SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Many ranchers are still collecting their thoughts and tallying their losses after tens of thousands of cattle were killed in the weekend storm in western South Dakota. Now those personal stories of the devastation are spreading on social media.
"It took us, I believe, until Monday morning to actually get to our cattle to physically check on them ourselves," Scenic, South Dakota rancher Heather Maude said.
Maude recently posted a personal story on beefmagazine.com of how she and her husband found 30 dead cows in their pasture fence line following the storm. Only two of the cattle were theirs; one of the two was the only offspring of Maude's first 4-H heifer.
"This is decades of work on our genetics and our livestock and I love my cows," Maude said.
The Maudes lost a total of 24 head of cattle out of their herd of 100 and their story is now being read across the world; comments are coming in from Europe and South Africa.
Another blog is also bringing the story of western South Dakota to the world. Dawn Wink's post about her parent’s ranch has more than 600 comments in the last two days.
"The response has been overwhelming. It caught fire on Twitter and Facebook and people are sharing and what I'm hearing again and again is, 'I had no idea,'" Wink said.
Wink has been amazed by the prayers and support from across the country. She says when a disaster like this hits, it hits harder because ranching isn't just a business.
"With ranching it's not like a job you go to and you go home. It's an entire way of life. It's an entire way of life often for generations," Wink said.
That's why these writers are sharing the stories of the loss while being thankful for the support that is pouring in.
"It does help. It helps to have someone say they're thinking of you, they're praying for you. It's a devastating blow but we're going to make it," Maude said.
Maude says the losses on their ranch may not be felt right away because they sell calves and didn't lose many of those in the storm; however it will be felt next year because the cows they lost won't be able to produce calves next year.
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