Following Up on Questions

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To say that I was overwhelmed by the response to my last post would be a big understatement.  All weekend I kept thinking “if I had only known how many people were going to read it, I would have done a better job”.  Actually, if I had known how many people were going to read it I might not have had the courage to hit the publish button.

I want to thank everyone who read and shared the story.  And I want to thank everyone who left well wishes, thoughts and prayers.  Know that they are so very appreciated.

My post came from frustration at comments I had read on other sites regarding the blizzard.  In part, my frustration was that they really did not have a good understanding of the situation but more than that it was the hostile tone that many chose to take.  Over 400 people have left comments on my last post and nearly all of them were very respectful.  There were some that had a different point of view or challenged us to think about things from a different angle but even they, for the most part, were respectful in doing in so.  We can all learn from each other so I don’t mind someone disagreeing as long as they make an effort to be reasonably informed and are respectful.

I split my time between my family’s ranch in central Wyoming and my home in the Twin Cities.  I started my blog a couple of years ago because many of my friends here in the Twin Cities had questions about ranching and I thought it would be a fun way to share stories and pictures of my life “back home” (and to occasionally post embarrassing childhood photos of my sisters).

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I gained a few followers over the weekend and to all of them I would like to say, “Welcome!”  I will be sharing stories about life at the ranch, as well as life in the big city.  If you have any questions please ask.  I will do my best to answer them and if I can’t I can direct you to places to find the answer.  Whether you’re a city kid who doesn’t know the first thing about a cow or a rancher who has a panic attack every time he visits the big city (Dad), I hope we can all get to know one another a little better.  I have a sneaking suspicion that we probably have more in common than we realize.

I have added a page which contains links related to the Atlas Blizzard as well as some general Ranching/Farming/Agriculture blogs and links.  I will try to update it regularly.

Many have generously asked how they might help.  Below are links to organizations that are heading up fundraising efforts and will keep you informed and updated on everything related to this event.  Both Facebook pages also have lots of links to great articles to learn more about what happened.

Atlas Blizzard Ranch Relief and Aid                     Ranchers Relief Fund

My next post will tell the story of what my family did during and after the storm.  In the meantime, if you are interested here are a few stories of what those most affected by this storm have had to endure.

Double H Photography – The Atlas Blizzard In Photos

A video of one family’s loss

A Perfect Storm – The Blizzard of 2013

And to those families who have lost so much, please know are thoughts and prayers are with you.

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13 Responses to Following Up on Questions

  1. cowcrzy says:

    I know how you feel about “had I known I wouldn’t have hit Publish” I felt the need to share your words with my readers and ended up with more people on my blog than I have ever had… It was quite shocking to me. You wrote well and from the heart. It was something people needed to hear and see.

  2. Miss Jan says:

    I could be you. I too live in the city, but now manage the family ranch back home since my dad passed away. I too read the message boards and am aghast, appalled, shocked, dismayed, dumbfounded…. I thought you did an excellent job in responding to the comments (accusations). You managed to speak “ranching for dummies” without talking down or being disrespectful to what I call “city slickers” who have asked me such things (while looking at a photo of an Angus bull) as “How do you know it’s a bull?” My Stetson hat is off to you. 🙂

  3. Kelly Hayworth says:

    Thank you for your last post! I so glad it reached so many. I am one of those that breaks out in hives when I even think of going to the Big City (Rapid City Population roughly 100,000,,,lol) I couldn’t handle the Twin Cities. Thank you also got sharing my album. I look forward to reading your posts.

  4. Roxanne Kukuk says:

    I live on the eastern edge of South Dakota. I realized what a bad storm Atlas was, even though I didn’t know there was freezing rain at the beginning of it. I think you did a great job of explaining just what goes on with ranching and cattle, horses and sheep out on the range. I’m glad you decided to publish. People do not realize just how spread-out the ranches are. The time it takes to bring animals into cover is amazing. And cover does not mean barns. Thank you for your information.

  5. Michael says:

    Well done. Thanks for your thoughtful, informative, and patient writing. I live just east of the Black Hills, and the situation is just as you describe it. Even cattle in well-sheltered areas were lost. The one-two punch of 2″ rain overnight, followed by heavy snow and high winds–it’s amazing anything survived out here.

  6. Robyn says:

    Miss Prettywork,
    I found your blog via blog posts about Atlas. You have done a great job answering questions about the storm and helping people better understand why this was such a huge event to ranchers.

    I grew up raising and showing cattle in Nebraska. I attended SDSU where I met my husband “The Rancher.” We are the 4th generation on his family’s ranch in northwest South Dakota.

