There’s A First Time for Everything

There have been a number of “firsts” for me since my time on the ranch. I made my first loaf of homemade bread with Miss Garnet, I operated a “mustang” (Skid-Steer) to auger fence holes for the first time and I have now had the exciting experience of seeing snow!

While I was excited to finally address Anna of Arendelle’s question, “Do you want to build a snowman?” with a big loud “YES” (and with Sam’s help), the Perman family and citizens of Walworth county were more excited about the highly welcomed moisture for the land. After several repeated prayer requests for rain, the Lord came through two-fold (as in my experiences He typically does) and provided more than four inches of moisture for everyone.


Any of you familiar with cattle production could probably suspect that we at Rock Hills Ranch are in the middle of calving season. Luke, Lyle and Sam check cows multiple times every day to keep record of new calves and the condition of the herd. I am familiar with this and for me, checking cows was not a first.

The beautiful white snow I got to experience could not have arrived without the cold and wet conditions the came before it. Those conditions however, increased the frequency and importance of looking over the herd's new additions.

What was another first was my introduction to a “hot box”. For anyone who doesn’t know, a hot box is a mechanism used to warm cold and wet calves in less than desirable weather conditions. It ensures they are safe and out of harm’s way in regards to adverse weather. Sunday night, I went out to help Sam return a calf that was sufficiently warmed by the box back to its mother. We sunk down in our Muck boots, layered on clothes and I borrowed Miss Garnet’s more appropriate winter wear on account that a Floridian does not usually possess a parka-type coat.

Sam and I went to the barn with gloves on hand and retrieved the calf. As I drove the Gator through the rain and sleet, he held the young heifer in his arms until we reached the shelter in which the mother was waiting. With this came my first time in transporting a calf like this and my first time sorting Momma cows in the dark. The thick and slippery muck made it difficult for us to move swiftly amongst the mothers. While the flashlight provided enough illumination for us to read the numbers on the ear tags, the bodies of the large bovines were nearly invisible.  As the harsh weather came down, we located the mother and placed her in a panel pen with her calf.

Driving away from the pen I started thinking about what we just did. The harsh conditions, the late night and the numerous challenges that could have presented themselves were just one instance with one calf. It is thanks to this experience for my first time I truly, I mean really developed a deeper sense of appreciation for cattle ranchers.

IMG_0743These men and women care just as much about their cattle as they do their families. They help  their spouses in providing a home and meal for the children, put them to bed and head out to take care of the herd that is so precious to their life. Those nights, the nights like the one I just shared happen more times than we can count. The ranchers stay up late, or check cattle on the hour through the night to ensure the safety and health of the herds. Then they wake up in the morning to their families, eat breakfast and go back out before changing quickly to make it to church on time for facilitation of worship and communion services.

In a society that possesses so many misconceptions about this industry, it is firsts like this that ignite in us the passion required to keep driving forward and sharing all the good that agriculturalists have to offer to our world. I look forward to the first time many others find a new appreciation for cattle ranchers and agriculturalists alike, and hope that maybe for the first time, I will be responsible for just one of those realizations.

Greetings From the Sunshine State!

You may be thinking the Rock Hills Ranch family has traveled to sunny Florida. However, in fact, a piece of sunny Florida has come to Rock Hills Ranch.

Hey y'all!  I am Miranda Craig. I am now a Senior agriculture education and communications major in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Florida. Go Gators!


I call a small town, though large by Lowry standards, named Bushnell home. It is located in Central Florida in Sumter County. I go to school at"The Swamp" or "Gator Nation" in the city of Gainesville, Florida.

My journey here began with a simple "cattle internship" search on Google in hopes of finding a communications-relevant internship that also incorporated my passion for beef production. Growing up, I raised beef cattle of my own for both prospect showing and market production. So, I filled out the application last fall and eagerly prayed and waited for some kind of return contact to come my way. The good Lord must have saw it fit because early this spring I recieved an email requesting an interview with Mrs. Perman. A Skype account was created and, after a lengthy conversation about the importance of relaying a positive message about agriculture, I was offered the position.

The morning of May 2, 2015 was a long awaited one. I left Tampa International Airport at 8:23 a.m. on a Boeing 757 and headed North to not Alaska, but Atlanta, Georgia. My connecting flight then flew to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Once in MN, I hustled across the airport to a significantly smaller plane. So much so that my carry-on would not even fit into the overhead compartments. However, the petite stature of the plane was complimentary to the tiny, yet charming Aberdeen Airport where Miss Garnet Perman and her grandaughter Ella greeted me and took me to their home of Rock Hills Ranch.

I must pause and share my sheer astonishment at the beauty of the plains here in South Dakota.The endless fields stretching to the horizon coupled with the gravel highways really makes one feel very small in this large masterpiece of God's work. Parts of the South are deemed "God's Country" but I had never seen such magnificent creation in my life.

After nine hours of travel, a family supper awaited and I got to meet Mr. Lyle and his son Luke, and Luke's wife Naomi along with their other three children Isaac, Noah and Micah and Great Grandma Vivian.

Since my arrival I have helped in graining calves, a term comprable to the South's term of "feeding," helped Mr. Lyle check cows and alter fence, soaked up some lessons on grass and hay, visited Grandma's, and collected eggs daily from the "AV Inn" chicken coop. Ms. Garnet and I have also created an AirBnB account for the ranch. It allows travelers to learn about the bed and breakfast here and potentially book a stay. Below is the link for anyone interested:

Rock Hills Ranch Bed and Breakfast 

I look forward to learning about holistic management, sharing some experiences and fostering a relationship with the humble and inviting family responsible for the many enterprises that create Rock Hills Ranch.