South Dakota—my interior geography

Last week I was in South Dakota for a funeral and a wedding.  In between those emotional events I found some time to drive back roads with my husband, see the stunning late August countryside and find some much needed quiet.  I’m always reminded of how much the prairie landscape resides in my cells, bones and heart.

This landscape gives me clarity, helps me understand my choices and guides me back to my personal True North when I get off course a bit.

South Dakota is my interior geography, no matter where I am in the world. 

Recently, I had to draw a compass at Courage Camp in Bristol, Rhode Island.  I laughed at myself because the way I still figure out directions is to imagine I’m standing on the front porch of my childhood home.  It’s there that I’m most confident in knowing my directions.  (photo below)

IMG_2852Standing on the porch I know which direction the sun sets and how to get to Nebraska. With that knowledge, I can find my way most places.

I often think of my intrepid ancestral homesteaders who ventured West, uncertain of what they would find in the Dakota Territories.  However, and more importantly, perhaps they knew they could handle whatever the prairie offered them. 

I understand that now, at the tender age of 50, in a way I didn’t when I was younger.  I don’t know what’s next, but I know I can count on my interior geography to help guide my way.

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Ponca Creek Cattle Company-part two

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Aunt Cindy knew that I would want to shoot things that most people wouldn’t be too interesting in.  I love shooting metal and shadows.  I could’ve used more time actually.  I will be back, there’s a lot more to explore.  Part three next week.

Ponca Creek Cattle Company—part one

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This last week I had the pleasure of touring the Ponca Creek Cattle Company.  My Aunt Cindy and Uncle Tom own this operation.  My Aunt Cindy grew up on this land and it has been in her family for 100 years.

My Uncle Tom just lit up talking about his cattle company. That was cool.  He might be a banker by trade but he’s a rancher at heart.  I guess I had to leave South Dakota to get more interested in some parts of the world I grew up in.  I could’ve been a rancher, but I fell in love with a boy who grew up by the sea…and much to the chagrin of my family, a Massachusetts Democrat as well. They’ve grown to love him anyway. I digress…

There are terms I had never heard before like breeding “Pathfinders”.  How wonderfully connected to the spirit of South Dakota to hear that certain calves are “Pathfinders”—it’s really quite interesting scientifically.  Tom has found one of the best guys around to be learn best breeding practices from.  A good lesson in “knowing your resources”.  Thanks, Uncle Tom.

I have a lot more pictures, this is only the first installment.  I hope you enjoy this little tour of a South Dakota cattle ranch, west of the Missouri River and not too far from the Nebraska border.

“The Pathfinder Angus program was started in 1978 in an effort to identify superior cows in the breed based on their records of performance from Angus Herd Improvement Records (AHIR). In identifying these superior cows, emphasis was placed on early puberty, breeding and early calving, followed by regularity of calving and above-average performance of the offspring.

…the Pathfinder Report requires a minimum of three calves from a cow to determine her regularity of calving and ability to produce superior calves for weaning weight year after year. In addition, an important part of the report is the list of bulls that have sired five or more qualifying females.”

(I felt compassionate for these parents.  There’s too much pressure to create superior offspring. Right?)

Here is a link to the American Angus Association if you would like to learn more:

https://www.angus.org/performance/PathfinderInfo.aspx