The Farming Families of Minnehaha County July 2020

Page 1

July 2020 | www.AgeMedia.pub

Faith / Family / Friends / Farming

of Minnehaha County

Meet the

LEEPER Family Roger, Cindy and Phoenix Leeper. Story on page 6.

July 2020 | www.agemedia.pub | The Farming Families Magazine Photo by Allscapes Photography

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PUBLISHERS Garrett and Mindy Gross, AGE Media (605) 690-4071 EDITOR Bob Fitch, AGE Media (712) 551-4123 ADVERTISING SALES: Garrett Gross, AGE Media (515) 231-9367 garrett@agemedia.pub © The Farming Families, Age Media & Promotion The Farming Families is distributed free exclusively to the farmers, ranchers and producers in rural southeastern South Dakota. All rights reserved. Content in this magazine should not be copied in any way without the written permission of the publisher. The Farming Families assumes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or photographs. Content in articles, editorial and advertisements are not necessarily endorsed by The Farming Families and Age Media & Promotion.

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PUBLISHER'S NOTE

GLAD TO BE BACK Farming Families magazine is glad to be back in your mailbox! After a threemonth COVID-related hiatus, we’re pleased to once again be sharing stories about your neighbors and community. Because our team spends a lot of time meeting in person with the families and businesses we feature, we made the decision to respect the guidelines of Garrett Gross health and government officials and consequently put our April, May and June issues on hold. The Farming Families magazine philosophy of building community, buying local, and supporting local businesses is more important than ever. We’ll continue to do our best to deliver positive stories about the families, businesses, youth and churches in northwestern Iowa. Hopefully this crisis has helped validate the importance of sustaining strong domestic food production and all of the critical components and people who grow, process, transport and sell food. In the past, too many people have taken for granted the value of a safe and domestically-produced and processed food supply. Last year was extremely challenging for farmers because of poor weather conditions and uncertain international markets. Thankfully, the weather this year allowed most farmers in our area to get their crops planted on time, but the COVID-related disruption in the food processing chain and continued international uncertainties are contributing to ongoing stress for producers. If you feel yourself reaching a state of despair, please seek help. In addition to friends, family and local health professionals who care about you, here's a resource that can help: • Farm & Rural Stress Hotline: Avera. 1-800-691-4336 Thank you for reading Farming Families and for supporting the advertisers who pay for the magazine’s delivery to you. We pray you and your family remain safe.

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MINNEHAHA COUNTY FAMILY

BIG LOVE FOR SMALL ANIMALS ON VALLEY VIEW FARM Roger Leeper and his grandson Phoenix with their mini-hay wagon and mini-tractor. Photo by Allscapes Photography.

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Sixteen-year old Phoenix Leeper, grandson of Roger and Cindy Leeper of Valley View Farm, has always loved farming. The couple has lived on Valley View Farm near Ellis, west of Sioux Falls, since 1980, and it has also been Phoenix’s home. He always looked up to their neighbor Bill Schroeder and wanted to be “just like Bill.” At a very young age, Phoenix would mow hay with a lawn mower and rake it by hand then pick it up. “We thought he would outgrow that. But he didn’t,” said Roger, a Humboldt native. “So I made him a homemade baler so he could make small bales by hand. As Phoenix grew, we bought him a DR mower, and he mowed hay that way. He finally got a sickle mower and a John Deere 950 tractor last year. He loves the farm life as much as we do. His work ethic is like no other.” In 2014, Roger and Cindy adopted Phoenix. “He’s a very important part of our lives, and we are blessed to have him,” said Cindy. Because the Leeper family lives on a small farm, they have concentrated on raising small animals such as miniature horses. The American Miniature Horse Association says miniatures possess the same conformation characteristics found in most equine breeds. Miniature horses can be found in a rainbow of colors and types. Typically, they make gentle and affectionate companions for individuals of any age or ability. The horses can also excel in a variety of disciplines including driving, halter, jumping, obstacle and others. The Leeper’s love for miniature horses goes back decades – they’ve been raising them since 1979.

