When a Tornado Hits Your Bull Barn

Many of you likely heard about the dozens of tornados that tore through the Midwest on December 15, 2021, also a day that featured a rare derecho event in the area. One of the tornados that appeared in Iowa hit Brad Z Ranch during the early evening that day.

Because it was already dark, it was impossible to see where the tornado was coming from or heading to other than what the local news meteorologists had (thankfully) pinpointed on radar. We would later find out that the F2 tornado – called the “Bayard tornado” – luckily passed over or very close to the house. It was not damaged and, as a result, no one was injured. But when Jim went out to check the farm buildings with herdsman Terry Kress that night, they soon discovered that three fourths of the main bull barn had been knocked down. In the dark, they searched through the debris, discovering, as far as they could tell, that none of the young bulls in the lot had been injured or trapped. We assume the sounds of the roof and walls being pulled apart was strange enough that the group of bull calves were spooked and ran into the open area of the lot, which meant they were clear of the falling and flying debris.

The tornado caused smaller amounts of damage to other buildings on the main farmstead but it could have been much worse. It then traveled a mile to the north and took down one of our hay sheds that was new only a few years ago. A few of the cows in that pasture suffered minor cuts from flying debris, but we were again lucky that none were injured seriously. While all of this was a blow to the farm, it wasn’t long before we were mostly operating as normal. The bulls, Jim thinks, have gained weight rapidly since the week of the tornado and are looking great. (Stress eating?) We hope he doesn’t start analyzing the stats too closely and decide there may be something scientific we need to explore repeating in the future. With all joking aside, we are happy to be able to say that the annual bull sale will be held as usual on March 12, 2022. You may just have a little less roof over your head this year when looking the bulls over. Thanks for all the moral support and encouragement so many of you have offered! It means a lot to us.

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