Published: 23 November 2013
After reading the news, seeing photos and wondering just how to put into words what happened Oct. 4-5 during the Atlas Blizzard, I came across this poem in BEEF Magazine. I couldn’t say it any better than Will Sturgeon, who wrote this poem on Oct. 11.
The Blizzard of ‘13
The hum of happy chatter filled the mood-lit dining room.
Scraping plates and clinking glasses eased October gloom.
The politicians chuckled, regaling battles won,
The government had been shut down, for now their work was done.
They sawed away industriously, at steak and polemic pie,
Sharp tongues and empty rhetoric, while out West cattle died.
A government in stalemate, no farm bill for two years,
Eighty thousand cattle died while they prattled in their beers.
Torrential rain, then gusting wind, then driving, drifting snow.
No winter coats, nowhere to hide and nowhere else to go.
Unweaned calves and pregnant cows, still grazing prairie green,
Caught by surprise, soaked to the bone, by the Blizzard of ‘13.
Driven east before the storm, taking shelter where they could.
Hypothermic, caught in fences, frozen where they stood.
Driven down by weighted coats, buried in the draws,
Saturated, suffocated, while D.C. debated laws.
Year after year, the same routine and never progress made.
The House and Congress impotent, while nature rules her stage.
Two years the Farm Bill sat expired, while officials spout and preen.
Two days for nature’s verdict passed, the Blizzard of ‘13.
The dark suits wave their banners high, “We’ve got to stand our ground!
It’s for the good of the people, so let’s shut the country down.”
No matter there’s no services, no leadership, no team,
This is how our leaders treat our Founding Fathers’ dream?
While out in South Dakota, where the Western Code holds sway,
Ranchers care for neighbors’ cows, and strangers donate hay.
Townfolks come with four wheelers, sleds and flatbed trucks,
Helping wounded ranchers wrestle dead cows from the muck.
For though the government won’t work or get its business right,
If you don’t render them dead cows they’ll fine you quick as light.
And while you’re burning this year’s calf, and next year’s in her mother,
They sit at home still getting’ paid, their back turned on their brother.
The smell of death blows on the wind, across the western range.
Broken ranchers soldier on, their virtues never change.
Land and family still intact, heart and soul still keen.
Out West they had their brothers’ back, through the Blizzard of ‘13.
As our neighbors in Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming continue to get through this mess, let’s keep them in our thoughts and prayers and help in any way you can. We’ll all remember this year, and we’ll remember the Blizzard of ’13.