Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fall Foliage

The view from the neighbor's house. Beautiful, trees, leaves and landscaping.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Iconic Front Street in Ogallala Nebraska to auction

Ogallala became famous as a wide-open, lawless end-of-the-Texas-trail town in the 1870's. That spirit has lived on throughout the years at the Front Street Steakhouse and Crystal Palace Saloon. Now, it's time for a new chapter in the life of the iconic attraction. The current owner is part of the original group of investors who built the attraction in the 1960's. He's ready to move on, and that spells opportunity for another investor to continue the tradition into the 21st century.

My favorite memories of Front Street are taking friends and family to the Crystal Palace Review each year. These incredibly talented young people perform in the longest-running summer stock theater in Nebraska. The show celebrated its 50th consecutive year in the summer of 2012. Three Miss Nebraska's have been part of the cast, and the shootouts, music and humor are unforgettable.

We're not the only ones who have enjoyed it, either. Just check out the reviews for the attraction on Trip Advisor. Not only are they a favorite for leisure travelers throughout the summer, they also cater to bus groups, and there's a unique meeting and banquet hall for a unique setting for your special event. The attraction is located right along the Lincoln Highway Byway, and there is an active local tourism promotion organization to partner in being successful.

In 2010, the operation was offered for sale, but the Rezacs have continued to operate it and now have chosen the auction way to pass the attraction on to the next generation.

Local all-star auction company Schow Realty and Auction have the sale, and you can read all of the details for what is included on their website. The auction takes place at 10:30am MT on November 4 at Front Street, 519 E. First St., Ogallala.
Here are the details:
  • Offered as a going business - turnkey.
  • Steakhouse with seating for 100.
  • Saloon and stage area with seating for 140.
  • Fully equipped kitchen.
  • Event center upstairs featuring 2 large bar areas and dance floor.
  • Museum showcasing the “Old West” and cattle drive days when Ogallala was the end of the Texas Trail.
  • Tourism highlight for thousands each year!
Besides all of that, there are two leases - Makenzi's gift shop and Silver Eagle Art Gallery, so you're already on your way to success!

Plus, I'll mention here the amazing partnerships that can be had at the Nebraska Tourism Commission. If there are any folks who want an attraction like this to succeed, it's them, and they will do everything they can to help you be successful.

So, c'mon and join us down at Front Street (anyone who has ever been to the stage show will understand that!) and be a part of the Nebraska Tourism Industry. You know you've been looking for that unique opportunity, and this certainly is that!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Stories: Star Theater and Good All Electric

In a continuation of the story of the Townsend family in Sutherland, here are the excerpts of the Star Theater and Good All Electric as found in the Sutherland Centennial Book, 1891 - 1991.

Star Theater

During the time of the construction of the Sutherland Reservoir, in October, 1934, employees of the Robert Goodall Company of Ogallala made a trip to Purcell, Oklahoma, to install sound equipment in a theater there. John G. Townsend, who lived there, assisted in the installation and discussed the availability of work for the company. The devastation of the land and farms during the Dust Bowl days had caused an exodus of families to California.

John was encouraged to come to Ogallala to work in October 1934. Mr. Goodall was installing a theater in Grant and one in Sutherland, and hired John to oversee the preparation of a building in Sutherland. Equipment and furnishings were installed and the Star Theater was born.

Improvements to the theater in October 1939 included new upholstered seats and air conditioning.
Admission to the theater in 1944 was listed as Matinee: Adults $.76, Children $.40, Servicemen $.55, Evenings: Adults, $1.10, Children $.55 and Servicemen $.76.

L.E. Finecy took over management of the Star Theater on October 24, 1951, and Truman Dachenback became manager in September 1952. Irvin Brownell leased the theater in April 1953, and managed it himself. In June 1954, Irvin Brownell purchased the Star Theater and building from R.A. Goodall of Ogallala.

In July 1975, the theater reopened after being closed for several weeks. Movies were shown every two weeks, four days over the weekends.

Good All Electric

In November of 1944, John Townsend was in charge of locating a Good All factory here. The old post office building was redecorated and furnished. In May of 1945, the local branch of Good All Electric opened. The plant manufactured essential electrical parts for the U.S. Navy. The company had a large order to fill, and on August 16, 1945, it produced its one millionth condenser.

