Lightning killed 32 dairy cattle in Texas County

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CABOOL, Mo. - The record rainfall in the Ozarks brought a lot of lightning and thunder to the region impacting people's livelihoods in more ways than one.
That lightning took a toll on a farmer in Texas County.

Dairy farmer Jared Blackwelder said nothing was out of the ordinary during his 4 a.m. milking last Saturday. It wasn't until the next milking later that day that he noticed some cows were missing.

Blackwelder searched his property and found them dead: 32 cows lost to lightning.

"You feel like you've lost things that were close to you," Blackwelder said.

He said he's lost a few dairy cows to lightning but nothing like this.

"My vet has a been a vet in Mountain Grove for many years and the most he's ever seen is six or seven in one spot. He couldn't believe it when he came out," Blackwelder said.

He said he tries to not let his passion for dairy cows get too close but it's inevitable.

"More or less, they become a part of your life every day, twice a day," Blackwelder said. "I try not to get too close to dairy cattle, but I get close to them because you milk them twice a day and when you go find that many of them piled up, in a pile dead, it's hard on you."

The loss from the storm over the weekend was a huge hit to him and his wife, emotionally and financially.

"Every cow that's on the place now has been raised and was born here, and every one of them that got hit was a bottle calf, so they've been here their whole lives," Blackwelder said.

Now he said they're trying to milk what's left after the storm.

"We're in the process of dealing with the insurance company to replace what we lost. The bad thing about it is: all you can do is pick up the pieces, wipe the dust off of you and keep going," he said.

Blackwelder said it's about a $70,000 loss. He has insurance but it will take time to get back what he had.