    I look forward to following your blog.

  7. Charlie P says:

    You did a truly outstanding job on that other post. I was so impressed by your patient, straightfoward, thorough explanation. I think that storm got buried (pardon the pun) in the gov’t shutdown coverage, and therefore didn’t get as much attention as it usually would have.

    It occurs to me that at least some cattle ranchers are maybe a bit too defensive in reaction to criticism. I can’t really blame them. The ranchers I’ve met are VERY hard working people operating on a small scale. Not only must it hurt when they hear things like “you’re cruel to your animals” or “low federal grazing fees are welfare” or “your meat is bad for health,” and so on, but the individual rancher doesn’t have a public relations consultant on staff. Just like the yo-yo who makes some obnoxious comment, that rancher is a human being, and sometimes with a short fuse.

    This is what impressed me so much about your post. You gathered up the intestinal fortitude to read those nasty comments and boil them down to essential questions to be answered. And then you answered them without any invective, but also without any mushy corporate speak. Really, that post of yours was a masterpiece of its kind. You should frame it or something, ha ha!

    More broadly, I think the people who do our ranching and farming, especially those who are still running family operations, could do a better job of explaining what they do to the city majority who are not just their customers but who, in the main, recognize how hard they work, and appreciate them more than they might know. Sure, there’ll be conflicts, but I think most of them are simply misunderstandings that could be addressed by explaining what ranchers and farmers actually do.

    As you do so, feel no need to speak up for every part of the production chain. I don’t know much about that world, but I know enough to know that the interests of ranchers and, say, the gigantic corporations that buy and then process the cattle, aren’t always congruent, to put it mildly. Which is to say that the rancher gets blamed for the sins of others. But how can city people know it, when there’s so little we actually do know?

    Anyway, I hope these thoughts help. I give my very, very best wishes to you, to your ranching family, and to the American rancher and farmer who feeds us so well. You have far, far more affection and support in this country than you sometimes realize.

    • prettywork says:

      Thanks for your thoughts Charlie and your kind words regarding my post and your well wishes for my family and for ranching families in general. They are truly appreciated. I agree that we need to do a better job of communicating with each other. I think most people just truly have honest questions and are looking for some honest answers. I think that the comments regarding the blizzard probably stung more than usual because the situation was so severe and still so raw for those hit hardest. I am definitely not an expert on the entire production chain, there is much that I don’t know in that regard. Hopefully we can use this event as a learning experience and a chance to open up some better conversations. There’s nothing better than an honest, open, respectful, conversation to develop relationships and learn new things! Thanks again for all your thoughtful comments, they are much appreciated.

      • Charlie P says:

        Oh, heck, I can’t blame you or especially any rancher for being upset by some of the comments. I can imagine how I’d feel if I just spent the 40 of the past 48 hours in a howling blizzard, only to be told I was this and that. Believe me, I wouldn’t have one-tenth of the patience you did, or that many of the ranchers who commented did.

        And yeah, you can’t know everything about every piece of the chain. Which, as it occurs to me, supports something I wrote earlier about the need to be patient (like you were! wow!) with people’s questions and even the carping that comes from a position of ignorance. Not to be TOO polyannish about it, but even unfair complaints can be seen as evidence that what you do matters to people. Maybe the scariest thing would be if no one said anything at all.

        The older I get, the more I know how much I don’t know! I think a whole lot of people in the big cities, especially the big cities of the coasts, simply don’t realize just how freakish the weather can be in the American West. We have these weather channels and fancy weather maps and reliable heating and A/C, and most of us live the vast majority of our lives indoors.

        Easy to forget about the power of nature, especially in the West!

      • Charlie P says:

        Something else occurred to me that’s relevant. For better or for worse (and there are certainly examples of both), we live in a society where people are tough on themselves and tough on each other. “But I did my best” is not generally an acceptable excuse for failure in America, even at those times when it ought to be.

        So maybe some of the nasty comments (which I decided not to look up and read, by the way, so I’m really talking out my hat here) might have been some peoples’ way of saying, “How in hell did this happen,” which is really, “This isn’t supposed to happen. Someone messed up.”

        That was my original thought when I heard about the storm and its aftermath. I thought, come on, what’s up with the forecasters, and come on, how could these ranchers not get their cattle to safer ground, damn it! I think that’s a pretty typical American reaction, and often a laudable one because it tends to make a lot of people careful in advance.

        But in this case, it really didn’t apply, which is where your explanation came in. We’ve got high standards in this country, and that’s USUALLY a great thing. Occasionally, though …

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