Todd Laudenklos didn’t think he had any tears left after his herd of Watusi cattle was swept away last month when the Loup River flooded.
Then he arrived last week at the Lolli Brothers Livestock Market Inc. in Macon, Missouri, about four hours south of Omaha. He’s been a longtime customer and has helped with sales.
During the day, Frankie Lolli brought out a young Watusi bull that the family-owned market had purchased as a surprise for Laudenklos. They planned to sell it to raise funds to help restore the herd of prized African cattle that Laudenklos and brother Randy Fisher show.
That’s when things got real emotional for everyone, Lolli said.
The Lollis sold the bull and the buyer resold it again, with the proceeds going to Laudenklos. Another person bought a cow and gave it to Laudenklos. Another contributed the value of a sold cow. About 30 people in the crowd stood up and donated money, too.
Laudenklos tried to hold back his tears but failed.
“I was trying to be tough,’’ he said. “But it didn’t happen.’’
The livestock market is still tabulating how much was raised, but it’s enough to buy more than a few head of the exotic cattle, which can cost from $1,000 to $10,000 each. The bigger the horns, the more expensive.
As the story circulates on social media, more donations have come in, including $100 from a woman in Alabama.
“That’s the way our business is,’’ Lolli said. “The livestock market is a great group of people.’’
Laudenklos couldn’t bring the cow home with him to the family operation at the Horn T Ranch near Monroe, Nebraska.
The pasture where the herd grazed sits about a half-mile off the Loup River, and all of the fences were washed away with the cattle. Alfalfa fields look like a sandy beach.
Laudenklos said the water from the river was 10 to 12 feet deep in some places.
He had no warning, and he thought his herd was safe. He was helping a neighbor sandbag his property when a page came in from the volunteer fire department about the approaching water. Laudenklos is a fire volunteer.
When he returned home, the water was so high no one could reach the herd.
“I call it 48 hours of hell,’’ Laudenklos said. “We couldn’t do one thing to get down there.’’
He and his family also own an exotic zoo on another property a half-mile away, but the floodwaters stopped just feet away. “We didn’t have to evacuate. It got close.’’
Getting those animals ready for the summer zoo season is the first priority. Then Laudenklos and his brother can start thinking about a new herd. They’ve been raising the cattle about 20 years.
He’s still having a hard time processing what happened not only at the sale but in the flooding, too. Everything is moving too fast.
“I just couldn’t believe that I have such good friends that helped me out,’’ Laudenklos said. “I’ll take my time, but I’ll get back at it.’’