Genie and Bernie Lauing with Bernie’s children Tom, Denny, Shannon (holding the picture of her grandparents) and JD

Little of the landscape has changed in the 100 years since Bernie Lauing’s grandparents purchased their land south of Blunt – except the neighbors.

“Looking out in every direction, none of the neighbors they had in 1920 are still here,” said Bernie’s wife Genie regarding the centennial ranch.

Lauing Ranch was among 34 Century Farm and Ranches celebrated during the 2021 South Dakota State Fair by the South Dakota Farm Bureau and the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“There were quite a few in the eastern part of the state this year, but we were the only ones from Central South Dakota,” said Genie.

Writing about the ranch’s origins in ‘A Century of Roots from One Lone Tree,’ the Blunt centennial history book published in 1984, Marie Sias Lauing penned that she as a two-year-old arrived with her family to Blunt via immigrant train in 1910.

After a decade renting a farm, her parents determined to have their own place. ‘They bought 160 acres of land, a raw quarter, no fences or buildings on it,’ Lauing writes. ‘They built a big barn, granary and hen house. We lived in the granary for two years until we could build a house. Mother always said a barn would help build a house, but a house wouldn’t build a barn.’

It was during the Dirty Thirties that she married Hank Lauing, and ‘times were tough. We rented the home place from Dad and later bought it. Hank raised sheep, hogs, horses and donkeys and a few cows. Oh, yes, goats, geese, ducks, chickens, turkeys and guineas were included, and finally a peacock.’

The Lauings had five children, daughters Shirley, Viley, Ollie, and Suzanne and son Bernie. The family worked hard to grow the ranch, and in spite of some financial hardships, Marie and Hank retired from the ranch, selling it to their son in 1975. At the time, Marie noted the difficulty of leaving the ranch having lived on it for 54 years.

Since purchasing the ranch, Bernie has more than doubled the acreage. The first accolades for their horse program came in 1960, when Bernie showing a home-raised mare, Lucy Pillsbury, was awarded the South Dakota State Fair Champion Mare. As a teenager, Bernie was also recognized through the South Dakota Quarter Horse Association as having the Best Light Horse 4-H Project. The Lauings are Lifetime AQHA Members along with being members of SD Quarter Horse Association.

Today Bernie’s youngest son, JD, is the next Lauing to work on building their horse program, while partnering with Bernie and Genie on raising commercial Angus cattle, which gives their horses early cow experience.

Bernie’s oldest son, Tom, lives and farms near Oral and continues to be involved with Lauing Ranch’s horse program, coordinating on prospects and breeding stock. Another of Bernie’s sons, Denny, lives near Sturgis with his own horse program. Bernie’s daughter, Shannon Stroman, lives in Sioux Falls and takes photos and creates designs for promotion of the ranch and horses. While they raise horses for the market as they see it, Bernie is most proud of the horses that his children and grandchildren ride to success in the arena and on the ranch.