Animal Care is a 24/7 Job

by Mike White

Those of us in agriculture know that our animals are the center of our lives.  We are constantly checking, watering, and feeding them to ensure their good health. It is a common occurrence for ranchers to bring new born calves into the house to warm them after a cold February birth. For dairymen to hand feed calves until they’re strong enough to be on their own.  For horse owners to spend hours walking their favorite mare who is battling colic.  This compassion is so common among the agricultural community and yet, because it happens behind the scenes, we don’t get the credit we deserve from the general public.

Until something like Goliath comes along. The storm was huge and historic. Farmers and ranchers heeded the warnings of the weather forecasters and tried to prepare for the epic storm.  Ranchers set out hay, and dairymen stocked extra feed.  Windbreaks were created with bales of hay and equipment was strategically placed to provide shelter.  But in the end, the magnitude of the storm overwhelmed all safeguards. Hurricane strength winds created drifts that engulfed barns, homes, people and animals.  But true to their spirits, ranchers and dairymen began recovery work as soon as physically possible. Paths were plowed so that ranch cattle could reach water, herdsmen set out to find sheep and dairy families stayed up round the clock to feed and milk their cows. Countless hours and sleepless nights were spent caring for the animals in their charge.

The Dairy across the road is still trying to overcome the disastrous effects of death loss, continuing health issues and production loss. The livestock on winter pasture and ranches had to be gathered in some places, water and feed hauled for days and in a lot of cases just trying to locate livestock was a chore. Several barns and buildings were damaged.  Local farmers and ranchers cleared roads to allow access for everyone.  If farmers and ranchers were not tending to business and their livestock in rural areas the clearing of roads would have taken a lot longer. Neighbors checking on neighbors to make sure everyone was taken care of is a norm for these situations, and rural living.

Some of us will have to rebuild lost barns, livestock herds or income, and the aftermath of the storm continues and it will be years before the agricultural community recovers, but the tradition of compassion for animals and neighbors will persevere. And lastly we need to remind ourselves that if we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.