"We are feeding and raising our animals well so our neighbors can be fed well."
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The Pawnee Sacred Blue Corn 

What can we say about the Pawnee Blue Corn?  It is not for us to say.  It’s for the Pawnee Nation to speak about.  The corn and its sacredness belongs to them.   

What we can say is, thank you.  Thank you Deb Echo-Hawk and Electa Hare-RedCorn.  You are the amazing women we met.  You allowed us to step inside your world. 

We love your corn.  We love all of you.  

A late summer storm may have tried to destroy our humble, three-acre patch.  But, it did not destroy it – we still reaped a bounty, a small start. 

Thank you to the entire group of Pawnee who came and helped harvest the crop. 

You are teaching us so much.

Thank you for keeping “Homeland Ties.”  We are honored by them and wish to honor these renewed ties for generations to come. 

Deb Echo-Hawk and Del Ficke rest after the harvest.  Del has delivered the corn to Oklahoma and it is now in the care of the Pawnee Nation.  

Please follow the Pawnee Seed Preservation project at:

NRCS Field Day at Ficke Cattle Company

By Kerry Hoffschneider

This is a spot where Del Ficke ultra-high-density-grazed on some volunteer oats, but mostly weeds and grass. 



This is the Graze Master herd utilizing what many would call a mistake.  They are grazing the “weeds” in that section of Ficke's NRCS research plot. 



PLEASANT DALE, Neb. – Aaron Hird, State Soil Health Specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, held up a “clod of dirt,” a soil sample he brought to Ficke Cattle Company to begin to show a group of farmers, ranchers and urban food producers what tillage and the lack of living roots does to the soil. 

For some, tillage is a time-honored tradition that hearkens back to that initial breaking up of the plains by the pioneers.  But as all things change, so does agriculture.  New perspectives on the life growing above and below the soil is challenging farmers and ranchers to look at their farms differently.  It’s a mind-bending exercise for those who have spent years in a tractor pulling a disc behind it.  Hird and Del Ficke want farmers to leave the guilt and discing behind and consider their farms and ranches as regenerative, living systems that need to be, in many ways, left alone and guided (not dominated and worked to death), to do what God and nature do best when they are in balance. 

What does this look like? Hird asked the group about the colorless, hard, dry clod in his hand.  One of the farmers hollered back, “It looks like a rock Aaron.”

“I am seeing this situation across the state.  Fields in this condition are stopping the air, water and root movement within the soil . . . When we till, we are destroying soil structure and burning off organic carbon,” Hird said.

No-till is a start but not the final solution, according to Hird and others like him who are reaching a missionary-like status as they lead this movement to get back to the land and dig into the precious soil beneath.  Hird said it starts with four principles: keep soil covered, disturb soil less, add diverse roots in the system and make sure those living roots are in the soil year-round. 

Adding livestock to the picture only speeds up the process and that is what Ficke and his team at Ficke Cattle Company – Graze Master Genetics are doing.  Ficke hosted the NRCS field day and is devoting 25 acres to a NRCS cover crop and ultra-high-density-grazing research plot.  The self-proclaimed, “plunger” said in 1987 he put 3,300 acres of cropland into no-till (to his father’s dismay).  But that year it didn’t rain and his no-till crops yielded far more than the neighbors’.  His dad was convinced and they left the disc behind. 

Since then, Ficke has reduced his farm and ranch size from 7,000 acres to roughly 700 acres and, he said, he is more profitable than ever because he isn’t afraid to change what he is doing “every 20 minutes.”  Our motto around here is, “We are not making mistakes fast enough.”

Ficke understands that as a general rule farmers are risk averse, although, he said, “They are really gambling every day.  They are also at the mercy of everything and everyone else but their own will – from those trading their commodities to those selling them inputs they don’t need.  I've been there and then I stopped and thought about who was really running my life.  What we want farmers and ranchers to see is their own potential and the potential of their family around them.  Stop doing all those tasks, look around, ask questions and take back your farm and ranch.  Maybe even go fishing or spend more time with the family.”

While his philosophical musings about agriculture and where it has went wrong may be difficult to hear for some, Ficke also proves the point with numbers that don’t lie. 

Doug Garrison, an Area Conservationist with NRCS, pulled samples on the weed/volunteer cover crop section of Ficke's 25 acre NRCS research plot.  Garrison’s calculations concluded there are 3,600 pounds of dry matter across eight acres where they are evaluating the effects of animal impact vs. no animal impact on the soil.  That is where Ficke grazed 50 pairs and 15 yearlings on this “weed” parcel by rotating them daily.

