"We are feeding and raising our animals well so our neighbors can be fed well."
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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!
Corn, a Russian and an Iowa Farmer
By Del Ficke

Here is Roswell Garst, the legendary hybrid seed corn seller amongst Sorghum Sudangrass in 1937.
The stars really aligned recently as it was the perfect time to travel to the Garst Farm outside Coon Rapids, Iowa.  Why?  Because right now is the most important time in agriculture to really come together to reflect on what we have done right and what we need to get right. 
I cannot stress enough how imperative it is to study history.  Case in point, the Nikita Khrushcev – Roswell Garst connection.  There are options without using weapons.  We need to use the common sense, humanitarian assets that we have left.
Fast forward to what is going on with North Korea and Trump right now.  We have de-evolved from being not just real men, but not being real human beings.  We have subpar politicians voted in by an uneducated populace.  I am not talking about college degrees.  I am talking about uneducated people regarding history.  They are everywhere. 
Like the guys I ran into at lunch at Coon Rapids playing cards who told me, “Well there ain’t much to see here.”

Really?  Most likely, the greatest heart of agricultural innovation took place in their community.  Now people aren’t even seeing their own back yard.
Yes, the lesson is in “the cards.”  The card players and their lack of knowledge and lack of contribution define many of the people who think they are well informed about global issues and small town issues.  They actually don’t know about what’s going on outside their card table.  I’m appalled.  I’m amazed.  I’m stunned.  And, these people can vote. 
My father, Kenneth Ficke (who passed away five years ago), sold Pioneer and then Garst Seed for nearly 50 years.  He also sold Garst and Pioneer bulls for many years.  My father was both a friend and student of Roswell Garst.

For those of you who do not know Roswell.  Here is a link to a story, written by his granddaughter Liz, that will enlighten you regarding his contribution to agriculture and world history.
This is just part of the story. My family were, and still are, Garst supporters.  My sisters still talk about the dealer picnics when Roswell sat down on the grass with his shoes untied and talk to everyone.
Roswell was an innovator in agriculture.  Why wouldn’t what he was selling catch on?  Like the Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Art Cullen, told me the other day, “Why wouldn’t you change when you spent your life staring at the ass end of a horse?”
Like Roswell, I have been innovative on my farm in a fashion that I thought was right for the times.  But like the Garst family now, at Ficke Cattle Company we are trying to return the land to a more natural state.  I too have seen that my ways were not all right.  I owe it to my family, to the community, to the world and my God, to simply see what is right.  It is that simple. 
Some have called me crazy, others a son of a bitch, and still others have told me to go to Hell.  They can call me all the names they want to.  But, when I meet my Maker, our conversation is going to be about beauty and growing things and feeding instead of fighting. 

The Power of Honey
By Matt Hendl

When you think of the honey bee, most usually think of honey.  But, the primary role of the honey bee is to collect pollen.  In fact, 75 percent of all food would disappear if we lost the honey bee.  Some crops solely depend on bees for their ability to pollinate – almonds are one of those crops.  Bees use the pollen to make a “beebread” to feed to the juvenile bees.  That same “beebread” is consumed by humans for various medicinal purposes such as reducing inflammation, use as an antioxidant, protecting against liver toxicity, boosting the immune system, promoting healing, and most notably as a natural allergy fighter. 

Most honey contains small amounts of pollen as long as it is not filtered and heated to try and remove it.  Consuming local honey helps build an immunity for most allergy sufferers.  That is why it is important to consume local honey.  The honey you buy at your local grocery store may be harvested from another country (which may or may not contain the local pollen you may have an allergy to). 

Our Hendl Honey Story . . .

We bought three packages of bees from a beekeeper in Grand Island in late April.  Each package contained approximately three pounds of bees in a screened box with one queen.  Those packages were each placed in their own hive with the queen placed in her own small container for the bees to release. 

We assumed, due to Del’s holistic agriculture practices, that the bees would do well since there weren’t any harmful chemicals being sprayed.  When Del was seeding cover crops with Nate Belcher of Green Acre Cover Crops, I asked what he was using.  He said there was a particular cover crop he was going to try in a portion of his field called Sainfoin.  Nate had mentioned that he thought it was a good source of nectar for the bees, but I had never heard of it.  After some quick research, I read that it was comparable to alfalfa for a food source for cattle, but also a great nectar source for honey bees. 

About a month later while Del was checking on his cover crops, he walked next to the Sainfoin that he planted and it had produced a beautiful pink flower.  As he got closer, it also seemed like the ground was rumbling.  There were thousands of bees collecting nectar from the flowering Sainfoin, thus proving this plant as a viable nectar source.

The proof came about two months later around the second week of July as I was doing a simple check on the hives. I had added boxes so the colony of bees could expand.  At this point, there were four boxes on each hive.  I lifted the top cover off of one of the hives and the bees had built honeycomb on the lid.  This meant they were trying to expand and needed more room.  As I tried to lift the top box off, I was not ready for the sheer weight of it. It was completely full of capped honey and weighed nearly 65 pounds.

The box below it was full of mostly honey with a small amount of bee eggs as well.  Two of the hives were like this, totaling nearly170 pounds of honey, frames and boxes.  I knew that I had one or two spare boxes at home, so I decided to take two of the boxes home to extract (one from each of the two hives).  One of the hives had fewer bees and multiple queen cells meaning that it had swarmed and would take some time to rebuild due to losing half of the colony.


