How did we get here? LOL Not because this is what we had in mind. Bad Karma? Dumb Luck? Family thieves? That is more the answer of how we landed way out here on the prairie with no water, no electric, no phone, no one around for miles. But we have learned to be Thankful in all things and to look at the Bright Side of Life. One sentence we are quite tired of though is "Well, it could be worse."

Deron and I were both born and raised in St. Louis County MO. We both had all the conveniences and more. Ever hear the song "You don't know what you've got til it's gone." We sometimes miss the modern conveniences, we drive 51 miles one way to a small town that I can not even buy fabric in. We have to think about excepting an invitation to someone's home for dinner, because if it rains or snows we may not be able to get back in to our home. But, we would still rather live here together (and that is 24/7 together since 1998 ) then anywhere else. It is a matter of perspective just like anything else in life. But on the other side of the coin, neither of us could wait to get away from the city. Away from the crowds. Away from the drama. To move out and enjoy the county life!

We both love animals and out here on the prairie in NW SD was the best choice for us with the amount of money we did not have. Living in an apartment we could not afford, with people everywhere and no pets and livestock, just would not be "a good life" for us. So we looked for cheap land and found this 161 acres here in SD and we trust God from there.

So here is a bit about what we love about our lives.....

bunnyherders.jpg My husband, Deron and I have a lovely Large Standard Donkey Jennet named Abby. She is a joy to own and fun to be around. Not only am I able to ride her...such a hoot!! But she is also learning to do tricks and will learn to pull a cart and be driven. Abby can make you smile just to look at her.

Donkeys make wonderful gentle mounts and if you do not know can be as large as over 17 hh. Look up Mammoth Jackstock or Mammoth Jack Stock for more details on the larger guys.

There is a lot you can do with a donkey. they are lovely creatures and really a joy to own. I am sure more donkeys will find their way to our place in the future.

I have had horses for several years of my life and enjoy them very much. My first mount was a Shetland Pony I received as an eighth birthday gift. My first horse was a 15.2 Barrel Racing Champion Bay QH that I received for my 13 birthday. My dad always told that my first words were "I want a horse" and I did not stop saying them until they bought me one.

Deron and I ride each and every morning that weather will allow us (really only rain keeps us home) out on the open prairie we will on. We own Paint Horses, Quarter Horses, a few "Grades" and Abby the Donkey. Grades are no less important to us, because you can not "ride the papers" and many times the grades will get a job done faster or better then a registered horse.

We ride a round robin with our riding horses (some of our "guys" are still young and unbroke to ride as of yet) so that each and every equine gets to go out for the ride....and they love it. They also enjoy the long groomings we give before and after the ride. The groomings are good for not only the horses, but also the humans!!

Deron and I have trained some of our own horses from colt and even do some trick training....ok, I have mostly. LOL Deron does more of the serious training, like desentizing and the like.

We have done a little Team Penning and I have tinkered riding in the show ring. We have even been on real live Cattle Drives riding our own horses to do it. Our first love with horseback riding is trail riding. Mainly Organized Trail Rides. We did many of these when we lived in Northern WI with the RRR Ridin Club GREAT group of folks!!

I have written articles for a couple of Horse related magazines and enjoy hosting a few equine related sites at the Yahoo Groups site.

I had gained weight and so I started an elsit at the site called Does My Butt Look Big in the Saddle. It is set up for overweight riders to encourage one another to loose weight and also to talk about the hassles of being overweight. It was so popular we bought domain for riders and equine owners everywhere.

My husband is really good about my love for animals. We met because we both are mushers and each had several dogs. When Deron and I hooked up he had more dogs then most people will own in a life time. The joke is I married the guy with the dogs and he married the Harness Maker. I am a sled dog harness maker by trade.

DogStar Kennel is/was Deron's kennel name when he and I got together. I always used Marna's Menagerie for my animals, rabbitry, aviary, cavery, kennel, Harness Shop, everything. We kept and we use both names. DogStar Kennel is for our kennel, Marna's Menagerie is used mostly for our fun and functional animal items we have for sale as well as my Rabbitry name.

We have "dubbed" our place Grasshopper Ranch. We use the name Grasshopper Ranch more for the Horses, Goats and Llamas that we also work here in SD.

foxderonmaxitch 2005-08-14.jpgWe called the place Grasshopper Ranch because we would rather play then work... we both have made our livings out of what we love to do or "our play". Deron is a computer Programmer and has a desk top publishing program he has had and sold in many countries since 1985 which you can see at I have been a sled dog harness maker since 1986 professionally, but have made animals equipment most of my life. I make all kinds of items including but not limited to goat harnesses, goat packs, llama packs, rabbit harnesses, rabbit, guinea pig, rat, hamster and even mouse clothes, dog coats, llama tassles and much more.

Deron and I do all sorts of things with our animals. We have the sled dogs and we also backpack with them. Although it is not Deron's favorite sport, I enjoy weight pulling and have done well at competition. I have dogs that do frisbie and I used to compete. We have horses we horse pack with, as well as the goats and llamas that both pack and pull.

Deron breeds all sorts of snakes and reptiles, and I have small animals as well. I even do agility, but not just with dogs. I found out about Fancy Rat Agility enjoy it and when I heard about rabbit agility and rabbit hopping, well, I had to give it a whirl. Deron, being the great guy that he is made my agility equipment. Rabbit Hopping is also known as rabbit jumping or showjumping or even rabbit show jumping.

At DogStar Kennel, as far as dogs, we mostly have AKC Siberian Huskies that we own, raise, train, race and backpack with. Deron and I are so proud of the lines of our dogs that we also have a website called Seppala News We also have Labrador Retrievers, English Shepherds, St. Bernards (only one now) and a few Cocker Spaniels....yes, they pull, pack, weight pull and many, including the Sibes, do a few tricks. I am learning to groom my Cockers (good thing we live way out).

I have been spinning with a drop and or a Navajo spindle, so the llamas, sheep and angora rabbits are also considered working animals. LOL

A Note From Deron Sent Out To His Customers (5/30/09)

On a personal side, life here on the prairie is way different! Someone once said normal changes about every 50 miles. We must be about 10,000 miles out if that is true! Wind can push 8 inches of snow into snow drifts taller than the house. A little rain can turn the ground into something like a super-sized sticky trap. On the other hand, beauty is everywhere in the details. If you looked and expected it to be like everywhere else, you would be grossly disappointed. Accept it for what it is, and it is beautiful in its own ways.

Construction continues as allowed. Next up is a small shed for keeping the generator, batteries and tools. Life keeps getting in the way of our windmill, but it is slowly progressing. Sure will be nice to see it flying. You can be sure I'll have pictures when it is done! Speaking of pictures, you can see a few from around our home at My wife makes fun and functional animal items for everything from rats and guinea pigs to goats and dogs. Our latest addition to the farm is 4 precocious goat bucklings that we are training to pack, pull, agility and do tricks. A few pictures of the kids are at Nothing makes you laugh like a kid goat!

I would like to invite you to join us on a Yahoo Group that I host called Working Big Dogs.
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