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"We are feeding and raising our animals well so our neighbors can be fed well."
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It’s all God
Two families partner to change the world for the better

 By Del Ficke


It’s all God – that’s it, there’s no other way to explain it.  I met Nate Belcher, the visionary behind Green Acres Cover Crops at a cover crops event in Nemaha County and God connected two like-minds.  Yes, that’s the day the urban farmer met the cattleman and the rest is history.

Today, we’re announcing a joint venture – with cover crops, cattle and other forms of livestock at the center of our mission, Ficke Cattle Company Graze Master Genetics™ and Green Acres Cover Crops is coming together to change agriculture and our world for the better. 

In this newsletter, we realize we have some new friends reading who are customers and supporters of Green Acres Cover Crops, just learning about our new partnership.  For the benefit of both, I wanted to give everyone a chance to know Nate and his family.  I have also provided a couple links under Nate’s story so those interested can learn more about Ficke Cattle Company and our family too!
 

Nate, his wife Rebecca and their son Rye, who is very suitably named with a father so passionate about cover crops and seeds in general. 

Nate’s story . . .
By Nate Belcher


“Ten years ago, I could have only dreamt of being involved with food production.  What I did know for sure was that God was setting me down a path that would allow me, with his love and guidance, to have the opportunity to help people live healthy, productive lives through agricultural systems that align with His design.

Growing up as a ‘city dweller’ in Lincoln, I was somewhat removed from the farming operations that surrounded me.  I knew about the importance of farming here in Nebraska and what it means for our economy and lifestyle, but I was not fully aware of what it took to produce those commodity products.  As I began to dig into how our food is produced, I began to realize that we have been heading down a path of unsustainable consumption with an increasingly ‘use it and lose it’ attitude towards our natural resources. 

That brings me to a decade ago when I purchased a house with a small garden area from the prior owners.  I really didn’t have an interest in gardening but thought I would plant a couple tomatoes and peppers for the heck of it that first spring.  I didn’t know it at the time, but planting those first seedlings would change the direction of my life forever.  It is hard to describe what happened over the course of that growing season, but God had placed this overwhelming, joyful burden upon my heart that I was to dedicate my life to healthy, sustainable food production. 

Needless to say, I was very reluctant at first because that was not ‘my’ plan, but I quickly realized this was my calling and I let go of the controls and said, ‘Okay, God, I’m all in.’   I had no clue what that meant or looked like because I knew very little about growing food in the first place, but I was always reassured that God had a plan and that my job was to follow and do, and God would take care of the rest. 

The next year, with help from friends, we turned over the entire backyard to growing food and learning as much as possible with hands-on experience.  Right at that time, through God’s grace, I met John Doran, a retired UNL agronomy and horticulture professor (and a really incredible person) at a church community garden two blocks from my house who would become a pivotal mentor as I started on my journey.  John knew that productive agricultural systems could be healthy and sustainable all while benefiting everyone involved. 

Not only did he believe in it, John lived it and was always involved in projects around the world focused on these very issues which really brought to my attention the fact that we do not need to lean on conventional crutches to produce food for a growing population.  Instead, we need dedicated farmers that are good stewards of the land.  John knew from experience that when you give back to the land entrusted to you, it will provide in abundance, and I have kept this knowledge close to my heart from the very start.

After many years trying different growing methods and techniques, I was first exposed to cover crops while studying bio-intensive farming techniques practiced and taught by John Jeavons.  I visited his farm on a steep hillside in Willits, Calif. and was amazed at the level of production they had achieved with minimal inputs on what was once marginal land.  I was there in the fall and much of their growing area was seeded to cover crops. 

John Jeavons emphasized how important it was to have living roots in the ground feeding the soil biology and providing the benefits of growing more carbon to feed soil microbes and increase soil organic matter as well as carbon levels.  I brought this knowledge and ideas of cover crops back home with me and immediately began to implement them into my growing practices.  It took me quite a few seasons using different cover crops at different times of year, but I quickly realized the benefits the covers were having on soil structure and productivity.  The better I got at managing cover crops, the better my cash crops did and all the while I was decreasing my inputs. 

After years of utilizing cover crops and practicing other growing techniques, I had the realization that farmers both big and small could really benefit from cover crops given access to the right knowledge and seeds.  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, this is what God had been teaching and guiding me towards for the past decade! 

That leads me to Green Acres Cover Crops and Ficke Cattle Co.  This partnership is important because it only enhances our ability to help farmers and livestock producers succeed ecologically and financially.  The land, plants and animals that provide for us, are completely inter-connected and work in a symbiotic relationship with one another which is why we cannot try to manage them separately.  Del and I both recognize this and know that by working together we are better equipped to provide our neighboring agriculturists with a more comprehensive guide to growing crops and raising animals that is both profitable and environmentally sound. 

