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Blizzard Catastrophe Kills Tens of Thousands of Cows; Shutdown Leaves Ranchers on Ice
Mother Jones ^ | October 10, 2013 | Tim McDonnell

Posted on 10/14/2013 3:19:18 PM PDT by yoe

Last Wednesday, the weather was sunny and warm at Bob Fortune's cattle ranch in Belvidere, S.D. On Thursday, it started raining. By Friday night, the rain had turned to snow. By the weekend, the snow turned to a blizzard with 60 mile an hour winds. By the weekend, Fortune says, "the cattle just couldn't stand the cold anymore, and they just started dying."

Only a year after sweeping drought left ranchers across South Dakota desperate for feed, this week they're just beginning to reckon with a freak early snowstorm, dubbed Winter Storm Atlas, that wiped out an estimated 10 percent of the cattle in the state's western region, up to 100,000 animals. In the coming weeks they will dig through the mess to try to tally the damage to an industry worth $5.2 billion statewide, that also killed an unknown number of horses, sheep, and wildlife. Fortune, president of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, says losses like this would be enough to cripple many ranchers even in the best of times, especially with the loss of future calves next spring whose would-be mothers were killed. But with the federal Department of Agriculture still shut down, ranchers are cut off from the livestock insurance that would normally keep them afloat following a disaster like this.

"We have no idea if there'll be federal aid for these ranchers," Fortune says.

After catastrophes, livestock producers typically turn to the federal Farm Service Agency's livestock indemnity program, which offers compensation for lost cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens, and other livestock. As long as the government stays shut, FSA offices nationwide will be shut too, leaving ranchers without support. A spokesperson for the state's Department of Agriculture said the most their office can do is offer advice on how to document and carry out a cleanup effort. Even before the shutdown, the insurance program was already threatened by delayed passage of a new federal farm bill, which allots money for a range of food and ag-related programs from food stamps to incentives to go organic. While the shutdown debate rages, the Senate and House are still hashing out the farm bill, leaving the livestock indemnity program in midair.

The weekend blizzard, which dumped up to five feet of snow in some places, was "very historic," according to meteorologist Darren Clabo at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology's Institute of Atmospheric Sciences. Rapid City, the largest city in the state's western half, received the most snowfall ever recorded in October, and the third-highest one-day snowfall for any time of year. While South Dakota residents and ranchers are accustomed to brutal winters, Clabo said, "we don't get these kinds of storms in the first week of October." That means that cattle were still covered in thin summer coats, and left out in exposed summer pastures.

The storm, Clabo said, was the result of a strong high-altitude storm that pushed in quickly from the Pacific, gathered energy over the Rockies, and peaked just over Rapid City. While it's too early to say what role climate change might have played in this particular storm, higher levels of heat trapped in the atmosphere can result in more frequent and severe storms. Last month's IPCC report found it "very likely" that extreme precipitation events like blizzards will increase over this century.

For now, the South Dakota state Department of Agriculture is picking up the slack as best it can, urging ranchers to fully document their losses so they can get aid if and when it reappears, said spokesperson Jamie Crew. Meanwhile, Fortune and his peers will continue to dispose of dead livestock, which state law requires be cleaned up within 36 hours for public health reasons.

"The more snow melts," he says, "the more dead cattle they're finding."


TOPICS: Local News; Weather
KEYWORDS: cattle; globalcooling; motherjones; ranching
Apparently the reason this catastrophe got little press is because of the EPA and their constant drumming up global warming fairy tales.

Raising cattle or growing grapes takes real risk takers and mighty hard workers.

1 posted on 10/14/2013 3:19:18 PM PDT by yoe
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To: yoe

Western SD needs more shelter infrastructure.


2 posted on 10/14/2013 3:22:19 PM PDT by Paladin2
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To: yoe

3 posted on 10/14/2013 3:23:19 PM PDT by JoeProBono (SOME IMAGES MAY BE DISTURBING VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED;-{)
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To: yoe

The average MotherJones reader thinks a single cheeseburger contributes to global warming. This story must leave them horribly conflicted.


