“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well, when the cattle market broke and wheat prices went down, Kimball County Farm Bureau members Bev Atkins and her husband Kendall had to find a creative “fix”. Bev is a retired school teacher and Kendall spent his career in soil conservation. The couple started farming in 1961 on his family farm raising wheat, hay and alfalfa and running a backgrounder operation.
To find that fix in order to stay on the land after cattle markets fell, they researched raising grass seed for reclamation sites. They bought Critana Thickspike grass seed – a native wheatgrass of the western states because it’s tough – from Montana. The grass is used to reclaim land on coal mine sites or after a forest fire and is flown on when there’s snow on the ground to help deter erosion. For almost 20 years, Bev and Kendall turned part of their alfalfa land to grass in order to keep their hand in agriculture.
And as grass seed appealed to Kendall’s conservation background, the “AG Fest for Fifth Grade” events currently hosted on the farm appeal to Bev’s education background. The event, sponsored by the Kimball-Banner Farm Bureau and hosted by the Atkins, is held at Brookside Historic Farm just north of Kimball. The farm site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the well-preserved buildings tell the history of area agriculture through the buildings.
The students spend 15 minutes at seven different learning stations. From range management to animals to farm safety to antibiotics to water, the students learn about what you can do with an acre, the care given to animals and what by-products come from grain crops and animals. Bev says it’s her way of telling her story and she hopes that by educating the youth, that story will continue. Listen more here.
The Atkins are active members of Farm Bureau, having served on various state committees and offices in their county. They assisted Farm Bureau as they held meetings to educate area families about the HSUS and promotion of the “Livestock Friendly” county. Like most farm and ranch families, the Atkins are a team, working together not only in the fields and fixing fences; but also in politics, community events and in their church.
Continue to check back to the blog each Thursday to get to know more farmers and ranchers from across Nebraska as they share their everyday stories. And to read past farmer and rancher profiles, click here.