a story of Southern agriculture

Me in South Dakota

We interrupt our regularly scheduled As the Pasture Turns – a fall calving season drama programming to bring you a one month update on South Dakota ranchers and how they are doing after winter storm Atlas blew through.

Actually, it’s a one month update since I first posted about it here.

I’m posting again today because it’s good not to forget what people are going through.  Our culture runs 90-to-nothing.  It takes an intentional effort to remember when a few short weeks feel like ages in information land.  But, I think you may not mind to remember with me…

…because you must be interested in knowing your cattlemen if you’re here.

…because where I’m from we take care of our farmers.

…because you need to know this couple is a South Dakota version of me and my Farmer here in the Southern U.S.

I first saw this video posted at The South Dakota Cowgirl.

Go get your tissues and settle in beside me and my laptop…

Each time I watch this video I am reminded of a cow named “?”.

She had lost her original ear tag, so my Farmer gave her a new one with a “?” on it.  Like I’ve said before, many things around here are real technical…naming things, not so much.

“?” was my “Hope” a few years ago.  She had a hoof injury, so we separated her into a smaller pasture where we could keep our eye on her and where my Farmer could help her with her hoof more easily.

I hurt when she walked.  I wanted her to get better so badly, and though she seemed pretty far gone on that hoof, I was still hopeful.

One day, she seemed to be walking a little better.  Lo and behold, she was at least 100 pounds lighter because she’d had a baby!

That’ll make walking easier!

She was so thin from not being able to graze as much as usual on that bad hoof that I had not noticed her pregnancy.  We had been feeding her extra hay and grain snacks, but still, she didn’t gain weight.  She had a big metabolic process going on inside – baby bakin’!  We never dreamed she would be one of our calving mamas because of how much she was struggling with her hoof injury.

Of course, you mamas know that pregnancy will take what it needs from your body, so since she couldn’t graze enough, the baby calf burned her excess fat in order to grow.

So, there she was one morning, slowly healing hoof, new baby and her milk coming in.  We increased her snacks, so that she would have plenty of energy available for making milk.  Her hoof continued to heal slowly – I mean over months slowly.  But “?” just kept doing her thing – grazing and taking care of her baby.  When weaning time came, her calf put to shame other mamas that hadn’t had hoof problems.  Her baby was big and happy and ready to join the other heifers that hang out here and become mamas when they’re old enough.

I was so touched by the reality that we all carry around a lot of ?’s.  But if we’ll just put one foot in front of the other, do the next thing, and not give up, we are often surprised by our life on down the road.

question mark

Stop. Sigh. Appreciate how God is so communicative via nature.

He had dozens of options for ear tags out there, but “?” came to live in the pasture right outside my window, enjoyed special food and medication, and hobbled her way back to health while also giving life and nourishment to her baby.

And I like to think I limped along toward a worthwhile goal right there with “?” – it was a tough season of my life – but I kept going, and my Farmer helped me not quit and put salve on my hurt heart…and I brought someone else – a friend going through hell – with me because I wasn’t completely wrapped up in my own pain.

Now that I think about it, I did better than I thought I did.  And other people cared more than I could tell at the time.

So, here’s to “?’s” and “Hope” and remembering South Dakota ranchers.

Rainbow Bible Ranch – the Facebook page of the family ranch and summer camp that lost 90 horses in the storm.

Ranchers Relief – well done site

An update on how you’ve helped. – $1,000,000.00!!

Wouldn’t it be cool for them to know as we steam along toward the Thanksgiving holiday that we haven’t forgotten how their normal is incredibly altered this year?!…and that we want to be encouraging – giving them something extra to be thankful for.

I hope you’ll take a minute to encourage our South Dakota Ranchers – with your prayers, kind comments on blogs and/or relief funds.

Emily Grace

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