Phoenix recently re-landscaped around the tree stump gnome home at Leeper Farms. Photo by Cindy Leeper.

Valley View Farm may be most well-known for Miniature Australian Shepherd dogs, which they have raised for almost 15 years. “We take pride in raising quality Mini Aussies,” said Cindy, who grew up in Sioux Falls. The Miniature Australian Shepherd, also known as the Miniature American Shepherd, resembles a small Australian Shepherd, according to the American Kennel Club. True herders in spite of their compact size, Minis are bright, self-motivated workers and loyal and lively companion dogs who have an affinity for horses. Despite their size, Minis are a true herding dog: energetic, versatile, rugged, and extremely bright. Their coats comes in black, blue merle, red, and red merle. The Leepers have also raised and owned several exotic animals over the years including wallabies, Capuchin monkeys, rhea, emu, assorted pheasants and several breeds of mini cattle. Currently, in addition to their Mini Aussies, you’ll find mini cattle, peafowl, guineas and assorted chickens on Valley View Farm. The couple started a new beekeeping venture this spring. They are beginning with two hives and if all goes well, they’ll add more.

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Roger said everything is done oldfashioned on their farm. “Since we are not a big farm, we tend to use smaller equipment. The biggest challenge is, nowadays, that can be hard to come by.” Phoenix stays busy helping on the farm and has just started his own venture of raising Frenchtons, which are a cross between the Boston Terrier and French Bulldog breeds. He also picked up a hobby of oil painting landscapes and has a 1930 model A pickup he found in an old barn that he is restoring.

Phoenix Leeper shells corn with an antique John Deere sheller. Photo by Allscapes Photography.

Cindy said they have made many memories over the years with raising a variety of animals and tasks around the farm. However, most important are the memories they’re making with their grandson, Phoenix, seeing his work ethic and watching him grow. “Our life is our farm and our animals. We really can’t imagine doing anything else. So, relaxing for us is just enjoying our life here.” Leeper Farms has been raising and selling mini-horses at Valley View Farm since 1979. Photo by Cindy Leeper.

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Valley View Farm may be most wellknown for Miniature Australian Shepherd dogs, which they have raised for almost 15 years. Pictured is Snitch, a Harlequin Blue Merle male. Photo by Cindy Leeper.

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Bees enjoy the flowers at Valley View Farm. The Leeper family have recently added beehives to their farm. Photo by Cindy Leeper.

July 2020 | www.agemedia.pub | The Farming Families Magazine

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KEEPING LOCAL HISTORY ALIVE

A view of the Klondike bridge, looking north from the South Dakota side of the Big Sioux River. Photo by Brett Davelaar, BD Photography.

STORIES OF THE GHOST TOWN OF KLONDIKE By Bob Fitch

“For those who seek to float the various types of Iowa streams, the unique scenery and historical character of the upper Big Sioux can no longer be overlooked.” So wrote Jon Gibson of the Iowa Conservation Commission in an article for the Iowa Conservationist in 1972 about the Big Sioux River from Gitchie Manitou (southeast of Sioux Falls/ west of Larchwood) south to Highway 18 east of Canton. Gibson wrote glowingly that the Big Sioux featured “silver maples so large that their branches form an arch over the water and douse it in shade much of the time. Yellow-billed cuckoos, wood ducks, great blue herons, green

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herons, and belted kingfishers are occasionally seen among the branches.” Also on this stretch of the Big Sioux at the site of the former village of Klondike, Iowa, there was even gold mining. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy state the tiny town was home to commercial placer mining in the early 1900s. It is Iowa’s only known commercial gold mining venture. The DNR Geological Survey Bureau says gold is present in the veneer of glacially deposited materials which cover most of the state. The glaciers eroded these goldrich rocks and mixed them

The Farming Families Magazine | www.agemedia.pub | July 2020

with other rock debris before depositing them in Iowa. At Klondike, gold was recovered from the alluvial gravel in the river. The river below Klondike “was well known for clamming at the turn of the century,” said the Iowa Conservationist article. “The clams, or freshwater mussels, were dug off the stream bottom with potato forks and boiled in large troughs over open fires to open the shells. The meat was fed to livestock, the shells were shipped to Muscatine to be made into mother-of-pearl buttons, and the pearls that were sometimes found sold for as much as $1,800.”


