Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Broken Dreams and Hearts On the Western Dakota Prairie

I share this post with a heavy heart for my community.
Many that read my blog are from across the country and globe.
I am grateful for your friendship and support.
I share this to share the story of the hearty people of the prairie 
that need prayers and compassion right now.

I am grateful to live where I do
with my family, my friends, my neighbors.
Neighbors in our country live 5-10-50-100 miles away.

Our community has never seen this.
Never a blizzard with such devastation.
Never so early in the season.

Ranching families across the prairie
are experiencing the trauma and loss like never before.

The loss of livestock is shocking to the core.
Our hearts are raw.

Driving the roads with ditches filled with dead cattle
leaves us in tears with deep, deep heart ache.
The sight alone is truly gruesome and traumatizing.
Airplanes are flying over to find those dead and those alive
because people simply cannot travel through the oceans of drifts.
People have to document the losses for proof.
Taking photos of dead livestock is painful.

There is financial loss, yes.
But much deeper than that . . . 

Cows and calves have died.
Most of the cows were pregnant with baby calves inside.
That is three generations.  Gone.
Many of the cows on a ranch have been raised right there by families,
and so was that cow's mother, and her mother. 
The "grandma-cows" go back generations.
You don't just simply go "buy new cows" and start over.
The foundation is removed.
The legacy.  The years.  The work.  The love. The faith.
It takes years of work and faith to grow a herd . . . to raise healthy, quality cattle.
It takes decades.

Spring will be missing the bawling of many baby calves and the gentle moo of their mamas.

Our lifestyle is not simply economical,
although that aspect is huge.

Everyone who has lost jobs and is working through debt
on a wing and a prayer,
knows the mental and spiritual and emotional struggle.
It does not matter what business you are in,
hard economic times are hard times on families deep within your heart.

As electric power starts to return bit by bit,
we start sticking our heads out and communicating with the rest of the world again.

We look for bits of hope.
The news of a family who has found live cattle
brings rejoicing.
Freeing live tree branches from snow banks 
to reach toward the sky again,
feels life-giving.
Finding life.
Clinging to each other.
Texting because we don't have good cell service to hear a voice
becomes life-giving connections to loved ones.
Yesterday, as I saw live cattle,
I wanted to wrap my arms around their neck and kiss their faces.
I have never felt that before.

We pray for each other.
Talk through it.
Text through it.
Can't wait to see each others faces
and feel arms of love wrapped around each other.
For now, distance separates us,
but love for each other and our lifestyle
bonds us together.

A sister-ranching-friend of mine sent me this verse via facebook
which I am just now receiving as my electricity returned.

I pass it on to you.

It describes the one hope that we can continue to cling to always
because everything we hold in this world can be lost.

Though the fig tree do not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like deers’ feet,
he makes me tread upon my high places.

Habbakuk 3:17-19

May we grasp for God to give us hope and life and strength and each other
through this time.

Sending love and prayers
to my community.


If you want to know more and have questions,
here are a few more articles and posts by Tri-State Livestock News:

Storm Atlas takes its toll,

perseverance will remain

and from Dawn Wink:

The Blizzard that Never Was – and its Aftermath on Cattle and Ranchers 

and from Rapid City Journal:
Tens of Thousands of Cattle Killed In Friday's Blizzard

South Dakota Stockgrowers and SD Cattlemen and SD Sheepgrowers have all 

came together

along with the Black Hills Area Community Foundation have established the 

SD Rancher Relief Fund.  

You can find it on FB and the website is


Here is my post on how we are doing in the aftermath:
Moving Forward With Character & Hope

Communication helps. 

Every word of encouragement to people helps. 

I have always felt like leaving a message 
on facebook or a blog comment was so insignificant, 
but it is not. 
To finally return to electricity 
and turn on the computer and have my inboxes filled 
with encouraging comments of love and prayers is so, so helpful. 

