A Cowboy’s Faith: Harmful lightning accompanies rainfall

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Lightning is always dangerous and can be costly to personal property.”

Abundance of rainfall during April was appreciated by farmers and ranchers throughout the Midwest. It’s always good to have ample spring watering when livelihood depends on crop production and green pastures.

Thunder could be heard many days last month and lightning flashes frequently brightened the skylines sometimes making daytime at midnight.

Studies on lightning in history reveal a number of interesting phenomena only definable as uncontrollable, unpredictable acts of Mother Nature.

Verification of lightning strikes remains in trees for decades after as limbs are gone and burn marks remain. Structures even with lightning rods have burned to the ground when fire is started by sharp bolts from the sky.

Dry grass fires including several section pasture blazes are the result of lightning igniting.

Personal caution is essential whenever lightning threatens. Everyone must get inside even to extent of canceling public activities.

Through the decades there has been a sizeable number of ranch livestock lost to lightning. Of course when a horse is taken, especially one with significant history, it remains a sad memory forever.

Nellie was a sorrel mare used as all-around mount when growing, up not that good but diversified enough to compete. In later years Nellie was bred and produced a couple of average riding horses.

She had a big shapely spotted foal when lightning struck the pair out in the pasture west of the ranch house.

Most losses from lightning have been cattle almost on an annual basis with some years more than others. This spring has taken its toll with several cattle including cows and calves being stricken and killed.

For most ranchers it’s apparent when death of livestock is caused by lightning. Yet sometimes there is an uncertainty leaving question if electrical bolt from the sky was the actual cause.

“Did you have them insured?” seems a frequent inquisition from outsiders when discussing livestock loss due to lightning. The answer nowadays is always “No.”

While losses are costly, generally they don’t total enough to cover what the insurance premium would be over the long term.

Losing livestock to lightning is like spilled milk. The loss hurts but there’s nothing that can be done about it.

Reminded of Jeremiah 10:13: “He causes the clouds and makes lightning for needed rain.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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