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West River Ranchers Start Fresh

January 25, 2014, 10:00 PM by Kevin Woster

West River Ranchers Start Fresh

It was a day of fresh starts -- for cattle, and for those who raise them.

At a wind-blown feedlot near Nisland, donated heifers from across South Dakota and other states arrived in trailers and trucks to help those whose herds were hit hardest by the storm.

For recipients Brady and Casey Carmichael of New Underwood, the gifts will keep on giving.

We lost about 40 percent and being a small herd each one matters as much as any other one," Brady says. "And being given this gift just helps recoup in a way that you didn't think would happen."

The Heifers for South Dakota program uses the feedlot owned by former state Rep. Tom Brunner to receive and distribute donated cattle. The North Central Resource & Conservation Development Association acts as a charitable pass-through group so donors can get tax benefits.

Recipients say the benefits are all theirs.

"It's a fantastic gift, and there's never any words or anything we could ever do to repay them, but hopefully some day we can do that," Casey says.

Twenty-one-year-old Kolby Lonbrake of the Bridger area lost almost half of his first herd of 100 cows. The eight heifers and two older cows he received will help keep is ranching dream alive.

"People that do this do this because it was what they were raised on. It's how they grew up. It's a pretty good way of life."

On a day colored by human kindness, it's pretty hard to argue.

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