"We are feeding and raising our animals well so our neighbors can be fed well."
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So Proud to Partner with Milford’s Main Street Market
They made a few burgers and now carry Graze Master™ Beef


Michelle and David Ulrich with their son Jamison and Michelle's parents Neil and Lucinda Burkholder.  

MILFORD, Neb. – Neil and Lucinda Burkholder at Main Street Market in Milford had been talking about wanting to get some good beef in their store. 

Then Del walked in.
“He gave me a package of Graze Master beef and then I gave it to my mom Lucinda and she made burgers,” Michelle said.
“The flavor is a lot better,” Lucinda admitted.
“And, the hamburger doesn’t have near the fat or grease.  So there’s not that shrink you get from the meat you buy in other stores,” said David Ulrich, Michelle’s husband. 
So now they carry Graze Master Beef and will also take orders for quarters, halves and wholes.  “And we’re so proud,” Del said.  “It’s just the store we were looking for and it’s the only one that carries our product.  So now you can purchase straight off the farm or from these fine neighbors in Milford.  We couldn’t be more excited.” 
Before Graze Master beef arrived, the store’s story had to unfold.
“Michelle’s brother Tyler and I became friends at Bible school and he invited me down for a volleyball tournament,” David explained.
The rest is history.  David and Michelle were married on August 25, 2012.  Not long after, Neil and Lucinda traveled to Guatemala for mission work with their other two children, Tricia and Dylan.  But upon their return, they wanted to be closer to their daughter and her growing family so they moved to Milford. 
“We started to get to know the people at West Fairview Mennonite Church and thought it was time to make the move,” Neil said. 
“When we came, I got a job at Cross and Sons at the truck stop by Seward,” Neil said.
But the family kept talking about missing the bulk food stores back in Memphis, Mo. where the Burkholders are originally from. 
“I had always wanted to be working in a store type situation, maybe in the parts department,” said Neil.  “We talked a few months or so about a bulk foods store instead.”
“Then one night the men were talking really big and the women were saying, ‘No, that would not work.’” Michelle said with a smile.
With all hands on deck working hard at the store while Neil kept his other job and balanced their new venture, it turns out it has worked. And, while he may not be selling parts Neil’s dream of a store is alive and well with Main Street Market carrying all the fixin’s for building a great meal. 
Besides Graze Master Beef the store is lined with spices, gelatin, noodles, canned goods, salsa, pickled items, pudding, candy, snack foods of all types, baby caps, placemats, gift cards and so much more.  Their deli featuring Troyer meats and cheeses and made-to-order sandwiches is also a huge draw. 
“If people like to can, we also have canning lids (no jars yet) but all the rest of the ingredients needed.  We can also supply baking supplies such as flour and sugar in whatever amount you need.  Because the majority of items are not pre-packaged, we package and label ourselves.  We also carefully label items to help people learn about preparation options,” Michelle explained. 
If you don’t want to bake, that’s okay too, because they also carry delicious baked goods from Wanda’s Kitchen out of Beaver Crossing who delivers every Tuesdays and Fridays.  Wanda is also gearing up for Christmas and wants to take orders for items such as pies and cookies.  (Wanda’s homemade buns taste great with a Graze Master burger too).
Lucinda said they pride themselves on the fact the items they sell are not filled with preservatives found on more conventional shelves, “Most of our spices do not have MSG and our canned goods have very little preservatives in them, much like if you canned them yourself.” 
Neil noted, “The bulk food items definitely seem more like your home-cooked foods.  Because of that, we have to move items quickly to ensure freshness.” 
The family is very proud to be in Milford, even young Jamison, Michelle and David’s son helps out.  Michelle is also expecting another baby after the first of the year, so the family dream is growing.

“Milford is a great community,” Lucinda said.  “It’s a nice town to live in and have a store in.  People are friendly and we are happy.  So it’s working out.”

Jamison shows us the Melissa & Doug toys the store also carries. 

Store Hours:
Monday-Friday:  8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturdays:  8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Main Street Market Address:
102 N.  Walnut Street
Milford, NE
(402) 761-4773

Del and Michelle display a package of Graze Master beef.

Contact Del at (402) 499-0329 or email
You can also check out our website at


May we again look with gratitude upon our fields and say, “Thank the Lord.”
By Del Ficke



Johann Ficke

Below is a letter home from my Great, Great Grandfather Johann Ficke to his Brother Claus Ficke in Germany.

Dear Brother: 

I hope that my letter will reach you all in good health, which is most important of all.  We are all in good health and good spirit.  We haven’t been able to harvest as much in the last years since it has been so dry.  We only had half a harvest this year, but it is all so nice and well, that we can say, our merciful Lord turns everything towards good. 

