COLORADO – It was almost two years ago in late April 2017 in Baca County that a late-season snow storm with wind up to 60 mph…wind chills well below zero, and drifts exceeding five feet high…killed hundreds of cattle, (sometimes while standing up, in the snow drifts.)
And with the extremely cold nights like we saw Thursday night and New Years Day. It’s a reminder of what Farmers and Ranchers have to go through, living and working in the weather, every day of the year. (Not to mention, what their livestock and crop have to live in and through.)
Colorado can bring us the very best, and some of the very worst, of Mother Nature. And they have to deal with whatever comes.
First, there’s the danger of both heat and cold, to livestock, crop, and human. All have to live under extreme heat, up to 100F in the summer…down to -10F in Winter. Then, there’s extreme drought for prolonged periods of time, hail storms, heavy wind, unexpected early or late season cold, snowstorms and blizzard conditions. And, the crops can’t go anywhere, the humans have to work in it, and the livestock has to rely on the people to protect them.
Then, there’s the extra time, effort and money, owners have to put in, to things like heated barns and heated water tanks, to keep livestock alive and healthy, things not even available just a few decades ago. And then comes the daily issues of whatever weather Mother Nature throws at us, such as silo unloaders freezing up, conveyor belts that slip, frozen fuel lines in farm equipment, frozen stuck farm equipment itself, and so on.
And we haven’t even begun talking about the danger to the Farmers and Ranchers themselves. Frostbite is an every day workplace hazard for them. (So is heat exhaustion in Summer.) Often, the equipment they use requires finger dexterity, and so the gloves have to come off, at least some of the time. That invites both injury and frostbite. Ever seen the hands of a Farmer or Rancher? They’re not “baby soft” and free of injury! And, until recently, even the cabs of farm equipment like tractors, weren’t even heated! And all of that is just for dealing with Winter! There are a whole host of completely different issues for Spring storms, Summer floods, Summer heat and Summer drought.
Farmers and Ranchers have to have fresh, clean water accessible all the time, for their livestock and crop, deal with flooded land and crops, drought-stricken crops, and almost daily afternoon monsoonal thunderstorms, in Summer. And then, the disease and illness that inevitably occurs to crop and/or livestock.
And these issues and conditions can also apply to Animal Sanctuaries, Rescuers, and Zoos, who have to go in to some of the worst circumstances, to rescue animals that are out in the elements.
So after recent cold snaps and blizzard warnings, a reminder next time you bite into that Penrose apple, Kiowa corn, or a piece of Colorado beef. The Farmers and Ranchers among us have to go out every day, in weather you and I can hide from in our cubicles…heated and surrounded by our four walls…just to make a living…and to protect the livestock and crop that ends up on our tables each night. It’s not a life most would willingly choose! And it requires a hardiness, resourcefulness, and inner strength most of us rarely have to tap in to!