A photo of the mill, dam and the earlier bridge in 1905. From “The History of Lincoln County, South Dakota.”

The remnants of the mill still stood in 1973. Photo by Don Graham published on www.commons.wikipedia.org.

All that remains of the mill today are a few old turbines and some stone and cement foundations.

Klondike was begun by a German-born immigrant named Christian Krueger. Using native field stones, he constructed a rock dam on the Big Sioux River in 1883. On the Iowa side of the river, Krueger built a grist mill to grind wheat for South Dakota and Iowa farmers who came from as far away as 50 miles, said a 2002 story in the Lyon County Reporter, adapted from “The Klondike Story” by Omar Peterson. The imported millstones were powered by turbines, not a vertical water wheel. Krueger also sold house lots along the road north of his mill. Today, four houses remain.

SERVING SOUTH DAKOTA FROM SOUTH DAKOTA SINCE 1916

Krueger’s youngest son, August, sold the mill to J.H. Rowe of Canton in 1922. Rowe modernized the mill and, subsequently, turbines powered an electric generator which in turn powered a new attrition mill to grind cattle feed, said the book The History of Lincoln, County, South Dakota. From 1883 until the early 1900s, Klondike grew to about 50 people. Even with this small population, the town boasted a number of businesses including a grocery store, an ice house, a sawmill, a blacksmith shop and gas station, and a tavern. There was a post office there from 1897 until 1902. The blacksmith shop/gas station was last operated by Harold Foss and closed in 1957. The tavern closed in the 1960s and was last known as Kenny’s Place, operated by Kenny Monen. Earlier in the century, the Krueger home was remodeled into Klondike Hall (also known as Rowe Hall). It was used for roller skating, wedding receptions, debates, auctions and religious services. It burned down in 1963.

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open to recreational traffic, but it carried cars and trucks from Iowa to South Dakota and back again until 1977. Bridgehunter.com says because it was built using both standard and non-standard designs, the Klondike Bridge is historically significant for its representation of a brief transitional period in Iowa highway bridge construction. In well-preserved condition, the Klondike Bridge is an important resource from the formative period of Iowa's highway system.

A view of the rock arch rapids which replaced the dam.

Other social activities enjoyed in the town included ice skating, sledding, horseshoes, kittenball, horseracing and fishing. Most local residents attended services at nearby Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. The Klondike grade school was located north and east of town and boasted as many as 40 students. Klondike is located northeast of Canton and five miles directly west of West Lyon Schools between Inwood and Larchwood. The only signage at the corner to the former townsite points north to Stensland Dairy. Go the opposite direction – south

on the dead end road. On the South Dakota side, there is a sign that says “Big Sioux Access.” The town long ago vanished and today only a few remnants remain. A bridge across the Big Sioux was first built at Klondike in 1901, but it proved inadequate to handle the traffic. So, according to the websites “ghostsofnorthamerica. com” and “bridgehunter.com”, in 1913, Lyon County contracted with Western Bridge & Construction Company of Omaha to build the new bridge. It was constructed in 1914 and opened in January 1915. Today, it’s only

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While the bridge still stands and is used by foot traffic, Krueger’s oft-repaired dam at Klondike was removed for good in 2013. The dam was the largest barrier to fish passage on the Big Sioux River, according to South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks and the Iowa DNR. A study found nine species of fish below the dam that were not found upstream, including the blue sucker and silver chub, which are identified as species of greatest conservation need. In the early 2000s, the deteriorating condition of the dam was also of concern to the Lyon & Sioux Rural Water System which relied on the dam to maintain water elevations upstream for six alluvial wells. While canoeists and kayakers wanted the dam completely

