Spoiler Alert: This day, July 2, 2022, was filled with all of my favorite things, except tacos.
Note: When you visit South Dakota in the summer, bring a cooler. If you’re like me, you’ll need it!
When we mentioned the Belle Fourche National Wildlife Refuge, no one seemed to know about it. This is because the area is better known as the Belle Fourche Reservoir and the Rocky Point Recreation Area.
Only 15 minutes from town, it’s a fee area ($8 per vehicle). The campground was, unsurprisingly, packed on the 4th of July weekend. However, the huge reservoir, which looks like two lakes but is actually one, was fairly empty.
As we drove around, it was pretty, but we didn’t have long and I was somewhat annoyed that I’d paid $8 to see a lake and campground. However, the drive was worth it because we came across one of the largest fields of purple wildflowers I’d ever encountered.
If you’d like to visit a remote area this summer, South Dakota fits the bill. While the campground was full on a holiday weekend, the myriad of roads around this reservoir were empty.
Belle Fourche is a town in the Black Hills of South Dakota with a population of 5,628. Coming from Colorado’s Front Range, the town felt small and this reservoir area seemed way off the beaten path.
To keep that feeling of remoteness alive and well, we went to AJ Farms 605 which is near the reservoir. Relatively new to farming, Alicia and Joe, started this farm to bring a little color to their lives and the lives of others. Today, they have a couple of horses, a few donkeys, a bunch of goats, some ducks, and a lot of chickens. A lot. In fact, they sell eggs to local grocery stores.
They also have produce, although, like a lot of growers in the area, they were set back by the huge hail storm in June. However, I ate a cherry tomato straight off the vine and it was heavenly. So, things are growing!
While they have a vegetable garden, flower garden and RC car track, I was there for one thing. Well, I was there for the eggs too, but mostly I was there to hold a goat. I’d been following them on Facebook for about a month or so, and I knew they had baby goats. I am, without a doubt, a “Facebook goat stalker.”
I carried this 6-day-old, female Nigerian Dwarf/Pygmy goat around for a long time. In fact, there were other baby goats to hold, but she was so comfy I couldn’t put her down. Obviously, I’d rather hold a happy baby goat than be super good at Instagramming myself with lots of different baby goats. I think I’ve got my priorities straight.
Flower, a bottle-raised goat followed us around, nibbling on my shoes and generally acting like a dog. I’ve always thought goats have very dog-like personalities. They are basically playful puppies with hooves (and goats never really grow out of the puppy stage).
Take a look at all the activities available at AJ’s Farm 605 in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I’ll be here in Colorado wishing the farm was much, much closer to me. I did come home with two dozen eggs! Farm tours start on July 27.
On this rather fantastic day, we also visited Red Onion Marketplace the most adorable farmstand I have ever visited. Seriously, it has movie-like qualities, including the handful of folks having coffee outside in the morning sunshine.
Good things happen when a baker and a gardener are married and want to start a small business. Red Onion Marketplace happened two years ago, this month, and was opened by Robin and James, who live on the property.
We got a tour of James’ greenhouse which he has built to survive a hail storm (not that he knew it would), but it did survived the epic hailstorm storm in June, although their outside garden did not and they had to start over. Inside of the greenhouse smells amazing, like green leafy vegetables and good, healthy dirt.
The tomato plants, of various kinds, are nearly touching the ceiling. There are peppers, lettuce, turnips and more. James sells his produce at the market, which is located up the hill. Their home is located on the other side.
The market sells baked goods like bread, veggies grown by James, and Robin’s famous caramel rolls. We bought some Health Bread, baked by Robin’s mom, and some big red beets grown by James. They also gifted us some delicious caramel rolls.
By the way, I am not a huge fan of beets, but they are a superfood, so I am determined to eat them. We sliced the beets, brushed each slice with olive oil, sprinkled them with salt, and put them on the barbecue grill. They were delicious!
Later that week, I blended the beet stalks (they looks like red celery) with two beets, garlic, salt, olive oil, and a little white wine vinegar. I added the mixture to tomato sauce and baby bella mushrooms I had seasoned with my own garden-grown basil. Tossed with penne and chicken, it was amazing.
So, if you live in Belle Fourche buy some beets from Red Onion Marketplace or if you live elsewhere, add beets to your diet. You can make them taste good, I promise.
Red Onion Marketplace is open on Saturdays and they hope to keep growing veggies in the greenhouse until December, so follow them on Facebook for progress news.
Stay tuned for another post on this little gem of a town in South Dakota.
First Post – Belle Fourche, South Dakota: Come for the Rodeo, Stay for the Fun
Thank you to Visit Belle Fourche for hosting our stay and Debra Elliott for graciously opening her home to us, and to Milly (the Golden Retriever) for putting up with Fritzi.
Carrying around a comfy baby goat sounds like some pretty fantastic natural therapy!
It is! High recommended therapeutic activity.
I love hearing about the town I have called home for 30+years! Thank you for giving us such a good review. My son, Nick, the chicken whisperer, loves helping out there.
Do you think he’ll have the nickname, “Chicken Whisper” for the rest of his life?!? LOL!
Thanks so much for stopping by HeidiTown, Linette.
Oh Heidi! I have missed your adventures! Great trip choice to hold baby goats.
Thank you so much, Heidi!
You know all Heidis have special keys to the town. 🙂