"We are feeding and raising our animals well so our neighbors can be fed well."
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Sorghum Ice Grazing
By Del Ficke
My dad and grandpa started using sorghum (milo is what they called it) in the 1950's.  I believe it had something to do with the farm program.  At that time, it was Secretary of Agriculture Benson that was in charge.  They called milo, Benson’s BB’s, or at least that’s what Grandpa Adolph called them.
If my memory serves me correctly, they could plant milo on set-aside acres. That’s how milo got its start on this farm anyhow.  My dad fed milo in his conventional feedlot for decades.  He said he could also grow a milo crop on the poorer soils our farm had and it didn't need much rain. 
Then we took a break from raising milo when the government insurance program actually rewarded us (like it still does) to raise corn.  Yes, they still rewarded us even if the corn burned up.  The guaranteed dollars-per-acre enticed operations like ours that were even farming marginal soil to plant corn.
But then we hearkened some of the wisdom lost after the government started rewarding our corn crop.  We started to think beyond dollars about the precious resource beneath our feet.  That is when we began the quest to transform our marginal soils with a new way of thinking. 
So, we brought milo (now we call it sorghum) back a couple years ago because of all its amazing advantages.  Combined with bale grazing, we now have a natural feed source for our meat animals.  Needless to say, our grazing program has improved.  For example, during the recent ice storm (depicted in photos of cattle above), when corn stalks were frozen to the ground, I witnessed cows eating green leaves from the bottom half of the sorghum stalk.  There was no ice down there!
We also use sorghum in our cover crop rotations, to provide a grain and also to allow the sorghum to build channels in the soil for water infiltration.  On top of that (and on top of the ground when the cows are done) is an amazing amount of soil armor that is a perfect seed bed to plant the next crop into.
Our cows have the chance during storms to bale graze some feed. We place big round bales out in grazing paddocks that are close to the stalk field. The cows can go and munch on these bales (although I'm finding I need less hay each year as we improve our grazing) and what they don't eat is tromped into the poorer soil. The following year we have the benefits of improved soil and new plant varieties that started as seeds in the bales.
We have also had great benefits from bio-carpeting throughout the last 20 years, using a bale processor to build soil and translocate new seeds.  But now, even this practice, I am finding is somewhat over-kill and over-priced.  I continue to be on the quest to rid myself of any last semblance of “iron addiction,” diesel fuel use and that other precious commodity – wasting time.  So, by the way, we also have a Haybuster Bale Processor for sale.
Contact me if you are interested in learning more about my changes above.  I am an open book and I’d enjoy talking to you.  Call me at (402) 499-0329. 
No More Crop Insurance or Pesticide Training
By Del Ficke
I have participated in the crop insurance program for 32 years.  For the same three decades, I also obtained the requirement to gain a pesticide applicators license.  While I deemed both necessary for some time, mostly I grew annoyed of the need to fulfill both obligations to the government.  That’s why I am celebrating today; because, with the advances we have made at Ficke Cattle Company – Graze Master Genetics®, I no longer need these two agricultural inputs.
It has been said that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  Well, don’t feel bad if you are still participating in these programs; because, there’s still a chance to move the direction that I have.  If you are ready, begin planting your “tree” of change today. 
Our new, practical, common sense practices at Ficke Cattle Company have included our own “trees” of change. 
For example, we brought honey bees into our fields and have rejoiced at the return of the dung beetle.  We also carefully protect the mighty earthworms burrowing water-saving caverns throughout the soil.  We began no-tilling several decades ago.  Then we were inspired by the natural fertilization and even more water capacity gained from cover crops.  And, we have allowed “cows to be cows” grazing the land, improving the pastures and naturally fertilizing with manure and urine. 
I hesitated to even share this news – but then I thought, maybe, just maybe, it will inspire someone else to start making changes.  I finally said to myself, “What the hell?  After 32 years of participating in two government programs that I don’t really need, why not say enough is enough?” 
So if you think you’re not a fast learner, then I am not one either.  But learn I finally did.  You can too.  I welcome the opportunity to help answer any questions you may have.  Believe me, it felt good to send that letter back.  Just another step in that long journey of “liberation” for sure. 


Seed Research . . .

This is a photo at Ficke Cattle Company – Graze Master Genetics® of some late-planted Prairie Creek Seed cover crops. The site, located near Pleasant Dale, Neb. (just a short trip west of Lincoln) is a new Prairie Creek Seed corn and sorghum test plot for 2017.  Stay tuned for more details about our Prairie Creek Seed and Green Acres Cover Crops research as spring and summer approaches.

To order all your seed needs today, please contact Del Ficke at (402) 499-0329.    

Super Good Graze Master Hamburger Soup
By Brenda Ficke
Place one and 1/4 pounds of Graze Master Hamburger in pan and cook until redness is gone.
Chop fine: Three stalks of celery, four carrots and a half of an onion. Cover with about two inches of water and cook 10 minutes.  Add hamburger to vegetables and water.
16 ounce can of tomato soup
1 quart of tomato juice
1 teaspoon of parsley flakes
1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon of marjoram
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
A dash of red pepper flakes
Simmer until vegetables are done. Before serving, add three dozen long spaghetti, broken up. Simmer until soft. Freezes well. 

Get your Graze Master Beef Ordered Today!

Call (402) 499-0329 to order your Graze Master Beef for pick up or delivery today.  We have a variety of cuts available and are happy to serve you!
Practical Farmers Conference

We thoroughly enjoyed spending time with some great agriculturists at the recent Practical Farmers Conference in Ames, Iowa.  Pictured is Del Ficke, Cody Nelson - Prairie Creek Seed Business Manager/Western Region and Nate Belcher - Green Acres Cover Crops owner.  Learn more about Practical Farmers at

We have all your seed needs and service.  Please check out this link and let us know how we can help you or call Del Ficke at (402) 499-0329 any time. 

Thank you for reading.  See you next time!
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