Jones Family Ranch Is Always Keeping Busy

The Mobridge Tribune - March 7, 2001

A cattle ranch, a guest ranch, a bed and breakfast, karate classes, kids with very busy schedules... WHEW! It's never dull around Jay and Brenda Jones' place southwest of Trail City.

Jay and Brenda were married in 1981 and have three children Angie 17, Rio 15 and Chance 9. All the kids attend Timber Lake School.

Jay has been in the ranching business since he graduated from South Dakota State University in Brookings 25 years ago.

"The cattle, industry is going good. It's not inflating like everything else, though. Prices on gas, machinery, and parts have gone up, which has hurt agriculture," said Jay.

According to Jay,. the future of the cattle industry depends on many things. He said special interest groups are passing regulations which make it difficult for ranchers to operate.

"What person would abuse their animals? It's not to their benefit," said Jay.

Another factor for the future is the fast changing food trends in America.

"Americans are very conscience to whatever the food trend and latest research is. We have to keep up with those trends," said Jay.

Two years ago, they started the Handboy Creek Guest Ranch, an idea that both Jay and Brenda had. While it took some work, they got encouragement from a couple in Wisconsin. They changed their garage into a bunkhouse and now are attracting visitors to their home. The bunkhouse has four, beds and one bathroom, but last year they hosted a family of 10 on Memorial Day. They would also like to build another cabin. The guest ranch is mostly open through the summer - from April to the end of October. Brenda is currently working on a web site for it.

"We have this great view and we asked: How can we share it? We are in constant awe of what we see out our windows every day," said Brenda.

While they do not encourage hunting, visitors at the guest ranch can participate in the ranch work that the Joneses do. They offer riding horses and people can bring out their own horses.

"A number of people have a desire to do something in a western way. They want the hands on experience," said Jay.

"They can do what we do, or they are on their own," said Brenda. Jay does most of the entertaining, telling stories, and guiding the people across the prairie.

"West River has a hospitality that is not at most places," said Jay.

They said that they have received mixed reactions to the number of people on the ranch. Some were disappointed that more people were not around and others were happy to find the solitude.

They advertise their guest ranch in the Western Horseman magazine as a working ranch. It costs $115 per person per day which includes Horseback riding, meals and the room.

A bed and breakfast is another feature that the Joneses offer people. They charge $50 per night per couple.

"We're flexible enough to do both. Right now, we'll just see which way we go one to two years down the road," said Brenda.

In addition to running a ranch and hosting visitors, Jay teaches karate in Timber Lake every Wednesday night. He has been instructing for about 20 years and it is a year-round sport.

He learned karate while in Brookings. He said that he wanted to be in some sport, but didn't, make the cut for basketball or football. He saw that there was a karate club and joined. Through this club, he got to travel all over for competitions.

"It's one of the better things I got out of college," said Jay.

- Lana Johnson

Updated: Mar 23, 2001