Local cattlemen send helping hand to South Dakota
MT. PLEASANT (GTNS) – Take it from a native South Dakotan, the weather can and does get brutal in the winter.
However, winter came early to western South Dakota this year.
A weekend storm Oct. 4 dumped two feet of snow (accompanied by 60-70 mile-per-hour winds) on western South Dakota, the heart of the state’s cattle country.
The timing and viciousness of the storm caught many ranchers off-guard with some cattlemen losing 50-75 percent of their herds.
Now, the Henry County Cattlemen are stepping up to the plate.
Thom Miller of Winfield, buys his heifers from a South Dakota rancher, who lives in the area hit by the storm (the storm struck Wall, S.D., home of the world-famous Wall Drug). After the blizzard’s devastation was known, the Iowa Cattlemen sent out a mailer to county chapters asking them to donate $2,000 for disaster relief.
The state asked for $2,000 because that is the cost of a replacement bred heifer, Carl Lund, another of the fund-raiser organizers, said.
Miller thought of his South Dakota friend and decided to go one better. Not only are the Henry County Cattlemen donating $2,000 to a neighbor of Miller’s friend, they are hosting a steak dinner fund-raiser at Manning Hall in Mt. Pleasant Friday from 5-7 p.m.
“By doing it this way (through a fund-raiser), we will know exactly who the money is going to,” Miller said.
“Several families and ranchers out there lost a lot,” Miller continued. “If you got hit, you got hit hard. It was not a particularly big area, but losses were high.
He said that ranchers still had their herds on summer pasture and had not moved them to winter quarters.
“The National Weather Service was calling for six inches of now, which is not that unusual out there even in October,” Miller recounted. “Two feet of snow with 60-70 mile-per-hour winds is quite a bit different, however.
“My friend told me that temperatures reached nearly 90 degrees the week before,” Miller continued. “Ranchers in western South Dakota usually move their cattle to winter ground Oct. 15, so if the storm had been two weeks later, they would have been prepared.”
Lund said the South Dakota rancher the Henry County Cattlemen are helping lost around 250 cattle from a herd numbering 300 (the subject is a neighbor of Miller’s friend). Multiplying the loss by $1,500, the average price of each cow, the loss approaches $400,000. Insurance does not cover weather-related livestock losses, the cattlemen said.
“The county chapter wanted to do this,” Lund said. “We thought since we are a cattlemen’s organization we should help our fellow cattlemen.”
“It (fund-raiser) was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing,” Miller remarked. “We just thought we could do better than (donating $2,000) that.”
Miller and Lund said the fund-raiser has received “a pretty decent response.” They did, however, note that it is difficult to get large attendance at an event so close to Christmas.
“There are just a lot of things going on this time of year, but we have had a lot of donations from people who won’t be able to attend,” said Lund.
Hopes were for attendance around 200, but Lund doubts the dinner will attract that many due to competition from other activities. “I am kind of hoping for 150,” he remarked.
“I think our meal numbers may be done, but our donations will be up,” added Miller.
Miller also said that his South Dakota friend may make the 1,500-mile round trip to attend. “He said he is going to try to come but if he can’t, he is trying to get another guy to come.”
Those unable to attend but wishing to donate, can mail their donations to either Lund at 1315 Graham Ave., Mt. Pleasant, Iowa 52641, or Miller at 2129 205th St., Winfield, Iowa 52659.