Blizzard 2016…

The blizzard that resulted from winter storm Kayla wreaked havoc on our farm Tuesday and Wednesday.  We received over a foot of snow with winds up to 50 mph.  The worst of the storm passed through from 8:00am – midnight on Tuesday.

Since our day at the feed yard starts at 6:00, we all arrived safely Tuesday morning before the worst of the storm.  My favorite farmer opened up the gravel road between our house and the feed yard with a tractor and I followed behind with my favorite blondes in my 4 wheel drive Tahoe.  We all spent the morning clearing snow, scooping the feed bunks, and delivering breakfast to the cattle.

Trying to walk north into the wind to get to the next bunk to scoop...

Trying to walk north into the wind to get to the next feed bunk to scoop…

Our bunk sweeper broke on the first feed bunk, so we scooped bunks the old fashioned way — with a shovel.  Between our 24 feed bunks, that made a length of more than 3500 feet to be cleared with a scoop shovel both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.  Fortunately, we had the bunks cleared of snow and full of breakfast for all of the cattle by about 10:30am.

Scooping bunks in a blizzard makes for icicle eyebrows...

Scooping bunks in a blizzard makes for icicle eyebrows…

About the time we finished morning feeding, the storm got really nasty and we had some challenges getting feed trucks (and my Tahoe) from the feed yard back to the shop.  Visibility was non-existent and the snow drifts formed so quickly that we could not keep the alleyways open.  It took an hour to get all of us out of the feed yard and less than a half a mile back to the shop having to use the pay loader and the tractor to get “unstuck” multiple times.  At that point, we all rested and ate some chili that I had made Monday night.

Winter storm Kayla dominated all of Tuesday afternoon.  My foreman and his son stayed at the feed yard and were able to reopen the roads and deliver the second feeding of the day about midnight Tuesday night when the weather showed signs of improving.  The rest of us arrived back at the yard about 6:00am Wednesday via tractor and 4 wheel drives to re-scoop bunks, move snow out of the corrals, and help deliver breakfast.

It takes a blend of equipment and people to care for cattle in a storm...

It takes a blend of equipment and people to care for cattle in a storm…This picture was taken after the storm.

Consistently delivering feed is very important during winter storms as the digestion process helps the cattle to remain warm and weather the environmental stress.  It is priority #1.  I am incredibly proud of my crew and my family for their hard work and dedication. The herculean effort that goes into caring for cattle during a blizzard is truly difficult to describe, and the welfare of our animals is dependent on our perseverance.

Below are some pictures from after the blizzard conditions abated.  I have to take my gloves off to take pictures which limits the volume of them …

Scooping bunks Wednesday morning with my special short handled shovel-- the 2nd morning in a row...

Scooping bunks Wednesday morning with my special short handled shovel– the 2nd morning in a row to hand scoop🙂

blizzard2016driftpen17.jpg

Drifts in one of the pens on the north end of the feed yard…

My corral area is completely closed in with 4'+ drifts...

My corral area is completely closed in with 4’+ drifts…

My cowboy dug a heifer out of this drift when she got partially buried...

My cowboy dug a heifer out of this drift when she got partially buried…

I wasn't the only one left wearing icicles...

I wasn’t the only one left wearing icicles…

blizzard2016road2.jpg

The road from my house to the feed yard — the ditches were so full of snow that you could not tell where the road ended and the ditches began…

My favorite blondes playing on a snow pile at the feed yard after helping to scoop bunks...

My favorite blondes playing on a snow pile at the feed yard after helping to scoop bunks…

Wednesday evening's beautiful sunset...

Wednesday evening’s beautiful sunset…

We are all tired and glad that the “emergency” time is over.  It will take at least a week for us to completely dig out from the blizzard, but we are thankful to have come through the event successfully. We did our best to offer care despite Mother Nature’s wrath.  The girls will all head back to regular school tomorrow🙂

17 Comments

Filed under Animal Welfare, General

17 responses to “Blizzard 2016…

  1. The storm sounded like a terrible one. I can only imagine the amount of work that everyone helped with, but as usual, you did a great job!