A division of Good All, Star Manufacturing expanded in the Yates building in April of 1946. In September of 1947, an ad appeared for girls age 16 years and up to wind condensers. Applicants were to see Mrs. V.A. Kessler or John Townsend. This factory operated in many vacant buildings around town for several years.

The plant closed for over a year and opened on September 14, 1950, with five girls winding. On November 22, 1951, the plant expanded to occupy the Gummere building. The expansion made a total of sixty people employed with the prospects of more jobs available later on.

On September 2, 1954, Robert Tyler purchased the Gummere building and set up a condenser plant on the upper floor.

The Townsend Company received a citation from the U.S. Treasury Department for its sale of U.S. Savings Bonds through payroll deductions.

On October 27, 1955, Mr. Townsend purchased the building occupied by the Gordon Grocery Store. He had been using the second floor and now used the entire building. Gordon no longer sold groceries, but continued to operate the locker and butcher business. Townsend Manufacturing Company received more contracts and planned to hire more workers. In September of 1957 about 110 people were winding.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Gathering Together: The Nebraska Travel Conference

The annual Nebraska Travel Conference wrapped up in Norfolk last night. It was a great time seeing old friends, making new ones, and hearing what everyone is doing to make our great state better for visitors and residents alike.
We learned from Karen McCullough that the biggest trend in tourism is CHANGE! Constant change… whether it’s learning the latest technology, the latest marketing avenues (think social media and how much that changes day to day!), the changing generations and the way they each travel, emerging niche markets. You name it, it’s in a state of change.
These were comforting words to hear for Nebraska tourism, because it means that a lot of people are feeling our pain!! Change is the byword for Nebraska tourism for the past two years. Two years ago, state tourism was a division of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. Then they were charged by the Legislature to create a comprehensive strategic plan… good, right?
Yes, lots of wonderful stuff has come out of that process, but what an undertaking it was for a new director. Next, just about a year and a half ago, the Legislature also decided that tourism should be its own Commission. Again, good, right?
Yes, very, very good. But what changes it meant! The Tourism Advisory Committee, who met infrequently to give input from around the state suddenly became Commissioners! It meant moving out of offices previously occupied, doing without all of the support that came from just being a “division”.
Finally, it was time to renew all of the contracts for services – in-bound call center, fulfillment, media and public relations, marketing and digital! We got to meet the new members of the team during the conference, and I can tell you that there is a new energy and excitement coursing through the Nebraska Tourism Commission and those charged with helping them fulfill their mission – helping to make Nebraska the best state in the nation to visit (and live in!), and to attract all those visitors to whom Nebraska is an undiscovered country.
At the opening Nebraska Tourism Association meeting, we learned there are LOTS (lots, and lots and lots!) of challenges facing our industry.
  • Signage - In doing the outstanding job that they do, the Nebraska Department of Roads have inadvertently put HUGE road blocks up for our mom and pop tourism entities (which most in Nebraska are). Their strict interpretation of the Highway beautification act means that tourists have a hard time finding some of our more spectacular out-of-the-way places. South Dakota, recognizing they will get MORE money from tourist income has chosen to forego some federal highway dollars by taking a more relaxed view of the Highway Beautification Act. Might be something to think about.
  • Liquor Laws – Do you love staying in beautiful, unique, quaint beds and breakfasts? Who doesn’t?! Did you know that for that bed and breakfast, who might only have one or two rooms to rent out, and doesn’t really do it for money, but to share the love of their community with visitors, has to purchase a complete liquor license to sell that local wine and beer made just down the street, at a cost of approximately $500 annually? That might be all the profit they make in a year. Iowa has a $25 annual Native liquor license meant for domestically (in-state) produced beer and wine. Good idea, right?
