Featured Farmer - Troy and Robin Randall, Dell Rapids
Combines in fields and grain trucks on the roads are very visible signs of annual fall harvest. However, just as much work goes on behind the scenes as farm families manage schedules and workloads during harvest and other busy times.
Like many moms, Robin Randall juggles raising two sons, their school, sports and activity schedules, volunteer work, and a full-time job. She relies on her smartphone to help stay organized, but even the most modern technologies can’t solve her biggest scheduling challenge … Mother Nature.
In addition to her job as department director of the Medical/Oncology unit at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, she and her husband Troy also raise crops and cattle on their family farm near Dell Rapids, South Dakota. They grow corn on 1,500 acres and raise about 4,700 Holstein steers each year.
“Nearly everything on the farm is dependent on the weather,” said Robin.
No matter what the calendar or schedule says, a change in the weather can mean a change of plans. Rains or late season snow can delay planting of crops, summer wind and hail storms can damage growing plants, and the temperature and rainfall throughout the growing season will impact when a crop can be harvested. The weather also impacts caring for livestock, as cattle need special attention during hot weather and pastures, lots and barns have to be maintained during all weather conditions and seasons.
Troy Randall has been farming since 1996, and Robin joined the farm operation when they were married in 1999. Their sons Noah, 12, and Luke, 10, also help in the family farm. Troy’s dad helped build the operation and worked on the farm until his death in 2008.
“Our dependence on the weather makes it more challenging to plan things out and schedule activities and vacations. It also makes it more difficult for Troy to be able to attend boys practices and activities. He makes it to the majority of all of their things by far, but he has to be disciplined to get things like planting and harvest done while the weather permits,” said Robin.
Like many farm families, the Randalls are very involved in their community. Troy and Robin both serve as Elders at Quarry Rock Church in Dell Rapids, where Robin is also on the Praise Team. Troy serves on the Dell Rapids school board, and both boys stay busy year-round with baseball, basketball and football.
Keeping up with all the schedules is even more difficult during spring planting and fall harvest times when Troy puts in long days (and nights) to take advantage of favorable conditions.
For Robin, the business and hectic activity during busy times like planting and harvest is balanced by living in the country and raising her family on the farm.
“The beauty and quietness of living out in the country is very therapeutic for me,” she said. “One of the greatest rewards is watching my boys spend time with their dad and watching how close they've become. They have also become very responsible hard workers.”
Robin focuses on keeping a good perspective and positive attitude.
“Instead of thinking about how busy we are, I try to focus on how blessed we are,” she said. “Somehow every fall we manage to get it all done, and we will this year as well.”