The Liberator

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Introducing the Ficke Family Tradition . . .  

The Ficke family from left:  Alyssa and Austin Ficke with their daughter Attley; Brenda, Del and Emily Ficke. 

This is the first edition of The Liberator newsletter.  If you are new to the Graze Master Family, we thank you.  If you want to learn more, we're sharing this newsletter with you to peak your interest.  You can also check out our new website at

This publication is about creating a "liberating" venue where we can share our farm and livestock transition to a more holistic approach, where our family can freely express who we are and where others can as well. 

It's about real information from real sources living real lives.  

I'm proud to share the Ficke Family Tradition with you.  This is about our family and it's about you.  

If you're not signed up for the movement yet, please sign up here
or call me at (402) 499-0329.  

In 1775, Patrick Henry made a speech to the Virginia Convention . . .  
In the speech he said, "Give me liberty or give me death."  

I couldn't agree more.  Enough said.  Thank you for reading.  We're honored and we're feeling very, well . . . liberated.  

Del, Brenda, Emily, Austin, Alyssa and Attley


Del Ficke and his mom Beverly have breakfast about every morning.  It's good for the stomach and the soul.  

Movement Matriarch

Memories, the “middle man” and meat and gravy . . .
PLEASANT DALE, Neb. - Del Ficke visits his mom Beverly nearly every day.  When he started talking about taking back the family farm, this is what his mom told him about the “middle man” in agriculture, “That’s our downfall, everyone is getting a cut and when it gets to us there’s nothing left.  I say, send them packing.”
Beverly Ficke is the matriarch of the Ficke Family Tradition.  A warm-hearted lady who is only feisty when the issue calls for it.  A woman with a strong background in family and community.  “My father Lou Vaverka was a farmer and my mom Irene grew up in Lincoln as a city girl.  When she moved to the farm she did not even know how to kill a chicken.”
But, Irene learned.  She worked hard.  Beverly said her mom was never a complainer.  “I think every day she made a pie.  It was simpler then.  If we had fresh chicken by the Fourth of July and potatoes out of the garden we were living in heaven.  The towns were booming.  Saturday nights we always went to Crete.  The stores were open and the streets were full.”
Beverly learned early on the hard work of a family farm.  Her first experience with livestock was also cultivated there.  “I was always getting the cattle out of the pasture.  I was scared to death of that bull.  But I did what dad asked of me.”
Later on, she would be asked by another man who loved cattle to get married – Kenneth Ficke.  They were married in January of 1952.  Beverly said, “That was the only month there was time on the farm.  Kenneth worked hard but his main love was the cattle over farming.  In the dry years he worked heavy construction, which he enjoyed.  In fact what he really wanted to do was be a veterinarian.  But his father Adolph said he better continue with the farming.  So we did.”
“I was the first Czech to come into the family of Germans.  I was from the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’  But they soon learned the cooking was not too bad,” Beverly added with a broad smile. “I was so blessed to be married into such a wonderful family.”
“Those were the good old days when the meal was the center of everything.  You never knew who was going to stop in and eat with you.  If you had someone come and work at your place you naturally included them in a meal.  It was the time of neighbors helping neighbors and being together.  I miss those times.”
Beverly was a busy mom of four children – Rhonda, Janet, Jolene and Del.  She also worked part-time at the Milford grocery store, especially in the meat department and saw many things change on the farm and in the community.
At the center of many-a-meal was hamburger, “Hamburgers were something you could have in the fridge if you needed something quick.  I would come home from work at night often times and have seven or eight kids from school or college kids hungry and waiting.  Hamburgers and buttered buns fried in the skillet have always been a favorite.”
“In addition to Del’s love for hamburgers, one of his favorites was also hamburger gravy.  It’s such a simple dish.  Just add some flour to the grease, salt and pepper and thicken it up just right,” she added.
She said beyond the simple, wholesome life of the family farm, Kenneth was always looking forward.  He was wary of the corporate impact of agriculture on farms and families and sent Del all over the nation to learn about new practices and policies.  Beverly said her husband would be proud of their son Del for the direction he is taking with the Graze Master Movement. 
“I guess you could say we aren’t afraid to change and try.  We were the first to no-till in the early 80s.  All the neighbors wondered what in the world we were doing but now all the neighbors are doing it too.  Other farmers would watch Kenneth and then follow suit.  He was a leader that way, always willing to talk to his neighbors and share ideas,” she said.
“So many changes,” Beverly went on.  “I remember when Round-Up™ came out.  Kenneth said that it made good farmers out of bad farmers.  He was concerned about some of the corporatization of agriculture.”
“To this day, I am most concerned about the water and so was Kenneth,” Beverly said, noting the farm is not irrigated and that every ounce is precious.  “Our water is filled with nitrates and I worry so much, especially about the little kids.” 
“It’s a challenge, but it’s good what Del is doing,” she said looking out the farmhouse window at the land and livestock that has been in the Ficke family for more than five generations.  “This all belongs to God.  We are just taking care of it for Him.  We are supposed to conserve what has been given to us and not use it all up.  We may think our generation is fine but the ones down the road will be without if we don’t have the courage to change.”     

Terry Dittmer and his daughter Mindie in front of Crete Lumber and Farm Supply located at 1600 W. 12th Street in Crete, Neb.  You can find out more at or call (402) 826-2197.  Terry and his brother Ron operate the store with their grown children Mindie Hughes and Jeff Dittmer. 

