Canadian farmers rescue cows from floods after a month’s worth of rain in two days

More than 160 calves were washed out to sea after being raised in British Columbia over winter

Canadian farmers rescue cows from floods after a month’s worth of rain in two days

Farmer Terry Mossman wasn’t expecting flooding when he loaded a box full of cattle onto the back of his truck in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, this past weekend.

But when the forecast predicted heavy rain, Mossman and his son decided to make the drive to an emergency shelter set up by the Green Peacock Animal Sanctuary.

It turns out the “rocketing” rain was much more than rain – it was about 11 times the average rainfall for this time of year, said Janette Doiron, the director of the sanctuary.

“We basically got half of what is normally at the end of November and into December,” Doiron said.

“So we were expecting 12 inches and ended up getting 51 inches. So it was flooding between 60 and 70 inches of rain in a short period of time.”

The rain fell after months of drought, resulting in underwater gardens and some boat trips that simply got blocked by logs.

In November, however, Mossman knew what to expect. He’d been setting up an emergency program for two calves that had drowned due to a lightning strike. Mossman had also borrowed three cattle from another rancher to make up for the handful of lambs that were leaving the ewe.

The abandoned cattle were left vulnerable by a stretch of road that was routinely washed out during heavy rain, and neither facility was equipped to take any more.

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The shelters were quick to get the calves housed and fed, and farmers were collecting 30 per cent of the ranchers’ feed costs, explained Doiron.

It didn’t take long for a crowd of farmers to form outside the shelter, and eventually even Mossman’s neighbors were worried about the cattle getting stranded.

“They were wet cattle and they were facing another winter so I’m sure they were all confused about how long we were going to keep them here,” said Doiron.

While the rain eventually stopped, the mess of water has made its way through several streams in the area, including the Osoyoos river, the Red and Campbell rivers.

After two-and-a-half weeks of growth in a dry climate, the calves were in desperate need of drying out. On Thursday, Mossman and his son boarded a truck in Kamloops and trekked to the sanctuary to haul out and load their cattle on to the back of the trailer.

In front of the shelter, the stalls were clogged with mud from the flooded alleys and roadways, which was easily allowed down the highway but simply wouldn’t go down the river.

Mossman, who by Sunday evening had loaded 16 calves into a trailer and unloaded him out of the vehicle, said he would not attempt to raise the remaining calves without the shelter.

“We really have to get rid of them to help themselves, so they get caught up in a stuck area like this and get washed out to sea. So it’s not worth the risk,” he said.

Mossman expressed optimism that the calves will survive through the winter and that they will survive through the dry weather next year.

The Rino family, who own the cows, are also fed up with the cattle losses. They turned down an offer from a rancher who said he had no cows left after purchasing 16 from the ranch earlier this year. The Rinos instead are raising the feed to give to other cows in the area who will not be able to survive if the current conditions continue.

Mossman also stayed positive, remembering the year his cattle lost about 10 pounds because of rotting grass, which would be melting into the sea this coming year.

“I’ve been doing this for a while, I’ve never seen it happen, it’s never happened to me,” he said.

“We’re going to get through this.”

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