  • Recreational Liability – Here’s the elephant in the room if ever there was one! When you go on an adventure, one that might include some inherent risk, do you recognize that you bear some of the responsibility if something untoward should happen? That seems like a no-brainer, right? Not in Nebraska! If you step onto a farm or ranch or other private property (remember, Nebraska has only 3% public land, so nearly ALL of our beauty is private land), that property owner bears 100% of the liability for anything that might happen to you. Can you imagine how expensive that makes insurance? You can’t have adventures on Nebraska’s private land because land owners can’t afford to let you! (Now, before anyone gets their panties in a twist because I’m not telling the exact truth – if a farmer, rancher or landowner lets you on their land FOR FREE, they do have some protection. Great for those good Samaritans, but where’s the economic development in that?)
  • Public land funding – remember me mentioning above that Nebraska only has 3% public lands? Well, guess what… that 3% is horribly underfunded! Right now there is a $30 million backlog in deferred maintenance items, and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission had to close dozens of public areas this fall and winter season to begin addressing some of those issues. These public lands are treasures for everyone to enjoy, and include not only parks and outdoor recreation, but some of our most precious historical sites such as Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park in North Platte.
What else did we learn?
  • We learned that a destination’s brand is only as good as the quality of the encounter between a visitor and the lowest-paid employee in your destination. Think about that one for awhile as you picture the desk clerk at the highway-side convenience store.
  • We learned that we’ve got to fill our visitors’ emotional bank accounts – speak to the heart first, then the mind, both with the experiences we offer and with our marketing materials.
  • We learned that we have the tools (YouTube, Pinterest, Vine, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs), to make our visitors’ mouths water when they see the wonderful images and stories we tell about what they are going to enjoy in our destinations.
  • We learned… actually, we reiterated, that Nebraska is an amazing, undiscovered country filled with warm people, beautiful scenery and spectacular adventures just waiting for visitors to enjoy them.
The Nebraska Tourism Commission, from the director Kathy McKillip to the Commissioners from around the state to all of the old and new faces on the staff, plus the team of professional vendors they have assembled, has their work cut out for them. But feeling the energy from them during the Travel Conference, I believe they are up for the task.
  • For instance, with a $160,000 investment in sponsorships and in-kind donations, they have brought four media trips through Nebraska, already resulting in more than $1.6 million in earned media coverage! And many articles aren’t even published yet!
  • They partnered with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Nebraska Public Television and the University of Nebraska to get some amazing aerial footage of Nebraska. And, for all of you expressing your skepticism on YouTube that this was NOT filmed in Nebraska, drop me a line, come visit and we’ll go road tripping to show you!
  • They are building relationships – with the Nebraska Restaurant Association, the Nebraska Hotel Motel Association to name two, but there are many others whose work fits hand-in-hand with theirs. They recognize that and are building bridges wherever possible to get us all moving in the same direction.
  • They are innovating! I know I chide them for their lackluster performance in the arena of social media, but they have plans and projects in the works to improve and get the word out to the BILLIONS of people who can be reached using these tools.
Now, the entire Nebraska Tourism Industry needs to follow their lead. It was sad that there were only about 170 people who attended the conference. Yes, it's an investment in both time and money, but it is vital that we come together to get to know each other, learn how to be better entrepreneurs and hosts, how to market ourselves better. A rising tide floats all of the boats, but the tide would rise much faster if we were all involved in growing and bettering tourism as a whole, rather than just cuccooned in our own little world. We hope to see you ALL in North Platte in 2014, October 22 - 24!

So… watch out world! You’re going to see a Nebraska you never knew existed (truly… you don’t know we exist!) in the very near future, and you’re going to be AMAZED!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Outback Scenery

 A field of big round bales waiting to be winter feed for cattle. Off of Highway 25 south of Hayes Center.
 Pretty nice buck - just after he ran across the road right in front of us! His friend stayed on the other side. Just north of Palisade, Nebraska.
 The highway from Lexington into Arapahoe.
 I don't know what winery it is, but there is a beautiful little vineyard just on the outskirts of Arapahoe.
 Harvest was in full swing during our swing through southwest Nebraska on Saturday.
This abandoned homestead is on Highway 83 just north of McCook. I wonder at the lives of those who settled here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Want to be an Hotelier? This could be yours!

