As he does every morning, Texas County dairy farmer Jared Blackwelder started milking his cows around 4 a.m. Saturday. He finished up just before daylight and headed back to the barn. He was about to lock the gate when lightning struck hard and close. “It was so bright I couldn’t hardly see,” he said. “It just brought fire down the fences.” Later in the day, when it was time to milk again, Blackwelder returned to the field and found 32 of his certified organic cows dead.

A veterinarian confirmed the cows had been struck by lightning. Blackwelder suspects it was that same lightning strike that sent fire along his fences.”I went down over the hill and seen them laying there,” an emotional Blackwelder said. “They were just piled on top of each other. They were huddled up, trying to get out of rain. READ MORE