Editor's Notebook: Finding Facebook in the Storm

January 23, 2016 01:49 AM
Editor's Notebook: Finding Facebook in the Storm

Landon Weatherly sat at his computer in the silent hours of the early morning, trying to think of a way to help. His family and neighbors were missing thousands of head of dairy and beef cattle in his part of Texas, as Winter Storm Goliath swept through.

Weatherly had worked with his neighbors before the worst of it hit, making wind breaks out of square hay bales and putting out feed for the snowbound cattle. But when Goliath struck with all its might, the cattle practically disappeared into the white. “We went for days without seeing our cows,” Weatherly says. “There was really nothing we could do but pray.” 

But as Weatherly learned, there was indeed something he could do in addition to petitioning The Almighty: He could go online. 

As the snow formed high drifts outside his window, Weatherly started a Facebook page for people missing cattle, called Cattle Lost and Found. “It just blew up,” says Weatherly, who helps his in-laws on their row-crop and cow-calf operation when not selling ag equipment in Friona. Before long, more than 4,000 people joined his page, a total that now exceeds 4,400.

Visitors post information on their missing cattle, photos of ear tags and their contact details, and even words of encouragement. One farmer from relatively clear and dry Nebraska posted: “I know what u ranchers r goin thru. Sorry for ur loss.” 

Tens of thousands of dairy and beef cattle perished in the storm; many are still missing, according to some posts. You can read more about it in "When Weather Gets Dangerous"

As for Weatherly, he wants to keep the page going even after the last are brought home. “I want it to be a place where people can learn about farming and ranching,” he says.

Check out the page and consider referring a non-farm friend to it. Let’s remind folks raising livestock is not for the faint of heart—or the uncaring.

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