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The Poppens family of Lennox, South Dakota, continues the farming tradition of generations before them.
The Poppens family has been selected as the 2022 Farm Family of the Year by the Agribusiness Division of the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce.
Dave Poppens’ grandpa built the house his nephew, Eric, now lives in northeast of Lennox in 1928. Dave’s dad, Robert, and his siblings grew up on that operation and his brother, Gary, lived in that same house from the mid-1970s to 2006 when Eric moved into the home.
Dave grew up farming, along with raising hogs and feeding cattle. After graduating high school in 1975, Dave, his dad and two brothers, Ron and Gary, incorporated the farming operation and started the OK Corral.
“The best I can figure out is my dad liked westerns so I don’t know that there’s much conversation on what the name would be or if that’s just a name that dad picked up. When we incorporated, that was the name we picked out,” Dave said.
Once incorporated, the hog operation ended and the operation focused on feeding cattle and farming. They were primarily feeding cattle at his parents’ place in the beginning. Then when Gary moved onto their grandparents’ place, they built three Harvestore silos and expanded the feedlot there. In the early 1980s, Ron and his wife, Cheryl, bought a place south of the main operation that was set up for a dairy.
“That was set up for milking, but we turned it into a feedlot,” Dave said. “That feedlot was modernized so it meets the EPA standards for a 499-head feedlot. Eric’s was also designed for 500 head in the ‘70s. Eric’s place we usually do 350 is comfortable.”
They custom feed for customers in the Upper Midwest.
“We just custom feed. Majority come from North Dakota or Montana, South Dakota or Wyoming,” Eric said.
The Poppenses usually start having calves come into the yards in August or September. They usually come in at about 750-800 pounds. This year they came in about 500-600 pounds. Depending on if they are feeding them to background or all the way to finish will depend on how long they stay in the yards.
In 2006, Gary stepped away from the operation and went into real estate, which he has since retired from. They went through a buy-sell agreement when Eric came into the operation.
Eric’s dad and Dave’s brother, Ron, passed away in the summer of 2020.
“It was a challenge to keep things going, but we made it. We had people that wanted to help with harvest and things,” Dave said.
Eric’s 16-year-old son, Hunter, has been stepping into the operation more. He has nine of his own cows. His herd started with two 4-H heifers and Hunter received a junior herdsmanship award from a bank in Chancellor that allowed him to purchase five more head.
Dave’s son, Brian, has also started working in the farming operation more. For the past 19 years he has run his own painting business in Sioux Falls. He has always been around to help with harvest, but he is getting more involved in the farm now.
In the farming operation, they usually keep about 120,000 bushels of corn to feed cattle throughout the year. They also put up silage for feed. The remaining corn crop they sell, along with their soybeans.
The Poppens family has been involved in the community for many years. Dave’s parents served as 4-H leaders and the township board. Cheryl was a 4-H leader and now Eric’s wife, Ginger, is a 4-H leader. Eric just started on the local conservation board.
Dave was on the school board for eight years, and he served on the church board the South Dakota Soybean Association and a national director on the American Soybean Association board. He is currently on the local CHS board.
“People should get involved with something. If you have kids and want to be involved in what they’re in, whether it’s 4-H or FFA or whatever it is, get involved with it and help support it. They always need leaders,” Dave said.
The OK Corral, Lennox, South Dakota
Dave & Charis Poppens
Eric & Ginger Poppens, Hunter, 16, and Faith, 14
Brian & Desiree Poppens, Trippten, 15, and Ariana, 12
W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds Expo Building
The Poppens Family will be honored as the 2022 Farm Family of the Year at the annual Mayor’s Round-Up & Sale of Champions on January 28, 2022. In addition, the family will share their expertise by sitting on the Chamber’s Agribusiness Division Advisory Council for the year.
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