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OFF GRID

Being off-the-grid typically means keeping a low profile from the general public as they drive by places like Don Konechne’s homestead farm on the outskirts of Rapid City, north on Deadwood Avenue before it becomes Peaceful Pines Road in rural Black Hawk.  But penetrate the tree-guarded entrance to encounter a Shangri-La of agricultural nostalgia.


Outbuildings added over the years amongst the overhanging hardwoods give the ambience of a colonial American village.  Each small building, however, has a functional role to play in producing and harvesting the acres of row crops that Konechne grows each year.

Over the years, at harvest time, families in-the-know come by a hauntingly appealing "general store" above a tree-shrouded Boxelder Creek to pick up pumpkins, gourds, squash, corn and plenty more.  “Just put some change in the cup,” the sign says. No one there. Dirt cheap.  


Chickens and geese and cats and other barnyard creatures wander by outside.  In every direction visitors will find a living museum, with farming and gardening memorabilia occupying every shady nook and cranny.


Konechne knows how peaceful lives can be suddenly upended by disasters like the flood of June 9, 1972, when “many of the buildings, corrals and machinery on his ranch were destroyed," as reported in the Rapid City newspaper. “On Sunday, bodies began washing up along his property, three in the first few days. More than two weeks later, as he walked along the creek, a fourth body turned up in a sand dune.

[forwarded by a Black Hills gardener]




Family makes a living with gardening. Growing healthy turkeys the old-fashioned way (that is, organically) is just part of this small-scale homestead-style farming operation north of Sturgis, according to a front-page Thanksgiving article by the Rapid City Journal.  “Everything we feed them is certified organic, grains and vegetables and no corn,” she [Michelle Grosek] said, adding that the organic grain is purchased from a farmer in Pierre. “That’s a big deal to people, that they are local and have a good quality of life.”  More on Bear Butte Gardens

This abandoned root cellar in Philip, South Dakota, was once a hub of family food preparation and storage activity.  Today the families are returning again, thanks to the historical preservation of this Prairie Homesteadsite.  more



"We had a big garden when the children were young and we were young and strong. We raised virtually everything we ate. We had poultry and two milk cows, and we fattened two meat hogs every year, and a calf, and grew the big garden. It’s extremely gratifying to sit down to a meal you’ve grown every bit of."  more

 

 

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News

5 Super-Early Vegetables to Start in Winter

 

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Not everyone is always in the mood to read text when visiting the computer for the latest about gardening.  We can’t forget that just hearing and seeing is the oldest way of knowing about the world.  

 

YouTube also has the informality and spontaneity and honesty of ordinary people presenting garden information, perhaps refreshing for those tired of the slick segments common on TV.

 

If you can put up with the accent of an English gardener, you might find this YouTube video motivating and easier to digest.