Dakota Die-Off

A Facebook friend posted a link to a blogpost regarding this story – which has apparently just barely made a dent in public awareness outside the local area.

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 rest is here.

(Crossposted at www.ncobrief.com, and at www.celiahayes.com)

11 thoughts on “Dakota Die-Off”

  1. When icebergs float into New York Harbor, they might figure out that something is happening. Climate Change, indeed.

  2. I am not holding my breath for Bon Jovi and Spingsteen and all the rest of those d-bags to hold a benefit concert for us here in the Midwest.

    Last winter we were faced with a serious blizzard. 20 inches plus with intense blowing winds that absolutely buried our whole area here in southern Wisco. We had to close my business for several days and all roads were closed. We had a very serious situation on our hands but we dug out, then helped other farms close by if they needed help. We were on our own. The ultimate feeling of freedom.

    A few local farms lost a few head of cattle but nothing major. A lot of very hard work was done over those couple days. I literally collapsed from exhaustion in a chair when I was done. I will never forget it.

    Nobody ever gives a damn about us. We don’t owe them a dime. They will never understand flyover country. And we don’t care.

  3. Many years ago, one of my grandfather’s sisters and her husband had a beef and swine producing farm in the southwestern part of the state. The Dept. of Agriculture people came in one day, informed them that there were cases of swine cholera in the county, and destroyed the entire herd of pigs, burying them in a huge trench.

    My relatives received some kind of settlement later, but the shock was so bad that my uncle had a heart attack soon after, and didn’t live more than a year or two. The family believed the herd kill also killed him.

    People removed from the land are also detached from the deep emotions and personal identity invested in farming and caring for animals. For the city dweller, it’s all just cuts of meat in a grocery store cooler, impersonal and anonymous.

    It would be interesting to track the health, physical, emotional, and otherwise, as well as the financial repercussions of the recent cattle kill.

    My guess is that there will be significant effects for many of the farmers and ranchers involved, not just because of financial loss, but also because of an emotional commitment to their herds well being.

  4. Veryretired – I think that is correct. Although the livestock is being raised for consumption, the farmers I have dealt with are attached to their herds. Small anecdotal observation, but there it is. Living out here for a bit now, I am impressed by the comraderie. When a farmer got injured recently everyone helped at his place with chores and such. There was not really a question, we just did it. And one day last Spring I came home and a bunch of my work was mysteriously done. His way of saying thanks.

    As you said, most city dwellers who have no experience with this sort of thing have no clue how all that protein gets on the shelves. It is a good story.

  5. Rugged individualism and being neighborly didn’t originate in the urban areas. Most if not all of the traditional positive characteristics associated with America were birthed in our frontier and established rural communities. If there will be a salvation for our country, it will come from the same. Thanks for the post.


  6. “most city dwellers who have no experience with this sort of thing have no clue how all that protein gets on the shelves. “

    Not just protein Dan, but we have no clue as to how any of our calories got to the table. As a city dweller I admit as much. Coincidentally enough, I just put on hold from the library “The Land was Everything” by Victor Davis Hanson. On my way to pick it up right now.


    From a fictional standpoint I recall Mel Gibson’s “The River” as an interesting depiction.

    And finally, Mr. Paul Harvey.

    “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say,’Maybe next year,’

  7. Jason in LA – the logistics and effort required to get all of those calories from flyover country to the coasts are interesting, to say the least. I find it a fascinating topic. Thank god the us has a robust rail freight system.

  8. Jason, that can be applied to almost everyone in the US when it comes to the basics of life. Most folks just assume that gasoline comes from a pump or electricity from a light switch with absolutely no clue on how the product is produced and transported.

    Dan, that is one reason why all the high speed passenger rail projects are doomed to failure. You can run slow freight trains on much less maintenance intensive rails and that is what our entire rail system has been optimized for since the train companies dropped passenger service in the early 1970’s. Amtrak spends huge sums to make sure that they can run passenger trains of some of these lines at speeds up to 3 to 4 times what a freight train will run.

  9. One of the unfortunate ideas that has become an unexamined part of the conventional wisdom is that all questions should be answered by disinterested parties, regardless of technical complexity or economic repercussions.

    While this approach may have merit in certain cases, in general it results in the arbiters being lawyers and, eventually, politicians, neither of which necessarily has any technical expertise in the subject.

    This results in an enormous collection of legalistic rigamerole and wasted time and energy when rules are made for non-technical reasons, and nobody involved can understand the consequences, or refuses to listen to any warnings from automatically suspect “interested parties”.

    Emotional, demagogic nonsense then becomes public policy instead of thoughtful, technically knowledgeable guidelines for future progress.

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