"We are feeding and raising our animals well so our neighbors can be fed well."
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Neighbors Helping Neighbors

SAVE THE DATE! Saturday, May 7

Partners Nate Belcher and Del Ficke are pleased to announce that Green Acres Cover Crops seed has arrived at Ficke Cattle Company.  If you are looking to plant spring cover crops, permanent pastures, temporary pastures on row-crop land and a host of other scenarios, please contact Del or Nate and they can set you up with your seed game plan.  Call Nate at (402) 580-0015 or Del at (402) 499-0329.  Call us anytime!  We are excited to help serve you!

Save the Date – Neighbors Helping Neighbors Field Day

Date:  Saturday, May 7

Start Time:  3 p.m.
Ficke Cattle Company
873 182nd Road
Pleasant Dale, Neb. 

Come for food, beverages, fellowship and see cover crops, cattle and common sense soil health practices in action.

Presentations by Doug Garrison – Natural Resources Conservation Service and Nate Belcher – Green Acres Cover Crops

A Graze Master burger supper with cold beverages will be served following the field day.

Hosted by – Del and Brenda Ficke

RSVP by calling Kerry Hoffschneider – Communications Coordinator (402) 363-8963 or email


Exciting results are in!
By Del Ficke and Nate Belcher

Pictured is Doug Garrison with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Green Acres Cover Crops visionary, Nate Belcher, conducted a soil test at Ficke Cattle Company involving a traditional chemical analysis alongside two biological assessments.  Belcher conducted these tests on ground that has experienced 10 years of cover crops coupled with thousands of cattle impacting the land with tromping, manure and urine. 

The tests revealed in 10 years the soil organic matter has increased from 2.8 percent to 6.9 percent.  In Nate's experience conducting these types of tests on farms, he said he has never seen an increase of that amount of organic matter in that short amount of time.  The nutrient availability and natural nutrient cycling is to the point that no artificial inputs are needed. 

Ficke Cattle Company also invited Doug Garrison with the Natural Resources Conservation Service out to perform some tests as well.  On the same field where cover crops have been used for a decade where Nate conducted his tests, Garrison performed a water infiltration test.  Based on the infiltration test, it was concluded the soil can take 13 inches of water per hour.  Doug said that means the field tested can absorb nearly half of the annual rainfall it receives in just one hour.

"With an increase of more unpredictable weather patterns, it is more important than ever that when we do get moisture, absorption rates are high," Del said.  

"Del has achieved this over the last 10 years without over-thinking things," Nate added.

"It’s more important to just be out there trying these practices," Ficke said.  "I only want to continue to improve these numbers across my farm and to conduct even more research with other cover crops, cattle and practices.  It can be fun if we don’t get mired down in too many details.  Just get the seed out there and try it!"   

The Foundations of Permanent Agriculture
By Del Ficke

“What a man, a community, a nation can do, think, suffer, imagine or achieve depends upon what it eats.”  John James Ingalls

The 1948 Yearbook of Agriculture put out by the United States Department of Agriculture and printed by the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington D.C. begins with a verse from the Holy Bible – “And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle that thou mayest eat and be full.” Deuteronomy 11:15

My things have changed.  I was reflecting on the history of agriculture the other day after reading this book and felt compelled to share some of my own thoughts and excerpts from my reading with all of you. 

It all began when the bison were eliminated methodically to try and starve the Indians out.  But it was a two-pronged approach.  The government was getting pressure from the corporations too that wanted to get into ranching and the bison were eating all the grass.  They wanted to run their large herds of cattle and other livestock on the open rangeland so the bison had to be moved out of the way. 

In 1874, barbwire was also invented and began to also contribute to the over-grazing issue by fencing in the once open-range.  Cattle were still grazing openly in some areas; however, the process had begun.  I believe the 1880s were the tipping-point – an even greater amount of corporate money was coming in from back east and overseas.  It became an almost solely bottom-line deal.  They were not considering the over-grazing issue because they were chucking as many animals out on the land as possible because back east the people had an insatiable appetite for all that meat and there was money to be made.  That’s also why grain began being used to feed cattle.  The range was gradually becoming depleted and they needed a new way of unnaturally "fattening-up" livestock. 

It was really something to read a book written in 1948 that had a message that should hauntingly resound with us and propel us to make changes today – a message for the future about striving for balance between natural systems, livestock and the human race.  Below are some words of wisdom to reflect upon today. 

We start with the 1948 book’s introduction, “A Permanent Agriculture” . . .

“Our goal is permanency in agriculture – an agriculture that is stable and secure for farm and farmers, consistent in prices and earnings; an agriculture that can satisfy indefinitely all our needs of food, fiber and shelter in keeping with the living standards we set.  Everybody has a stake in permanent agriculture.”

“Perhaps no farmer has yet developed a permanent agriculture even with his own fences.  It is still a goal to be achieved by communities, districts or regions.  No nation has it; no group of nations has done more than to recognize hazily the need for permanency in agriculture and to consider general ways of cooperating to meet that need.”

“Yet permanency in agriculture is a goal to be sought always by all people, everywhere.  It was never more clearly recognized than during the past sad decade (during WWII).  To lose sight of it is to invite the specter of tragic want – the end product of soil depletion.”

History can be reversed – but only if we know history.

