Rural Texans continue to persevere in 2021 polar vortex



Farmers and ranchers continue to fight the winter storm to keep animals alive and operations running. More than four million Texans experienced power outages over the last 5 days as a polar vortex swept through the nation causing record-low temperatures. While many Midwestern states are acclimated to these conditions, Texans have not faced these extreme temperatures and freezing conditions.

Vince Elder, originally from the Midwest, knows these conditions all too well.

“Our cattle nor our facilities are prepared for weather conditions like this,” he said.

Elder and his family run and operate Elder Cattle Company, a purebred-cow calf operation, near Fort Worth. He said that he spent many days in February before the storm preparing setting up wind blocks, putting out hay for cattle, bedding the barns, and ensuring all hoses and water pipes were protected from freezing temperatures.

“To protect our cattle from the north wind I set up wind blocks so that the young calves could get out of the harsh conditions,” Elder said.

Another big challenge that many farmers and ranchers face is making sure livestock have access to water since ponds are frozen over. Using machinery tools to break the ice each morning is crucial in ensuring access to water.


Kendra Elder

“Our worst nightmare came true when my daughter and I went out to check ponds and found a cow that had fallen through ice,” said Elder. “Cattle are extremely smart and she must have had a moment where she went into survival mode.”

They came back with the tractor to find the cow had found her way out of the thick ice.

With the help of space heaters, blowers, and a blue tarp- the cow’s temperature was raised by at least four degrees where she finally began gaining more heat in her body. Elder said he was glad they could save her.

“Most operations up north have hot boxes or heated barns to put cows in with similar incidents. We had to adapt and work with the facilities that we had.”


Kendra Elder

Farmers and ranchers have shown so much resilience through these harsh weather conditions. Share your #RealAnimalHeroes story with us by sending your photos and videos to