Tag Archives: South Dakota

The Anniversary of Atlas

One year ago today I remember exactly what was happening…..a storm was raging. A winter storm…..the kind that has the weather guys all in a fury……the kind that affects everyone in the area…..the kind that has livestock owners worried beyond belief……the kind that leaves devastation in its wake.

One year ago today was just the beginning of the horror that would ensue over the next few days leaving thousands of head of livestock dead……leaving our region crippled and in a state of shock. One year ago today we lost a sort of innocence that shrouded those of us not old enough to remember the last horrific blizzards in the 70’s.

I remember hearing the term “Storm Atlas” on the Weather Channel. Not long before that I had started hearing blizzards and other winter storms with names. At first I thought it was strange. I could understand naming a hurricane, but a blizzard? I now look back at the irony of the name chosen for the storm of the century.

“In Greek Legend Atlas was a Titan who took part in the revolt against the gods. As a punishment he was condemned to hold the heavens aloft forever. Atlas was usually represented as a human figure bearing the heavens or the celestial globe upon his shoulders.”

How symbolic that is…….Storm Atlas literally held the state of our world in its grasp.

As I sit here typing, I can hear the wind howling outside. My mind has gone back to a year ago as I listened to something similar. The difference is that we are dealing with rain this time and not snow. I’m thankful for that……more than you know.

So much has happened over the past year. I can honestly tell you though that I am gun shy when it comes to the weather now. I don’t think I am alone in that capacity either. I half winced when October rolled around. The wound left by what happened is still very fresh in everyone’s mind. It has been talked about, written about, covered on the news, and visualized by everyone who went through it…..countless times. I got in on writing a story about a surviving family in northern South Dakota a month or so ago for a publication. I literally had tears rolling down my face and the gal told me their story. The feelings and memories are still so raw. I truly believe that only time can heal this kind of wound.

Not all has been lost as there has been hope. Hope in the form of friends and neighbors bonding together to help each other, the farm bill finally going through, livestock donations, a plentiful year of rainfall, and the livestock markets are strong.

Going through something like Storm Atlas has given everyone a completely new perspective on things. It was a sharp reminder that we, as humans, don’t control things as much as we’d like to think. Mother Nature proved that she is still holding the reins. We can prepare for things as much as we can, but in the end prayer and hope is all we really have…..and each other. Without that……..everything would truly be lost.

My faith in humanity was restored in the aftermath of Storm Atlas. The outpouring of help from people in the communities was amazing. And while it couldn’t bring back the livestock lost it brought back a sense of caring and compassion that is sometimes lost in our busy lives in the 21st century.

I am proud to be a women in agriculture. There are so many awesome things that happen around us everyday. It’s easy to get lost and to lose your perspective when you live out in the sticks, but I, for one, am glad that I have the solitude to reflect on the things that are truly important in this life. There will always be storms……there will always be horrible things that happen……there will always be life as we don’t want it…….but there will also always be folks we can count on, family, and faith. I am most thankful for those things.

Here is to an uneventful fall……one full of golden leaves dancing in the breeze, fat calves going to the sale barn, lots of bred back cows, and a chance to truly be thankful for all that we have.

With that, I will leave you with my poem “The Storm Atlas”. I wrote it on the 8th of October one year ago. I still cry when I read it……Blessings to you all.

The Storm Atlas

By Cheyenne Glade Wilson® – written on 10/8/13

The storm came in hard and fast,

Like nothing anyone remembers from the past.

First came the rain, so cold and wet,

At this point, nobody would fret

Then came lots of snow,

And the wind began to blow.

The rancher began to pace,

A look of worry crept to his face.

“How are my animals out in this mess?”

It was his only concern that he cared to confess.

Those animals help to pay the bills,

They are fending for themselves out in those hills.

But his concern was far more than for money or such,

He cared for those critters so very, very much.

He shed blood, sweat and tears,

For them over the years.