Another interesting fact is those 50 pairs and 15 yearlings produce 4,875 pounds/day or 203 pounds/hour of manure and urine (free fertilizer).  Ficke said that is 1,779, 375 pounds of manure and urine in 365 days.    

“This is really hard for people who have been conditioned one way to think entirely different about what they wake up and do each day.  But I won’t accept the phrase, ‘Well dad and grandpa have always done it that way.’  That is ridiculous,” Ficke said.  “When I was growing up, my dad sent me all over the United States to learn about agriculture.  When I would return home, I was so excited to tell my friends and family.  Sometimes I would be met with confused looks because they weren’t being raised to dream of something better, or encouraged to do things a different way.  I don’t care how old you are; you can still dream.  We really want to help and it’s really rewarding to bring the farm back to life.  It’s not radical – it’s living roots in the soil and animals eating, peeing and pooping as they graze.  That excites me.  If I can succeed at this, you can too.”   

Great values for your farm and ranch.
Fall discounted seed!

Check out these fall discounted seed prices from Green Acres Cover Crops (while supplies last).  Nate Belcher is selling this seed at significant discounts to make room for the 2017 harvest.
Medium Red Clover: 
            $1.90/lb. or $95/bag
Dixie Crimson Clover:
            $1.05/lb. or $52.50/bag
Yellow Sweet Clover
            $1.50/lb. or $75/bag
Spring Pea:
            $.55/lb. or $27.50/bag
Nebraska grown cereal rye:  98% germ, 99.89 percent purity and zero weed seed.
            $.26/lb.  Fifty-pound bags
            $.20/lb.  Bulk bags
            $.19/lb.  Hopper

Healthy Crops for Healthy Livestock
Fall is the time to mineralize your soils
By Nate Belcher 

Do you ever wonder why animals reject some hay or forage and eat the next bale or pasture down to bare soil?  Just like humans, animals are naturally drawn to food that is high in sugars and full of minerals.  Forage that is high in nutritional value naturally has high levels of sugar that simply tastes great to livestock.
So, how do you increase the sugar and mineral content of your forage and crops?
Generally speaking:  Higher phosphate levels produce elevated sugar levels within a plant, resulting in increased mineral content when the minerals are present in the soil profile.
Phosphate is absolutely critical in turning the sun’s energy into plant sugars which is the foundation of plant growth and mineral uptake.  Higher levels of sugar within a plant leads to your livestock ingesting more calories per bite when compared with similar forage of a lesser sugar content.  Every livestock producer wants higher gains with less feed.  Soft rock phosphate is a special fertilizer – not only does it have the ability to increase levels of plant available phosphorus above and beyond what typical fertilizers do, it is also full of trace minerals that are vital to soil biology and plant growth.

*Give me call about any of the products above: Nate Belcher, 402-580-0015.  I will quote you delivered prices right to your farm so you know exactly what your cost per acre will be.  No hidden fees or confusing rebates and discounts


Fall Appreciation Potluck - Oct. 7 


Please join us Saturday, October 7

When:  Saturday, October 7

Time:  4 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

What:  Please bring your favorite potluck food and we will provide Graze Master Sloppy Joes, drinks and tableware. 

We want to thank you for supporting our journey and for your business too.  Come and enjoy good food and conversation!

We will also have a hayrack ride for those who are interested.

Thank you so much! 

Please RSVP by  Wednesday, October 4 by contacting Kerry Hoffschneider, Communications Manager at (402) 363-8963 - you can text her too!

Graze Master Beef Orders:
Our Graze Master Herd is bred with the core belief that animals must excel maternally and be naturally accountable. Our cattle are raised on non-GMO, forage-based nutrients and are free to live out their lives in a holistic pasture setting.

We take meat orders anytime and can deliver to Seward, Pleasant Dale, Milford and by request. Call Del Ficke at (402) 499-0329 or email We sell individual beef cuts and quarters, halves and wholes.

Graze Master Chicken Pre-Orders:
Our Kosher King/Silver Cross Chickens are hybrid birds that are great alternatives to the Cornish Cross as meat birds.  The Kosher Kings have a more natural growth rate and are vigorous and healthy foragers.  Kosher Kings are a perfect for natural farms practicing organically.

We believe animals should live out their lives in non-stressful environments which in turn provide high quality meat when butchered.  Our whole chickens are available for delivery to all of Seward and Lancaster County.  We sell them for $3.50/lb. 