4 posted on 10/14/2013 3:29:23 PM PDT by Track9 (hey Kalid.. kalid.. bang you're dead)
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To: JoeProBono

I feel sorry for that poor cow. Leaned on a pole and froze to death, I guess. Wish I knew more about ranching; I would deduce there was no shelter arrangement for the animals where they were. In the older days cowboys would literally walk herds of cattle over long distances and dangers like this were inherent, but I’d have thought in modern times with motor transportation the beef would be kept from freezing till it had been to the slaughter house? Anyhow I “wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.” Surprised PETA isn’t screaming.


5 posted on 10/14/2013 3:30:22 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (The Lion of Judah will roar again if you give him a big hug and a cheer and mean it. See my page.)
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To: yoe

Need a barf bag to read the comments over there at Muthu Jonzes !


6 posted on 10/14/2013 3:30:32 PM PDT by Squantos ( Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet ...)
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To: JoeProBono

This article is exactly why the FRAUDS ON THE LEFT changed from calling their scam global warming to climate change. Mother Jones quoting from the frauds at IPCC is beyond a joke.


7 posted on 10/14/2013 3:31:31 PM PDT by spawn44 (moo)
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To: Paladin2

Seems like it would be relatively cheap for ranchers to build sections of wall or storm fence on the rangeland. It won’t save all the cattle but those who can reach it would probably be OK.


8 posted on 10/14/2013 3:32:35 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: JoeProBono
I've seen cattle like that....if you get to them..and give them some food....their backs and faces will be clear of snow and ice...and they will survive.

I don't think these ranchers up north were prepared....

9 posted on 10/14/2013 3:32:38 PM PDT by Osage Orange (I have strong feelings about gun control. If there's a gun around, I want to be controlling it.)
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To: yoe

Yes, Al Gore warned us that Global Warming could cause Planetary Cooling, but you just have to be a Liberal to understand the concept.


10 posted on 10/14/2013 3:33:31 PM PDT by DJ Taylor (Once again our country is at war, and once again the Democrats h ave sided with our enemy.)
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To: spawn44

Yep. They explain this “climate change”—more heat produces more cold. Who’d have guessed it?


11 posted on 10/14/2013 3:35:17 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Osage Orange

Kind of the sense I am getting. Bare bones operation, no emergency provision for the critters? To be fair, that storm was a freak, and no economic sense carrying around provision for the 1% freak occurrence at a cost of over 1%. (Still if I was a rancher and had the choice, I’d do it because I’d care about the cows. Don’t mind turning them into beef and leather, but want to do it humanely.)


12 posted on 10/14/2013 3:37:25 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (The Lion of Judah will roar again if you give him a big hug and a cheer and mean it. See my page.)
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To: Paladin2
a freak early snowstorm, dubbed Winter Storm Atlas,

So now they're naming snow storms?

13 posted on 10/14/2013 3:40:37 PM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: Paladin2
a freak early snowstorm, dubbed Winter Storm Atlas,

So now they're naming snow storms?

14 posted on 10/14/2013 3:40:55 PM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: Paladin2

>> Western SD needs more shelter infrastructure.

Why do they care if the cattle freeze when the taxpayers bail them out? Building shelters takes effort and money.

Just another example of how government interference in the marketplace — in this case, subsidizing any downside — actually ENCOURAGES scaling up production in unsuitable areas with no provision for cold weather.

Kind of like federal flood insurance encourages building, and rebuilding, and re-rebuilding in flood- and hurricane-prone areas.

If the dxmn government would stay out of it, the market would take care of dumb homeowners (and reckless ranchers) and there’d be less of this crap happening.


15 posted on 10/14/2013 3:57:57 PM PDT by Nervous Tick (Without GOD, men get what they deserve.)
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To: Paladin2

>> Western SD needs more shelter infrastructure.

Why do they care if the cattle freeze when the taxpayers bail them out? Building shelters takes effort and money.

Just another example of how government interference in the marketplace — in this case, subsidizing any downside — actually ENCOURAGES scaling up production in unsuitable areas with no provision for cold weather.

Kind of like federal flood insurance encourages building, and rebuilding, and re-rebuilding in flood- and hurricane-prone areas.

If the dxmn government would stay out of it, the market would take care of dumb homeowners (and reckless ranchers) and there’d be less of this crap happening.


