Just a Girl on the Ranch

Hey!  My name is Kate Fleming and I am the 2023 Rock Hills Ranch summer intern.  I grew up in Northern Virginia and I would have never guessed that one day I would be spending a month on a cattle ranch in South Dakota!  I am the oldest of five kids, four girls and one boy.  My dad works in the hospitality industry and my mom homeschools all of us kids.  Growing up in the suburbs, farms were few and far between, but God provided our friends from church who were also praying about someone to help, and they owned a small 20 acre homestead in Leesburg, VA. I was a 14 year old girl with little experience about farming and after 2 ½ years, it felt like leaving family rather than just leaving a job. The Henderson’s are an amazing family and what they taught me about homesteading I will always remember. (even to mulch the garden rows on the hottest day by wheelbarrows!) We recently moved to Franklin, TN and there I heard about Rock Hills Ranch and their internship program through a friend.

I have now just finished two weeks on the ranch and the amount of agricultural information I have learned is amazing! From moving cows in a stress-free manor, planting native trees, tagging baby cows and baking homemade bread and strawberry-rhubarb jam (my new favorite!) 

This experience is giving me a small idea of life as a rancher, and the ways the Permans work with nature and reuse items that would otherwise be thrown away.  This Internship will further my knowledge about ranching as I finish up high school and start looking on towards college. 

Gaining a New View

My name is Hayes Hutter and I am a summer intern for Rock Hills Ranch. I am from southwest Missouri, around the Springfield area. I am currently between my freshman and sophomore year at Northeast Oklahoma A&M College in Miami, Oklahoma, majoring in Animal Science.

My family includes 2 sets of twins—I have a twin brother, along with a younger brother and sister, who are also twins. Both of my parents are in the education field. My dad teaches Agriculture Education at Missouri State University and my mom is a high school English teacher.

Our family ranch is primarily a commercial cow/calf and stocker operation. The land has been in the family for four generations and I hope to take it over one day. The Rock Hills Ranch internship appealed to me because of the focus on grass production, the grazing practices, and the different types of terrains and forages they have here in Lowry, South Dakota. I hope to expand my understanding of grazing and herd management practices so that I can take new ideas back to our family operation.

The Permans have welcomed me with open arms since I stepped foot on the ranch. I’m excited to be here and can’t wait for the experiences this summer as opportunities to learn much from Luke and the rest of the crew. 

Pennsylvania to South Dakota

About a week ago I drove about 23 hours to get to Rock Hills Ranch from State College, Pennsylvania. Hello my name is Ben Patterson and I am a 2019 Summer/Fall Intern at Rock Hills Ranch. I just graduated in the May of 2019 from Penn State with an Animal Science major and an Agribusiness Management minor. My family, my parents and my older brother, are from York, Pennsylvania. My dad is an elementary school principal, my mom works in human resources at a Wellspan Hospital, and my brother teaches 7th grade social studies. As a family we spend most of our time together in the woods hunting.

I do not come from an agricultural background. My grandfather always had a few pigs and a cow here and there. My great uncle had a whitetail, red stag, and dairy farm in Northern PA that I spend some time at during the summers. But overall, I have gotten the majority of my experiences in agricultural over the last three years. During my summer after my freshman and sophomore year I worked at Cedar Hill Pork, a farm that has a 700 sow farrow-feeder hog barn and about 70 registered Angus cow-calf pairs. Last summer I worked at Penn State’s Haller Farm, a rotational grazing research facility that has about 70 cow-calf pairs of commercial cattle.

After those experiences, I wanted to find an opportunity to see a different part of the cattle industry. My friend from college, Matt Kelley, was the summer intern last year and told me how great his experience was here at Rock Hills Ranch, so I decided to apply. After just a week I realized that the internship is even better than I expected. Luke is a great teacher and mentor. Since the first day he has allowed me to jump right in and start experiencing and learning new things. The first week was very busy and we put in a lot of long days but I enjoyed every moment of it. The Perman’s are so gracious and kind; they have really treated me like I was part of their family. I am excited to be able to be at Rock Hills Ranch for the next few months.