Friday, October 11, 2013

The snow storm "Atlas"

The last week has been unprecedented to say the least. Last Thursday with a reported storm coming I moved lots of hay stacks to get them moved before it got too wet to drive on the fields.  That evening it was starting to rain.  We went out and got the sheep brought into the corral just in case it was a bad storm.  Most storms this early in the year are just rain events with a few inches of snow that comes at night when it gets cold.  The cows and calves are still out in the summer range as we are three weeks away from selling calves.  The grass is green from all the fall moisture and weather is mild.

It rained all that night.  In the morning we had 1.50" of rain.  Every thing was soaking wet.  It started to snow about eight in the morning. It snowed all day and accumulated maybe 3-4 inches.  The Black Hills were getting more snow, but they always do.  The electricity went out about 10 AM that Friday.  The wind was picking up.   Tammy went out to look at her sheep.  They were a little wet , but not too uncomfortable.  The temperature stayed at 32 degrees all day and into the night.

That night the storm "Atlas" raised its ugly head and bore down on western South Dakota.  When it was over on Saturday over four feet of snow had fallen in the Black Hills and several feet on the plains were we live.  There were snow banks over six feet deep just in our yard.  We put the sheep in the barn to get them dried out.  As it continued to have snow flurries in the morning.

We started to pick our way around the snow banks.  We had not gone very far when we saw our first dead cow.  It wasn't ours so we felt lucky.  We continued our journey north and started seeing isolated bunches of cattle in the distance.  A lot of them we couldn't get to, the snow was simply too deep.  The sun came out and the temperature rose to the mid- 50's.

We got to the north ridge and started seeing some of our cows.  We broke a track to them and started them down to the creek by the house.  Then we went back up north and found some more and headed them down to the creek by the house.  All day Sunday we collected cows and calves and yearlings.  We started seeing more and more dead ones, some of ours and some of the neighbors.

Here is a bunch of cattle that we gathered.  There are at least four owners and maybe five represented in this bunch.  When we got them down to the creek and the alfalfa bottoms they went to grazing.  We tried to feed them hay but the grazing was too good and they just passed up the hay.  We will sort out the cattle to the different owners when the weather and conditions have improved.

I will spare the readers of this blog the gruesome pictures of dead cattle.  Anyone who has traveled the roads in western South Dakota has seen the sight many times over.  Facebook post are full of pictures.  We lost our share of cows and calves.  One bunch of cows had really no loss.  Our yearling heifers have survived the storm for the most part.  The way things are mixed up it is hard to get a good count.  The bulls over at Ryan's had not much shelter from the storm and all come through, although they were scattered.

The snow was deep in the corrals close to the barn.  We started cleaning out the snow so that the ground could dry.  We still have lambs to sell and calves to sell and cattle to sort.

The REA got the electricity turned on late Thursday afternoon.  We had gone almost a full week without electricity.  What we missed the most was news and weather on the television.  We also missed our internet.
Also you get tired of camp food after a while.  Beans and spam. Actually we eat better than that.  We have three Coleman lanterns so we have good light.  After a while you have read everything you care to read.

Now today it has decided to rain and the wind blow sixty mile an hour.  So the creek was flowing bank full the last few days and now with the rain it is flooding.

This is the lilacs next to the house to the west.  The creek has flooded all the way across the alfalfa field.

The guy from Black Hills Power and Light was on the noon news on TV and said that this storm was the biggest most costly event in their 134 year history.  Some neighbors of ours will not get electricity till into next week.


  1. Thank you Dallas, you need to tell this for StoryCorp, for audio recorded history.

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  3. I have to share with you a story. This morning 10/11/13 I was driving to work this morning. I was thinking about the cattle losses, the ranchers, and the pain in your area. With these thoughts came thoughts of the state of our country and the world. My spirit became troubled. My heart fearful of the future, and what this world will come to before Christ makes His new heaven and new earth. As I drove and these thoughts and feeling stirred within me, I admired the magnificent sunrise in the eastern sky, it was truly amazing. I made my way to my place of work, parked my car facing the east. I got out of my car and looked up into the western sky to be blown away by the sight of a perfect full rainbow arched above me in the clouds. I was taken back. I had heard rainbows could occur in the western sky, (of course it makes sense) but in all the rainbows I had witnessed, I had never I seen one in the west. I felt at that moment that God placed it in the western sky speaking with regards to west river, a testimony, reminder of His promises. That no matter what happens, He loves us, He is there in the moment, He will overcome.

  4. I’m planning to link to this post on Basin Electric’s blog today. Do you mind if I use your top photo? I would be sure to give you credit, with a few links back. (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.)