“I have lost everything.”
“Out of the 812 head of cows, they had to put down 725 of them.”
“Calves are burned up on one side, and just fine on the other.”
“I have already found 15 more animals to put down this morning. I am tired of killing.”
“As I was fighting the fire, I knew the direction it had turned to. My house, my property.”
“My family runs 6 generations deep on this land.”
“Only 6 steers and a few heifers were spared.”
The reality of the fires that hit Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado. Ranchers finally, finding time and energy to assess the damage that had been done. Within minutes and hours, ranches were scorched, livestock, pets, and wildlife had no where to go, and the dynamics of the ranching communities were forever changed.
But, within a matter of minutes and hours, communities, neighbors, friends, regions, areas, states, and even a nation began to come together; to unite. Drop off points in the Texas Panhandle are overflowing with mountains of bottles of water, and loads after loads of hay. Donations that were selflessly given, time and effort spent, humbly, to provide care for livestock and ranchers, alike.
“A drop of 80 squares bales of alfalfa just came.”
“If we get anymore bottles of water, we are going to be able to fill water trucks to water livestock!”
“Every bit of these donations are going to be used.”
“I have a semi and a load of hay, where do I need to take it?”
“Hi, I am from Vermont, and want to help! Where and what do people need the most?”
Thousands of people and dollars coming together to help to rebuild the foundation that America is built off of. A delicate culture that will need more cultivation, now, than ever before.
The ranching lifestyle is a more romantic profession. Not the love kind of romance. But more of, an ebb and flow of give and takes, life and death, good and bad days, the promise of tomorrow, but living in today because tomorrow is not always promised. It is the memories on the walls of the first homestead of a ranch, the whispers off of sorting pens that your great-great granddad built. It is the the first stand of a newborn calf, the bawl of a momma who has lost her baby, the creek of a saddle room door. The thought of “if these walls could talk”, the cultivation of the land so that it continues to provide for the animals that the Lord has chosen you to take care of. And, it is the moments of major destruction and devastation that the ranching lifestyle becomes the most romantic.
There is no day off to mourn, except for the ones who lost their lives during the fires, there is no day off to be down on the fact that land and livestock and lives were taken. No. These men and women, woke up, prepped their hearts and minds and set off to rescue the ones that made it through the blaze. The ones, surrounded by ash, that were able to make it through. They went on scavenging their property for animals, and save-able pieces of fencing, barns, maybe even a halter or two. Calves that were orphaned are now being bottle fed, cows without their calves are having to be milked to release the pressure off their bags. Horses are being doctored, wildlife is being fed off of people’s back porches. Life and death, the good and bad, come with tired eyes, giving hearts, and strong, calloused hands.
“This is a pretty harsh world we live in. And Mother Nature can sure be relentless more times than not. And that’s why I would say I’m drawn to our culture. Our lifestyle. No matter what this old world puts on us or tries to take from us we overcome it time and time again. This is proved throughout our history. From the livestock lost to lives of loved ones, before and in my time, that have been cut short. I know these times will come to pass and we will dust off and keep going. Never forgetting these times.”
The heritage that was lost during the fires will continue to live on through the men and women. The generation of cattle blood line that were taken, the thousands of acres of pastures that were consumed, the homesteads that had been on the property long before cars and cell phones, now just a past piece of history that stays in the minds of the ranchers, cowboys, and cowgirls. The rebuilding process will be long and hard, days of bad will intercept some of the days of good. But the hope and faith that has and will continue to be provided will give the strength to look forward to the days to come because…
Out of the ashes, we rise.