“The primary form of food is grass.  Grass feeds the ox:  the ox nourishes man:  man dies and goes to grass again; and so the tide of life, with everlasting repetition, in continuous circles, moves endlessly on and upward, and in more senses than one, all flesh is grass.”  John James Ingalls

A Lesson Taught by Hereford #841
By Del Ficke

Pictured are some of our replacement heifer calves coming to see a couple reps from a major feed corporation that stopped to visit Ficke Cattle Company recently.  The reps were surprised to learn about how we are developing our heifers without their high-priced inputs.  Oh and then there’s the silo in the background that I also no longer use (we have dreams for that too – but nothing to do with cattle).  Needless to say, the day with the reps and enjoying the heifers on grass made me think of Hereford #841. 

As I move our Graze Master composite herd of cattle from paddock-to-paddock today utilizing ultra-high-density-grazing practices over lush grass and forages, I have more time to think about the lessons from days gone by.  One of those lessons we learned from Hereford #841, one of the foundation females of our current Graze Master composite.
Years ago, we purchased a group of registered Hereford heifer calves and proceeded to develop them in a conventional manner.  One of those calves was #841 and she was always crawling through the bunk and ending up with the cows on stalks and in the pasture.  We decided to just leave her there and she got nothing but hay and whatever else the cows were getting (a little mineral, salt – just the basics).  Her mature cow size was indicative of not having all the “foo-foo” feed as a calf and getting really big like the conventional cows. 
Hereford #841 was the first one of those cows to get bred and have a calf.  Why?  Because she was acclimated to her environment.  There was no change for her because she was already in a natural environment eating grass and whatever residue was there. 

Hereford #841 became one of our best and most moderate-framed Hereford cows we had.  She taught me a lesson, even back then. 
Back when I was doing things the “conventional” way, I thought I was doing so much good for the cows.  Now I see how much healthier and happier the cows are as I strive each day to work even closer in tandem with nature. 
Nowadays there is a lot of bragging about databases and records.  I guess I just want to brag about how accountable cows can be.  A lot of those numbers out there are like seed corn numbers.  I don’t need to buy $400 bags of seed corn.  The cattle industry has gone such a similar way and is designed for such high-input, “home-run” illusions that are such a fallacy. 

Conventional cattle are too often put into an unnatural situation for the animal on behalf of someone else’s profitability.  I had to stop and ask myself, “Why am I doing that to make someone else more money?”
We used to select replacement heifers by putting them in their own feedlot pen and proceeding to give them the best quality feed.  It was all about pouring money into inputs such as – corn silage, alfalfa hay and every “foo-foo” mineral out there with protein on top of that.  We’d haul in bedding for them to lay on because they were in confined areas.  We also had to pour them for lice and external parasites.

What we were doing was hiding our selection process because every one of them was getting this “luxurious” ration and treatment – but it was an illusion we were creating.  None of them really “fell out” of the program because they all did “great” because we were heaping huge amounts of inputs on them for top-dollar (about $300 to get each animal from weaning to breeding).
In that “conventional” scenario we hid their faults and they all “appeared” like they were going to be really good cows.  Then, when we went to breed them we took them away from all that feedlot ration and turned them out to grass and expected them to immediately be acclimated.  Undoubtedly, what we ended up with were a higher percentage of open cows. 
Today, our Graze Master composite heifer calves become cows right from the start.  Thirty to 60 days after they are weaned on grass they are then returned back to the cow herd where they immediately start developing in a natural setting – foraging alongside the mature cows.  We have saved 200-plus dollars per head on our heifer development costs. 
Thank God we learned from Hereford #841 and years of experience to go back to allowing cows be cows in tune with the grass and forages the earth provides. 

Thank you meat customers!

Graze Master New York Strip with Brenda's delectable side dishes.

Thank you so much for your business meat customers!  So proud to have you in the Graze Master family. 
Graze Master Beef Products:
One-pound hamburger packages (vacuum-sealed for easy thawing)
New York Strips
Delectable Doggie Treats
Other specific cuts (please ask)
Our meat company is located at Pleasant Dale, Neb. just a short trip west from Lincoln.  We welcome you to pick up the meat directly from us and we also offer some delivery options.  We can also arrange larger beef processing orders with you in quarters, halves and wholes.  Call today!
Call Del Ficke any time at (402) 499-0329
Learn more at:  
Become a fan at:
Ficke Cattle Company location:
873 182nd Road
Pleasant Dale, NE


Grandma's Swiss Steak
By Brenda Ficke

1 to two pounds of round steak
Salt and pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons of oil
3/4 cup of water
1 and 3/4 to two cups of tomato juice
½ onion sliced 
3 carrots sliced
Cut steak into serving-sized pieces.
Coat the pieces with flour.
Brown the pieces in skillet with oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Remove meat to a plate, add water to drippings and put half the meat back in the pan.  Add half the onion and carrots on top. Then repeat the layers of meat, onion and carrots.  Pour tomato juice over all.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes.
Note:  Cooked tomatoes may be used in place of juice.  For more gravy a little extra water may be added.

(Grandma of course does this with all heart and without a recipe . . .)
Thank you Western Ag Reporter for the recent coverage of Ficke Cattle Company and Green Acres Cover Crops.  We encourage everyone to subscribe to this publication covering a diversity of issues impacting farming and ranching.  You can subscribe at


Billene Nemec . . . You are deeply missed. 

The Nebraska agriculture community lost a precious leader, advocate and friend recently.  Billene Nemec, thank you for your inspiration and support.   

Click on the link to read a tribute to Billene's legacy . . .

Miss Attley sure hopes everyone can come out on May 7 to see the cows and cover crops at Grandpa and Grandma's!  See you soon!
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873 182nd Road
Pleasant Dale, NE 68423

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