I grew up in one of the largest South Dakota communities on the east side of the state, or East River as South Dakotans say. Agriculture east of the Missouri River in South Dakota consists mostly of growing crops with some livestock production done primarily to supplement income.
My family moved to the country, just a few miles outside of town, the summer before I started ninth grade. But we didn’t choose country life for agricultural purposes. My father is a diesel mechanic, and he wanted to build a large shop for his work. The only animals we ever had were my mom’s Shih-Tzu and a few outside cats, and the closest thing my dad did to farming was to plant and tend a shelter belt of trees around our place.
Uncles, aunts and cousins, however, exposed me to farming as I was growing up. There were cows to milk, sheep to shear, corn to combine, and hay to bale. I spent weeks visiting these relatives during my summer vacations from school. I remember the farm talk, and I remember some of the actual activities. But overall my actual experiences were fairly limited.
My experiences are still limited, but I am learning more about country life and ranching all the time. It certainly is a lifestyle choice as much as it is a career.
This reminds me of when I first “went west” from Wisconsin when I was 14. Actually, it was more shocking when I went to live “west” by myself at age 19. And on top of that, it was probably more shocking for my Mom and Dad in 1976, when “the west” was still considered to be frontier territory by traditional thinking standards. But for me – the experience was totally enamoring – and here I still am. Here WE still ARE….