Down in the quaint little southwest Nebraska town of Orleans is an historic hotel that could be yours!
For anyone looking for an amazing investment or a way to to escape the city and take over an existing small business, this is the opportunity you have been waiting for. Empty-Nesters, Entrepreneurs, potential "Hoteliers"...this is the property for you! Step back into the future with this rare opportunity! The historic Hotel Orleans is located in the quaint village of Orleans, Nebraska and was erected in 1929.
It has had only three owners and has always been in operation. Located in the heart of the Republican River Valley in South Central Nebraska, this landmark has served generations of families. Hunters and fisherman experience the best waterfowl, game hunting and walleye fishing in the Midwest. Harlan County Reservoir stretches from Republican City to about 5 miles southeast of Orleans. The Republican River is 1 mile from the Hotel Orleans' front door. Sports people from all over the world have graced this hotel with stories that have passed through the generations. Families have sought out the hotel for weddings, receptions, showers, anniversaries, reunions, and just fun family gatherings. The demand for which is still as strong as ever. 
There are twenty-six guest rooms in total. Beyond character, the hotel has a commercial kitchen, stately dining hall and two private living quarters within the property. The hotel is being sold "turn key" so all contents will be included. The property also includes a large lot, a mobile home on the property, and two existing permitted billboards to promote the hotel on Highway 183 and Highway 136.
This is a special place to relax and enjoy the present and future in the glory and presence of the past. Just think, your own hotel; or bed and breakfast; or upgrade to a steakhouse and still have the hotel! The opportunities are endless at the Hotel Orleans. 
You can find the listing for this wonderful historic property on the North Platte Craigslist.

You can find more information about the property - and more photos at the Country Seat Living blog.
Blog 1
Blog 2
Blog 3

You can find a bio of the current proprietor on the Her View From Home blog.

More information about Orleans, Nebraska can be found on their website,

Harlan County tourism can be found on their website,

Google Maps has been all around the town of Orleans, so don't forget to take your own virtual tour!

So what are you waiting for? I've told you all that you need to know.

You know you've got the gift of hospitality, and always wanted to own your own business, and get away from the rat race of urban living, and raise your kids in a safe rural environment.

Good luck!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Stories: John G. and Dorothy L. Townsend

I like to highlight individuals and families who have had a lasting impact in our community, and the Townsend's definitely fit that definition. Townsend Manufacturing provided good jobs for many people in Sutherland, and KJLT Radio continues to influence the area through its Christian broadcasting.

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial: 1891 - 1991.

John Galen Townsend was born November 1, 1909, in Snyder Oklahoma to Galen L. (1887-1968) and Constance C. (Patton) (1886-1869) Townsend.

Dorothy L. was the daughter of James Lyle (1891-1967) and Ruth E. (Curtis) (1891-1938) Tyler, and born in Detroit, Michigan. James Tyler and several young men went to Detroit from Oklahoma to work in the manufacturing of automobiles, where they married and established families. After the loss of his wife Ruth, James and his children, Dorothy, James L. and Robert returned to Purcel, Oklahoma to be close to his parents.

John Townsend and Dorothy Tyler graduated from high school, and were married July 25, 1933. They are the parents of two children, Carole Galen, born in Oklahoma, August 28, 1934, and John Lyle, born in North Platte, Nebraska, May 18, 1948.

In 1934, employees of the Goodall Company of Ogallala were in Oklahoma and encouraged John to come to Nebraska to work. He oversaw the preparation of a building in Sutherland, which became the Star Theater. Because of the influx of many reservoir workers and their families, housing was very scarce. It seemed as though every available apartment, attic, garage, and basement had been converted into living quarters. When John came to Nebraska, he left his wife, Dorothy, and six week old daughter, Carole Galen, until he could secure a home for them. Dorothy and Carole Galen arrived two days before Christmas, December 23, 1934. They lived with Charles and Jennie McNeel and family until they could move to an apartment in the McNeel Hotel.

During World War II, Goodall Manufacturing Company of Ogallala produced capacitors for the government. As orders increased, John accepted an offer to establish a plant in Sutherland, which became the Townsend Manufacturing Company.

John’s electrical engineering knowledge led him to apply to the Federal Communications Commission for a radio license and frequency assignment, which was approved in 1952. KNBR Christian Radio began to broadcast until 1957 commercially, and then reorganized as a non-profit religious station with 5,000 watts of power on 970 KHZ, with listeners in parts of Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas. Having move to North Platte, the Townsends have enjoyed being affiliated with KJLT Christian Radio Station.

