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Following the Calves, On the ranch
3

Following the Calves: Everything Evert

PrintSometimes the best stories are tucked away in the obscure details.

It’s the princess lunchbox, filled with grab-and-go snacks, that makes its home on the front seat of the flatbed pickup…just in case a quick pasture check turns into a longer project.

It’s the young girls who proudly showed me their cedar-tree “fort,” where they spent the day imagining while their parents preconditioned in the corrals 30 or so yards away.

Evert Girls For CollageThe story is in the wife’s Christmas list that contains items like a handyman jack and a chainsaw.

This tale features two strong women, who do the day-to-day chores on the family’s commercial Angus ranch near Brady, Neb., while their husbands hold off-farm jobs. But that’s not the whole story.

It’s about cousins—who grew up almost like brothers—carrying on a legacy started by their dads, who were brothers. People who still believe in the value of treating neighbors like a neighbor, helping each other out and above all, doing the very best they can.

Brandon and Virginia Evert, and their neighbors, cousins and seemingly best friends Kirk and Rachael Evert ranch together, raise kids together and generally “do life” together.

Evert collage

Brandon and Virginia (left) and Kirk and Rachael (right)

“We would go on vacation together, but we can’t all be gone at the same time,” Brandon jokes.

The back story is interesting, but I’ll have to save it for another day, because the whole reason I found myself getting to know this family that I see in the school pick-up line or at the local grocery store was their cattle.

The herd has seen challenges, including being reduced to nearly nothing after a wildfire burned all but 200 acres of their grass in 2002. Intense drought settled in a decade after that.

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But the story is in the transformation that’s come of late:

  • The first change was retaining heifers, and since 2000 or so, “we’ve gotten to where every cow that’s on the ranch now has been born on the ranch,” Brandon says.
  • In 2005, they AI’d for the first time, and “took a chance” on not-that-well-known-at-the-time Final Answer, Brandon says, noting it turned out pretty well. The couples make genetic decisions together, but the gals tend to do the bull buying these days.
  • They’ve been investing in facilities and equipment to help ease stress on the animals (and their handlers, too). I surmise that’s also good for the marriages.
  • They individually identify and weigh calves several times and since Virginia has taken over, the record keeping has increased and gone digital.
  • Working closely with Virginia’s former employers (from her 9 or 10-year “temporary” job—another story for another day) at Eastside Animal Center, they’ve made upgrades to their health program and continue to watch for the newest and best protocols.

2015_10_9_Evert-73With all of these changes, it made sense to follow with a marketing change.

“If you’re putting money into them, you want to see a return,” Brandon says.

2015_10_9_Evert-77One of the last times their cattle went through the ring, Virginia and Rachael overheard a reaction from a stranger: “Wow. Those cattle do not belong in the salebarn.”

That was just the push they needed to seek out local feeder Anne Burkholder of Will Feed, Inc., just down the road at Cozad.

“Once people go to Anne, they don’t leave,” Virginia says. “I figured there’s got to be a reason.”

Now four years into the relationship, they know why. They’re getting feedback—which includes last year’s steer calves going 95% Choice with 44% Certified Angus Beef® brand qualifiers last year—and advice. The Everts have found a partner.

They’ve come a long way, but after spending just one morning with the family, I could easily see they’re on fire with new ideas and even more excitement for where they’re heading.

The best part? When I asked if we could tell their story over the course of the year, including them in our Following the Calves series, they said yes.

2015_10_9_Evert-150So check back in. ‘Tis the season for preconditioning and weaning, and I’ll give you a rundown of how that goes down on their ranch next.

May your bottom line be filled with black ink,

Miranda

Catch the Evert family’s whole story with these posts:

Our “Following the Calves” series also takes you to Arizona and Florida in these installments:

blackinkmiranda Visit Website
I love God, my kids, my hubby, rural life, agriculture and working for CAB. I’m officially the director of producer communications, which basically means I get to learn from lots of smart people and pass that information along to lots of other smart people: you. I’m so lucky to work with cattle producers and other folks in this great industry. (Oh, and one more job perk? I get to eat lots of really yummy beef.)
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