When Cold Strands Ranching Family At Home, Wyoming Troopers Deliver Milk For Kids

When this weekend’s polar freeze forced a Converse County couple to reach out for help when their vehicles wouldn’t start, a pair of Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers delivered some much-needed milk for their young kids.

Renée Jean

January 15, 20246 min read

Katelyn and Austin Clymer, and their two young children, are new to Wyoming and were surprised by the response from their neighbors during a recent weather emergency.
Katelyn and Austin Clymer, and their two young children, are new to Wyoming and were surprised by the response from their neighbors during a recent weather emergency. (Courtesy Katelyn Clymer)

It might be cold in Wyoming — so cold that vehicles won't start — but a couple of Wyoming’s finest have proven that hearts in the Cowboy State stay plenty warm no matter the weather.

Katelyn Clymer and her husband Austin had been getting over a bout with stomach flu when the weekend’s polar vortex hit Wyoming, plunging temperatures into double-digit negative territory in rural Converse County where the Clymers live with their two young children.

“My husband had just gotten back in from feeding and taking care of the cows all day,” Katelyn said. “You know how the news says, ‘Stay inside, dangerous cold,’ but all the agricultural people are like, ‘Yeah I don’t have a choice.’ They have to go out and take care of everything, make sure the livestock are settled in before they can get warm themselves.”

Katelyn had discovered the family was out of milk about the time her husband walked in the door. Katelyn’s 1-year-old has just recently been weaned and is now drinking whole milk.

“We literally just switched to regular milk full-time,” Katelyn told Cowboy State Daily. “And it’s shocking how fast he’s going through it. Normally, I would always stay stocked up on formula, and we never ran out.”

Despite being sick from the flu and working all day, Austin went back out into the cold to head to Douglas some 25 miles away for more milk.

Minutes later, though, he was back inside. It was obviously too soon to already be back from town with the milk. And he had a look on his face that told Katelyn something was wrong. 

“Your car’s not starting,” he told her. “And the ranch pickup isn’t starting either.”

Full Panic Mode Engaged

Katelyn was very shocked when she heard neither of their cars would turn over. She’d known it was supposed to be cold, but this had never been a problem for their vehicles before when they were living in a small ranching community in Colorado.

“You know, as a mom, panic sets in,” she said. “My little guy just turned 1 and he’s still very reliant on the bottle, still every much, you know, needs that to soothe himself. On top of that he’s teething, so I was just in full panic mode.”

Katelyn and Austin have only just moved to Wyoming as of a couple of months ago and don’t know many people in the Douglas area yet. 

“I don’t know anybody in the area but my husband’s boss and his wife,” Katelyn said. “And they’re out of town in Denver at the National Western Stock Show.”

Her husband had been dropped off from the day’s ranch work by one of her boss’ uncles, who himself doesn’t have a cellphone and lives a couple of miles away. 

Not knowing what else to do, Clymer put a small post in a Facebook group of Wyoming moms asking for help.

“I had just joined the group, which is a local moms support group,” Katelyn said. “And I was like, ‘I really don’t know what else to do, I’m very desperate. I live 25 minutes away from town and I need milk for my little guy.’”

Cavalry On The Way

Almost immediately, Clymer started getting Facebook messages from people reaching out. One lady named Sarah sent her phone number. On the phone, Sarah asked if she could give her husband Katelyn’s information.

“He’s in Douglas right now, and so he can bring some milk to you,” Sara told her. “So, her husband calls me, and he lets me know he’s in Douglas and he was so kind. He asked exactly what type of milk I needed.”

Katelyn’s toddler is lactose intolerant, so she told the guy which brand of whole milk to buy, and the guy told her he’d call if there were any delays. A short time later at about 6:30 p.m., Katelyn saw headlights coming down the driveway. She bundled up to go out and meet them, and that’s when she got a big surprise.

There were two men, and the car they were driving up in was a law enforcement vehicle.

Katelyn, being new to the area, wasn’t sure which law enforcement branch they were from. Her immediate thought was they were sheriff’s deputies. 

“I was kind of stunned because you see the uniform and everything. I was like, ‘I was not expecting sheriffs,’” she said. 

The response was even more surprising to Katelyn.

“Well, actually, we are Wyoming Highway Patrol,” an officer named Sam told her. 

“I was like, ‘Wow, I really wasn’t expecting that, so thank you,” she said. “And he was like, ‘Yeah, no problem, we have little ones at home. We know that it can be hard and the cold is not friendly and Mother Nature doesn’t care or wait.’”

The two half-gallon jugs that Sam and his partner brought were just the right kind, and there was plenty to get her child through the freeze until one of the couple’s vehicles will start again, she told Cowboy State Daily.

Wyoming Hearts Are Warm

But not only did the two officers go out of their way to help a Wyoming newcomer out, despite whatever else they might have had to do, they wouldn’t even let her pay them back for the milk.

Instead, they had a different idea.

“You just need to pay it forward,” Katelyn was told. 

“So, I promised them that I’m going to pay it forward as soon as I get the chance,” Katelyn said. “I have definitely learned a lesson about making sure cars are plugged in and that we have jumper cables.”

But there’s something else the newcomer has learned about Wyoming, and it has warmed her heart.

“In Wyoming, everything’s spread apart, very far apart, but people just come together,” she told Cowboy State Daily. “And I think that’s really amazing to see, because it can be so hard to find communities like that. Here, people jumped to help me, and I live far away from town, and the cold weather — coming to help me, I mean I was just amazed. Completely amazed.”

Renée Jean can be reached at Renee@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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Renée Jean

Business and Tourism Reporter