Extracting honey is where all the fun begins.  I had a three-frame extractor, gravity strainer, and a honey bucket with a gate.  Twenty fully-capped frames of honey were uncapped with a fork-like tool and then hand-spun in the extractor.  The extractor was then lifted onto a table and opened to release the honey into the bucket. The strainer has three separate filters to remove various sizes of wax cappings that fell off the frames in the extracting phase.  Those 20 frames of honey produced 60 pounds of light colored beautiful honey.  After extraction, I placed the spun frames back in the boxes and put the two boxes back on the hives. 

Two weeks later, I was doing another inspection to see how the bees were doing and the same exact thing happened. Honey comb built up on the inside cover and fully capped honey on the upper boxes. I thought it would be a better idea to remove just the frames instead of the boxes so I could brush off the bees and place them in a plastic storage box.  So then I had another 20 frames of fully capped honey and an empty box without frames on two of the hives.  I wasn’t able to extract the honey right away, because we had no other containers to store the honey in.  We had to order more jars, frames, boxes and honey buckets to keep up with the unexpected supply of honey. 

Another two weeks went by, and new supplies were in. I assembled the boxes and we extracted the honey and poured them into jars. I then took the new boxes and frames to put them on the hive since there were only empty boxes on them.  I had assumed the bees were going to slow down making honey, because a normal nectar flow lasts only a month or so.  Well, I was wrong –the bees had built their own comb in the empty boxes and were already filling it with honey!

This would have been amazing, but there would have been no way to remove or extract this comb.  The bees had attached it to the frames underneath and inside walls of the boxes.  The only thing I could do was scrape it off into a plastic box and let them feed off of it outside the hive.  I place the new frames and boxes inside the hives and am doing another inspection soon before the goldenrod blooms!

Huge Honey Results . . .

Bees are not supposed to create this much honey their first year.  We purchased the packages in late April and they were a month behind established hives.  But things are a little different at Ficke Cattle Company.  Del’s holistic approach to agriculture created the perfect environment for bees.  When you allow the land to stay natural, honey bees will thrive.  We have extracted more than 130 pounds of amazing honey and are currently selling it along with Graze Master Beef and Graze Master Chicken at the Seward famers market on Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. 

Guest Article:  Thank you Brian for inviting us to meet Ray.  It’s great to be connected with more people who know a healthy farm and ranch begins with healthy soil. Congratulations on all your success on your farm and with your cattle!
A Day with Soil Health Enthusiast Ray Archuleta
By Brian Brhel

Ray Archuleta (center) talking at the Brhel farm. 
DENTON, Neb. – A group of interested farmers, ranchers and agronomists from South Africa came to learn about regenerative agriculture being implemented on farms and ranches in the United States. Their two-week journey started in the Dakotas, Nebraska and then to Missouri. The group was led by Ray Archuleta, well-known soil health enthusiast from Missouri. 

Archuleta has a lot of passion surrounding soil health and how that translates to healthy plants and ultimately food for our communities.  In Nebraska, the group made a stop at the Scott Gonnerman farm near Waco and then to my farm near Denton.  They also stopped at Todd Kudlacek’s operation near Brainard.  It was an honor to share what I had learned about plants, soil and livestock with this innovative group.

The first stop at my place was a field planted to a mix of cowpeas, mung beans, forage sorghum, pearl millet, kale, forage collards and sunflowers.  Although it is a diverse summer mix, Ray was mindful to point out that none of these plants would survive the winter.  If the goal was to have some cover in the spring, he said it would be good to add something that would grow during that time also.  My stand is a little light so plans are underway to over-seed oats to add more fall grazing and rye or triticale for spring cover.  Quality grazing is important to keep those mamma cows happy so it is worth the extra effort.

Another stop included a look at a small creek that is grown over by grasses because of proper animal impact.  During my growing up years I recall the creek having steeper sides and no vegetation in the creek bed.  With a short duration of grazing, the creek banks have ample time to fill in with grasses to stabilize the soil.  Now the soil stays intact and there is better infiltration.

If this trend continues along the entire creek, I would expect the speed of the flow to slow in time.  Even with cattle watering from this stream, the banks are more stable from the root mass at the water’s edge and in the creek.  If the trees are too dense, sunlight is not available for grass growth.  If the cattle stay too long, the root structure is lost to hold the soil. This is a systems approach and many factors converge to make it work.  How am I going to keep water and soil on my farm?  This is one way.  

A highlight of the tour was the resulting fertility from bale grazing this winter on cropland.  There was a clear distinction between areas with little impact from cattle and those with heavy bale grazing.  An eroded end-row on a side hill is a difficult place to be profitable.  Bale grazing on cropland has made an immediate difference on this farm.

It was great to share these results with Ray and learn from him and everyone on the tour.

May all your end-rows produce corn you’re proud of!

Graze Master Meat Orders and Delivery:
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.

As Great Grandpa H.F. Ficke said, “We are feeding and raising our animals well so our neighbors can be fed well.”

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

Graze Master Chicken 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
Next month we will be sharing some amazing microscopic photos of the life beneath our feet taken by Aaron Hird - State Soil Conservationist with the Nebraska Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Stephanie McClain - State Conservation Planning Specialist with Nebraska NRCS.  Below is one of those cool photos taken by Aaron of dew drops caught in a spider web.  We will also explore making money from "weeds."  Stay tuned and thank you for reading.  
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!

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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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