I left Cheyenne early last Saturday morning to drive to Buffalo, Wyo. for the Johnson County Cattlewomen’s Rancher Relief Benefit. I first heard of the event over social media, specifically Facebook, and knew that I wanted to help. Little did I know that it would also not only help the CattleWomen, but also create lasting ties to a great group of ladies and the community of Buffalo.
Several weeks before the event was to be held, I called up my closest girlfriends, who are also closely tied to the agricultural industry, to help me. They, of course, were more than happy to help for the cause. We met that Saturday afternoon to start setting up in one of the coolest buildings I’ve seen in a long time. An old feed mill was our stage for the night and we had a great time decorating and creating an inviting atmosphere to the locals of Buffalo.
A wide array of silent and live auction items were donated and proudly displayed for all to see. Anything from home décor, stallion services, and hunting trips were available to a willing bidder, and there were many willing bidders. Many of the live auction items went for over one thousand dollars adding to the funds accumulated over the course of the night.
After Blizzard Atlas hit, many producers and those with ties to the agricultural industry were in shock. The aftermath left around 20,000 cattle dead, fences down, and hearts broken. It’s a loss that no one can fathom, but some had to face this reality. Pictures on local news stations and newspapers depicted the sight of strange black dots strewn along faraway fences, draws, and the landscape. It was hard to imagine all of these far-off “dots” were dead cattle and the reminisce of one producers livelihood. Any business who suffers a 50 percent loss is going to have a hard time coming back, and what happens to those who had a loss of 70 percent or more? Absolutely devastating.
Funds were immediately put into place to counter act the destruction that was left behind. It was amazing to see the outpour of help over the course of several weeks, but there was more to combat here than just the destruction. There were misconceptions and scrutiny from the American public, who are several generations removed from agriculture. I remember reading a post online asking, “Why do you care about these people. You don’t even know them?” My first reaction was shock. After any other natural disaster, a flood of help and ways to donate nationally are plastered at gas stations, online, at the grocery store and on the news. What’s the difference?
As far as I’m concerned, it’s synonymous. We take care of our own and understand loss on a deeper level. It’s not just a monetary loss, but one that digs to your core. These are animals you care for on a daily basis and you rely on them as much as they do you. Seen from generation to generation, we help our neighbors in any way possible. Whether it be the ranch wives coming together to plan supper for the branding crew or saddling up to move yearlings that escaped; we are always there for each other. Working toward a common goal and livelihood that we hold dear. This camaraderie left many of us wanting to do more for these producers and we did just that.
That night of November 16th the Johnson County CattleWomen raised $26,000 for the Rancher Relief Fund. My girlfriends and I were amazed, but not surprised that this community came together so willingly to help those in need. I’ve come to realize that we need more selfless giving in America and in the world. The girls and I didn’t get paid to help, we were paid in new friendships and a delicious beef dinner; much like the brandings every year.
As we welcome in the Thanksgiving Holiday, I can honestly say that I am thankful for a lot more things than before and I already have a lengthy list. I have faith that our close-knit agricultural community will thrive in years to come and that not even Mother Nature can stop us. Disasters like this may hinder us, but if nothing else, make us fight harder for our livelihoods and each other.