Ranchers determine losses after historic blizzard
MOTT, N.D. (KFYR) - What a difference a week makes.
Last week at this time, North Dakota was in the middle of a historic spring blizzard. Many of the state’s ranchers were also in the middle of calving.
As the snow begins to melt, they’re getting a better look at the damage, and at the losses, from the storm.
The historic blizzard of 2022, captured in cell phone video and photos.
“The wind was just unbelievable,” recalled Carrie Roth.
The video and photos Roth took are also unbelievable. They show cattle trying to escape the wind, low visibility making it tough for her husband, Brent, to feed them, and shoveling huge drifts, just to get to the barn.
“It was an awful feeling,” said Roth, who farms and ranches with her husband, Brent, south of Mott.
The Roths had just started calving when the storm hit and by Wednesday, Brent and Carrie could no longer get to the cattle to check them.
“There was nothing more that we could do so we just kind of said some extra prayers and wished for the best,” she said.
During the storm, they lost just one calf. But as the snow begins to melt, they’re finding more losses.
“It was really stressful on the cows and the calves. Calves are getting sick. Cows are all mixed up from being confined and just, it’s just been a challenge. I guess getting kind of back on track with everything,” Roth said.
The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association has heard similar stories from hundreds of producers from across the state. As the snow melts, they expect the loss reports to increase.
“In many areas there are huge drifts and so livestock that maybe perished might be covered in snow. We have to wait for some time and maybe for some snow to melt reveal some of those losses in many areas that are still inaccessible because of that incredible drifting of snow,” explained Julie Scaff Ellingson, executive vice president of the ND Stockmen’s Association.
While they wait for the snow to melt, producers like the Roths are looking for the silver lining. For many, it is the much-needed moisture.
“We are always grateful for moisture,” said Roth.
Moisture that for too long has been lacking. And while one storm won’t eliminate the drought, they are hopeful it might be a step in the right direction.
NDSU extension is assessing the storm’s impact on the state’s livestock industry. The information they collect will help determine the need for assistance programs and areas with the greatest needs. Producers are encouraged to contact their local extension agent.
As for spring planting, that’s also been delayed because of the storm.
Roths worked into the night before the blizzard, feverishly getting some crops in the field before the snow started. They were able to plant about 2,000 acres before the storm.
“Every little bit helps. But it’s really going to shorten the seeding and planting season because once we can finally get in the field again it’s going to be a short season,” said Roth.
USDA reports planting for spring wheat, durum, barley and dry edible peas in North Dakota is one to three percent behind the five-year average.
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