But also to see that there is nothing reported on the national news is disheartening. 

I know we are private people here in our area 
and it is a raw and tender place to tread with reporting, 
but I believe in telling the story.  

As we share our stories, compassion is built elsewhere and kindness is shown.

Thank you so, so much for kind words! 

We have been fortunate, 
but so many in our community have not.

Please continue to pray and extend compassion 

to our ranching community here in Western SD who have lost so much. 

Every encouraging word helps.  

Share in the comments and I will pass them along.  Thank you.


  1. With every story I read about SD, my heart breaks more and more. I am so sorry for your loss. It's such a huge, devastating loss that will take years to heal from, I'm sure. Please know SW Colorado sends you love and prayers of hope and healing.

  2. Your "How can you help?" link isn't working...

    1. Thanks for your kind words!! It is so appreciated! I will fix the link.

    2. Seems the traffic on the How Can I Help post is too high right now, so check back later...

  3. I'm sure it wasn't easy to share your raw feelings but you did so beautifully and brought me to tears.
    I grew up on a cattle farm in Kentucky and my heart has been breaking for the ranchers in your region since the news first broke. Kentucky's cattle farm families are keeping you all in our prayers. Stay strong!

    1. Celeste, thank you for your kindness and your prayers. Grateful to the Kentucky cattle families.

  4. To know this hits so close to home to Friends we call Family , Thinking of you Jodi , Jim , Phil And Linda and all of the Ranchers and Farmers West River. We are sending lots of Love & Prayers your way !

    1. Sharen, hugs to you my friend. It is a good land of people we live with here, and this is so, so tender and so deep. This will leave a mark on the land and ranching families of western SD forever. Thank you for your compassion and care.

  5. I grew up in South Dakota and still have friends there. It is difficult to sit and read this. My heart aches for all of you who are going through this season. My prayers are with all of you for strength, patience, and peace and to once again be able to lift your hands and hearts in joy.

    1. Rose, grateful for your words written and prayed over this community.

  6. Oh, Jodi, I didn't know until I read your blog just now. I am so sorry. So sorry.

    1. Joan, thank you. Thank you for passing the word. So many have no idea that this even happened over the weekend. The storm also sparked 9 tornadoes in Iowa and Nebraska devastating the town of Wayne, NE. As the snow melts, it feels like the impact sinks deeper.

  7. Things of your family! We raise cattle in Iowa and I can only imagine what you are going through. Working on sharing this one my different facebook pages and twitter. We need the national media to start talking about this! You need all our support.

    1. Thank you so much Crystal! Much appreciation!!

  8. The nation may be doing a crappy job at spreading your heart breaking story but the prayers and thoughts will spread nation wide if I have anything to do about it! Definitely a must read story ! I come from a crop and small cattle farm in SE Minnesota and I know things don't look bright at home but I can't even imagine what the Western communities are growing through! I admire you guys for keeping your faith and strength thus far! Thoughts, prayers, and hugs are sent westward for sure!!

    1. Elizabeth, thanks for your fiery spirit, thoughts and prayers. The support is such a build up for our community!

  9. My heart goes out to y'all. We worked on ranches in south dakota for 2 1/2 years and it breaks our hearts to see this happen. Our hearts and prayers are with y'all!!!

    1. Oh, thanks so much! Your words are an uplifter!

  10. Jodi, I shared this blog post in a few places today as I read it on my phone but am just getting to comment now. Your words made me cry and pause. It was God's perfect timing we met during the storm and now are connected. Keep sharing this story as hard as it is because more need to know about the legacy lost in ranch families from South Dakota from this great storm. Thank you again for sharing your story and voice.

    1. Katie, I am so grateful for our new found friendship and all of the support you have given me over the past week. God's timing for sure. You have been a huge blessing! Thank you for your support you are giving to SD Ranchers through AgChat and your blog!

