Cyndi's Two Cents
Path of the storm
I was sitting in my living room one evening last week watching the local television station meteorologist pointing to the locations along the route of the storm where baseball sized hail, seventy mile per hour winds and dangerous lightning had been spotted. The path of the storm, which had “areas of rotation” and had produced several tornadoes, was predicted to arrive at our farm within the next 10 minutes.
I became keenly aware of the number of windows in the old farmhouse as the wind howled and the glass rattled. Our basement is actually a small cellar and the 2 sump pumps might not be able to keep up with the torrential downpour that could come with a storm of the caliber that was predicted. The bathtub is situated along an exterior wall. We do have an interior hallway, lots of pillows and sofa cushions and mattresses, so made necessary preparations just in case.
But it wasn’t only our own lives that concerned us at this time. We had given cattle access to an area on the farm where they could find the greatest shelter from the storm.
As it turned out, we dodged the bullet. The storm, which had followed the predicted path for 2 hours, took an abrupt turn to the north 3 miles before slamming into us, tracking just a few miles north. I saw pictures the next morning of damage done on some friends’ farms within our county. As everyone knows, tornadoes and severe storms can destroy one house in a neighborhood and leave the rest unscathed. I have friends who live near Washburn, Illinois who the week before had watched in horror from their front yard as a tornado roared across their neighbor’s farm, destroying everything in its path. The first concern for these friends was of course, human lives, followed immediately by concern for the cow herd. With downed power lines and trees blocking roads, reaching the cattle was a challenge, but with livestock welfare as a priority the plan was put in place and executed.
On a positive note, several calves were born on my friends’ farm in the wake of the storm.
As stockmen and as human beings our hearts were broken as we saw video and pictures and heard personal accounts of ranchers who suffered the loss of livestock, buildings and other property in the wild fires in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. It was especially heart-wrenching to learn about the loss of life of those who had gone out to rescue cattle and died while doing so.
I cried like a baby when I read about the men and women who, armed with rifles, ventured out onto the burned land on a mission to put dying animals out of their misery. I’m certain the memories of that experience will haunt those who spared cattle and horses of their suffering by shooting them.
Those who say farmers and ranchers mistreat their livestock have no idea the inherent instinct to protect animals in our charge or the overwhelming sense of loss we feel when we lose them.
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