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January 26, 2010 06:00 PM

Ranchers Adapting Without Electricity

Power crews in the Northwest are making progress on restoring electricity to hundreds of people in rural South Dakota. Some ranchers have made changes to adapt to several days without power.

While he's still using a tractor and not a horse to get around his field, some day-to-day operations have taken a step back in time on Dave Haines' ranch.

"We've gotten so dependant upon electricity, everything we do from the water for our cattle and everything is done with electricity so, it's been a challenge," Haines said.

It's day five without power in this part of Meade County. That has forced Haines to change his schedule so his equipment is ready at daylight.

"The tractor, usually when it's cold, has to be plugged in, so I have a little generator I usually get up around 5 in the morning and start it and let it run to warm the tractor up," Haines said.

It's also changing the way his livestock stay hydrated. While they usually drink from a water tank, no electricity means no well pump. They're now being led elsewhere.

"We just took a chainsaw and chopped a hole in the dam down in the creek. They'll have to drink out of that until we get the juice back on," Haines said.

Because their water source has changed, Haines has changed the location where he feeds his cattle, as well.

"It took them a couple days to learn because the cows I have have never had to drink out of a dam in the wintertime! But they've gotten used to it," Haines said.

Used to the changes that come when the flow of electricity doesn't.

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