Celebrate Farm & Ranch Moms 2024

Posted on: April 25, 2024   |   Category: News Releases

As we reflect on the women who raised us this Mother’s Day, South Dakota Farmers Union would like to celebrate the many women who support the state’s No. 1 industry – farm and ranch moms!

Read on to learn about Gettysburg farm mom, Gerri Eide and Hidden Timber ranch mom, Kodi Blotsky.

By Lura Roti for South Dakota Farmers Union

Gerri Eide Main Photo
Gerri Eide with her husband, Shon and children (left to right) Bobbi, Hunter and Tanner.

Gerri Eide, Gettysburg Farm Mom

Parenting in such a way that children know they have the freedom to follow their own goals has always been important to Gerri Eide. And it’s a philosophy that she and her husband, Shon implement when it comes to parenting their three children: Hunter, 21, Tanner, 18 and Bobbi, 16.

“I feel it is my job to push my kids to think outside the box and try something new. I’m always working to help them discover experiences that will help them be successful and the best versions of themselves,” Gerri explained.

It’s a similar philosophy used by her parents, Stella and Eugene Nagel.

“Knowing that we had the freedom to follow our own goals was important for myself and my sister. We knew the farm was our legacy, but we knew we were not tied to the farm,” Gerri said. 

The farm Gerri references has been in her family since 1907. Gerri and Dawn grew up working alongside their dad, uncles and cousins on the Gettysburg crop and livestock farm.

“Today, my cousins and my sister and I are the ones running the operation. Mostly my cousins and my sister – I help out as an extra hand. But when we make big decisions, we meet and make them together.”

After graduating from South Dakota State University, Gerri became an agriculture education teacher. Two-and-a-half years into teaching, she began serving as the Executive Secretary for the South Dakota FFA Association.

“I am passionate about educating youth about the opportunities in agriculture, getting them to give their best effort in what they do, and giving them confidence to pursue their dreams,” Gerri said. “Kind of like the saying, if you love someone, set them free. I believe that philosophy applies to agriculture. We do not need to clip our kid’s wings and keep them from experiencing all that’s out there. If we love them, we give them opportunities. If they love agriculture and it was meant to be, they will come back with great passion to succeed.”

While living in Renner and working in Brookings at SDSU, Gerri and Shon started their family. Becoming a mom made her want to return to the family farm. Renner is a three-hour drive from Gettysburg.

“Every time we came home to the farm, the kids loved being around the pigs and calves,” Gerri said. “We wanted our kids to grow up not just hearing about agriculture but experiencing it.”

Pumpkins Gerri Secondary Photo
Eide kids: Hunter, Bobbi and Tanner

In 2006, she and Shon made the decision to return to Gettysburg. Career-wise, this move meant quite a bit of driving for both of them. Shon drives an hour each way to his job working for the South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Center in Pierre.

And Gerri needed to be in Brookings one day a week as well as facilitating FFA activities throughout the state.

“Here I am, I value educating, and I thought, “how can I educate my kids if I am traveling all over educating others?’”

Today, Gerri works as the Executive Director of the FFA Foundation and does leadership and communication training through her personal business, GANE Leadership Consulting.

As she reflects today on her children’s connection to their family farm, Gerri knows she and Shon made the right move 18 years ago.

Son Hunter is passionate about livestock. He loved working with the farm’s cattle and showing pigs in 4-H and FFA. A senior at South Dakota State University, even though he isn’t home to do calving checks, he keeps his cell phone connected to the calving barn monitors. Hunter will start medical school this fall and hopes to return to work in the Gettysburg hospital.

Crops and cropping systems have always captivated their son, Tanner. In addition to planting and harvesting the farm’s crops, Tanner developed a business plan for his and his sibling’s pumpkin patch.

Taking advantage of the fact that the family’s home sits on Highway 212, for years the Eide siblings have raised and sold pumpkins out of a trailer along the side of the road. To this day, the Eide Acre pickle jar that holds the cash operates on the honor system.

Daughter Bobbi loves raising and showing pigs. She leads the Gettysburg FFA Pig Project. This is a program developed to give fourth through eighth graders living in town an opportunity to raise and show a pig. Bobbi provides swine and showmanship education to participants. And she brings them with her to help with the twice-a-day pig chores.

