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Published February 27, 2009, 12:00 AM

ND horse business grows

Family readyto open park
LEONARD, N.D. – The childhood joys of riding horse through the rolling hills and oak trees of the Sheyenne National Grasslands was something Ron Hansen passed on to his five daughters.

By: Mike Nowatzki, INFORUM

LEONARD, N.D. – The childhood joys of riding horse through the rolling hills and oak trees of the Sheyenne National Grasslands was something Ron Hansen passed on to his five daughters.

Now, the family that owns and operates Sandhills Equine Center between Kindred and Leonard hopes others will also share the experience.

This spring they plan to open Sheyenne Oaks Horse Camp and RV Park 40 miles southwest of Fargo, just across the fence from the 70,000 acres of national grasslands.

The park will serve as a launching point into the grasslands, which are putting more restrictions on vehicle traffic and being returned to wilderness, Ron said.

The campground is just the latest ambitious venture for the Hansens, who take the term “family farm” quite literally.

Ron and Jodi Hansen’s five children – Danica, 15, Casey, 13, Nell, 12, Meg, 8, and Ivy, 6 – pull their weight in all facets of the equine operation, which boards about 30 horses, as well as the 17-kennel pet boarding business, which officially launched just before Christmas.

Ron beams with pride when he talks about how the home-schooled girls work the stables, feed hay and even run a skid steer.

“My wife and I went to Europe for three weeks, and they pretty much ran the farm,” he said.

The farm was a farrow-to-finish hog operation when Ron was growing up, but he always preferred horses and dogs, he said.

He and Jodi, who grew up on a hobby farm with horses in Wisconsin, began boarding horses on a nearby farm in 1997. When they took over the family farm from his parents in 2003, they tore down seven outbuildings and converted the others to horse stables.

They did all of the work themselves, taking advantage of Ron’s skills as a mechanical engineer at Loegering Manufacturing in Casselton. A geothermal heat system supplies warmth to the farm’s buildings, which sport walls lined with knotty pine.

The girls make sure the dogs receive plenty of attention and play time, and the family prides itself on being available 24 hours a day for its clients.

“If somebody needs to pick up their dog at 4 a.m., we’ll probably accommodate

them,” Ron said.

Between the dogs, horses, growing their own hay – the girls rake it, Ron bales it and his dad, Tom, cuts it – and other activities, the family stays busy.

“People say, ‘You don’t have a TV.’ I say, ‘We wouldn’t have time to watch it anyway,’ ” Ron said.

When a tract of land next to the national grasslands came up for sale last year, the Hansens took on another project.

Sheyenne Oaks Horse Camp and RV Park will offer 21 sites with sewer, water and electrical hookups, plus corrals for horse owners, on 120 acres. Construction started last fall on a central shower house, and the family plans to open the site to visitors in April, Jodi said.

Ron praises his wife for putting up with him “for all those crabby years” after he went back to college at age 25 for his engineering degree while trying to build a family and a horse boarding business.

Jodi takes it all in stride.

“Same fire, different iron,” she quipped.

Inforum searchword: farmers’ forum


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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