John and Dorothy have been active in their church, both are licensed radio amateurs, John for 65 years, and a member of the Quarter Century Wireless Association. He is a Past Patron of the Sutherland Chapter of OES, and Dorothy is a 50-year member and a Past Matron. She is also a member of the Sioux Lookout Chapter of DAR. John has served on the Housing Authority Board, Salvation Army Board, and is a 35 year member of the Kiwanis Club. Both are proud to have Revolutionary War soldiers as ancestors. They have fond memories of having lived and labored among friends in Sutherland for 24 years.

Carole Galen Townsend graduated from Sutherland High School. She married Robert A. Britt in 1954 and are the parents of three daughters: Robin, Janet and Jill.

John Lyle Townsend attended Sutherland grade school through fifth grade, moving to North Platte where he attended high school and the Junior College.  John and Carol Sue Sommer were married in North Platte, January 30, 1966. They are the parents of two sons, James David and Timothy John. John is now the manager and president of Tri-State Broadcasting Association, which added KJLT-FM in December 1990.
KJLT Radio in North Platte, Nebraska

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pretty Work Answers Questions about the Atlas Blizzard

The following was posted by Pretty Work on October 11, 2013. Pretty Work describes herself as: Daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Wyoming cattle ranchers who somehow ended up in a Twin Cities suburb.

She responds to questions about the Atlas Blizzard so much better than I could, I am sharing her post in it's entirety.

Questioning Cattle Deaths in South Dakota

Posted on October 11, 2013 by prettywork

I’ve been reading through blog posts about the aftermath of last weeks winter storm in South Dakota. I came across a couple of news articles on CNN and NBC News sites. And then I did something I never, ever should have done. I scrolled down to the comments section. Word of advice: Do Not Scroll Down to the Comments Section. Ever.

It’s not a nice place. People are very nasty there. It made me sad and mad and dumbfounded. There were so many accusations comments from so many people who very clearly of little to no understanding of ranching or livestock. But boy oh boy, do they have opinions!

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I am not here to try to change anyone’s mind, this is after all, a free country. All I’m asking is that you try to base your opinions on facts and not assumptions or rumors.

I’ve reworded some of the most common accusations comments into questions to try to set a respectful tone and I’ve tried my best to answer them.

Didn’t everyone know this storm was coming? Shouldn’t they have been more prepared? – The original forecast in the week or so leading up to the storm was for 10-15 inches of snow. And while it is early for it to snow that much, that isn’t an unusual amount for the area and something that cattle can handle without too much stress. The forecasted amount of snow was increased, 24-48 hours before it hit, to 18-30 inches. What actually happened was 2 inches (or more in some areas) of rain, followed by 30+ inches of snow and hurricane force winds. So, yes they knew a storm was coming and prepared for what they thought they were in for. They just didn’t know what they were in for.

Why were all the cattle out in the open? Shouldn’t they have been moved into barns? These cattle are kept out in pastures to graze on grass. The pastures are very large and often miles away from ranch headquarters. They are not kept in barns. There are no barns. There are no barns big enough to hold the numbers of cattle we are talking about. It would not be economically feasible or practical. The cattle are built for living outside. Even if there were barns to put them in, they would not have been safe as the weight of the snow in this storm would have likely collapsed many roofs.

If they are use to being outside during the winter then why was this storm such a big deal? There are a few things that were different about this storm than a typical winter storm. First, the cattle were all still out on summer pastures. Typically, cattle are taken to different pastures, or parts of the ranch, during the summer – these are often higher elevations, farther from the ranch headquarters and often more open, with fewer sheltered areas – and then moved at some time in late fall to winter pastures. Winter pastures are usually closer to headquarters so the cattle are easier to get to for feeding, doctoring ect. Winter pastures also tend to have more sheltered areas to offer protection during storms.

Ok, so then why didn’t everyone just move their cattle to winter pastures before the storm hit? One reason is because they truly did not know that the storm would be nearly as severe as it was. Another is because it is typical to still have cattle on summer pastures at this time of year if the grass is still plentiful. This keeps the cows and calves happy and saves the grass on the winter ground for, well for, winter. If cattle are moved too early onto winter pastures they will run out of grass early which means they will need to be fed hay earlier. Because we never know how long a winter will last and we don’t want to get to March or April and run out of hay – as that is often when big spring snow storms hit – we try to hold out feeding hay as long as there is grass for the cattle to eat. The weather had been great, the grass was still good out on summer ranges, the forecast was for a significant snow but not for a record breaking blizzard.