Please call Emely Hendl anytime at (808)-436-7939 or email
Graze Master Cuisine:

Graze Master Mexican Beef and Zucchini
By Emely Hendl 

1 lb. of Graze Master ground beef
2 medium-sized zucchini (quartered and diced)
2 garlic cloves
1 can of Mexican diced tomatoes with chilies
1/2 tsp. of onion powder
1/2 tsp. of black pepper
1/4 tsp. of red pepper flakes
1 tsp. of chili powder
1 tsp. of cumin, ground
1 tsp. of salt

Brown the Graze Master ground beef with minced garlic, salt, and pepper.  Cook over medium heat until meat is browned.  Add tomatoes and remaining spices. Cover and simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes.  Add the zucchini. Cover and cook for about 10 more minutes until zucchini is cooked, but still firm.

Top off with cheese and sour cream and diced avocado.  Use leftovers for nachos.

Hendl’s Favorite Six-Quart Slow Cooker Chicken
Source:  Adapted from Sarah Olson’s recipe found at

Two, small Hendl’s chickens.
One lemon
Two sweet onions, sliced.
Two heads of garlic, cut in half.
One-half cup of melted butter
½ a teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of pepper
One teaspoon of paprika
One teaspoon of dried thyme
One cup of dry white wine

Hendl Graze Master Chicken Directions:
Remove any extra parts from the inside of the chicken and discard.  Add the onions to the slow cooker and lay the chicken over them.  Add the garlic halves around the chicken.  Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juices over the chicken.  Pour over the melted butter, then sprinkle over the salt, pepper, thyme and paprika.  Pour the wine down the side of the chicken.

Cover and cook on low for six hours.  When the cooking time is done, remove the chicken to a serving platter and strain out the onions and put them next to the chicken.
Gravy Directions:
Let the juices from the chicken sit for a minute so the grease will rise to the top. Carefully spoon off the grease (you will need a ¼ cup for the gravy).  Then measure out two cups of the broth that’s left in the slow cooker.  Set the stove top to medium heat. 

In a skillet, add the ½ cup of grease and stir in a ¼ cup of flour with a whisk.  Keep whisking and let the flour and grease cook for one minute.  Stir in the two cups of broth, whisking constantly.  Keep whisking until a smooth gravy forms.  It will take about five minutes for the gravy to thicken. 

Carve the chicken and serve with onions and gravy.  Enjoy!

Microscopic Wonders

Thank you Aaron Hird, Nebraska Resources Conservation Service State Soil Conservationist, for your photos that you took with your new ProScope Micro Mobile microscope that attaches to your cell phone.  

The following are some compelling pictures he shared with us to share with all of you!


Some developing Barnyard Grass seeds.  

The head of an earthworm.  

Learning from history's wisdom: 

The photo above is native prairie established through bale grazing at Ficke Cattle Company.  No inputs.  We simply translocated seed by feeding bales on the soil and the cattle provided nutrients through grazing.  Pictured is Del Ficke and friend and fellow history enthusiast, Joe Carey. 
The following excerpt was taken from the book, “Grasses and Clovers, Field Roots, Forage and Fodder Plants” written by Professor Thomas Shaw, of the University of Minnesota published in 1895.

The book was entered according to act of Congress in the year 1895 by the Northrup, Braslan, Goodwin Co., in the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington. 

Grasses and Forage Plants.
Chapter I. The Great Importance Relatively of Grass, Forage, Fodder and Root Crops 

The grass crop of the world is the most important crop by far that mother earth produces.  No other crop is so necessary to the sustenance of the various forms of animal life, nor is there any which covers so large an area.  Even in rich, arable sections distinguished for growing cereals there is usually a larger area devoted to grass than to any other variety of crop.  And here it may be mentioned that the term grass is meant to include all varieties of clover. 

In no other way can soil fertility and soil moisture be so easily maintained as by growing grass in one or the other of its various forms, and in no other way can the comparative density of the soil be kept so perfectly in equilibrium.  It follows, therefore, that more attention should be given relatively to the growing of grasses than to the growing of other crops. 

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done:  and there is no new thing under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 1:9 King James Version

Thank you for reading.  See you at our place October 7!  If not October 7, we will catch up in next month's Liberator.  Take good care and don't be afraid to change and dream.  Give us a call if you need anything.  
No electronic or mechanical reproduction of The Liberator is permitted without direct consent of the author, Ficke Cattle Company.  Contact (402) 499-0329 or  Thank you so much for reading!

Copyright © Ficke Cattle Company - Graze Master Genetics, All rights reserved.

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Ficke Cattle Company - Graze Master Genetics · Ficke Cattle Company · 873 182nd Road · Pleasant Dale, NE 68423 · USA

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