Hard work. Big Rewards. Bigger blessings. Life on a South Dakota ranch.
We helped celebrate a milestone at our neighbors’ ranch yesterday. Their ranch was 100 years old; it was a glorious centennial celebration. In the past 100 years, the number of family farms in the United States has dropped significantly. Our neighbors, however, have bucked the odds. They have stuck it out. They live on a ranch that has not only survived, but has been passed down through several generations. We were honored to help celebrate their hard work and endurance!
USDA statistics show that in 1910 there were 6.4 million family farms,(http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/FarmLandIn/FarmLandIn-02-19-2013.pdf) while in 2012 that number had dwindled to 2.2 million family farms. In the same time period, the number of farm workers dropped from close to 14 million all the way down to 2.9 million. These decreases are happening to farms/ranches and farm workers while substantial increases in population growth are taking place. The demand for food has grown exponentially while the number supplying it continues to decrease. In South Dakota alone we lost 300 farms just in one year, from 2011 to 2012. I find these statistics quite scary. How are we going to keep our youth in agriculture?!
In the last couple of years there have been several ranches in our community reach the centennial milestone. I love that there are still family-owned ranches and farms that are turning their noses up at the statistics and not only continuing to farm and ranch, but also to grow and to join forces with the next generation to ensure continued sustainability of the family ranch. I love seeing young families moving back home to raise their children and work in agriculture. I love that while we aren’t a centennial ranch, we have two generations working side-by-side building and growing, and perhaps will have a third generation joining forces within the next decade or so.
We raise our cup in a toast and wish our neighbors a hearty congratulation on their centennial milestone. While I’m sure the road over the last 100 years was filled with more than enough boulders and pot holes, it is now a road paved with blood, sweat, tears, laughter, accomplishments, pride, and most of all love. What an incredible journey. We can’t wait to watch your next generation and our next generation continue to neighbor and delight in each other’s achievements. May GOD continue to bless you with love, laughter, happiness, and success.