16 posted on 10/14/2013 3:58:03 PM PDT by Nervous Tick (Without GOD, men get what they deserve.)
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To: cripplecreek
"sections of wall or storm fence on the rangeland."

That seems to be what is commonly built, but now too much of it visible from I-90.

17 posted on 10/14/2013 4:00:29 PM PDT by Paladin2
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To: Cicero

>> Who’d have guessed it?

It *is* counterintuitive... but have a hit on this bong and attend that Organizing For America rally and take that university/teevee-station/NGO job, and you’ll get in the groove...


18 posted on 10/14/2013 4:01:05 PM PDT by Nervous Tick (Without GOD, men get what they deserve.)
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To: JoeProBono
Very sad this should be an Obama instead of a little innocent creature of earth.
19 posted on 10/14/2013 4:02:41 PM PDT by angcat
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To: cripplecreek
Seems like it would be relatively cheap for ranchers to build sections of wall or storm fence on the rangeland. It won’t save all the cattle but those who can reach it would probably be OK.

The killing winds and storms come from one direction one day and another day the next.

In addition, the capacity of the rangeland may be as little as 2 or 3 mother cows per section (one square mile).

How do you do that?

20 posted on 10/14/2013 4:03:56 PM PDT by elkfersupper
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To: HiTech RedNeck

That cow/steer is probably still alive, it is standing up. And the cattle in this case were still probably in summer pasture. Cattle hadn’t been sent to market yet or moved to winter pasture. Even in that case, there aren’t barns big enough for many of these operations. We didn’t keep cattle in barns except cows we knew were going to calve or calves. The rest of them were on open range, ranches bigger than cities as I explained the other night.


21 posted on 10/14/2013 4:08:33 PM PDT by ican'tbelieveit
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To: elkfersupper
How do you do that?

Fortunately its not my freakin problem. Farming and ranching is risky.
22 posted on 10/14/2013 4:10:00 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: Squantos
The point is other than the Charlotte Observer, which I lost, there are few articles that tell the story. Mother Jones did not spin this.....Rush did opine that little news of this deadly storm was getting out because of Obama's need for the EPA....this is also mixed up in H. Reid and Obama's Shut Down. Reid has everything he asked for except the money for Obamacare....humungous taxes will be levied on the citizens of this country for this entitlement making nigh onto imposable life without the gov'ment!

Stand your Ground GOP...No Funding for Obamacare....the Unsustainable, Unaffordable Care Act.

23 posted on 10/14/2013 4:14:07 PM PDT by yoe ( Defund Obamacare now — or risk voter backlash in 2014)
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To: cripplecreek
Fortunately its not my freakin problem. Farming and ranching is risky.

Life is risky.

24 posted on 10/14/2013 4:14:55 PM PDT by elkfersupper
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To: elkfersupper

People don’t understand the size/scope.


25 posted on 10/14/2013 4:15:31 PM PDT by ican'tbelieveit
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To: HiTech RedNeck
We have hay and feed available year round........

We have some horrible weather here....but we get to our beef with something to fill their bellies...and we chop ice to water them.

I'm not privy to exactly what happened up there....but we've had bad, bad weather here...and not get those types of losses.

FWIW-

26 posted on 10/14/2013 4:16:58 PM PDT by Osage Orange (I have strong feelings about gun control. If there's a gun around, I want to be controlling it.)
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To: ican'tbelieveit
People don’t understand the size/scope.

Agreed. Maybe they should get out and see where their food comes from occasionally.

27 posted on 10/14/2013 4:18:16 PM PDT by elkfersupper
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To: Nervous Tick

Seriously, Nervous Tick, you haven’t an idea about this business. My family doesn’t take government handouts and has zero subsidies for their ranching business. These are family businesses that span land the size of major cities in the US. All run with just a few vehicles and a minor profit margin, usually put into building fence line or replacing the worn out vehicle that is used to haul feed to the cattle, buy gas, put clothes on the kids.


28 posted on 10/14/2013 4:18:39 PM PDT by ican'tbelieveit
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To: ican'tbelieveit

One rancher I heard here on the local news, said that the cattle were on summer pastures and there were just not enough trucks and time to get them moved. This was a really unusual storm.


