By Lura Roti, South Dakota Farmers Union

While some ranchers are nervous about what will happen to their operation when they are ready to retire, David and Brenda Reis are not too worried.

“All of our kids want to take over the ranch. That would not be sustainable, but the one thing about having a close family, between the kids and us, we’ll be able to work out a transition plan,” says David, the third-generation to raise cattle in the Missouri River breaks near Reliance.

Although they all have careers off the ranch, the Reis’s four grown children Shawn, 39; April, 37; Shane, 35; and Zane, 33,­ remain involved, running cow/calf herds alongside their parents. They began building their herds as kids with a heifer calf gifted to them by their Grandma Reis.

After college, the siblings all made the conscious decision to return to the Reliance area to build their lives and families so they could take an active role in the family ranch. Some weekdays and most weekends at least one or all of the children can be found helping David and Brenda on the ranch ­ their families in tow.

“Even today we all have fun working together. We make sure that the grandkids are involved too,” explains Brenda.

She and David expanded the tradition by giving each grandchild a replacement heifer, which helps encourage future interest in ranching.


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