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The Klondike bridge today is used by hikers, bikers, fishers and sight-seers.

removed, the upstream pool of water was also important for the local drinking water supply. Consequently, conversion to rock arch rapids was chosen to accommodate all needs. The Iowa DNR says that following the dam’s conversion to rock arch rapids, fish have access to 38 more miles of the Big Sioux River and 1,840 miles of tributary streams to find essential habitat

and breeding grounds. This has had a positive impact on fishing. The rapids also reliably maintain levels for the rural water system and provide safe passage for canoeists and kayakers. Steep banks were sloped back and replaced to minimize erosion and improve river access. The Lyon County Conservation Board made bank improvements

to the Iowa side of the Big Sioux River. The life-safety hazard of the dam is gone as is the risk and cost of structural failures by the dam.

Sources Facebook page of Lyon County Historical Society Lyon County Reporter, 2002 The History of Lincoln County, South Dakota, 1984 Hudson Institute of Mineralogy, www.mindat.org Iowa Department of Natural Resources Iowa Conservationist publication, 1972 www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMBM5K www.ghostsofnorthamerica.com/klondike-bridge/ www.bridgehunter.com/ia/lyon/klondike/ www.commons.wikipedia.org

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TURNER COUNTY FAMILY

LARSEN FAMILY FARM TRADITION CONTINUES WITH FIFTH GENERATION By Bob Fitch

The Larsen farm in Turner County was built on the shoulders of some tough, hardworking ancestors.

Jim, Kim, Jamie, Saylor and Chris Larsen farm north of Viborg in Turner County.

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The Farming Families Magazine | www.agemedia.pub | July 2020


Jim Larsen’s great grandfather immigrated from Denmark and homesteaded north of Viborg around 1880. “My dad and grandpa’s generation worked five times as hard as we do today. We’re fortunate we’ve got the technology and equipment. Those guys worked from sunup to sundown every day. They stayed home and saved. We owe a lot to them. We wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for them. “You know, they didn’t know any different. They worked outside with no cab. When they came back at the end of the day, the house wasn’t even cool. They were tough, tough people,” Jim said. “And talk about how hard my dad and grandpa worked … well, the women worked right with them. My mom had chickens, cooked for the hired men, sewed, and grew a huge garden.” His parents were Homer and Ethel Larsen. Jim’s son, Chris, agreed about Three of the five generations: The late Homer Larsen, and Jim and Chris Larsen. how important previous generations are to today’s success. “If it weren’t for Dad, Grandpa and Great Grandpa, it wouldn’t have been set up for me to be able to come back here. I take a lot of pride and joy in being a fifth generation farmer … not many of those around anymore.” Jim said, “When we do things and make decisions, we’re thinking of them and are hoping they would approve.” Jim and Kim Larsen and Chris and Jamie Larsen grow corn and soybeans plus typically feed 400 yearling cattle through the winter. “My grandpa started with sheep and cattle,” Jim said. “Dad fed a lot of cattle through the years. And I’ve been feeding ever since I started farming – except this past winter was the first one we ever took off. With the way the prices crashed with the COVID stuff, it was kind of a blessing in disguise.” Larsens will probably return to feeding cattle. “It’s a lot riskier than it used to be. Back in my dad’s day, you’d have a bad year, you could make it back up the next year. Today, it takes five to 10 years to come back from a bad year,” Jim said. “You talk about the difference in expenses between the old days and now … Dad would tell the story about when he was younger and he lost a lot of money on a pen of cattle. The banker told him ‘When you lose your wallet, what do you do? You go back and look for where you lost it’ … meaning we’re going to borrow you some more money and you’re going to make it back. And Dad did the next year.” Jim started farming in 1982 after graduating from the University of South Dakota with a business degree. He

