Tremendous Loss

“My buddy lost his best head horse,” the Cowboy says to me the other night, just shaking his head.

We’ve been praying for and thinking about all those out west left to work through the aftermath of one of South Dakota’s worst winter storms, I believe, ever. At least for this time of year.

I’ve got the national news on in the background as I sit down to get to work this morning .. and the local cut in just aired. The images coming out of Western South Dakota now in regard to the loss of livestock are just tragic .. and tough to see.

And it appears quite tough for South Dakota ranchers to know what’s ahead .. and how they’ll recover.

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Courtesy – Mitchell Republic

From KBZK:

“One rather morbid story was that they could simply find their cattle by following the trail of dead carcasses,” Williams said.

An SDSU Extension Beef Specialist, Ken Olson said, “It’s devastating. I’ve had some tearful conversations. They’re having a hard time. Some of them know that it’s going to put them out of business. It’s very hard.”

Olson says the impacts of the storm are magnified because ranchers had already suffered through a drought that reduced the size of their herds and their bottom line.

But the damage caused by this storm goes far beyond economics. It hurts these ranch families on a deeply personal level.

“It’s personal. Yup, it’s personal,” Williams said.

Williams and other ranchers feel their losses one by one as they pick up the scattered carcasses. Some will be processed for byproducts, others buried or burned.

Williams said, “It’s a hard chore. And it’s only beginning.”

Officials are telling ranchers to carefully document their losses for possible financial assistance.But with most federal offices closed in the government shutdown, it’s unclear what help might come, and when.

…………..

My heart, along with so many others – I know ..  goes out to the families facing so much loss. My heart and head right now however can’t stop imagining what those cattle, horses and other livestock lost must have been going through. The Cowboy just gives me the look at times, you know the one that many of us get, because we have such soft hearts for any animal. I slept outside one night earlier this fall to watch over one of our own steers who was sick and we were worried was too weak to perhaps even make it through the night. While he does everything he can always to take good care of our herd, he wasn’t sure why I slept outside or what I could further do about it from there versus the comfort of our own bed 50 feet away. I simply wanted to be there for him if he did pass or if there was some way I could help because personally, I would never want to go through it alone.

That being said, I can’t imagine the stress and fright these animals were going through this past weekend, wandering aimlessly through the storms and essentially getting stuck and freezing to death. The images, based off of what we’ve heard from friends and family out there, just keep playing through my head. Death at some point for us all is inevitable but we now know how we die makes an incredible difference in the entire experience, for those passing and for the rest of us as family. And these cattle in many ways, are part of these families lives and livelihoods.

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Tuko

I received a package in the mail this week. I can’t wait to tell you about it. Seriously. What arrived is like the best thing since sliced bread. Especially for those of you with animals. That might ever mark in the house. Or on things that aren’t the lawn or the litter box.

But it’s too nice today in South Dakota (and a lot of other places it seems) to sit inside and write or work any longer. I’ve done it most of the day, working for others and I’m ready to get outside. I did want to share though, the following because it’s had me laughing all week.

We’ve got this awesome donkey, Tuko.

Tuko

Tuko

Tuko has been figuring a way out of the field we typically have him in, all week. None of the others in the herd have tried or found a way. He has. There is an abundance of water, shelter and food in this particular field. He’s preferred to sneak out and go hide in the barn. In the shade. Away from the heat.

When he’s rested up, he comes out and either finds me or hangs out close to the house and waits until I come out. He then follows me (or anyone else that might be here) around as long as I’ll let him. Like he’s one of the dogs.

Tuko 2

The Cowboy just laughs. “Leave him out, he doesn’t go anywhere,” he says to me. “As long as he has some water, he can eat the grass.”

I keep putting him back in. Because I don’t want him heading down the road or getting lost for days in the corn fields. Like say, our cattle might have done a week or so ago. Maybe.

While it’s been frustrating and we think we know where he’s escaping, it’s also been incredibly entertaining. And the dogs this week, I do believe, feel like they’ve gained a new bud.

Dogs

Thick

The recent heatwave has brought along with it a heaviness in the air. This morning, it was almost palpable in Eastern South Dakota ..

Morning Fog

Morning Fog

While I know days like today create a lot of problems for; people with trouble breathing, travel .. oh, I don’t know, surveyors I’m guessing .. I love days like this (on occasion). There is so much beauty and almost a mystery in days like today. These are some of my favorite to visit places like our national parks. Or, just stay home.

Waiting on the School Bus

Waiting on the School Bus

Heavy Frost ..

The first thing I do usually when I wake each morning here in South Dakota, is look out one of our east facing windows.  I think I have just about always done the same wherever I have lived, I love the morning sun and the promise of each new day.  But for reasons I am about to share, the sunrise here is just different, and I appreciate each and every one I am able to enjoy.

The past 15 years of my life in Madison, WI there were typically neighbors homes or trees blocking the view and the sound of cars whipping by a busy road accompanying any morning light.

My time in Montana is perhaps the best comparison.  As you can imagine, there were magnificent views in each direction and a bold skyline of snow capped mountains, rich green forests, clear ice blue rivers, and deep shadows in the valleys, all soaking up the sun as it would rise in the sky.  But the sunrise would come in beautiful stages.

Here, it is instant it seems, the first crack of light is far and wide, like a fire spreading across the horizon.  It is sincerely unlike any other I have ever experienced simply because, if for no other reason, there is nothing to block your view (well, maybe the power lines) as far as the eye can see.

Sunrise in South Dakota

Late Morning Sunrise in South Dakota

While this morning once again did not disappoint – 6:45 a.m., deep shades of pink, orange, yellow and bright blue were mingling together across the horizon – there was one thing blocking the view.  At least through one window.