  11. I grew up on a ranch in Western South Dakota, south of Kadoka in what was then Washabaugh County. Most of my family is still there ranching. What you said is all so true. Our hearts break for those who have lost so much. Many of the breeding lines of these beautiful cattle have been in the families for generations, not just of the cattle but of the families. When we think of great, great grandparents who started it all and now those children are the ranchers and how to pass this legacy to their own children and grandchildren it is heartbreaking to see it gone in an instant. I saddens and angers me that there is so little media coverage of this but yet when a storm hits the East or Gulf Coasts it is in the news for days or weeks, It is shameful that the national media seem to think that the west-central part of this country doesn't exist or count for anything. I hope when there is shortage of meat in the markets in coming months the rest of the country will begin to realize just who it is that keeps the world fed.,,Family farms and ranches. Bless you for shaing this, I hope it goes viral and people start to realize that snow storms can be as devastating as a hurricane, earthquake or other natural disaster.

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  13. Even though ranching isn't my life, my heart breaks and tears are shed as I read these stories and listen to people share their experiences and losses. I can't imagine the pain and feelings of devastation that the people in the western part of South Dakota are feeling. Many people say, "they are just cows." Maybe so, but what these cows represent to each family and rancher is something so much more than that. None of us know what you are feeling, unless we are walking in your shoes but be assured that people across South Dakota are praying for you and wrapping their arms around you. May God comfort you and provide you with peace during your time of loss.

  14. As a fellow beef producer (Culbertson, MT) my heart breaks for you guys. These cattle become part of our families since we spend so much time with them throughout the year, and are part of our livelihood. Sending prayers to your family and every other producer in the area.

  15. I was just in the Black Hills riding an endurance race a few days before the storm. My heart aches for the loss of life and lively hood. As we gather our cattle out of the Sandhills this weekend we will think of you and wish you peace. Will try to help anyway we can. Words seems not enough. I am sorry.

  16. Thoughts and prayers. This is devastating for your families, communities and the entire beef community. May you all seek God's comfort and peace.

  17. Oh Jodil...I had NO idea this happened. I knew there was a fact when I hear I immediatly thought of you...but never your precious livestock and the fact that soooo many would be injured and die. I am truly and deeply sad for all of you. I am sure you don't know this about me and my family because I have never blogged about it...but I own my Dad's family farm...been with us for over 100 years...1,000 acres. I inherited it after everyone in the Jackson family died...I am an only child and grandchild. Anyway...we have black angus cattle so I understand what you are takes years and years of love and nurturing and work to raise cattle. This is so devastating. I will pray and pass this along. You did a beautiful job of posting this. Your words always speak to the heart.


  18. What trauma to have happen in the early fall, so unexpected! I hear you and am praying. May you and your family and community be so covered in God's grace during this hard time. I don't know the reasons but you and I both know who is in control. Hang on...xoxoxo

  19. oh no... this is just heartbreaking. thank you for sharing your story, sharing your heart. we stand beside all of you in prayer.

  20. I am deeply saddened by the storm that hit our SD neighbors. Many people do not understand the ravages of an early blizzard. Thanks for sharing, if everyone shares on social media the word will get out. Sending a hug from Minnesota:)

  21. Jodene--so beautifully said, As a rancher (Nebraska), I share your grief and sorrow and am daily crying and praying with and for all my suffering neighbors and the animals in their care. I assure you that I feel deeply the sense of loss of each precious animal--and not for its economic worth so much as my love for them as God's creatures. I said to my niece ( a city girl in Lincoln who can't stop crying either), that I wonder if, in some strange unknown-to-us cosmic way, our suffering now can reach back in time to last week and somehow soften the misery of the horrific ordeal that the sweet animals endured in that disaster. All things are possible with God, so I hope that's true. Still, our hearts and heads ache with the magnitude of the misery. Thanks for your post and God bless each and every survivor---two- and four-legged. May the moms who lost calves and the calves who lost moms be found and cared for, and may their anxiety of loss be short-lived. May your lives be enriched by the outpouring of love from each other and strangers from afar,

  22. Jodene, my heart breaks for all that you and those in your part of this great country is going through. Sometimes it is almost harder to get passed a nature disaster like this - when there is no one to blame, no one to be responsible, no one to explain. I can only imagine how horrible it is to find cattle as your describe in your post. My friend, I will gladly spread the word and share you story. I am thinking of you and praying for you, and will do whatever I can to help. Big hugs.