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in ag business from South Dakota State University. Jim said, “I told him he had to get a four-year degree before I’d let him come back and farm. Your college degree gives you have an option if things don’t work out on the farm; or, if you’d happen to have an injury, you’ve got something to fall back on.” The brokerage business was a natural fit for Chris. “I enjoy following the markets because it’s part of farming. So it’s something I already had to do and keep track of. And with how much time I spent looking at charts and following markets, I said why not turn this into a business of my own. In addition to farming, Chris Larsen is a licensed commodity broker for Bolt Marketing LLC.

met Kim at USD where she was an education major. “She grew up in Sioux Falls, but we turned her into a farmer.” Kim said, “Vaccinating cattle was the first thing I did; that kind of freaked me out at first. After I managed that, then the next step was driving grain cart. When Christopher was in college, I jumped up to the combine for a couple years. But now I’m back to the grain cart. I never thought I’d be driving combine, vaccinating cattle or driving a grain cart. Those were never on my thoughts growing up in Sioux Falls, but I love it.” Jim said, “Basically we just kind of show her what to do and then leave her alone. She figures it out. But she won’t drive the semi yet.” Kim said, “I'm not going to do that, I think, ever. And this autosteer stuff with the combine, I don’t like that either. I like to be in control.” Even though Kim grew up in the city, she loves the farm. “You couldn’t ask for a better life or, for me, a better way to raise kids – small town, farm life.” In addition to Chris, Jim and Kim have two daughters, Cally and Chelsey, both of whom live in Sioux Falls. Chelsey is married to Trevor Doyle and they have a daughter 16

named Leighton. Off the farm, the family enjoys camping; Jim enjoys following the Twins and Vikings; and Chris likes to snowmobile in Wyoming. They’re active in the Hurley 7th Day Adventist Church and Jim serves on the Viborg Community Foundation Board. He was a long-time chairman of the Viborg-Hurley School Board. Kim worked as a teacher’s aide in Viborg schools on-and-off for 30 years. For the past two years, she’s been working at the Pump ‘n Stuff corporate office in Viborg. Chris’ wife, Jamie, grew up in Wessington and went to Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown to become a dental assistant. She graduated in 2004 and has been working in the dental field ever since. Her grandfather started Vern’s Manufacturing in Wessington, a livestock equipment manufacturer now operated by her father and his brothers. Chris and Jamie were married in 2011. Their daughter Saylor is 1 1/2. Besides farming, Chris is also a licensed commodity broker, running the Viborg branch of Bolt Marketing LLC since 2014. He graduated in 2008 with a degree

The Farming Families Magazine | www.agemedia.pub | July 2020

“Being on the broker side of things and seeing how much of that ties into what we do on the farm, my biggest concern for the future is outside market influences. For two or three years, we’ve had to deal with the China trade war and now it’s the Corona virus. The biggest headwind going forward is the uncertainty and the unknown. That causes a lot of big swings in the market. You have to be good at risk management. Make a marketing plan and stick to it. You have to be disciplined too with your costs and the amount of capital involved. I feel like being on the broker side of things helps me to bring some of those skills and knowledge to our farm. You need to survive the hard times here and there to enjoy the good times,” he said. Being able to take the good with the bad is an essential attitude in order for a farm to survive into the fifth generation. “You have to be very flexible, patient, and have trust and faith in God,” Kim said. Twenty years from now, Chris hopes to be keeping the family tradition alive. “I hope I’m at where we’re at today – raising a family and having my kids want to farm just like I wanted to farm.”


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HUTCHINSON COUNTY AREA FAMILY

WE DON’T KNOW WHERE WE ARE GOING, BUT WE ARE ON OUR WAY by Garrett Gross

Retired Hutchinson County farmers Dennis and Dorothy Bietz have visited every town and city in South Dakota.

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The Farming Families Magazine | www.agemedia.pub | July 2020


There is a song made famous by Johnny Cash called “I’ve Been Everywhere.” In the song, Cash quickly rattles off cities and towns, one after another all over the country. It almost feels as if he is remembering trips he’s taken in his tour bus and he can name all the places he’s been by memory. This fun song was actually written years before Cash recorded it, and the original version listed cities around Australia. There are also versions of the song with towns in New Zealand, England and Ireland as well. If there were a version written with a South Dakota theme, it might be a good idea to consult with former Hutchinson County farmers, Dennis and Dorothy Bietz.

