Good Neighbors Blog

From quirky extras that didn’t make it into the magazine to behind the scenes looks into the making of Country – we’ve curated photos and stories we think you’ll enjoy. Won’t you be our neighbor?

Farming in South Dakota and Beyond

Farming in South Dakota

Farming in South Dakota

Eric chases horses across the field in a roundup.

Farming in South Dakota

Farming in South Dakota

Twila Ferguson works her horse that is boarded on the Double H Ranch.

Farming in South Dakota

Farming in South Dakota

Eric teaches Samuel Winz, a workaway guest from Switzerland who is spending two weeks on the ranch.

Farming in South Dakota

Farming in South Dakota

Eric and Heidi teach Samuel how to fish in Rapid Creek, which flows through the property.

Farming in South Dakota

Farming in South Dakota

Bandit the sheep herding dog enjoys riding with Eric as they work with the horses and cattle.

Farming in South Dakota

Farming in South Dakota

Eric Henriksen rakes hay.

    Story by Heidi Henriksen Rapid City, South Dakota
    Photos by Johnny Sundby Photography

    Editor’s Note: Our sister publication Farm & Ranch Living is delighted to share excerpts this week from its most recent round of diaries!

    My husband, Eric, and I welcome you to our three home bases: the Double H Ranch between the Black Hills to the west and the rugged South Dakota Badlands to the east, and our two Iowa properties, 10 hours away in the state’s beautiful northeast.

    Our family began a new chapter 13 years ago when we closed our welding and repair business and left Iowa, where I’d lived for 40 years, and headed west to the area where Eric was born. On the 268-acre Double H Ranch we have a small herd of 20 Black Angus cow-calf pairs. We also raise hay and chickens, and we board about 25 horses. Rapid City is our urban link, within easy reach of the Western life we enjoy here in the hills.

    Our roots are deep in the valleys of Iowa, too, so five years ago Eric built a log house near Clermont, high on a hill surrounded by pine trees. The land is on the state’s River Bluffs Scenic Byway, on the property where generations of my family have lived. It also borders a bike trail and a state historical site: Montauk, home of a 19th-century Iowa governor, William Larrabee.

    Recently we bought Bear Creek Farm near Edgewood. Five creeks run though this 33-acre property, which includes an earth-bermed house that had fallen into disrepair. We’re rebuilding the top floor. Our youngest son, Landon, manages and lives on the farm, where we’re raising calves.

    On top of busy days at our ranch and farm, Eric and I both hold down full-time jobs. He’s a mechanic and parts technician for a John Deere dealership, while I work from my home office as a health-insurance writer and editor. We find the extra income and health benefits necessary to stay ahead, and we’re thankful we have the energy to work on the ranch at our own pace.

    Eric and I also welcome international helpers through Workaway, a program that promotes cultural exchange through working vacations. In return for ranch work, our guests stay in our bunkhouse and eat meals with us. It’s a great arrangement that gets us part-time help and lets our guests enjoy this scenic area while learning about the ranching way of life.

    The family is where I find my greatest joys in life. I work very hard at staying connected with my children, even though we’re separated by 600 miles. In addition to Landon, who’s engaged to Kelly, our children are Lucas, Mary, Lynzee and Drew. Our granddaughters are Thelma and Ellie.

    We believe living in the country and being self-sufficient is the best life there is.

    July 23, 2014: Today’s Words to Live By

    quote--08

    Organic Wisconsin Dairy Farm

    Wisconsin Dairy Farm

    Wisconsin Dairy Farm

    Elizabeth and Mary pick sweet corn.

    Wisconsin Dairy Farm

    Wisconsin Dairy Farm

    The Miniatt family: Joseph, Eddie, Rebekah, Ed, Dominic, Mary, Rose, Anna, Nathan, Elizabeth.

    Wisconsin Dairy Farm

    Wisconsin Dairy Farm

    Juliana gathers flowers.

    Wisconsin Dairy Farm

    Wisconsin Dairy Farm

    Nathan pushes cows to the barn for milking.

    Wisconsin Dairy Farm

    Wisconsin Dairy Farm

    Ed does some repair work on a tractor.

    Wisconsin Dairy Farm

    Wisconsin Dairy Farm

    Rose attaches a milking machine to a cow’s udder.


      Story by Rose Miniatt Cadott, Wisconsin
      Photography by Rick Mooney

      Editor’s Note: Our sister publication Farm & Ranch Living is delighted to share excerpts this week from its most recent round of diaries!

      Hello and welcome to JMJ Organic Family Farm! My husband, Ed, and I and our 10 children have a Wisconsin dairy farm near Cadott. Our herd of almost 40 cows consists mainly of Jerseys, a few crossbreeds and one Holstein. We also have about 30 young stock, including bred and open heifers, several steers and six calves that are still fed milk every day.

      Both Ed and I grew up on family farms in Wisconsin. We met at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and ended up in Michigan. In 1998 Ed lost his engineering job in Ann Arbor and accepted an offer from a company that was close to both of our families here in Wisconsin. We found a 40-acre dairy farm near Randolph and knew it was something constructive for all of us to do as a family.

      Our classic Wisconsin-style dairy barn had been stripped of practically everything and needed lots of cleaning. One weekend in 2002, when my sister Mary and her husband, Rick, and their four sons visited, the boys, along with our three eldest sons—Eddie, Andy and Nathan—started cleaning it.

      Over the next year and a half, our three sons worked with their dad whenever they had free time. They talked and planned for hours. In spring 2004, Nathan and Eddie rode their bicycles to neighboring farms that no longer had cows and asked the owners if they’d like to sell their old dairying equipment.

      Finally, the cows arrived on June 8, 2004! For the first three years, Eddie and Nathan milked every morning and every evening. In 2006, we finished our transition to organic and started shipping our milk to Organic Valley.

      In the fall of 2007, our haymow was full to the rafters with some of the best hay we had ever produced. Then it all burned in a barn fire on Sept. 9. We had been thinking about a bigger farm, and the fire precipitated the move to our current place near Cadott.

      Our three oldest have left to pursue other careers, so twins Rebekah and Elizabeth, 18; Joseph, 14; and Dominic, 12, do the milking with help from Ed and me. Anna, 10, takes care of the calves, usually with help from Juliana, 5. Our youngest is Mar, 18 months.

      Recently we purchased another farm a couple miles away, and we’re in the process of transitioning it to organic.

      Monday Munchkin – Buckskin Buddy

      Barnyard best buddies

      Logan and Scooby

      Barnyard best buddies

       

      “Our 3-year-old grandson Logan loves my buckskin horse, Scooby,” writes Gene Harris of Bagley, Wisconsin. Looks like the fond feelings are mutual!

      Share your memories of your favorite horse in our comments below.

      Friday Funny Photography: Who’s at the Door?

      Friday Funny Photography: Who's at the Door?

      Friday Funny Photography: Who's at the Door?

       

      Our Country Friday Funny Photography snapshot for July 18, 2014: Who’s at the Door by Robin Hill of North Canton, Ohio. Robin writes, “Jasmine and Big Dog say good morning through the screen door in Buena Vista, Colorado.”

      Do you have a clever caption for this fun photo? We’d love to hear it!