With Del’s extensive knowledge and experience in cattle genetics and forage-based grazing systems, along with our focus on soil health, nutrient cycling and forage production through the use of cover crops, we have the ability to offer a complete and holistic approach to healthy, productive, and profitable farming.  It just makes sense!

As I look back connecting the dots of resources, information and people God has put in my life, it all makes sense in that regard as well.  Everything happened in the order and timeframe that it needed to so that I would have the privilege that I have today to help farmers increase the health and productivity of their land and animals.” 
 

From left: Our son Austin, Alyssa and their daughter Attley; my wife Brenda, our daughter Emily and myself. 
 

To learn more about my journey and about my family, click on the following links: 

www.fickecattle.com/history

www.fickecattle.com/why-graze-master-why-now

We’ve got you Covered
By Del Ficke and Nate Belcher


Del and Nate drilling rye into milo stalks a few weeks ago. 
 

"Those guys and ladies who are saying that it doesn’t work haven’t even tried it. They’ve heard a lot and they’ve heard one neighbor who tried it one year and didn’t work at it,” says Del Ficke regarding including cover crops into you’re your annual planting portfolio. 
 
There’s three reasons why cover crops, no-tilling and a holistic look at farming and livestock raising are beneficial, but there are also hurdles, Del says:   

 

  • The biggest hurdle is parking the tractor and just walking by it. 


     
  • The second hurdle is starting to think of a life of more leisure (insert what you like to do here – fish, sit in your recliner, hunt, golf, going to your kids’ activities, napping, even reading . . . ).


     
  • The third hurdle is taking the time to sit down and consider how to really save your farm and farm family. I know I can take a 5,000-acre conventional agricultural operation and net it hundreds of thousands of dollars more in income in one year than the year before and they will work far less. 
     

Nate and I are driven by the phrase – profitability follows sustainability because we’ve lived it. 
 
Exploring Seed Options
 

 
Healthy soil is the foundation that productive and resilient agriculture depends on. When we focus on feeding our soils with living roots in the ground and cover above, our soils will behave just like they were designed to and act as living sponges that store water and cycle nutrients efficiently and effectively. By adding cover crops into your operation, you put yourself in a situation in which you are able to feed your soil and provide a premium forage for livestock, all while making nutrients available for your next crop! Time to farm smarter, not harder!
 
This winter season, contact us to help you custom-fit cover crops into your farm and/or grazing planning.  Some ideas include:
 

  • Seeding clovers into pastures heading into spring grazing time.These clover seeds reduce the need for commercial fertilizers.Clover naturally builds its own nitrogen and pulls in carbon from the atmosphere.The cattle will be eating a higher-quality plant rich with more nutrients.

 

  • You can also focus on early, cool season cover crops that are good for grazing.By doing this you are adding to established pastures a diverse seed mix such as frost-seeding red clover and adding different legumes and grasses through feeding techniques, drilling, broadcasting seed, etc.


     
  • And, you can also plant cover crops with a high biomass into bare soil using mixes such as peas, oats, vetches, brassicas (radishes, mustard, etc.) and other grasses that are great for both grazing and building soil health and structure.
     

It’s all about customizing the cover crops to suit your needs.  The options are endless! 
 
To contact Del Ficke call (402) 499-0329 fickecattle.com or Nate Belcher at (402) 580-0015 nate@greenacrescovercrops.com or learn more at fickecattle.com and greenacrescovercrops.com


 

Just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas . . .
 

Easy-Prep, Delicious Graze Master™ Roast
By Brenda Ficke

Ingredients: 

3-4 pound roast
1 packet of dry Ranch dip
1 packet of dry Au Jus gravy
1 stick of butter
Pepperoncini peppers (to taste)
 
Preparation:  
Place roast in crock pot or Dutch oven, sprinkle packets over the Graze Master Beef (do not add any liquid) place the butter on top and cover with peppers. 
 
Cook until appropriate meat temperature and your desired liking.

Graze Master Beef Makes a Great Gift!



Graze Master dog bones make a great gift for that loyal friend.

 
We currently have the following premium Graze Master Beef cuts available.  Our cattle are pasture-raised and receive a small amount of non-GMO grain as part of our holistic approach. 
 

Graze Master Beef Products:

One-pound hamburger packages (vacuum-sealed for easy thawing)
New York Strips
Fillets
Ribeyes
Roasts
Delectable Doggie Treats
Other specific cuts (please ask)

Our meat company is located just outside 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
Email fickecattle@outlook.com
Learn more at: fickecattle.com  
 
Ficke Cattle Company location:
873 182nd Road
Pleasant Dale, NE
 

Copyright © 2015 Ficke Cattle Company - Graze Master Genetics, All rights reserved.


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