Dennis and Dorothy Bietz said “The Cathedral on the Prairie” at Hoven Qtr Page Color 7-12-19.pdf 1 7/12/2019 they 11:22:43 AM on their travels. was one Age of Media the most beautiful churches saw Photo by Christian Begeman.

Several years ago, Dennis and Dorothy retired from actively farming in southwest Hutchinson County before moving to Scotland. They read an article in South Dakota Magazine giving them an idea that it might be fun to visit every town in the state. Their plan was pretty simple: There are 447 towns in South Dakota and they were set on visiting each one! Considering the challenge of hitting that many towns, their plan was to never do it all in one trip or in one month. They set out on their venture with long-time friends Paul and Lillian Schlechter to help with navigation and to provide company on the journey. It took them about 17 months to hit every town on the list. They traveled approximately 9,000 miles, went through 400 gallons of gas and stayed in hotels seven to eight nights. Over the course of their trip, they had many laughs on the road. One sign caught their eye on the trip said, “We don’t know where we are going, but we are on our way.” This little sign became their slogan for the rest of the venture. The way the process worked was every time they pulled into a new town, Dennis would stand next to the sign with Dorothy snapping a quick photo. Lillian would read a few quick facts about the town from research on her smartphone, and Paul would plan the drive to the next town on the list.

July 2020 | www.agemedia.pub | The Farming Families Magazine

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At each town, Dennis Bietz would jump out of the car and have his photo taken with the town sign. 22

The Farming Families Magazine | www.agemedia.pub | July 2020


One of the things they enjoyed was the feeling of not exactly knowing what the next town would bring. One of the pleasant surprises that stuck out to them was the beauty of the churches scattered around the state. “The Cathedral on the Prairie” in Hoven (St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church) stood out as an example. “We heard the cathedral in Hoven was beautiful and, seeing it in person, it was quite impressive,” said Dennis. They said Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Dimock also stood out along with the Cathedral in Sioux Falls and St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Marty. On their trip, they read about the Dakota Markers that were placed on the border between North Dakota and South Dakota. The year after statehood, the Department of the Interior authorized the 7th standard parallel to be surveyed and marked as the official border between the two states. The markers were placed every half mile from east to west. A total of 720 markers in total were placed in 1890. The group set out to find one of the approximately 350 markers that are still believed to stand today. They located an example at dusk one morning near Pollack. If they had to do anything differently, Dennis said, “It would’ve been nice to do it a little slower and spend more time in a few towns.” However, overall it was a great experience for both the Bietzs and Schlechters. They took over 1,100 photos of their trip and put them in 7 binders packed full of memories around the state.

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HEALTH & WELLNESS

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU GO FOR A HEARING TEST? By Melissa Baker, MA, CCC-A, FAAA Baker Audiology & Hearing Aids

When was the last time you had your hearing tested? While many people know that they need a health check each year and a trip to the dentist a couple of times a year, many people are less sure about how often hearing tests are required. Your hearing is one of your most vital senses as it performs so many functions. Your hearing can alert you to approaching danger, help you to communicate with others and maintain your awareness of your surroundings. Hearing clearly helps in every aspect of your life, from being at work to socializing with friends to watching the TV or chatting with family members. To ensure that your ability to hear stays at the best level possible, it is crucial to take care of it, and part of taking care of your hearing is through having regular hearing tests.

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For many, school is the last time that their hearing was tested. It is vital to get your hearing checked again after leaving school instead of waiting until you notice a decline in your hearing. Even if you are not experiencing any type of hearing loss, a test can help provide a baseline for your hearing. The results of any subsequent hearing tests can then be compared to this baseline to detect any changes that have occurred.

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take your hearing seriously. Whether you are due for a regular hearing test or have noticed a loss in your hearing ability, we can help. At Baker Audiology & Hearing Aids, we use the latest diagnostic equipment to provide hearing tests that deliver accurate results. Our family-owned hearing center is passionate about delivering the best service to improve the quality of life for our patients.

