A Truly American Experience

My name is Alexandra Galber, Alexi or Lexi for short. I am a combat veteran of the Israel Defense Force (SSgt). I have a LL.B (law degree) from Ramat Gan, Israel, and on May 14th I graduated from Chicago Kent School of law with a LL.M (master law degree) in US, International, and Transnational law. I lived in London, England before I moved to Israel at the age of 16.

After graduation I wanted to spend my remaining time here in America doing something truly American. Something that I couldn’t do in either Israel or England. And that is how I fell into South Dakota and landed here at Rock Hills Ranch with the Perman’s.

Growing up, my family (Mum, Dad, and two younger sisters) would spend the holidays camping in the southern English country side rather than in a hotel. Once or twice we even stayed on a farm. But that is the closest that I had ever came to something like the life that I have been living over the past three weeks here on the ranch. With no disrespect to Chicago, I have never been into living right in the city, and I found that in comparison, the fact that the closest town from here has maybe 10 people living in it, is definitely more to my liking.

Over the past three weeks I have experienced things that I could never have even thought of before. Among the many things that I have learnt through experience here at the ranch is that there is so much more to grass that it just being green! And that it is considered to be traffic when there is more than just you and one other car on the road!

The day after I arrived at the ranch a group from the World Wildlife Foundation came to visit. It was a great way for me to be introduced to the ranch as we went on a tour of the pastures and received explanations of how the ranch functions. It was especially interesting as the ranch is based along the 100th Meridian, and also has Native American tee-pee sites. The visit was also the perfect example of how different people with different opinions can work together to find a way to protect, what I have come to learn as being one of the most important things that needs to be protected, the grass.

My first real ranch life experience, and therefore, out of my world experience, was moving cattle. As someone who has never been in the middle of a field completely surrounded by extremely large cows, this experience may have definitely caused me some blood pressure problems.  Even after being around cattle a several more times, I still maintain that I would rather deal with the animals that I had to deal with during my time in the service, rather than deal with an unruly cow. My inexperience with cattle was shown once again when I had to wrangle an escaped bottle fed calf back to the barn where it was kept. Thankfully there are no cameras in that barn. The whole situation would have been a whole lot less amusing had I not been wearing a sweatshirt with the name of my military unit, and the words “counter-terrorism” written on the back!

My second real life experience was the first time that we worked the cattle. Let’s just say that if anyone ever has the need to castrate a bull calf, they can call me.

This past weekend Tucker, the other intern here at Rock Hills Ranch, and I drove down to Mount Rushmore. It is incredible to think that it was carved in a time before the advancement of technology. During our trip we toured a bison ranch with the Grassland Coalitions, of which we are now members, and spent the first night at the Perman’s cousins in Rapid City.  We also visited the Crazy Horse monument, the town of Wall, the ghost town of Scenic, and drove through the Badlands, where we camped on Saturday night, something that was only possible thanks to Tuckers skills at engineering with duct tape.

There has been so much more to these past three weeks that what I have begun to write down and hopefully the next ten days before I fly back, will be just as amazing, and just as American.


Week One: Making Sense of the Louisiana Purchase

Tuesday, May 16 2017, It was my first full day of work as the new intern here at Rock Hills Ranch. Gray puffy clouds filled the vast prairie sky as I waited to witness the hidden South Dakota sunset for the second time. The bitter 40 degree winds bit at my shivering skin while it rolled across the green hills of the pasture. My head was hung. I stared at the ground watching my faithful cowboy boots take each step across the dark clay soil. Perhaps, the only things that reminded me of my Virginia home were the black-hided cattle tending to their new spring-born calves. Luke and I were conversing as we walked toward the newest addition to the ranch with intentions of tagging its ear. The conversation died in a split instant, along with any sense of security I had previously possessed, when my ears intercepted an alarming noise. “WOAH!!!,” Luke shouted. Without delay, my eyes rose from the fertile ground to see cow Y170 charging right at us. I quickly ran for my life as I sought the shelter of the Honda Pioneer. Terrorized and afraid, I hid behind the ATV. Luke however, had a much different reaction. After the initial fleeing, he handled the situation with experience and composure. The mother was calmed, the calf tagged, and the day went on. On the way back to the barn, I found new insight into American history as I thought, “No wonder France sold this land to Jefferson for so cheap. The weather is frigid, the wind never rests, and even the cattle are mean.” What a welcome to the West.

