Fairpoint we finally were able to drag cattle out of the creek.  We had a big  crew and good equipment that we had access to so we drug and buried close to two hundred head.  A lot of them were scattered along the creek.  One group of around sixty head was stuck in a bend in the creek below a steep bank.  They must have stumbled over the bank and down into the creek and the deep snow and succumbed.

Suddenly half the month was gone.  All we had gotten done was gather cattle. Sort cattle.  Drag dead cattle and dig holes to bury cattle.  The City of Strugis and  most of the business came to Union Center Community Center and cooked steaks for the surrounding community.  They served steaks for several hours and fed over 600 people. Many people came one hundred miles to the event.  The Governor and Sec. of Agriculture from Pierre were even in attendance.

This last week we have been able to direct our attention to the living.  We sold steer calves in Philip on Tuesday.  They had one of the biggest sales they have had in a few years.  Finally ranchers could get their cattle out on to sale barn to get sold.  Next Saturday we will sell the rest of our calves that we run over here at Fairpoint.  Then we hope to sell lambs the next week.  The lamb market has been one bright spot.  We were going to sell lambs early in October, the price would have been around $1.45 per pound.  Now lambs are bringing over $2 per pound.

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