We can look with gratitude upon our fields and say, “Thank the Lord.” 

We have cut our winter wheat.  The oats aren’t ripe yet.  The corn grows so well that it is a joy to look at.  All my children are married and live around us.  We have reduced our farm and have only two horses and five cows, so that when we want to drive we can, but if we want to rest, we can also do that. 

My two oldest have already bought some more land, the oldest 60 acres and the second 80 acres.  Thus it follows its old course again.  They have had a better beginning than I, but it is all well, praise and thank God.

Best wishes from all of us.  Excuse my German writing.  I haven’t written in a long time, so once again excuse it.

Johann Ficke
I think Johann today would say this about the agricultural system we’ve created, “Oh my, that’s why we left Germany.  Everyone was telling us what to do.  What have you done?”
Some of my neighbors reading this have family stories like this as well.  In this case, Johann and his friend Crist Dankers came ahead of their families to Nebraska from Wisconsin in 1869.  They stopped in Nebraska City where they found a plow and team for sale.  Crist bought the team and Johann purchased the plow.  When they left, they still owed half the money on the plow and with that in mind they came up with a plan.  No doubt they talked a lot about that, carrying the plow on their shoulders as they walked the long trek to Pleasant Dale. 
They worked to pay it off.  Seeking out settlers who did not have a plow, they tore up the sod for them and exchanged goods to eliminate their debt. 
In this time in our nation’s history, the government was not there to bail them out if they failed.  Farmers had a certain amount of time to pay back what was lost if they did not raise a crop.  If they failed, they failed.  It was harsh.  But it was reality. 
The words resolve, moxie, ingenuity, entrepreneurship are words we have in many ways lost on the farm in exchange for going through the motions set forth by a system that has failed so many farms and the public too.  But, as I say this, I also think of all the promise I see.  I see so much unrecognized potential.  A generation that was forced off the farm or chose to leave the farm are vying to come back with great ideas – what a tragedy that so many great ideas are derailed or completely stopped by the “controllers,” folks like dad and grandpa.    
I too had to stomach that I was part of the problem.  I had to take responsibility for myself, my family, my farm and my neighbors.  So I’ve been there, for those of you reading this thinking I am judging you.  I’m not.  I want to help you see a different way, a way our ancestors saw.  They wouldn’t understand what we’ve allowed to happen.  They wouldn’t understand why we traded off community and family for commodity.  They wouldn’t get it and I can’t look in the mirror and think of Johann Ficke without feeling guilt, without doing something about this. 
Farmers, ranchers and their families have become prisoners to a system that was set up to never truly benefit them.  I think some are starting to know it and some don’t want to know it.  I know what that feels like.  I’ve been there.  I think I have to bother with it for all of those that have not come to the realization that they are or will have to bother with it. 
I also understand some of the reasons why this all happened.  I know that people worked so hard and they were excited when mechanized agriculture came.  I saw this with my father.  They were no longer working physically as hard.  So I get that and understand all of that and I am not asking people to go back to that plow.  But we went to an extreme and forgot what was most important.  I can connect with neighbors all over the world and I love the ability to do that. But home is where to build from.  Markets closest to me make the most sense.  Practices that reward the land make the most sense.  Cows that are allowed to be cows, make the most sense.
The industrialized agricultural system rewards grossly largesse and bad practices with our tax dollars and corporate incentives.  I see it every day. 

My neighbors, the public, wants to reward good behavior in their purchases.  I see that every day too. 
After WWII they wanted to find a place to put the chemicals they had developed.  So they set up a system to spread them over our precious land.  They even set up a system to sell through neighbors to other neighbors.  They set up a system that eventually turned us against our neighbors. 
I am going against that because I have to honor the generations before me who went against a mindset of control and suppression of freedom and came to this country to overcome that past.  I owe God and their efforts my commitment to doing what I believe is right. 
I have friends that don’t understand.  And to protect their own income or employment, they have become my biggest critics and so most likely were not my true friends.  But I also know they are hunkering down out of fear.  A fear I overcame.  Stepping out of the system is profitable and it’s the most refreshing and also scariest thing I have ever done. 
It really takes years for anything to come into fruition in agriculture.  No-till is an example and so are composite cattle.  Look at cover crops coming back.  It’s all cyclical if you read history.  But that’s the thing, we need to read history and sources of information outside of what is being sent to us free in the mail.  We don’t have years now though.  It’s go time.  It’s change time.  It’s the kind of time it was when Johann and Crist realized they had to get out of Germany.  It’s that kind of time.  We have to ask ourselves, “why?”  And the “why” has to be bigger than us. 
I was talking to a friend the other day about his new farm well he had put in.  I asked him how deep it was and he said, “Sixty feet.”
In reply, I said I was surprised it was that shallow.  I then asked him if it was a good well and he said, “Yes, it is.  It pumps 1,200 gallons per minute.” 
I said, “Wow, that’s amazing because our wells range from 200 to 400 feet deep where I am from.  Our own well is not quite 200 feet deep and pumps 15 gallons per minute and we were super excited about that.  That is why I rely on surface water, springs and stock ponds for nearly all my watering.  And, that’s why when the neighbor turns on his pivot it matters to me because my spring runs dry.”
How do I take someone who is getting that kind of water and convince them there is going to be a water shortage?  It looks like it’s working from their vantage point. 
But Johann didn’t walk those few miles west.  So the Fickes look at things differently and I wouldn’t have it any other way because it has enabled me to see a lot more, with less. 
How do I take farmer being rewarded in this type of system, who is prisoners of new paint compliments of the tax payer and convince them it’s not working?

