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Published March 05, 2014, 06:38 PM

Strong family ties help area ranchers overcome brutal winter

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - With such a brutal winter, newborn calves and cold temperatures are battling to see who makes it out on top.

By: Kay Cooley, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - With such a brutal winter, newborn calves and cold temperatures are battling to see who makes it out on top.

Cathy Schmitz - Oakes Rancher: “It's been a bugger this winter”

Cathy Schmitz and her two girls spend their days battling the cold to make sure their cows make it to shows like this; a near impossible task after tragedy changed their way of life.

Cathy Schmitz: “He was killed in a farm accident; He fell off the top of a grain bin the day after Thanksgiving.”

Cathy's husband died four years ago.

Cathy Schmitz: “He was a good teacher, and I guess it's been everything he's taught all of us to keep on going.”

For them, that means raising these cows from their first few days of life.

Cathy Schmitz: “We try to calve more end of March into April just due to the snow and the cold and the weather.”

Cows like this one are about a year old now, but when they're born during such cold winters, it's much harder to keep them alive.

Kevin Elliott - Clifford, ND Rancher: “We usually calve when it's cold, so we get used to it.”

Unlike the Schmitz, Kevin Elliot and his sons already have about 90 newborn calves this year.

Kevin Elliott: “It's been cold. The birth weights are a little bit bigger.”

To fight the freezing temps, it takes a very strict process.

Kevin Elliott: “Usually they'll be okay as long as you get them in where it's warm, but they'll just freeze so you have to be on top of it.”

Cathy Schmitz: “Hats off to all of these guys out there now trying to keep calves alive and keep the ears from freezing and things like that. It's a struggle.”

So even in the midst of the cold, sometimes the strength of a warm family is all it takes to beat the toughest storms.

Cathy Schmitz: “We just feel like it's everything he's worked for and we continue to do.”

Ranchers say another huge problem this winter is trying to keep water lines from freezing.

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