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West River Rancher Lost 189 Head to Blizzard: “They Were Waiting for Me”

Via Meade County Town Hall, I find this strong television from Angus TV.

Hugh and Eleanor Ingalls of Centennial Angus, Faith, South Dakota, lost 189 head of cattle in the October blizzard. The video captures the pain of the loss, the ethos of the rancher, and the harsh yet inspiring landscape of West River.

Go to about 2:30, and you'll hear Mr. Ingalls say the hardest line of the video, describing the cattle he lost: "One bunch stayed against the fence. And they were waiting for me."


  1. Lynn G. 2013.12.28

    Great video, beautiful country, good people, liked the old bodystyle Dodge with the Cummins diesel being practically indestructible and perfect for ranching. My heart goes out to them for their losses.

  2. TG 2013.12.28

    This was difficult to watch. Will have to watch it all later. What us non-ranchers don't realize is the generations of trying to perfect a heard that goes into ranching. Those ranchers know those cattle by number and all of their characteristics; one calf, three calves in its lifetime, if it's mean or nice, whether it's been infected in the last 5 years, whether it's been hurt, who its momma was; everything about them they know by that number by heart.

    To think that many lost every last cow is disheartening. We could never realize that pain and sadness but this video is a good start. Not only does it put them in financial ruin but they lost part of their family... :-(

    Thanks for posting Cory. As time goes by, we tend to forget but there is still alot going on to help these ranchers out.

  3. Lynn G. 2013.12.28

    TG exactly.

  4. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.12.28

    We had #1. That was her ear tag. She was an all black Hereford/Angus cross. She was easygoing, led the herd. They were easy to move. We found #1 and got her headed in the right direction; the rest ambled along behind her. She had a beautiful baby every spring. Her calf was healthy and strong. She never needed calving help. But when she had a baby she got fiercely protective and we gave her plenty of room for a few months. She was a good cow.

  5. Deb Geelsdottir/ 2013.12.28

    I just watched the video. Bill and Maxine Marty, who ranch on the southeast side of the Slim Buttes and south of hwy 20, are very much like the Ingalls. The gigantic store of wisdom, experience and knowledge that people like them hold is a value without measure. It's not only ranching that is the source of their expertise. It's Life.

    I think that people who spend their lives in one particular place, doing work that is a heartfelt vocation, develop an intimacy with that place that exceeds common connections. The Ingalls and the Martys know the sound, smell and touch of the place. They know how the seasons change the land to a degree that is nearly unexplainable. There are things they know about their livestock and other farm animals that seems to seep into their pores. They can't tell you how they know. But they know.

    I think something very similar is true of the family store that's been in the family for a generation or more. And possibly other things too. Those things become part of us.

    I have a potato masher that my great grandfather carved from a piece of maple. It's so smooth and soft, wearing the oils of generations of women. Great-gramma Bishop's hands, Gramma's hands, my hands, children, and soon grandchildren will put their hands around that wooden handle. They'll mingle their perspiration and skin oils with the previous 5 generations.

    Farms, ranches, family shops - I think they are all like that. Livestock, etc., are all like the potato masher.

  6. Robin Page 2013.12.29

    Very touching story! Just listening to these wonderful people makes me angry at how little help they have received from our elected officials! In my opinion, the Governor should have deployed the National Guard to help West River recover from this terrible storm, from cattle laying in the fields to broken power lines and people without electricity, heat and water. Congresswoman Noem should have worked hard for financial relief for the ranchers and others who lost so much. 2014 gives us the opportunity to replace these elected officials with people who have true compassion and concern for the citizens of South Dakota.

  7. interested party 2013.12.29

    Remind us where the National Guard has been: anyone?

  8. Les 2013.12.29

    My party needs to be held accountable for the damage they've both allowed and propagated against the family farm. Taking folks I can only assume to be good family farmers such as Lucas Lentsch and Walt Bones and using them to help destroy the family farm to consumer direct commodity market.
    I've watched this happening for 40 years and it continues to this day but for the fact a loose cannon in the state house defending his own.

  9. Robin Page 2013.12.30

    Deb G. - Beautiful thoughts!

  10. Deb Geelsdottir/ 2013.12.30

    Thanks Robin. Sweet and bittersweet both. Ahhhh.

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