This year's calving season has a whole new meaning for ranchers who were devastated by the October blizzard.
It's that time of year, calving time. Rancher Shawn Freeland tags a newly born calf. And this calf is special. Its mother was given to Freeland from Heifers for South Dakota.
"We received ten bred heifers from Heifers from South Dakota, they're calving now. Most of them have calved. There is only two left to go. And we're really, really happy with the heifers and have had good luck with the calves. We are just super thankful to all of the people and all of the support," said Freeland.
The October blizzard hit this area hard. Freeland lost about 25 percent of his herd. Some of his heifers were badly injured but survived the storm and are now calving, so it's truly a sign of renewal.
"We had some cows that made it home, that you could see on their back legs had been hung up in fences. I did find one cow a neighbors cow that had been in a snow bank for nine days," said Freeland.
Freeland also received help from the Rancher Relief Fund. The donated amount to the fund is close to $5 million. So far $4.2 million has been distributed.
"Many of them were also able to take that money to purchase cattle and purchase heifers that were bred and now giving birth to those calves. Which is a really fun time of year on the ranch anyway. But this year I think it provides even more hope and even more excitement to families who were so devastated over the last few months," said Silvia Christen, Executive Director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association.
Freeland says he is not out of the woods yet. But all of the donations and support from the community helps.
"Those are the people that my hat is off to. They did a tremendous job. They really are helping to heal what happened," said Freeland.
Heifers for South Dakota and the Rancher Relief Fund are still accepting donations. A committee for the Ranchers Relief Fund will meet next month to decide when they will distribute the rest of funds.