“The connection to the farm has made them very well-rounded individuals,” Gerri said. “They are confident because they have learned to deal with struggles and understand that everything will not always go their way. They understand where their food comes from, and they know how to wade through information they hear in public and advocate for the truth.”

Kodi Blotsky, Hidden Timber Ranch Mom

Kodi Main Photo
Kodi and her husband, Chad with their sons (left to right): Chase, Chaz and Chord.

As a young girl, Kodi Abbott would hop on Polly, her favorite pony and ride the 2 miles to her Grandma Inez’s house.

“My Grandma Inez was probably one of my best friends. I would go down there to play cards and drink coffee. I can remember begging and pleading to stay overnight with grandma,” recalled Kodi Blotsky.

When Kodi and her husband, Chad, became parents, Kodi wanted this life for her own children. Moving back to the ranch came with a need for a career change after her firstborn, Chaz, was born.

“I was teaching high school computers. It was rewarding but I could not find a daycare I was comfortable with and there were so many papers I had to take home each day and grade that I knew I wanted a more flexible job,” Kodi explained.

About this time, the ranch employee quit. So, Kodi asked her dad, Bill, and brother, Bryan if they would consider hiring her to fill the role.

“Ranch work does not feel like “work” to me, and it allowed me and Chad to have the dual income we needed for our family,” said Kodi, who added that over time she and Chad began to build up their own cow herd.

And although she grew up working on the ranch, she said as a mom, she thinks about the cows she feeds and cares for a bit differently than before she had kids.

“I always say, “if you don’t have patience, don’t work cows with me.” Cows are not meant to be running all over the place. And I tell the boys not to rev their four-wheelers because the cows need things quiet enough that they can talk to their babies. They communicate with one another all the time,’” Kodi explained. “And if I ever hear a smart remark that a cow should be able to get up right after calving, I am quick to remind the man who made the remark to think about what the cow just did – she just had a baby.”

Kodi 2me Visiting Grandma Inez Grandpa Willie
Kodi as a child with Grandma Inez

When it came to her babies, most of the time, her sons Chaz, Chase and Chord were able to be with Kodi while she did chores. But if the job was not safe, her mom, Kay, stepped in and the boys got to stay with Grandma.

“My mom was a life savior,” Kodi said. “I have been blessed with many good mom mentors – my sisters, sister-in-law and the Cattlewomen.”

Kodi’s mom introduced her to the South Dakota Cattlewomen.

“Mom was a member and she needed someone to drive her to meetings. I would take her to meetings and then, I could not just sit there and not get involved,” said Kodi, who served as State President 2013-2015 and on the Beef Industry Council.

Like on the ranch, the boys went with Kodi.

“The ladies were amazing. They loved having the boys there and they would often ask if they could hold them.”

Raising the boys on the ranch in rural Todd County came with another benefit – Country School. All three boys got to attend Klein School. It’s the same school Kodi attended Kindergarten through eighth grade.

“I have always been a strong believer in Country School. Because there are at least three grades together, the kids learn from each other. And if they pick up on something quickly, they don’t get bored because in the same room there are older kids learning something new and different.”

Today, Chord, 12, attends Winner Middle School. His brother, Chaz, is 19 and attends Mitchell Technical College and his brother Chase, 15, is a high school freshman attending Winner High School.

Involvement in 4-H is yet another benefit to ranch life, Kodi added.

“I did 4-H when I was growing up and because I did demonstrations and special foods contests in public, I am not too shy to speak in front of people,” Kodi said. “As a teacher I could always tell which students were in 4-H or FFA. Those students seemed like the stronger leaders.”

So, even though 4-H demonstrations may not have been her sons’ first choice, from the time they were Clover Buds, she made sure that along with all the projects they were excited about, her sons also gave demonstrations and signed up for at least one community project.

“Sometimes I had to “force” my kids. But I wanted to make sure my kids have the confidence to speak in front of anyone,” Kodi said. “And they do.”

Kodi also made sure her sons attended Farmers Union Camp. Her son, Chaz, currently serves on the Senior Advisory Council and was selected to participate in the Farmers Union Enterprise Leadership program.