Rancher(s): Jake and Carolyn Geis
Location: Tyndall, South Dakota
Age: 28 & 26
Operation Name: Diamond Ranch
Facts About Beef: Tell us a little bit about your operation and what you do at the Diamond Ranch?
Jake Geis: My wife, Carolyn, and I own part of a cow/calf operation where we maintain a breeding herd of mama cows that give birth to calves once a year. Like many other cattle ranchers, cattle are not the majority of our family’s income, so in addition to caring for cattle, we also have jobs outside of the ranch. I am a veterinarian in Tyndall, South Dakota, while Carolyn is finishing up vet school at Iowa State University. The day to day chores on our ranch, such as checking on the cattle, making sure they are maintaining good health, and feeding the cows and heifers in the winter, are taken care of by my folks, Ron and Cindy. Carolyn and I develop the cattle’s health plan, take part in the major activities, like vaccinating the calves or building new fence. All four of us are an integral part of the ranch team and Carolyn and I spend nights, weekends, and holidays helping out on the ranch.
As practicing and soon-to-be veterinarians, Carolyn and I focus predominantly on cattle medicine, so our cattle are probably the most babied cattle in the state. The cattle we raise are called “baldies”, which are a cross breed of Herefords and Angus. We like these breeds because they fit well with our environment, which is rolling hills and Tallgrass Prairie.
FAB: What do you find most exciting about ranching and raising cattle?
Carolyn: We’re so excited to be working with our families in this industry and to have the opportunity to share it with our children someday. It’s not often in today’s world that a way of life and a business gets passed from one generation to the next like tradesmen used to do centuries ago. Although the techniques and management practices are continuously improved and updated with the times, the basic premise of raising good quality cattle to make superior quality beef never changes and we’re proud to be a part of that legacy.
FAB: How do you juggle your everyday ranch duties with your full-time job as a veterinarian?
Jake: Since my parents take care of the everyday activities, our contribution is through herd health, veterinary consulting expertise, and on big projects like building a fence. So trying to line up the time to vaccinate calves or check cows to see if they are pregnant around my on-call schedule and Carolyn’s class schedule is a bit hectic, but we make it work and spend a lot of time on the phone planning so when we are all back we can jump right in and get the job done.
Carolyn: I think our schedule is very representative of the thousands of part-time ranchers across the country. Taking vacation time from your town/city job doesn’t mean you’ll get to relax, but you’ll be able to get cattle work done. And with so many part-time ranchers, there’s a strong chance the hamburger you eat came from a place like ours.
FAB: How do you use technology on your ranch?
Jake: Technology is the mechanism that allows us to raise beef safely, efficiently, and with the least impact on the environment. We could probably write a book on all the different ways technology impacts what we do! One example was when we began using growth promoting implants in our calves. It made the calves more efficient, so they used fewer resources per pound of growth. This helped us maintain our level of production while putting less strain on the environment our cattle live in.
The key for us is to embrace technology that meets our goals. We ask, “Will this make our cattle more efficient? Will it keep them healthy and happy? Will it conserve or promote the well-being of the land or the native plant and animal life?” If so, then we use it. New technologies aren’t something to be scared of, they are something that can help us do a better job than has ever been done before.
FAB: How do you play a role in raising safe beef?
Jake: Veterinarians have a lot of responsibility in raising safe beef. Not only do we prescribe the medications necessary to treat ill cattle, but we often are the primary consultants for cattlemen on best practices. We strive to stay up-to-date on the latest information on beef production and safety, and then in turn share this information with our clients.
As consulting veterinarians, often we will get questions about a type of treatment or if an animal is acceptable to go to slaughter. The question we often ask ourselves and our clients in these situations is, “Would I or would you want to eat meat from that animal?” The cattle we raise and/or take care of in our practice end up on our plates at home or in a restaurant, so as cattlemen we make every effort to make sure that high-quality beef starts with raising high-quality cattle. Cattlemen share the same ethics and trust the recommendations of veterinarians like us, so when we recommend a different treatment or that an animal not go to slaughter, our clients obey our recommendations.
FAB: What is your favorite cut of beef and preparation method?
Carolyn: If I must pick a favorite, I will venture out of my love for a good T-bone steak and say a treat that we don’t get very often is skirt steak! After you buy this coveted cut, you’ll find that it usually comes in a long narrow strip rolled up on itself. Unroll it so it lays flat and remove the tough membrane that covers it. Sprinkle one side with salt, pepper and ground oregano. Flip it over and sprinkle the other side with salt, pepper, garlic salt and more ground oregano. Throw that beautiful piece of beef on a preheated grill set to medium high until it’s got a beautiful crust on it. Flip it over and cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Take it off the grill, but don’t you dare cut into it, just let it be for a bit. After about 5 minutes, cut it at an angle against the grain into thin strips. Place several strips on a small flour or corn tortilla that has been heated through on a griddle/pan and squeeze a lime wedge over it. Then the toppings are up to you! I keep it simple with thin sliced onion, some sour cream and a bit of cilantro, but go crazy…this doesn’t happen every day!
Jake: Ribeye, grilled to medium rare. Simple man, simple meal.
FAB: If anyone wants to follow your ranch activities on social media, where can they find you?