Frost on the Window

Frost on the Window

While I know the sheer amount of frost here is not good for the wood frames and a clear indication we need new windows/better insulation/etc (a project we plan to tackle in coming months) I tried to ignore that for the time being and soak in the moment.

The pattern of the frost was a bit mesmerizing and I loved the first light of dawn shining through.

Playing with Camera Filter

Playing with Camera Filter

Wind Break

Today’s snow came early, was heavy, wet and fell fast.  The Interstate is closed to our north, to the west and throughout much of the state, officials are asking people not to travel.

Break From the Wind

Break From the Wind

We made it home just before noon and are bunkered down for the day.  But I had to run and grab a few pics when we pulled back into the drive.  It’s the first time I’ve seen the herd all lined up along the tree and fence line in an effort to get relief from the South Dakota winds.  Beautiful.

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February Snowstorm

Frozen Nose Hair ..

Yes.  That is how cold it remains.

You know those days, don’t you?  Days where all you have to do is step outside the door and instantaneously, eyelashes have icicles and nose hair is frozen.

If not, I’d say consider yourself lucky.  But, we live where we do because we love weather like this, don’t we?  It’s dinner in the crock pot weather.  Good stout beer weather.  Make a fire weather.  Bundle up on the couch with the kids in a big blanket and watch a movie weather.  Those are good things about it being too cold to do much else.  Either way, as the snow moves in this fine February day, here’s to hoping this is the last day of this bitter cold snap for 2013 .. we’re waiting on spring!

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(Thought a shot of Gracie’s whiskers was better any day, than a shot up any of our noses.)

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

 

Work hard, play hard .. playing catch up:

It’s been a busy past couple of weeks ..  spring/early summer always seem to be anymore, don’t they?  Good busy, but whew .. busy.

So much to do ..  projects to get done, events to go to, family and great friends to see and get caught up with, especially now that the windows are open once again and the neighborhood has once again come alive!  Sadly, there never seems to be enough time to just let it all soak in and fully enjoy.

But we try.

In an effort to get somewhat caught up on posts without having to write two weeks worth:

First official week of summer.  6th grade here we come!  Downtime for my daughter means  coming home to concoctions in the refrigerator that are unidentifiable but that she says she wants to eat.  Friends high school/college graduation parties.  Family graduation parties, too.  Family gatherings.  Time at the River.  Gigs.  Practicing guitar.  Catching up with old friends.  Work.  Camps.  Catching up on meetings.  Taking on new projects.  Wrapping up old ones.  Watering the garden.  Trying to fit in a workout.  Time in the backyard with the neighbors.  Chasing my dog back home. Time with the Cowboy.  Time with his kids.  More gigs.  Seeing my daughter off to camp (she’s so excited, more to come on that mañana).

Getting back to church.  Special projects at work.  Golf events in the name of good causes.  90+ degree heat.  No air conditioning at home.  Father’s Day bbq.  Farmers Market.  New phone.  Not liking new phone.  Trying to figure out how to get photos off new phone.  Trying to find time to take new phone back and return for another new, different phone.  Trying to fit in another workout (longer than the one before because I didn’t leave enough time for a good hearty one that’ll work off the beer I so enjoy having, especially on a hot summer night).  Looking for the right wedding dress.  Telling family/close friends that I’d prefer hear from me that I’m getting married .. that I’m getting remarried.  Still trying to find the right wedding dress in part, because I don’t really want a wedding dress.  Just a nice dress that I can wear again that won’t cost me really much at all if anything.  In fact, my favorite choice so far is an awesome crocheted piece I got at a resale shop a couple years ago now for $10.  I digress .. Tonight, conversations with the Cowboy centered around trying to find just the right bible versus for what will be a very quiet, simple ceremony, while having a glass of chilled white wine.  Which means, I need to fit in a workout tomorrow morning before leaving early for work and a day of shoots for the upcoming month of sweeps.  That’s my deal with myself.  I can have a beer or a glass of wine as long as I get in a run at some point during the day.  How’s that for a pact.  The pounds, as some of you know when you age, don’t come off as easily as they used to .. so I’d rather not get incredibly far behind.  Or I’ll develop a big behind.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that ….

The Cowboy’s daughter said to me this weekend as we were all doing cartwheels on the Capital lawn during the Farmer’s Market .. ‘not too bad for a 40 year old!’.  “Gee, thanks” I told her, trying to act frustrated but could hardly keep back from laughing.

(last couple weeks cont.) .. oh yeah, few more things to add and then feeling more caught up.  Also been consumed with Root beer.  Ice cream.  Kayaking out on the lake amongst all the weeds.  Stand Up Paddleboarding with a woman I absolutely adore.  Trying to figure out how to do yoga on a paddle board.  Wine after paddle boarding.  Finding a bike in the lake while climbing a tree.  Larry who’s not really Larry but who was awesome at helping my daughter pull seaweed out of the tires of the bike and clean it off so that we could put it in a friends car (the paddle boarder!).  Which reminds me, need to go pick that up.  Note to self.

Tying up out of control tomato branches so rest of garden can breathe.  Fans in the window again.  And again.  Sunflowers on the table.  Conversations about faith and family and doing what’s best.  Or what we believe is best.  Making tough decisions.  Keeping those close to the vest for now.  Talking with a friend who’s mother’s cancer is progressing.  Madison Children’s Museum.  Making soap.  Not going to the Union.  Birth father stopping by and getting to better know some of my half siblings (who are just incredible kids).  Raspberry pie.  And shortly .. will be putting shoes by the door so I can boogie on another quick run in the morning and not spend time trying to figure out where I last left one or both of them.  Or do I just get on the road to today’s golf outing.  Love that someone came up with the idea to get people to golf to support great causes.

Excited to write about camp tomorrow ..