    • Thank you Lindsay! I hope that we don’t get another one like it for a good decade or more🙂 The last one that I remember being this bad was late November of 2005. We’ve had some smaller ones in between but not of this magnitude. The girls were actually out of school for 2 and a 1/2 days which is unheard of for our town, but the road crews just could not get all of the snow cleared so that the roads were passable. Many of the crews were called off mid-morning Tuesday when it got really bad and did not go back to work until sometime after midnight. I80 and HWY 30 were both closed for more than 24 hours. We were certainly glad for our tractor so that we could get out to the feed yard to work!

      I hope that you are well.
      Best,
      Anne

      • When I moved to Nebraska December 2009/January 2010 Southeast Nebraska kept getting huge snow storms. I thought, wow what have I signed up for?! Luckily not every winter was like that. Stay warm. I am sure your snow boots will soon be mud boots as things thaw.

  2. Jeff

    50 mph winds are for amateurs, at least to Wyomingites.

    • Yeah but you all rarely see that much snow 😉

      Congrats to Gus on his archery tournament — Awesome job!

      Enjoy the wind, you can have it all…

      Anne

  3. Wally McCall

    Unbelievable!

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Your Florida bones would have been cold, Uncle Wally! Thursday (yesterday) morning the temperature read -2. Often after a big snow, once the sky clears of clouds we get a bought of bitterly cold temperatures. It looks like we will be a bit warmer today with temperatures in the 30’s🙂

      We continue to try and clean the feed yard: moving snow and drifts so that the cattle can be more comfortable. There is ALOT of that white stuff — possibly more than I have ever seen…

      Love,
      Anne

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  6. Rex Petrson

    Thank you for the news. 200 miles northwest we were on the back side of the storm; little snow. owever the 1″ of snow fell on hardpack and blew in 30 mile and hour winds into 6 foot drifts. I hope this one completely thaws before you see another storm. Well done to you and all you love.

    • Hi Rex,

      Thanks for the thoughts and information. We are officially ready for summer at the Feed Yard Foodie Farm🙂

      It humbles me to watch the power of Mother Nature. Winter storms are often catastrophic, and bring much hard ship to anyone with livestock. Megan looked at me on Tuesday evening while the storm continued to rage and said, “Mama — is it okay to be mad at God for this storm?”. Life is hard and learning to persevere is what makes us all successful — even though sometimes the lessons are unpleasant.

      I hope that all is well on your ranch.
      Best,
      Anne

  7. Hey Anne,
    Looks like you guys got quite a storm as well. But you have a lot more acreage to dig out then we do. The only time I am glad we don’t have more land. But I hope you are done or close to done clearing out and not too worn out from it. After four days shoveling here I needed a break so a week oh my…. I love the picture of your ice frozen eye brows and the cow with the icicles. It made me feel so bad for you both. I made sure to wear a ski mask and scarf when I went out I was worried about the blowing snow but we were only out a few hours each day a couple times at most so you had to be out a lot longer. I hope you are safe and warm now and everything is getting back to normal.

    • Thank you, Kim! I have a face mask also, but my youngest (Karyn) was wearing it🙂 My eyebrows brought a bit of comic relief among the chores…The girls were a really big help to us, and it was a good lesson for them relative to the fierceness of Mother Nature and how important it is for us to persevere and continue to offer care to the animals that need it.

      We have spent the week finishing moving snow and catching up on all of the other things that need to get done on the farm. The weather continues to challenge us as much of the snow melted and we are fighting mud and ice alternately depending on the day. I am looking forward to the longer and warmer days of spring and summer.

      Hopefully you all are back to normal as well after your big snow🙂
      Take care,
      Anne

  8. Allison Florance

    Nice work! There is such a sense of comradery in all pitching in when there is a natural disaster. Congrats on the good results. I hope that it is a once in a lifetime event for you. If not, nice to know you have it covered with help from friends, family and neighbors. We go through this with our cows/calves when we have a blizzard. It is always a good feeling when you have dug out and it is over.

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