And you have to understand that moving them would have taken time. For instance, on our ranch it takes about 3 days to gather the cattle up from our summer pastures and to get them to the trail leading down to winter ground and then, in good weather, about 2 days to trail them down. So it takes roughly a week to move cattle from summer ground to winter ground. This isn’t something that you just run out and do in a few hours right before a storm. You need a significant amount of lead time. This storm was not forecast to be this severe a week out.

Why not just load them up and truck them all to winter pastures? They would have had to call to schedule trucks, gather the cattle – which could take a day to two or three depending on the size of the ranch – load them on trucks and haul them to new pastures. There wasn’t time and the weather would have definitely impeded things. On our ranch if there was an inch or two of rain the trucks simply would not have been able to get to the cattle.

It still seems odd that so many would die? Some other factors that contributed to the death loss are the fact that, because the weather had been so nice, the cattle had not begun to grow their winter coats. In addition to that there was the rain for several hours in advance of the snow, then the temperature dropped and then the snow and wind started in. The snow was heavy and wet and there was a lot of it. The winds were gusting around 70+ miles an hour. The cattle began drifting with the wind and some found themselves falling into creek beds where they were buried and suffocated by the snow and wind and some drifted into and were caught in fence lines.

Didn’t the ranchers try to save them? As I said before, they really didn’t know that the storm would be as severe as it was. By the time that was evident they literally could not get out of their houses until it stopped snowing and then they had to dig their way out. They got to their cattle as quickly as they could.

Don’t they already get a lot of subsidies and price supports from the government? There are no subsidies or price supports for livestock. The Farm Bill – which is currently expired and in limbo – does have price and income supports for some crops – corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice and dairy. Beef cattle are not in that group.

What does the government shutdown have to do with this? There is a section in the Farm Bill that does set aside some disaster aid for farmers and ranchers for weather related disasters such as this. This money could, potentially, be used to help some of the ranchers affected by this storm. We currently don’t know, obviously, since the bill has expired and no one in Washington is working. Some media outlets have highlighted this since the shutdown is the talk of the town. Most ranchers are too busy cleaning up to give it much thought.

Don’t ranchers get like $1000 a head? Aren’t they all rich anyway so what’s the big deal? Shouldn’t they be able to handle the economic impact just fine? Cattle prices have been higher this year, that is true. Partly due to lower cattle numbers related to the drought that has plagued the west for the past couple of year. So, while prices are up, ranchers have fewer calves to sell, so that often evens itself out. This summer calves were bringing around $850-$950 a head and yearlings (these are at least a year old) were bringing around $1500 a head. So, yes those are very good prices. But please understand that that is not straight profit. You have to take out all your expenses which likely include but are not limited to – loan payments, feed, vet supplies, equipment costs, fuel costs, taxes, insurance on buildings and vehicles, insurance on cattle if you can afford it, health insurance on family and employees, wages, groceries, trucking costs.

Most ranchers have to take out an operating loan to get through the year. They typically ship calves in the fall and that is their one paycheck for the year. Hopefully, it is enough to pay back their operating loan, replace any equipment that needs replacing and restock a few supplies for next year. Some years they make some extra money beyond what they need to just keep operating, some years they break even and some years they end up in the hole.

I’m not sure where the idea came from, that most ranchers are sitting on piles of cash but most are not. Yes, there are a few and many of them made those piles of cash from other things – oil, gas, land sales, “town jobs” – but that is the exception not the rule, most are operating on a thin profit margin and this will have a significant impact.

How long will it take to rebuild their herds? It will probably take 2 to 3 years to replace what they have lost. For those that had not yet shipped their fall calves they lost this years calf, which is this years paycheck. They also lost a pregnant cow. The calf she was carrying would be next years paycheck. And they lost the cow. So they have essentially lost 3 generations at once. This will take several years.