I begin to do so by asking all of us this question, “Will you remember the Johanns of your families and why they fled their homeland to come to this nation?  Will you be a willing partner in continuing to propel a system that mirrors the oppression they experienced?”
If you’re reading this and feeling a tinge of hate or confusion towards me or know someone who would, I am getting somewhere.  Because I can’t care about what people think who can’t see reality for what it is but I can offer help and solutions developed from my own experiences and a network of resources I have built across the world who understand this is the most profitable way to go. 
This is a calling from a Lord who has been so merciful to me.  There’s a better way.  I desperately want to share what I’ve learned with anyone who wants to hear how I came to that conclusion because I want to help.  I get it because I looked, in many ways, like what I now want to change. 
Neighbors.  Let’s make farming and ranching the noble pursuits they once were so we can truly look with gratitude upon our fields and restored rural communities and say, “Thank the Lord, by your grace, we weren’t too late.” 

Learn more about consulting services at:

Allowing a Cow to be a Cow
By Del Ficke


The cattle industry has done so much to get away from the accountable cow.  They have developed cattle who require a lot of inputs and are unnaturally geared for that packer who is making a lot of money off of those types of producers. 
We are continuing to develop our Graze Master™ herd and I have to say, allowing a cow to be a cow again is so rewarding.  Those cattle that have been bred up through the “conventional” system quickly fall out of our program.  They are the cattle waiting for the feed bucket that have been bred to consume large amounts of grain. 
When we go back to allowing cows to eat grass and forages only, it’s easy to identify those who still have the correct breeding in them and the ones that don’t.  It’s exciting to see those with the right breeding and turn them out into a natural setting where they flourish. 
Pictured is a field that has not had commercial fertilizer on it in two decades.  The field was planted to a four-way mix of pearl millet, radishes, turnips and buck wheat.  Our cattle did extremely well on the diversity of plants.  They ate what they wanted and tromped the rest into the soil, building up that invaluable organic matter.  The plans are to plant this field to more cover crops for fall and spring grazing. 

It’s so obvious it can be maddening to see an industry that has rewarded the antithesis of a cow being a cow.  Our Graze Master herd is performing in this system and in turn positively benefitting the environment. The result is a beef product that is healthy and that was raised as a cow was meant to live.


Pictured is a field that has not had commercial fertilizer on it in two decades.  The field was planted to a four-way mix of pearl millet, radishes, turnips and buck wheat.  Our cattle did extremely well on the diversity of plants.  They ate what they wanted and tromped the rest into the soil, building up that invaluable organic matter.  The plans are to plant this field to more cover crops for fall and spring grazing. 

It’s so obvious it can be maddening to see an industry that has rewarded the antithesis of a cow being a cow.  Our Graze Master herd is performing in this system and in turn positively benefitting the environment. The result is a beef product that is healthy and that was raised as a cow was meant to live. 

R.I.P "Conventional" Agriculture


What a fitting location, a cemetery in Nemaha County, to talk about archaic practices farmers should lay to eternal rest.  Sitting atop generations before, a group of farmers bold enough to step out of status quo thinking came together to hear about new practices involving restoring soil health with the use of cover crops and no-till applications that aren’t so new.   


I was pleased to recently attend a Nebraska Extension Cover Crop/Soil Health Field Day on the Ron Meyer farm between Auburn and Tecumseh in western Nemaha County that featured Paul Jasa – UNL Extension Engineer and Humberto Blanco, UNL Soil Scientist.  Thank you Gary Lesoing, Extension Educator, for your talents in bringing together top-notch resources and promoting quality practices applicable to agriculturists everywhere.



Green Acres Cover Crops founder Nate Belcher and farmer Ron Meyer who uses cover crops on his entire farm along with grazing cattle on some of these acres.  You can learn more about Nate’s endeavor at  Watch future newsletters that will feature Nate’s mission of faith to restore the land to health. 


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

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