My name is Tucker Wyatt. I am a 19 year old full-time college student from the college town of Harrisonburg, Virginia. I enjoy hiking, fishing, kayaking, the MLB, the NFL, and writing country music with my best friend, Megan (yes, she is a guitar). I am the second oldest of six kids; Anna (20), myself (19), Jane (17), Lizzy (13), Kitty (11), and Bridget (7). No, your eyes are not deceiving you. I am the only boy with five sisters. Even our family dog is a female. My father, Bill, is the Director of Communications and University Spokesperson for James Madison University (Go Dukes!) and my mother Carey is a stay-at-home mom. We’re a loud and rowdy crew and I miss them already. Just a few short weeks ago, I graduated with my Associate’s Degree from Virginia Tech in Applied Agricultural Management with a concentration in Agribusiness. (LET’S GO, HOKIES!) After my time here at Rock Hills, I will be pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Economics as a cadet at Virginia Military Institute. Upon my graduation from VMI, I aim to pursue my juris doctor in the hopes of one day getting involved with ag law and policy.

I spent the early years of my childhood in Glen Burnie, Maryland which is a suburb just south of Baltimore. So how does a kid from the big city end up working cattle on a ranch in South Dakota? Well, in short, he found his passion. Agriculture. As you might imagine, my pursuit of finding my place in the agricultural industry is quite different than most. When I first moved down to Rockingham County, two days after my 10th birthday, I was not a fan of the rural character of the “friendly city.” Slowly but surely however, thanks to the influence of my dearest friends, I found myself adopting more Virginian habits such as hunting, fishing, and listening to country music. By the time I got to Harrisonburg High School I was a natural want-to-be country boy who was only concerned at the time with a girlfriend, Toyota pickup truck, and playing baseball and football. During my junior year in the Governor’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Academy, my Honors Geoscience instructor told me that she knew of a job where I could make $40 dollars for each 2-hour shift I worked. With gas prices around $3.00 per gallon, I didn’t pay much attention to the fact that the shifts would consist of milking cows or even that each shift started at either 3 am or 3 pm. While the initial adjustment to the job was rough to say the least, over time I began to take pride in playing my role in providing our region with nutritious dairy products. During the next several months, I became fascinated with the question, “How do so many people get fed by so few farmers and ranchers?” That very question led me to pursue my degree in agriculture from Virginia Tech. During my time there, I not only pursued ag in the classroom but also in extra curriculars. I pledged Alpha Zeta which is a professional honors fraternity for students studying agriculture and natural resources as well as the Collegiate Beef Leadership Council of Virginia Tech. I have learned so much through these organizations and the college itself and I am proud to call myself an advocate for our industry.

But why a ranch internship in South Dakota? Well, during my studies, I have developed a particular interest in beef cattle. Not only am I infatuated with a well-marbled steak and cowboy culture, but I really appreciate that the beef industry has remained largely in the hands of family operations compared to a world of other ag industries that seems to be gravitating toward consolidation and large corporate ownership. When I was applying for summer internships, I was hoping that I would find one that would help me gain valuable insight and knowledge that would assist me in becoming a better advocate for the industry and its operators as I pursue my ambitions of public policy and ag law. Although I have only been here for a short time, there is no doubt in my mind that I am in the right place. The Perman family is not only a proactive member and advocate of the beef industry but they are fountains of knowledge concerning production, marketing, and current issues facing the beef community. I have learned so much already and look forward to working for some of the best in the business this summer. Thanks for taking the time to read my first post and I look forward to keeping you posted as the summer goes on!


We’ve had nothing but polled black cattle around here for the better part of 30 years, give or take a few red recessive genes and a brief trial with some Hereford bulls.  That changed the last day of March when 12 red-hided horned bulls arrived from Llano, Texas.

Akaushi (pronounced “ak-a-ooshee”) cattle, also known as Red Wagyu or Japanese Red, were imported to the US from Japan in the early 1990’s.  They produce very high quality beef, similar to that of the more common black wagyu, although some beef snobs would tell you the reds aren’t on par with the blacks.  I suppose Ferrari owners look down on Corvettes also.  Just a quick note here – “wagyu” simply means “Japanese cow”.  Akaushi acutally means “red cow” in Japanese.

After speaking to a number of people and reading every article I could find about them, I decided they would be a good choice for a terminal cross on our Angus cows.  They should bring $75-100 per head over our straight Angus calves if sold at weaning.  If we were to retain ownership and market them on a grid, it could be double that.

I can get used to the red hide and deal with the horns for that kind of premium.