HURON, S.D. — 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!
Rough and tumble. This is how Kay Latham describes her now grown sons, John, 35, and Jason, 33.
“They weren’t the “color a picture with mom type.” Although they are totally different from each other, they were 100 percent boys – rough and tumble,” Latham said.
Giving their sons plenty of space to play and outdoor work to do were among the reasons Latham and her husband, Darwin left their teaching careers in Mission, South Dakota to return to Darwin’s family ranch near Camp Crook in 1994.
“We were looking to raise our kids the way that we were raised,” she explained.
When they returned to help Darwin’s dad, Erwin Latham, Darwin worked fulltime on the ranch, but Latham remained in education. She worked in Camp Crook helping a student with special needs. Then, she spent 15 years working at Sky Ranch for Boys, a juvenile placement center.
She said she enjoyed the work she did and the people. “Working for Sky Ranch gave me the feeling that I could hopefully reach kids and help them turn their life around,” Latham explained.
When she was home, Latham enjoyed spending time working on the ranch. She says working outdoors with her sons was how she connected with them. “I truly enjoy – still do – being with my kids,” she said. “As a family we thoroughly enjoy going out to work cows or pull net wrap. In the winters we loved to go sledding.”
Because they could not be away from the ranch for any extended period of time, Latham says the family took “mini-vacations,” like a day trip to Custer Battlefield. And they always took time away from the ranch to support their sons in school sports.
“My boys were athletes. I very much enjoyed attending football games, wrestling tournaments or track meets,” Latham said.
Today, Latham remains actively involved in her sons’ and now her grandchildren’s lives: granddaughter, Joy, 6 and three grandsons – Jaydon, 7; Jarrett, 5 and James, nearly 1.
During the work week, Latham takes care of Jaydon, Jarrett and James while their mom, Kaeloni works off the ranch and dad, Jason works on the ranch alongside Darwin.
“I love every minute of it. It is the highlight of my day,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong, there are times when they are naughty. But I treasure every moment with them. They make my day. And right now, there are so many uncertainties. We are unbelievably dry, and the cattle market is questionable. With everything going on in the Ukraine, it is so nice to spend my days with little people who love me unconditionally.”
As a grandma, Latham says she doesn’t worry as much as she did when her boys were young. And she is eager to stop whatever task she is doing to play. “I can always do those things later. And I will miss it when they don’t want to play with me anymore.”
Advice to share: Live in the moment
“Don’t sweat the small stuff. So many things we worry about are irrelevant. If they want to play, play. Whatever task you are doing can be done another time. But they will not always want to play with you. Time with your children or grandchildren is the most important.”