Three months since hundreds of cows were rescued from a flooded ranch in Okeechobee County and then herded right down Orange Avenue to a dry ranch, some of the cows are finally back home.
“Overall, things are back to mostly normal,” Austin Alderman said.
Since September, the cows were living down the road at Triple S Ranch because Alderman-Deloney Ranch was underwater. A dike broke, sending water into the pastures.
"I would be probably up to my knees in water," Alderman said.
At the time, people on airboats had to rescue calves from rising flood waters. Cowboys rounded up the cattle and guided them along Orange Avenue to Triple S Ranch.
Without the help of the ranching community, Alderman said the outcome would've been different.
“We would’ve had to probably sell all our cattle," he said.
Getting the cows back home in the last couple of weeks wasn't as difficult. Ranchers loaded them up in semi-trucks and drove them to Alderman-Deloney Ranch because the land is dry again.
"That allows us to use a more conventional method than the 19th century flashback we had to use to get them off the ranch," Alderman said.
Vegetation is in the process of growing back.
“This sea of brown is not what you would typically see out here, but it’s better than it could’ve been," he said.
The Aldermans are working on fixing the dike.
"Hopefully that can prevent this from happening again," he said.
The big move in September was hard on the cows. Alderman estimates they lost between 20 and 25 cattle total, 15 calves and more than five cows, due to both the flooding and the stress of being in a new place.
“Financially it’s another big impact," he said. "That’s our livelihood.”
But the Aldermans are thankful this holiday season knowing the community will be there to help them until the cows come home.
"Made some new friends out of it and learned just how helpful this community can be at the worst times," he said.
The rest of the cows will be moved using semi-trucks on January 5.