29 posted on 10/14/2013 4:18:51 PM PDT by defconw
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To: defconw

Yeap. Summer pasture, rain, wind, snow. Deadly even in winter pasture.


30 posted on 10/14/2013 4:20:08 PM PDT by ican'tbelieveit
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To: ican'tbelieveit

>> My family doesn’t take government handouts and has zero subsidies for their ranching business.

You’re not part of the problem, then. Good luck.


31 posted on 10/14/2013 4:23:15 PM PDT by Nervous Tick (Without GOD, men get what they deserve.)
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To: ican'tbelieveit

People don’t understand just how fast this storm came up and how vast these ranches are and how rough the terrain is. Ranchers care about their cattle. This is heart breaking.


32 posted on 10/14/2013 4:24:04 PM PDT by defconw
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To: Osage Orange

You might not have enough memory to go back, but were you affected by the blizzards in 2005 or so when the National Guard airlifted feed into the cattle because there was so much snow the ranchers couldn’t haul food. That affected SE CO and NE NM.

Were you affected by the blizzard in 1976? I was just a child but still remember snow over our house, I didn’t go to school for weeks, no way to get buses to us. National Guard brought us food, feed for cattle that survived. I remember walking over fences, trees. That was NE NM.


33 posted on 10/14/2013 4:25:39 PM PDT by ican'tbelieveit
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To: Nervous Tick

Most of these people are not part of the problem. Don’t let this magazine or a few whiners color your view of these people.


34 posted on 10/14/2013 4:26:35 PM PDT by ican'tbelieveit
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To: ican'tbelieveit

>> Don’t let this magazine or a few whiners color your view of these people.

Noted, and I’ll keep my eyes open. I’m sure the overwhelming majority of them are good people in a tough situation.

I do know this: farm subsidies are a significant part of the government spending problem.

As are asinine ethanol subsidies consistently lobbied for by the corn belt states.

Corporate welfare is every bit as damaging to our long term survival as is individual welfare.

Let the market work. If raising cattle in the Dakotas is on the balance unprofitable without government support, then the Dakotas is not the place to raise cattle.

It’s harsh, but it’s the truth.

FRegards


35 posted on 10/14/2013 4:33:10 PM PDT by Nervous Tick (Without GOD, men get what they deserve.)
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To: Nervous Tick

If ranching is not profitable in SD or anywhere else it has been historically done, it is not due to weather events like this, but rather government regulation in every aspect of the business world - regulation on care of the animals to taxes on the gas needed for the pickups and trucks.

In CO, the Dems passed a requirement that rural electric coops invest more in renewable energies, driving up the cost for energy for small ranchers and farmers. They don’t let them pull their water from the ground, and now force them to pay more for their energy so that big city critters can pat themselves on the back for saving the environment.

So while we may complain about the subsidies that “farmers” get are too much, the actual numbers in the past have included things like food stamps (just reading that was 80% of what we think of as farm subsidies).

And a good portion of what farmers are getting in subsidies is being taken from them in taxes and other operating costs imposed by the government.


36 posted on 10/14/2013 4:43:49 PM PDT by ican'tbelieveit
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To: ican'tbelieveit

I agree — get government COMPLETELY off our backs.

Completely.

I don’t raise cattle — but I raise forage crop in a county in Texas where cattle outnumber people probably 50 to 1. We don’t have blizzards — our problem is we don’t have precipitation period for too many months out of too many years.

I do have some skin in the game.

FRegards


37 posted on 10/14/2013 4:52:43 PM PDT by Nervous Tick (Without GOD, men get what they deserve.)
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To: yoe
Last month's IPCC report found it "very likely" that extreme precipitation events like blizzards will increase over this century.

Idiots.

38 posted on 10/14/2013 4:53:52 PM PDT by FreeReign
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To: HiTech RedNeck

Cattle will drift before a storm. I’ve seen lots of them facing south against a fence in the Oklahoma panhandle when storms came through from the north.

This was an early storm. Most cattle would still be on pasture for a few more weeks before being moved to a sheltered area.


39 posted on 10/14/2013 4:55:59 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
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To: ican'tbelieveit

And while we’re on the ag issues in the Dakotas — here’s another problem.