If you are looking for an audiologist in Sioux Getting a regular hearing test performed by a qualified Falls, call Baker Audiology & Hearing Aids audiologist every few years is vital, but sometimes you today to schedule your appointment and find may notice a decline in your hearing between scheduled out more about the audiology and hearing appointments. Maybe you are finding it more difficult to services that we provide. Call us at follow conversations, or perhaps you need to turn up the 605-610-2886, and we will be happy to help. volume higher than usual on the TV. If you have noticed changes in your hearing or are experiencing unfamiliar sensations such as ringing in your ears, it is crucial to Is your andright ranching operation on the proper legal path? Farm succession planning schedule an farming appointment away, instead of waiting Baker Audiology & Hearing Aids foris your next planned visit to the audiologist. difficult, but we make the process easier. Visit429 SwierLaw.com to find out how you can grow W 69th St. Sioux Falls, SD 57108 andthe protect yourcan operation now and for future generations. Acting quickly ensures that audiologist test 605-610-2886 your hearing and identify the causes of the changes that you are experiencing. Based on the results of your Whatever your concerns are, wetocan help hearing test, your audiologist will then be able make recommendations on the best course of action.

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LINCOLN COUNTY FAMILY

TAKE CARE OF THE LAND AND BE GOOD NEIGHBORS Centerville area farmer Craig Andersen is reserved by nature. He would rather be working around the farm than being in the spotlight or in the public eye. However, the past few months, Craig has been busy representing the farming community. In January, he was invited to visit the White House with Gov. Kristi Noem on behalf of South Dakota farmers during the signing of a trade deal with China. And this spring, Andersen’s hog operation was featured in a Los Angeles Times story on the pork Industry during the COVID-19 outbreak. Craig said, “I’d rather be in the background, but I know it's important to represent agriculture and accurately share with the public our side of the story.” Craig and his wife, Gail, are the fourth generation of the Andersen family to farm in this area dating back to 1880s. They raise corn, soybeans, winter wheat and alfalfa, as well as cattle in addition to their hog operation. The Andersens have three grown children and they all have careers in agriculture. Sons Jacob and Tyler help with the day-to-day operations of the farm and Jacob also works for

Lincoln County pork producer Craig Andersen with Gov. Kristi Noem and Jerry Schmitz, executive director of South Dakota Soybean, at the White House for a signing of a trade deal with China. 28

The Farming Families Magazine | www.agemedia.pub | July 2020

Craig Andersen is president of the South Dakota Pork Producers Council.


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Pioneer Seed. Their daughter Emily works for Smithfield Foods as a livestock coordinator. Craig has long been active with the South Dakota Pork Producers Council and earlier this year, he was elected to serve as president of the organization. His approach to this role is similar to the other leadership activities he’s been asked to do recently. He feels it is important to make sure the industry is represented properly and that the real benefits of the industry are shared with the public. “In livestock farming and in the pork industry specifically, there are so many secondary benefits to the rural communities. There are jobs that come about that support everything we do and it provides opportunities for the next generations to stay on the farm,” he said. His family is a prime example of that with young adult children all actively pursuing careers in the industry and living in the area. In addition to his service with SDPPC, Craig is also on the township board, and has been on the county planning and zoning commission, past church chairman and school advisory committee. He also represents South Dakota on the National Pork Producers Council Board of Directors. Craig and Gail live on the same farm where generations of the Andersen family have resided. He has fond memories of his grandmother tending the garden behind their home. He and his wife rest and enjoy something to drink on the same rock wall and seat his grandmother did.

Jerry Schmitz at the White House.

In the 150-plus years the Andersen family has lived in the area, there have been many changes, but the theme of providing for the family and leaving the land in better shape than it was found is something that hasn’t changed. “The most important thing we can do as farmers is take care of our land and be good neighbors.” This is the legacy Craig wants too and why he takes on the leadership roles he’s been asked to do.

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