Won’t insurance cover this? They do have insurance right? You can get insurance for cattle. Most ranchers don’t because of the thin profit margin. They can’t really afford it and so they cross their fingers and hope for the best. Also, for those that are able to buy insurance for their herds, it will not reimburse them for their total loss, only a portion. For those that have it, it will help for sure. To my knowledge not many have it, not because they are being irresponsible but because they had to prioritize their expenses and that one was too far down on the list to get covered.

Aren’t they just looking for a handout? No. I have not heard any rancher asking for a handout. I have heard some questioning why this wasn’t in the news more because it will have such a huge impact on their communities. They just felt it was as newsworthy as Miley’s twerking and things of that nature. I think they really just wanted to feel like the rest of the country saw that they were struggling and wished them good luck.

But I bet they will take government money in the end. I don’t get any government money for my business, why should they? I don’t know if they will receive disaster aid or not but if it is offered I am sure many will take advantage of it. Many, if not most, will have no choice but to take any aid offered if they want to continue ranching and even then it won’t cover everything. Just like when disaster aid is offered after hurricanes or tornadoes or other natural disasters people take it so they can try to get back on their feet, not because they want to stick it to the taxpayer. I might venture to guess that if your business was struck by a hurricane or tornado there would be disaster relief available and if it was you would likely use it to rebuild but maybe not I don’t really know you, so I won’t jump to any conclusions.

But ranching and farming are always risky, they should be used to it, it’s what they signed up for isn’t it? Very true. Ranching is risky business and every rancher knows that. This event, however, was well beyond the typical risk that we all accept. This was like the difference between a category 1 hurricane and a category 5, it was beyond what anyone could have anticipated. Even so, no one is asking for anyone to feel sorry for them, just some acknowledgment, maybe a little compassion and a prayer or two.

If it’s such a hard business and such a slim profit margin why don’t they just do something else? Think about that thing that you love to do more than anything else. That thing you dream about doing. That thing that you just think you might not be able to go on if you couldn’t do it anymore. That thing that brings you joy and makes you smile just thinking about. Is it golf? Fishing? Football? Running? Maybe it’s your job? And what about that place you like to go to, that place where you feel most at home? Most yourself? The place you always wish you could always be at? Is it a cabin up north? Is it the top of ski hill? On the lake? In the woods? And then think about your grandparents house or maybe even your great grandparents house and all the memories that go with it. Ranching, for these people, is all of that. All of it. All of it wrapped up into one thing. It’s their family, their home, their history and future. It’s their lifestyle, their hobby and the essence of who they are. It’s not just a job or a paycheck. It’s who they are. It’s what they love.

But they raise these animals for slaughter so what do they really even care about them or is it all about the money? Ouch! That one really stings! Yes, it’s true, beef cattle are raised to be harvested for meat. Meat that feeds many people. I know, I know, some of you are going to say things like, ”it’s not healthy anyway”, that’s a debate for another time (and a statement I do not believe to be true). Many people eat meat and rely on it as their preferred source of protein. If that’s not you, I’m totally ok with that, that’s your choice, and I in no way want to try to change that about you, but just understand others feel differently.

So yes, we raise these animals to eat. But that does not mean we don’t care about them. We work hard to raise them in comfortable, healthy and safe environments. We respect them and care for them. We want their lives to be good. We work hard to make sure they are treated humanely up to and including slaughter. If you are interested in learning more about that, a good resource is Temple Grandin’s website and writings.

Ranchers care deeply about their livestock. They do not just see them as dollar signs. They see them as their life’s work. And it is hard to see that gone in one fell swoop.

There were many other comments but this post is already so long. If you are not in the livestock industry and have read this post all the way through to the end, I want to thank you. I appreciate that you took the time to read it through. My hope is that maybe you might have a deeper understanding of the events that occurred and the challenges ahead for those most affected. If you have question, please ask them. Look for reliable sources and ask questions. It’s so easy to get caught up in the web of misinformation out there – especially in the comments section. There are links at the end of this post for where you can find more information and thoughts from those more directly affected then my family has been. And to those of you posted positive messages in the comments section, words of encouragement, prayers and good wishes, thank you, thank you very much.