  23. I am sickened by your losses, I have ranched most of my life and totally understand the generational loss that has occurred, back in 95-96 we lost over 200 head of ewes in northwestern South Dakota in a situation much like this, like you said, it wasn't the profits I saw buried in the snow, it was the loss of life & years of raising them, I can't tell you enough how heart broken I was to see this happen to my home state, any state for that matter, I pray for you all, I pray for the lost lives, animals feel the pain too, to think of them wandering, looking for a safe haven, it's just so heartbreaking, Know this, South Dakota is made of strong people, although it doesn't feel like it now, you will all get through this, you will heal, new calves will be born, & the blood lines will thrive, in the meantime, my heart & prayers go out to everyone.

  24. I am so very sorry to only read about this via a link sent! We get to hear about some stupid Stars life, yet they ignore a portion of our USA! God Bless you and your family to stay strong and help everyone heal with their friends and family's faith.

  25. I'm so, so sorry to hear of this devastating loss. Please know that people in California are praying for you all.

  26. Wow, you are right, this really hasn't made the news. The storm itself has, but not these losses. So very sorry. Keeping you all in my prayers.

  27. Oh, Jodi, this is the first I've heard of this and I am so sorry for this devastating loss. There seems to be so much pain all around us lately, and it's just made us so weary. Will be praying for you and your community.

  28. Sending prayers and love and some warm sunshine to help melt the snow away.

  29. May God watch over those who are hurting and give you strength. As a ranch kid and now a farm wife I understand the feelings of animal loss. Also know that the people of the Midwest are hardy, caring people who are from tough pioneer/homesteader families who have deep roots in the land and all that it offers. Your words are beautifully written and I am so glad you shared them with us. Prayers from Nebraska.

  30. Your story, your photos, help us to comprehend the widespread loss(es) in eastern WY & west river SD. Because of several friends and dear Christian families in the two state area, have we been aware of your sorrow and tragedies. I found this blog through Face Book. I posted Hab. 3:17-19 on my Face Book page asking for prayer for South Dakotan's. I often think of that Scripture at Thanksgiving. But as I read it in my Bible that morning, it spoke volumes for our dear friends to the north of us (in Colorado; briefly lived on a ranch near Rainbow Bible Ranch). We have aided in digging out baby calves in a late spring blizzard near Sturgis and thankfully rescued many... May God bless and keep you. Please be assured that you, ranchers and the communities are in our prayers! "Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust." Psalm 16:1

  31. we are east river cattle producers....I have been at this all my life and I understand the sadness of loss but I have never experienced the carnage that you ppl have experienced.
    I am so very sorry this happened.
    please don't stop talking about it; I worry so much that as time goes on and the reality sinks in deeper there will be depression, PTSD, such anguish; please let us all help you, we are here for you anytime.

  32. I am so privileged to share this with the SDG Sisters. Praying for your community, Jodi. And so glad you shared with us so that we can bear the burden with you in whatever way we can.

  33. This is just beautifully written, Jody. And I am so sorry for the losses on all sides. I saw it first at Pioneer Woman and then Jen put this link up to the SDG Sisterhood. I am honored to pray for you all, trusting that God will redeem even this calamity. Peace to you this day.

  34. Jodene, I hold your community and each individual in my prayers. I am grateful that SDG gave us the opportunity to pray with you for so many. I am so sorry. God holds you each closer than you know.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

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