5 questions with ... Robyn Goddard, rancher, Prairie City, S.D.
Q: How has agriculture shaped your life? I have never known a lifestyle outside of agriculture. I grew up in central Nebraska on a cow/calf operation and my parents are still active in the ranching business. My sister and I are the fifth generati...
Q: How has agriculture shaped your life?
I have never known a lifestyle outside of agriculture. I grew up in central Nebraska on a cow/calf operation and my parents are still active in the ranching business. My sister and I are the fifth generation to be involved in production agriculture. My husband, Jim, and I live and ranch on his family operation where we are the fourth generation to operate on this land.
I've been a full-time at-home ranch wife since 2012 and work side-by-side with my husband every day.
Q: What are your greatest challenges in ranching and how do you work to overcome them?
1. The weather: Our lives revolve around the weather. Most of our decisions and tasks are due to how we respond to Mother Nature. We are currently in drought conditions. The pastures are holding, but the grass is short, headed out and not growing. Our biggest concern right now is making sure our livestock have good quality water. Our hay crop looks poor. We have several fields that look like they have not come out of winter dormancy.
2. Ranching is a business: There is so much more to ranching than cattle work. Other areas of ranching include raising grass and hay, weed control, mechanicing and equipment maintenance, fencing, etc.
It's important to do some research to know your cost of production for raising a calf, grass, hay and crops. Jim frequently prices around when we buy something as there can be a lot of variation between suppliers of vaccine, equipment, feedstuff, trucking fees, parts and more.
In addition, there are many relationships that are vital to a ranching operation. Relationships with neighbors, landlords, cattle buyers, veterinarians, animal supply companies and mechanics are an important part of managing a cost efficient business.
Q: If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?
Ruby VanDenBerg is a family friend and lived over 60 years on a ranch in our community. Next week she will be celebrating 70 years of marriage to her one and only husband! As a woman in her 90s, Ruby has lived through many life challenges and changes. She has worked as a young girl farming with horses, experienced all types of weather conditions, and raised livestock, gardens and crops.
Ruby is a mother of six. If you visit her, she will greet you with a smile, a hug and probably something delicious fresh from the oven. She was very active in the community and is still active in her church. Ruby is a woman of faith, determination and perseverance.
Q: If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?
There are a lot of misconceptions and miscommunication about where our food comes from. I like the idea of fresh from the garden produce and farmers markets, but we cannot feed the growing population and maintain affordable food without large agricultural businesses and genetically modified plants.
I think it's important for the ag community to be transparent about how they raise their livestock and crops. Genetically modified plants help farmers raise high quality foods that require less usage of chemicals for weed and pest management. Livestock producers do their best to keep the animals they care for healthy and the products they produce safe for human consumption.
Q: What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you?
I find a lot of encouragement in the agriculture blog community and South Dakota Women in Ag. I am a board member of SD WIA and find our committee members inspirational in their individual attitudes and personal strengths. I have met many women at our conference that are "everyday" ranch wives and incredible women.
Robyn and her husband ranch on a fourth generation cow/calf near Prairie City, S.D. Robyn is originally from Hazard, Neb., where she grew up raising and showing livestock. Take a peek at Robyn's ranch life and everything in between at theranchwifechronicles.com/.