South Dakota NRCS and the Conservation Districts have identified that Non-Operating Landowners (or NOLOs) are one of the key s to moving the soil health needle in that state. Jeannie Franceus is a landowner, yes, but we’d like to coin a new term, she is a Super-Involved Landowner (or SILO) – Jeannie did grow up in South Dakota and went to SDSU but left for the big city and raised a family but was drawn back to her family land a while ago. While Jeannie does not own cattle herself, she has cultivated excellent relationships with her tenants and works alongside them in the summer while livestock are on her farm. In this fun and entertaining podcast, Jeannie tells us her story and her motivations behind why she does what she does, we think this is an excellent podcast for ranchers and non-operating landowners alike and possibly a model for some who may not necessarily want to own cattle, but who still want to use cattle as a tool to improve their land “the cows are my gardeners and my landscapers!”.
Jeannie wrote this in a couple of emails to me after listening to our interview:
“After we finished recording, I realized my error in focusing on Canada thistles, and neglecting to mention Muskies which had been an equally serious problem for us. (We were covering a lot of ground in the interview. I could do a whole podcast on nothing but weed control.)”
“…my big regret is neglecting to mention the hundreds and hundreds of man-hours that the boys [Jeannie’s now adult sons] and I put into manual labor on Musk thistle control. When the soil is moist enough, they easily pull with leather gloves. When you get tired of that, or it gets too dry, we used a small hoe (made by a local rancher specifically for this job) to hack them off, about an inch below the soil surface. There are many good things that we can say about manual labor that connects us to the land: physical exercise, outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air, and seeing and feeling the land. I always do my best to inspire people that the secret to successful weed control is: DON’T LET THEM GO TO SEED.
I would also add that MANY people are not aware that if you chop (or pull) a musk thistle that is close to blossoming, that dying plant will lay on the ground and pour all of its dying energy into that blossom…actually making it possible for the plant to produce fertile seeds as it lays on the ground!!! When our local veterinarian taught me that, we REALLY started to make progress on Musk thistle control. IF the buds start to show color, we now pluck, bag and burn them.”
Jeannie is a member of the SD Grasslands Coalition, and we also provide a link to a 6 ½ minute “Amazing Grasslands” video that gives you an idea of Jeannie’s land, how she moves on it and her working relationship with tenant, Mark Guericke – this is well worth the watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIj07FFdk28
For more information on Non-Operating Landowners (NOLOs) in South Dakota, please go to https://www.nolosd.org/ and check out the new NOLO/Tenant Partnership Stories!
Check out free resources at the NRCS: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/sd/home/