By Shae Heitsch
I have had a different experience with this storm than most people from Rapid City. Being a part of the ranching lifestyle brings a whole different experience. Instead of worrying about not having power to watch television, we worry about keeping the animals sheltered from the wind and cold. Ranchers around me lost devastating amounts of livestock, cattle, and horses. I was blessed to have only lost my three goats. I know this is a tragic thing, but the fact that my horses are all safe and healthy is a blessing. People in town talk about how it looks like a war zone because of fallen trees; meanwhile, out on the prairie it’s just as bad. There were literally dead livestock everywhere, miles from where they belong.
During a storm cattle stay as tight together as possible, and move with the wind blowing at their backs. This snow was very wet and heavy, so the cattle walked through the drifts over top of the fences. The cows die of hypothermia and exhaustion while they freeze to death. Not only is it devastating because of the amount of animals lost, but for the money as well. Ranchers depend on their cattle as a way to make a living, and when you lose 30% of your profit from a natural disaster as such, it takes a toll on everyone. My thoughts and prayers go out to ranchers and farmers everywhere as they still don’t know what they have lost.