They were all partners and relied on that trust,

They needed each other, which is why he cussed.

“Damn you, Mother Nature, and the fits that you throw,

The hand that you’ve dealt us is a might low blow!”

As the storm passed, the rancher did look,

At what he saw, oh, how he shook.

The dead and the dying were all that was seen,

The few survivors were gaunt and lean.

The losses were huge, far above his worst fears,

Soon began more discovery and then came the tears.

Sorrow came next and soon disbelief,

Followed by regret and undeniable grief.

How will they recover many do ask,

It’s what ranchers do, they tend to their task.

They work hard day and night,

And no matter what, they don’t give up the fight.

But the good times outweigh the bad,

So we keep that in mind for better times had.

Things like this are very hard to take,

So many lives lost are hard to forsake.

Just know that this too shall soon be in the past,

Ranchers are a tough bunch, which is why they last.

Prayers are free; there is no cost,

So let’s bow our heads and remember all that’s been lost.

Let’s pray for better days and for the heaviness of heart,

Let’s pray for strength and for another start.

The Storm Atlas

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BHSS All Girl Stray Gathering

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Look at all of those cowboys and cowgirls!! There were 44 teams of 4 cowboys/cowgirls in the Open Stray Gathering and 10 teams of 4 cowgirls in the All Girl Stray Gathering last night at the Black Hills Stock Show in Rapid City, SD. It was 12 degrees outside and the wind was blowing…..so we were really happy to be indoors. However, it was HUMID in there…..holy cow!!! Our poor haired-up horses didn’t know what to think with all the heat in there!

The Open Stray Gathering kicked off at 7:30 pm with the first half of the teams. They ran 22 of the Open teams and then went into the 10 teams of the All Girl then went back to finish the last half of the Open. The funnest part about the All Girl was that it was a draw pot…..meaning that your name went into a hat and they drew your team that way instead of you entering up with people ahead of time. They do this a lot at team ropings…..I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive about it, but I loved it in the end! It gave me a chance to get to know some new gals and to just go out and have some fun (while trying to do well, of course)! 🙂

I entered twice and drew up with 6 gals I had never met before. The first team I was on included Denise Nelson, Jamie Kirkpatrick, and Rhonda Matt. I partnered up with Rhonda. By “partnered up” I mean that she agreed to head for me and I agreed to heel for her. The four of us girls had to break off into partners and each go after one of the two steers that were turned out at the end of the arena.  Here we are lined up and ready to take off!

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Next came running the steers down and getting them roped! Please excuse the blurry photographs…..but we were going FAST!! 🙂

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Rhonda headed our steer and I finally got in there and got him heeled……by 2 feet even….WOW!!

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Took me a bit to get my dally…..I’m a bit rusty….roping the Time Machine is different than roping a live critter! I did finally get my dally and still had both feet….I waited till Rhonda got off her horse and got to the steer…..I started to pull the steer to assist her as she tailed the steer over…..and man did she ever!

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Then Denise and Jamie got there to help. By then, I let go of my dally…tossed my rope, and got over there to help them tie the steer.

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Tying a steer isn’t as hard as it looks, but there is a method to it (and you want to watch those legs….they like to kick). My method differs a bit from theirs (but I’m open-minded and open to change). Rhonda and I discussed their method later on….made a lot of sense to me…..had never had it explained to me that way before. Anyway, we finally got the steer tied…..it seriously seemed like it took 5 minutes to get him tied. The deal is….the steer has to stay tied for 6 seconds after you signal for time and stand clear of him. He needs to be tied….tight….for it to hold. Different strings tie and hold differently…..the string we used wasn’t the kind I use, but we got the job done….even if I felt like I was going in turtle speed! Most importantly, he stayed tied! We took over the lead at 1:09…..later on another team got it done faster than we did, but we ended up in 2nd place. We were happy!! Here is a video link to our run if you’d like to watch it!

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It was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to do it again!