Red Dirt In My Soul

Double H Photography

Just A Ranch Wife

South Dakota Cowgirl

Beef Magazine

Agriculture Proud – this post has a long list of resources and links to other blog posts

There are also two organizations started by ranchers and other community members, in attempt to support those most affected by Atlas Ranchers Relief Fund, Atlas Blizzard Ranch Relief and Aid.

Again, please note, this post is from Pretty Work, posted on October 11, 2013.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Stories: History Repeats Itself

The Flood of 1965

The South Platte River is still running high from the flooding that moved through two weeks ago. I thought this was a very appropriate memory from the Sutherland Centennial book.

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial, 1891-1991.

As a result of heavy rains in Denver, and in the mountains to the west, the Sutherland area was his by high waters from the flooding South Platte River in June, 1965.

There was ample warning of the impending high waters as they moved this direction.

Early one morning a crew of men with caterpillars moved into the Adelbert Crosby farm which was located west of Sutherland. The crew built a dike around the house and the complete length of the farm. The house was sandbagged and the furnishings were moved upstairs. Fortunately, the dikes held back the water and the Crosbys received no flooding.

The Glenn Elfeldts who lived south of the river reported they weren’t hurt badly, but had between 50 and 75 acres of alfalfa and hay land under water, but the water did not get up around the buildings.

Volunteers sandbagged the Duane Rasby home on the southwest edge of the city in preparation for high water, but none reached the house.

At the J Ray King farm four miles southwest, the yard was filled with water and the pastures flooded. About a foot of water flowed into the care (cellar? Basement?), but none got into the house. Two sealed grain bins with several thousand bushels of corn did get some water and had to be moved. The neighbors helped move livestock and machinery to higher ground.

At the Kenneth White farm, east of town, water was flowing rapidly through the old river channel, which included their barn and a portion of their garden area and yard. About 100 acres of crop land was under water and 80 acres of pasture flooded. Most of the first cutting of hay was lost with bales floating away and of course many fences everywhere were lost.

Flood waters reached the bottom of the north bridge on the South Platte River. That channel was normally dry. Water did not get over the bridge, instead it spread into the low-lying fields.

The last flooding occurred in 1935.

Friday, October 11, 2013

History on the Map

I have had the good fortune this past week to accompany the curator of the Lincoln County Historical Museum on a trek through Lincoln County to map all of our historic markers. We've cataloged and photographed them. I'm not anywhere near done mapping them, but here is the start:

As you can see, there are an incredible number of historical markers traversing Lincoln County. Nearly all commemorate some aspect of our westward expansion - the Oregon Trail, Mormon Trail, Pony Express, Lincoln Highway, etc. There are a few others, and some National Historic sites as well, which will be added in time.

When it's completed, the inventory will be live on the Visit North Platte website, at

Here are some we found:

Cottonwood Springs Pony Express Station

Jack Morrow Road Ranch (He was a real rascal!)
Dorsey's, Dansey's, Elkhorn - this station had a number of names.

Mormon Trail monument and ruts north of Sutherland

Child's grave from the Mormon Trail
Lots more will follow. This project will make discovering the history of Lincoln County and our place in the history of the expansion of America much easier.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

This Land is Made for Golf

The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted something that Nebraskans have known for a long time - Nebraska was made for golf!

Wall Street Journal: This Land is Made for Golf

Now, I am the first to admit that I don't golf. However, once I found out about the early morning Bloody Mary's that accompany golf, I was on board, at least as a cart driver!

We are so fortunate here in Sutherland. Though we are a very small town, we have a beautiful nine hole course just five miles south of town on the shores of the beautiful Sutherland Reservoir, which is a superb recreation area in its own right.

Below you can see what a nine-hole round of golf is like on the Oregon Trail Golf Course - in about 20 seconds. We recently enjoyed the beautiful Bayside Golf Course on the shores of Lake McConaughy. Their website is fairly annoying, but trust me, it is a beautiful course to play. They have stay and play packages with some of the cabins and condos they own. We'd love to go there for a weekend and play again and again.

Below is an eighteen-hole round of golf - with five people! It takes a little longer than the quick round shown above: Intrigued about Nebraska golf? Check out all of the golfing options on the Nebraska Tourism website. You'll find top-rated public courses that anyone can enjoy!