Graze Master Neighbors
The core of the movement

Every month we are proud to feature one of our invaluable Graze Master Neighbors. This month we are excited to introduce Crete Lumber and Supply based out of Crete, Neb.  You can become a Graze Master Neighbor and learn more by signing up here
or call Del at (402) 499-0329.
CRETE, Neb. – “There’s no other store like it in the United States,” Del Ficke says about Crete Lumber and Farm Supply.  “We couldn’t be more proud to have Terry as part of the Graze Master Neighbor family.”
Terry Dittmer and his daughter Mindie Hughes along with Terry’s brother Ron and Ron’s son Jeff know what it’s like to keep a family business together for generations.  Terry grew up on a farm east of Crete and started as sole-owner of a business downtown in the mid-70s.  He then merged into Crete Lumber and Farm Supply with his brother Ron in the mid-80s.
“Diversity has been staple to the success of our business.  We try to supply numerous products to people and we have seen a lot of things change,” Terry said.  “In my 40 years of business, I have not had two days the same.”
Today Crete Lumber and Farm Supply offers an array of services and products including home construction/remodeling, hardware, lumber, lawn/garden supplies, feed, seed, clothing and an ice business as well.  Terry said in the 1970s when he was located in downtown Crete they were servicing primarily farmers with their needs. 
“When we started I was really in the egg business.  We purchased cases and cases of eggs, would grade off what we needed to sell retail and then sell the rest to breaking houses.  Back then we were selling say 100 broilers to 100 different people.  Now there may be about 20 people who buy broilers,” he began.  “The hog business was the same way.  I used to carry a lot of hog feed.  Now we barely keep any hog feed around.”
 “Years ago, a half section of ground was a ‘big farmer.’  It’s a different time and the changes are reflected in what my store offers and how the community looks as well,” Terry said. 
When asked why he became a Graze Master Neighbor, Terry said, “I consider Del a very good customer but also a good friend.  I like a lot of his thoughts and principles that he stands for.  I like to see the use of fewer chemicals like Del is doing.  It used to be that farmers would naturally plant a crop rotation into their program.  It’s exciting to see Del purchase diverse seeds such as red clover for use in his rotation and grazing scenarios.  I can sell him the red clover and rent him the drill.  In turn, I feel like I am part of helping him dramatically reduce the amount of commercial fertilizer he is using.”

Terry said if others can learn and follow suit, the soil and the environment will benefit.  Del agrees saying, “With the help of Terry and his seed products, I have far less costs per acre in seeding legumes instead of putting 70 pounds of commercial fertilizer on each acre.  Also, red clover is a natural source of nitrogen and once you have a stand established you only have to occasionally re-seed some spots compared to every year having to re-apply commercial fertilizer.”
“My father Kenneth always thought the world of the Dittmer family and my family is very proud to continue a friendship with them to this day,” Del said.  “Thank you so much Terry for being one of our very first Graze Master Neighbors.”   


Each month we will be exploring our Liberator Family.  To kick these features off, we wanted to first introduce Mae Folsom of rural Norwood, Colo. 

"Mae is one of the key people who helped inspire me to take my cattle herd in a more holistic direction.  Thank you Mae for combining my passion for composite genetics with your grazing expertise." Del Ficke

Introducing Mae Folsom. . .
NORWOOD, Colo. - “As a child growing up on a small farm in California I always wanted to raise cattle.  It just took until my fifties to do it,” Mae Folsom began.  “I have enjoyed acquiring and creating some of the best Aubrac cattle in the country.  Something that I am very proud of.    With that being said, I have made the decision to let my nephew Sajun Folsom take over the herd.   Sajun is very competent and is looking forward to working with Del as a Graze Master Liberator. 
Sajun will take the herd to the next level and I will still be in charge of looking the herd over and finding good genetics including being a part of the Graze Master Liberator Family.  I'm very proud and honored to be part of this movement.  As a Graze Master Liberator, I will continue to promote grass-fed and grass-finished beef as well as sound, quality grazing practices.”    
“I’ve reached the age that my bucket list is calling and I feel the need to have more freedom to enjoy life.  Visiting with my Graze Master Family is top on my list.”

You can learn more about Mae’s cattle at

To see some of our other Liberators visit:


  1. A concise, unique monthly expression found only in The Liberator regarding agriculture, history, politics, philosophy, family and other relative or non-relative but always highly interesting musings by Emily Ficke – sixth generation daughter of the Ficke Family Tradition.

Synonyms:  sarcasm, intellectual, poise, cultured, literate
Antonyms:  boringness, idiot, unkemptness, illiterate

This month's "Emyism" . . .

"Some people think change is a bad thing. Change is good.  It opens up more opportunities or goals that we have always wanted. Being so close to my father, I see every day how much this expansion ( change ) means. He's excited. I am excited and very proud of him and what he's achieved and will achieve."  Emily Ficke

"The best way to predict your future is to create it." Abraham Lincoln



"Thank you for reading.  Come back again.  It's liberating isn't it?  I think so." Love, Attley


No electronic or mechanical reproduction of the Farm and Food File is permitted without direct consent of the author - Ficke Cattle Company.  Thank you so much for reading!
Copyright © 2015 Ficke Cattle Company - Graze Master Genetics, All rights reserved.

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