Twelve miles south of Fairbury across the state line near the old Sunrise Station, the topography changes into rolling hills with deep valleys spotted by the invasive Eastern Red Cedars that also serve as effective shelter-belts.
It is here Marc Hanson carries the tradition of being a cow-calf producer with Hereford and Angus, and their first generation cross, the Baldy.
There’s not much crop ground on Hanson’s land.
“It’s almost 100 percent native grasses — land grasses that have never been broken up,” Hanson said.
As the next president of the Thayer County Livestock Feeders, he can’t say enough about being a producer.
“It is the livelihood of so many people. It is what Nebraska, and any state here in the Midwest, is all about,” Hanson said. “Beef is a healthy part of a person’s diet.”
Hanson will officially become the president at the Feeders’ annual banquet at the Thayer County Activity Center in Deshler Saturday. Dan Werner will take his place as vice president and Gage Baker becomes secretary.
He and his family, wife Michelle, and daughters, six-year-old McKinley and three-year-old Mara, are carrying on a tradition first set by his great-grandparents, Lee and Anna Earhart, almost 100 years ago. A historical limestone home in Steele City was built by the Earharts, where Anna had registered Angus cattle.
“I’ve done it my whole life and that’s all I ever want to do,” Hanson said. “That’s why I wake up in the morning,” he said of his 75-pair. They have quite a few Baldys, and what Hanson calls a new way of thinking as a producer.
“The notion is you get more growth and a better animal. But as long as I live, I’ll never get rid of the Hereford cow,” he said.
Currently, Hanson is in calving season and said he should be done by the first of April. It all started with a Hereford heifer named Molly.
Molly was purchased for Hanson by his grandfather, Richard Menke, and she was his first show heifer. Together, Hanson and his grandfather ran Menke Polled Hereford’s until his Menke passed.
“We had a partnership for 10 years and I lost him. He was my best friend,” Hanson said.
In May, he’ll move the cows about two miles east, where they’ll graze until calving season. From that spot, one can see the Hanover, Kan., water tower and the faint spin of Steele City’s wind turbines in the distance.
Being a producer has its good and bad days, just like any other job.
“Anything worth having, you have to put effort into,” he said.
The same is true for the Feeders. Hanson joined when he was 21. He took the place of a good friend, Mike Hansmire, who had served his 10-year limit as a director.
He has also spent time as part of the Young Cattlemen’s Conference, a two-year commitment through the Nebraska Cattlemen. He and former Feeders president, Tony Elting, were two of the 10 YCC’s that are selected every two years.
“I’ve learned so much about Nebraska Cattlemen from that program. There’s not too many groups you can be a part of and see everything cattle. You see the hard work, you see the end product and how much safety goes into it,” Hanson said.
The same goes for the Feeders, which stretches across three counties as the group grills at the Thayer, Jefferson and Fillmore county fairs each year, and attends the Beef Pit at the state fair to support and assist the Nebraska Cattlemen.
They do more than promote beef.
When the fires hit Kansas a couple of years ago, the Feeders sent equipment and hay. As the floods gushed through farms last year, the group sent three pickups and trailers with posts, barbed wire, and an enclosed semi of lick tubs and mineral supplement to Lynch.
“We raised about $40,000 in monetary and goods,” Hanson said. “Dan Domeier was the lead on that.” Domeier was the Feeders’ president this past year.
Educating younger people is another one of the group’s missions. At the banquet, members of FFA from Fairbury, Bruning-Davenport and Thayer Central, will have their own tables. The Feeders will also name two students to receive scholarships.