Dakota Farmer

Healthy soil focus of Dry Creek Farm & Ranch

The Freelands of Caputa, S.D., changed their management style to take care of not only their cattle but also their land.

Sarah McNaughton

March 2, 2023

8 Slides
Shawn and Kristy Freeland in field with cattle behind them

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on Shawn and Kristy Freeland’s Dry Creek Farm & Ranch and their management focused on soil health.

For first-generation rancher Shawn Freeland of Caputa, S.D., building soil health is one of his top priorities. But it didn’t begin that way. From starting with 10 cows and using traditional feedlot management to now taking care of the land, Freeland has had a journey on his ranch.

Freeland and his wife, Kristy, work to heal the soil while producing quality animals at their Dry Creek Farm & Ranch.

“To build the soil back, you have to think back 250 years, and the real diversity that was here,” Freeland says. “Buffalo and elk and deer and grizzly bears and wolves and antelope — all of those animals together complementing one another.”

To emulate that diversity, the Freelands’ ranch is home to cattle, sheep, horses, pigs and bees.

Learn more about the Freelands and their unique soil health journey by clicking through the slideshow.

About the Author(s)

Sarah McNaughton

Editor, Dakota Farmer, Farm Progress

Sarah McNaughton is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture communications, along with minors in animal science and Extension education. She is working on completing her master’s degree in Extension education and youth development, also at NDSU. In her undergraduate program, she discovered a love for the agriculture industry and the people who work in it through her courses and involvement in professional and student organizations.

After graduating college, Sarah worked at KFGO Radio out of Fargo, N.D., as a farm and ranch reporter. She covered agriculture and agribusiness news for North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Most recently she was a 4-H Extension agent in Cass County, N.D., teaching, coordinating and facilitating youth programming in various project areas.

She is involved in agriculture in both her professional and personal life, serving on the executive board for North Dakota Agri-Women, and as a member in American Agri-Women, Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority Alumni and Professional Women in Agri-business. As a life-long 4-H’er, she is a regular volunteer for North Dakota 4-H programs and events.

In her free time, she is an avid backpacker and hiker, enjoys running with her cattle dog Ripley, and can be found most summer weekends at rodeos around the Midwest.

Sarah is originally from Grand Forks, N.D., and currently resides in Fargo.

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