Those loveable jackasses with their Scandinavian socialist roots elect too damn many marxist sh!tbags to national office.

Very strange for a people that depend on oil and ag for their livelihood. You’d think they’d get a clue. But, no.

They’ve made their own bed in large part due to the ‘rat bastards they have sent to Washington.

Unfortunately they have helped screw us ALL with their insane Northern European folly.

We Texans don’t suffer quite so much from that form of shooting ourselves in the foot.


40 posted on 10/14/2013 5:01:16 PM PDT by Nervous Tick (Without GOD, men get what they deserve.)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar
Cattle will drift before a storm. I’ve seen lots of them facing south against a fence in the Oklahoma panhandle when storms came through from the north.

I recall driving across Northern Oklahoma after a particularly brutal blizzard in the late seventies-early eighties. The cattle were lined up, facing south, against the fence on the north side of OK-11 west of Medford -- frozen to death.

Back in the days of the Open Range, the "drifting" phenomenon of cattle before a blizzard was a recognized factor in the High Plains. The Panhandle Drift Fences were to help control this factor, keeping the free-ranging cattle north of the Canadian Breaks in the Panhandle.

Panhandle Drift Fence

The linked article notes that, in the Winter of 1884-85, an estimated 200K free-range cattle died when they finally reached the Panhandle Drift Fence.

The incident led to the abandonment of the Free Range and fencing off properties -- which enabled a policy of improving pastures.

41 posted on 10/14/2013 5:29:05 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: Ignorance On Parade)
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To: okie01

It does not require much to shelter a cow. A simple wall of tin is often put up for them to take shelter behind. With some hay, cattle can survive as the hay is broken down in the stomachs by bacteria and produces heat in the body.

Wind is the killer.

Ever notice how buffalo face the wind but cows will turn their tail to it.


42 posted on 10/14/2013 5:52:25 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
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To: Nervous Tick

**Nervous Tick**

Texas Fever tick? Have you been dipped? ;-D


43 posted on 10/14/2013 5:55:21 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
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Comment #44 Removed by Moderator

To: Ruy Dias de Bivar
Ever notice how buffalo face the wind but cows will turn their tail to it.

I've never observed buffalo behavior in heavy weather, so I'm not familiar with what you describe.

A buffalo's tail is comparatively small in comparison with the rest of the body. I wonder if that explains the difference...

45 posted on 10/14/2013 6:15:02 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: Ignorance On Parade)
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To: All

You who think the ranchers should build shelters or snow fencing (what?) may never have lived in the West, probably have never seen, much less participated in, a real cattle drive, do not know what is involved in livestock management, and have no idea of the distances and numbers involved. We are not talking about a run-in shed for half a dozen horses on ten acres. Believe me when I tell you that the ranchers are not uncaring and do not deliberately treat their animals in a cavalier fashion because they think government insurance will cover them. They are not in control of when their animals’ winter coats come in, which is regulated by the length of the days. Finding and driving cattle in huge distances is difficult enough in good weather, but in a blizzard it is not going to happen. Neither horses, trucks, ATVs, nor helicopters (which ranchers often use for serious drives) are going to work in blizzards.


46 posted on 10/14/2013 7:40:11 PM PDT by ottbmare (the OTTB mare, now a proud Marine Mom)
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To: ican'tbelieveit
Ha!! Ya think I can't remember 2005?? LOL!!!

I'm just telling you...around here we've had some hard snows...and hard weather. Most ranchers have 4x4 feed trucks...because the country is rugged. Most ranchers have pellet feeders and round bales....and able top get that feed to their cattle.

I lived in SoCal in '76.........

47 posted on 10/15/2013 10:05:51 AM PDT by Osage Orange (I have strong feelings about gun control. If there's a gun around, I want to be controlling it.)
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To: Osage Orange

No, you aren’t getting blizzards then. We have had blizzards where we are on snow mobiles and the bales and pellet feeders are under the snow. Well under the snow. 4x4s don’t get to these places until a path is cleared or the snow has melted. And you don’t drive in the blizzard, you sit and wait it out and then think about getting out.


48 posted on 10/15/2013 10:41:21 AM PDT by ican'tbelieveit
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