The second team I entered with included:  Kate Moen, Angela Harris, and Kate Helgeson.

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This time I partnered up with Kate Helgeson. Things didn’t go as well this time….Kate headed our steer really well……I missed….

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and I missed…..and I missed

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…..and I missed again…..UGH!!! After my last toss (and I say that with a smirk on my face) I became aware that our teammates had their steer caught and Kate Moen was on the ground after him. I ran down there and jumped in….we all did.

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We got him down….

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after a bit of a struggle….we almost had him tied when the 2 minute buzzer sounded.

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We finished the tie anyway…..cuz you just don’t quit. We may have gotten a no-time, but we didn’t give up. And that’s what’s most important….try hard, have fun, and never give up!! Speaking of never giving up…..kudos goes out to another team who had a bugger (and I say that loosely) of a steer! The team consisted of:  Rhonda Matt, Jessica Holmes, Kate Moen, and Abby Olson. Click here to watch a  video of their run….it’s a must watch……they rock!!!

Awards were given….some great ones too!

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First Place Winners:  Ashlee Jaeger, Tasha Welling, Alesa Jones & Jamie Kirkpatrick. Breastcollars donated by:  Triple R Tack

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Second Place Winners:  Jamie Kirkpatrick, Denise Nelson, Rhonda Matt & Cheyenne Wilson. Satchel/Purses donated by:  K Bar J Leather

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3rd Place Winners:  Tasha Welling, Aimee Janvrin, Jenny Walker and Tami Dyer. Caps donated by:  Cowgirl Swank

I didn’t get a picture of the 4th place winners, but they were:  Heidi Cuny, Tami Dyer, Abby Olson & Deanna Steele. Gift Certificates donated by:  Bucking H Designs

Congratulations goes out to all the gals who competed….It was such fun! A huge Thank You to Ashlee Jaeger for coordinating the All Girl Stray Gathering……it was well run and organized. Way to go!!

The guys entered the Stray Gathering in pairs. My husband was teamed up with our friend and neighbor, Shawn White. The entered with two other teams (the max amount of times they could enter). The first team they were with was Jeff Lien and Travis Nitsch, both from Chadron, NE. They had some tough luck as I was told. I didn’t get to see their run as I was with my teammates getting our awards and getting pictures taken. Their second run with Tyler Minor and Sage Haythorn, from Hyannis & Arthur, NE, didn’t go well either. I honestly didn’t keep my eyes on Tyler and Sage so I can’t speak as to what happened for them, but Shane and Shawn had trouble. They caught their steer…..

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but he wouldn’t go down…..and I mean HE WOULD NOT GO DOWN!!

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It’s really rare for my former steer wrestler – 250 lb – 6 ft. 2 husband to not be able to dog down a steer. I think this steer may have been on steroids….that and I think he was a bit ticked off by the time they got him as Team #35.

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All this time, Shane had a lariat wrapped around the upper part of his head…under his nose and by his eyes (no idea how it got there)….he said every time the steer would jump the rope would tighten and rub his face raw….yikes! I couldn’t see it from where I was and I can’t see it in these fuzzy pictures, but he told me all about it later and showed me the rope burns…..guess the steer won out this time. They got a no time. Tough luck……

Overall, we had a super time! No money was won (in the All Girl the winners took all the prize money)…..I did win a super cute satchell/purse donated by K Bar J Leather that is really cute!

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I’m super proud because this was the first bonafide “Stray Gathering” I have entered…..and I won something! I’ve been in mugging/tie down events in ranch rodeos, but I’ve never gone off and entered a Stray Gathering. It’s a big thrill and one of my favorite events! I will be searching for more of these…..and may even consider putting on a series this summer. I see this event spreading and gaining popularity quickly!

We got home about 1 am this morning….the horses were warm in their blankets and trailer….boy, were they glad to get home! We had a great time…..saw some friends…..met some new ones….and made memories along the way. What more can we ask for?! That’s what life is all about!! ~Cheyenne