How many people heard about the most horrible blizzard in South Dakota’s history last week? If you tuned into FOX 8, I showed web cam time lapses of this noteworthy event. You would have been hard pressed to hear about it on the mainstream media, though. Why? It doesn’t fit “the template.”
Former Good Morning America meteorologist John Coleman and creator of The Weather Channel had this on his blog today. John now works at KUSI-TV in San Diego:
Let me say thanks again to the lovely birthday tributes from so many friends. It is because of so many nice comments that I don’t retire. You make be feel like keeping at it for a while long. I am so lucky to be healthy and able to work; how can I stop?
Now a long post about something that is on my mind.
In this age of the internet blog communications, CBS, NBC and ABC and the cable news channels are less and less important. This item was posted on a blog site and picked up and repeated a thousand times. And, let me add one more repost to make sure you know about it.
I am certain that had this been a weather event that flowed off of the global warming scare wave it would have been widely reported by the major media.
This is not a pleasant story. Sorry about that.
The Blizzard that Never Was – and its Aftermath on Cattle and Ranchers
By Dawn Wink
The worst blizzard in recorded history of South Dakota just swept through the state. Tens of thousands of cattle are predicted dead and the much of the state is still without power. The Rapid City Journal reports, “Tens of thousands of cattle lie dead across South Dakota on Monday following a blizzard that could become one of the most costly in the history of the state’s agriculture industry.”
The only reason I know this is because my parent’s ranch, the setting for Meadowlark, lies in the storm’s epicenter. Mom texted me after the storm. “No electricity. Saving power on phone. It’s really, really bad….” She turned on her phone to call me later that day. “There are no words to describe the devastation and loss. Everywhere we look there are dead cattle. I’ve never seen so many dead cattle. Nobody can remember anything like this.” Author of several books and infinite numbers of articles, Mom said, “I can’t imagine writing about this. I’m not going to take photos. These deaths are too gruesome. Nobody wants to see this.”
I searched the national news for more information. Nothing. Not a single report on any of major news sources that I found. Not CNN, not the NY Times, not MSNBC. I thought, Well, it is early and the state remains without power and encased in snow, perhaps tomorrow. So I checked again the next day. Nothing. It has now been four days and no national news coverage.
Meanwhile, ranchers on the plains have been dealt a crippling blow the likes that has not been experienced in living memory. The Rapid City Journal continues, “Silvia Christen, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, said most ranchers she had spoken to were reporting that 20 to 50 percent of their herds had been killed. While South Dakota ranchers are no strangers to blizzards, what made Friday’s storm so damaging was how early it arrived in the season. Christen said cattle hadn’t yet grown their winter coats to insulate them from freezing wind and snow. In addition, Christen said, during the cold months, ranchers tend to move their cattle to pastures that have more trees and gullies to protect them from storms. Because Friday’s storm arrived so early in the year, most ranchers were still grazing their herds on summer pasture, which tend to be more exposed and located farther away from ranch homes.”
In addition to the financial loss, when a rancher loses an animal, it is a loss of years, decades, and often generations within families, of building the genetics of a herd. Each rancher’s herd is as individual and unique as a fingerprint. It is not a simple as going out to buy another cow. Each cow in a herd is the result of years of careful breeding, in the hopes of creating a herd reflective of market desirability, as well as professional tastes of the rancher. Cattle deaths of this magnitude for ranchers is the equivalent of an investment banker’s entire portfolio suddenly gone. In an instant, the decades of investment forever disappear. It is to start over again, to rebuild, over years and years.
Cattle have a very real money amount that ranchers and their families depend upon. This is also true of acreage and the size of a herd. This why you never, ever ask a rancher, “How big is your ranch?” or “How many cattle do you have?” These are the equivalents of, “So, how about you tell me the amount of money in your bank account?” With these losses, it is up to the rancher to divulge, or not, the number of head lost. It is not polite to ask, again the equivalent of asking, “So, how much money just evaporated from your bank account?” People outside of the ranching world often ask these questions with the best of intentions. They have no idea how these questions are experienced by the rancher.
People have asked me, “What can we say then?” On this occasion, a heartfelt, “I’m sorry for your loss,” goes a long, long way.