Celebrate Farm & Ranch Moms this Mother’s Day
The more the merrier” would be a good phrase to describe Karli McCance’s take on children.
“The more kids around the better,” McCance says. She explains that when her mostly grown children were young, many of their friends would want to spend time out in the country so, there were always a lot of kids hanging out on the family’s Dallas farm.
In fact, for several years, the McCance family welcomed exchange students through Education First. “Hosting an exchange student gives you a bond from across the world and brings other cultures into your home – we have gained several family members for life,” says McCance, who serves as the local exchange coordinator, helping place students from other countries with families in their community.
Although she refers to her parenting style as laid back, raising children with a strong faith is a responsibility she takes seriously. “My husband and I wanted to raise Christian children who have strong morals and are productive citizens,” says McCance, who walked the walk by teaching Sunday school and serving as director of the St. John Lutheran Church Sunday school program for several years.
When her kids were young, McCance was able to stay at home and help with the day-to-day activities on the farm, where her husband, Steve, raises wheat, corn, soybeans, sunflowers, oats and a registered Angus cow/calf herd.
“I don’t do the actual farming. I used to haul grain, now we have semis. For the other driver’s sake, I will leave the operating of those to the more qualified! I run to town for parts and do the cooking for everyone,” she explains.
She remains actively involved in the farm, even after she launched her own business in 2006. Dazzle for Days is a traveling clothing and accessories boutique. The business has allowed her to provide a supplemental income while working mostly weekends.
“We couldn’t find clothes we liked and learned that many rural women had the same issue,” says McCance, who works to bring stylish fashions of all sizes to rural communities throughout South Dakota.
Her daughters, Taylor and Baili, were teens when she first began taking the jewelry boutique to several community craft and home fairs throughout the state, as well as bigger shows, like the South Dakota State Fair and Black Hills Stock Show. The girls began working with her from the start and were soon doing their own shows.
“I told them any profits they made they could keep. It taught them how to handle money and gave them experience working with customers,” she says.
Today, her oldest, Taylor remains actively involved in the boutique business and helps out with the farm bookkeeping and farming.
The first time Delarie Kessler, 43, visited her husband Tim’s ranch, he warned her about a few things.
She explains, “He wasn’t going to be there when I arrived, so he said, ‘you’d better stay in your car because my dog is very protective. If you do decide to look around, don’t go by the bulls and don’t mess with the horses.’”
She didn’t exactly heed his advice.
“By the time he got home, I had made friends with the German Shepherd, and I was in the pen with the horses,” Kessler recants.
That was August 1997. By May 1998, they were married.
When she married Tim, Kessler became a stepmom, a role she cherishes, however her own journey to motherhood was a long and painful one. In 2000, she learned she was pregnant, but when they went for her first ultrasound, the couple was told the twins she was carrying didn’t have a heartbeat. It took another three, trying years before they welcomed their firstborn, Whyatt.
“We always say someone upstairs was helping out. We had tried everything under the sun and nothing worked. So, we stopped trying and I got pregnant.”
Within four years, the Kesslers had gone from a family of three to seven. Today, they have six children: Ty, 24; Whyatt, 14; Sierra, 13; Savannah, 11, Sienna, 10, and Aurora, 5.
Since 2000, Kessler has worked fulltime on the ranch alongside her husband. The couple has a cow/calf herd and a feedlot. Until recently, they raised elk. Spending time outdoors with livestock is a dream come true for Kessler, who grew up on the edge of town in the community of Isabel. “I had friends who lived on farms and I would beg to visit them,” Kessler explains.
In fact, Kessler enjoyed animals so much she wanted to become a veterinarian, however, severe dyslexia stood in her way. Today, her children also face the challenges brought on by dyslexia. Even though they have tremendous support from teachers, Kessler says it’s still tough. But, their own disability has given her children empathy for others with disabilities.
“I have always wanted them to love everyone, and because they understand what it’s like to have a disability – even though dyslexia is one that no one can see – they are friends with kids who have more visible disabilities. They help them out and stick up for them. I’m really proud of them,” Kessler says.
Like their mom and dad, her children also enjoy working with livestock. They are actively involved in 4-H, showing cattle and market hogs.
“4-H is a wonderful experience for my kids,” Kessler says. “They learn responsibility because they know they cannot just show up at the fair with their animals, they have to take care of them and practice showing them here at home first.”
Kessler is also enthusiastic about S.D. Farmers Union camp. All of her children attend Farmers Union summer camp programs, and this summer, she paid for her nephew to attend state leadership camp with her oldest two children.
“I love Farmers Union camp. They learn a lot and have so much fun. Camp is also good about adapting programming to their dyslexia,” she says.
–South Dakota Farmers Union