Sunday, June 19, 2011

The three R's: Roduner's Rooster Resort

It has certainly been an interesting past few days as we made our way into the great state of South Dakota.  We have to make this short and sweet because we have to get up and go tomorrow and it's currently 11pm, so forgive the brevity or degree of description...

We have spent the past few days at Roduner's Rooster Resort, a cattle ranch/farm/pheasant hunting resort run by Steve Roduner and his brother Brian, in the luxury of one of the hunting lodges on the nearly 4000 acre property.  Caitlin's dad is friends with Steve and hunts pheasant annually at his property.

South Dakota isn't all flat...

We've been learning an incredible amount about commercial farming from Steve and one of his seasonal workers, Jacob.  The amount of time and energy it takes to farm a plot of land this size is astonishing, and it amazes us that Steve, Brian, Jacob, and occasionally the family can actually get everything that needs to be done in order for the farm to function.

One of the most interesting, and potentially scary things about farming at this large of a scale, and in general is the amount of risk involved for the farmer.  Too much or too little rain, a late frost, an unusually hot year, an unexpected rise in fuel price, etc. can mean losses in the hundreds of thousands.

a lightening storm the night we arrived

We have been lucky enough to get a tour of the property from Steve and Jacob where we were able to check out some really old homestead farms, feed mineral and salt to cattle, see the goats and chickens being raised by Brian's wife Christina, and ride in a tractor at night while baling hay before a storm rolled in.

Kevin and Jacob feeding mineral and salt to the cattle

Caitlin with the kids

We also were privileged to see some of the surrounding area as well; more specifically, a Hutterite colony located just miles away.  Here we met with Debbie who showed us around (earlier that day 1400 chickens had been butchered and were being processed).

1400 chicken in 5 hours

The colony consists of ~200 people and is completely self-sustaining.  They grow enough food to feed themselves for the growing season, and pickle or freeze enough for the off-season.  In addition, they sell their excess produce, honey, chicken, and other hand-made goods at the local farmers' market in Wessington Springs, SD.

Debbie's husband, Marvin was hard at work in the fields when we visited as his job in the community is to garden.  He starts some of his plants at a large hoop-house greenhouse in the late winter/early spring and transports them to a plot of land later in the year where he also grows a variety of vegetables.

Marvin at work

Fresh dill and Steve, Kevin, and Debbie picking

Debbie and Marvin were kind enough to let us pick some fresh vegetable while we were there and we left the colony with a few freshly butchered chickens and pickled produce which we promptly cooked up later that night after wrangling a few stray cattle belonging to a neighboring ranch.

a South Dakota sunset

Tomorrow we continue our journey westward as we hope to avoid the bad weather and enjoy the majestic scenery that lay only miles away...


  1. We met Caitlin and Kevin today close to the west entrance of Yellowstone. They were both smiling and enjoying their trip. What an inspriration to see them doing this.
    Wanted to let their parents know that they are doing fine.
    Enjoy the rest of your trip and good luck when you get back to Philly.
    Rosa and Mike

  2. Oh awesome! We're super proud of them. Thanks for checking in, Rose and Mike!
    ~Audra Martin Viehland (Cait's sister)