A common theme on farms and ranches is if you're going to do something, do it BIG. It could be anything from buying equipment, getting equipment stuck, making mistakes, having machinery breakdown or going into debt. My son, Myles, has taken such logic to a whole new level: helping a community of ranchers. As part of his graduation requirements, all seniors are required to do a senior project, which involves pursuing something challenging, writing a research paper and giving a PowerPoint presentation. At Custer High School, senior projects also have to be community service-oriented.
Since taking our oldest child to college, my husband and I have been experiencing the beginning stages of empty nest syndrome (besides panic). I keep trying to buy milk in bulk, set the table and make meals for four, and am having to get used to taking hot showers again instead of lukewarm-turned-cold ones after everybody else has showered. Thankfully, the hubs and I are not entirely empty nesters yet.
Since the roads on our outfit are not government owned, there's a protocol for our dirt and gravel roads. It pertains mostly to mud, but also includes our driveway and the byways to pastures, fields and highways when our roads aren't muddy. As landowners, we are in charge of maintaining our roads, fixing potholes and smoothing out lumpy ruts. The maintenance that's done on the dirt roads we use is based on one main factor: who drove through the pothole to make it bigger, or who drove down to the junkyard, stackyard, field or pasture when it was muddy and tore up the road in the process.
Our son had to give a speech at his high school graduation of which I had several suggestions, but much to my disappointment he wasn't interested in hearing them. He had his own idea, so I decided I would share one of my graduation speech ideas with readers. Work in agriculture produces qualities that can easily be applied to a graduate. The following are common farm and ranch virtues that could be helpful to a graduate. • Be present. On farms and ranches being dedicated and focused to what you are doing can save a person's life.
Anyone who calls himself or herself a South Dakotan is familiar with artist Harvey Dunn -- a born and raised South Dakotan from Manchester -- but I wonder if anyone else has noticed the theme in his paintings depicting South Dakota pioneer life on the prairie: the wind. His pioneer life scenes are based on his childhood memories of living in a sod house, and it's obvious that South Dakota's constant prairie wind was a big part of those memories.
I happen to be a perfectly good roadmap reader, just not for my husband. When I travel alone around South Dakota, I always manage to get to my destinations just fine without a quarrel. If I make a wrong turn or am uncertain, I pull over and consult my South Dakota map. It's no big deal. My travel routine is to scan the roadmap before departure, memorize pertinent highway numbers and go. Most junctions are self-explanatory upon arrival. I also add an extra hour for travel to cover major wrong turns. I don't obsess over routes to any South Dakota town. When in navigation doubt, I ask a local.
Many women base their reputation on their cooking the way ranchers base their reputation on their cow-calf operation. A lot can be determined about a woman by her willingness to share her recipes. Not only am I flattered anytime I'm asked for a recipe, but I will share it. Happily. It's the least I can do for just having received what I consider a compliment. Yet, there are women who are very guarded and greedy about their recipes, and are unwilling to share them.
When businesses sponsor or donate to a women's conference, they contribute things that pertain to women's interests, but many donations at a Women in Agriculture Conference (WIA) go a step further by being items that are also practical. Useful door prizes go over well with farm and ranch women. Early in the WIA conference I recently attended, I'd perused the various door prizes on display and never gave a second thought to the more ag-related items that were showcased. They all seemed perfectly normal; some of which I considered a pretty substantial donation.
Putting on a big feed for a crew of friends and neighbors helping work cattle can put cooks, appliances and outlets to the test. Throughout my years as the branding and fall cattle-working cook, I've had minimal disasters in feeding those who help us every spring and fall. My neighbor has been at the helm of such feedings more than twice as long as I have and she has had plenty of things go wrong while trying to get a branding day or vaccination day meal cooked. Early in her marriage she prepared everything on a wood cookstove.
Our ranch has never been more ready to get our calves to market than right now. We’ve had ample time to look them over, estimate their weights and count down the days until we sell, so that the headache of dealing with calves getting out along the highway or potentially hit by passing vehicles is behind us. Calves rarely pull such stunts unless it’s inconvenient — at night time and bedtime.