Dust In My Coffee

Dust In My Coffee

Sunday, May 29, 2016

In Memory

Who are you honoring this Memorial Day?  The holiday holds many traditions including honoring our fallen soldiers, decorating graves and spending time with family and friends.   When I was growing up we would make a trip to Omaha to decorate the graves of my grandparents and other family members on my mom's side.  I remember cemeteries covered with flowers and flags, hanging out with my cousins and, dare I say it, eating barbequed chicken.  This Memorial Day I would like to remember a few people that have given much to me and many others.

Every year a mass is held at Sacred Heart Church to honor those
that gave their lives in service to our country.  It is a beautiful
tribute to our men and women of the military!

The first person I would like you to meet is my dad, Clemence Wieczorek.  My dad was born in Boelus, Nebraska and raised on a farm long enough to remember milking cows by hand.  Dad is the fifth of seven children.  The family moved to Grand Island when dad was still young.  His love for the farm never left him and he passed that love on to me.  Dad served in the Army, became a mechanic and settled in Grand Island with my mom to raise six children.  Dad had an entrepreneurial spirit.  He had his own business and liked to draw out his ideas at the kitchen table.  Dad still likes to have a notebook and pen handy.  Yes, dad is not physically gone but in many ways he has left us.  You see my dad has Alzheimer's Disease and we lose a little more him with each passing day.  I would like to honor my dad for serving our country, doing the best he could to take care of my mom and raise six kids, for passing on his faith that included scripture study and praying the rosary,  and for passing on his entrepreneurial spirit to me and my family.

Clemence Wieczorek, U. S. Army

The next person I would like you to meet is my father-in-law, Francis Ruskamp.  I met Francis on my first unofficial date with Steve at their farm.   As I rode Oscar, the horse Steve enticed me with when we met, around the farm I couldn't help but notice how well managed the farm was.  It was easy to see that great care was taken for the land and the cattle.  As time went on I would learn how much Francis loved to farm, garden, sing with his whole heart, pray, play with his grandchildren, read everything he could get his hands on, watch baseball, visit with people and I would witness how much he loved his country.  Our children had the opportunity to see Francis pretty often since his farm was only eleven miles from ours. We farmed with Francis until the fall of 2015 when an illness got the best of him.  Francis was cleaning the garden, mowing and cutting down an old tree right up to the day he went into the hospital.  While in the hospital Francis greeted each visitor with a big smile, hello and outstretched hands with all he could muster.  In those final days we were blessed to witness the great love he had for his wife and family and the trust he had in God.   I would like to honor Francis for his service to our country, his dedication to his family, his passion for his faith and his love of farming.

Francis Ruskamp, U.S. Marines

 My aunt, Kathleen Dukat, is the third person I would like you to meet.  Aunt Kathy was my mom's only sister and like a second mother to me, my siblings and my cousins.  Aunt Kathy was the first person to hear about the wedding dance I met Steve at.  It was to her home, in Omaha, we went after my horse accident at the Memorial Day parade in 1981.  She modeled many works of mercy because she had a servant's heart.  She was single her entire life with a Jewish boyfriend, Gene, that loved to tease all the kids.  We always referred to them as a couple, Aunt Kathy and Gene, when we talked about visiting them or seeing them.  A sudden heart attack took Gene away and any chance of a marriage in their later years.  Aunt Kathy loved to cook and give gifts.  She opened her open to anyone in need especially family members.  I was one of those family members.  I spent a month living with my aunt while looking for an apartment in Fremont after college.  Even though  Aunt Kathy did not serve in the military she served her country by serving those around her with great love.   She's been gone for eighteen years and yet the memories we have burn as bright as the sun.  I would like to honor Aunt Kathy for the love and service she poured out on her family and friends.

Aunt Kathy with all but one of my siblings.  She is holding my sister, Linda,
with David and Paul to her right.  I am on her left holding younger
sister, Sharon, and my Mrs. Beasley doll. 

As you go about your holiday weekend I hope you pause to think about the people you would like to honor for their love and service.  We are all asked to pause at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day to honor the men and women of the United States who died in the pursuit of freedom and peace.  God bless them, their families, you and your families and may God Bless America!

This is my favorite photo of our flag.  There is a sense of hope, endurance
and promise with a flag and a rainbow together.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

My Guy

My guy is my husband, my best friend, my business partner and one of the toughest people I know.  My guy has the character traits of honesty, perseverance, integrity, faithfulness and trustworthiness that we would hope to find in any person we meet.  My guy has those traits and many more so deep within that I sometimes think it is just part of his DNA.  I have witnessed those qualities in a variety of circumstances that include the highs and lows of life experiences within our family and on our farm.  I would like to share a few of those moments about my guy, Steve.

My guy and me!

Steve and I met over thirty-six years ago.  We were brought together because of a wedding dance in the nearby town of Snyder.  I was working for a veterinarian in Fremont at the time and was invited by a friend to go to the wedding.  I did not know anyone at the wedding except for the person I was with.   When we arrived at the reception there was a group of people sitting around a table that we joined.  One of them was a brother to the person I was with.  I happened to sit across the table from Steve.   I soon learned that Steve and several others in the group had attended the same college I had recently graduated from, the University of Nebraska at Curtis.  We shared numerous stories and similar adventures of college days.  Steve learned of my interest in horses and began to tell me about this horse he had that could turn on a dime and about the feedlot his family had.  As the night drew to a close he gave me an invitation to visit his farm and ride this amazing horse of his.   I couldn't remember his name but noticed when he stood up and turned away that he had the name "Steve" imprinted on his belt.

The next day I was visiting with my aunt in Omaha and telling her about this guy, Steve.  I couldn't get his blue eyes and our conversational ease out of my mind.   I didn't need to worry about contacting him because as I unlocked the vet clinic door on Monday morning the phone was ringing with Steve on the other end asking if I'd like to go horseback riding.  I said yes and that began our dating relationship leading to our engagement.  We were married in September of 1981.

Steve and I had a horse and buggy ride from the church to the
reception.  We endured a few trials before the wedding including
the loss of Steve's brother in a car accident, the loss of my uncle
to cancer and a horse injury to me that had me on crutches.

Our adventure as a married couple began on a vacant farm place that we filled with dedication and love.   Steve gave me free reign to wallpaper and decorate our old farmhouse to make it a home for the five children that would eventually fill it.   We started making plans for Steve's vision of what our farm could be.   Then the farm crisis hit.  It was during those years that I saw how committed Steve was to our family and to our farm.  Steve's work ethic kicked into overdrive as he placed feeder pigs in every empty farm building he could lease.  Steve drew up cash flow plans to gain the trust of the bank loan officer.  We survived the 80's and changed course from feeding pigs to expansion of the feedlot.  Steve was a cattle feeder down to his core and worked on his vision of putting into place the potential our farm had to be a feedlot.

Steve, like many farmers, is very good at finding solutions
to problems.  His grandfather had patents that were
developed on our farm.  Here Steve is putting up water lines
he designed to mist water out over the cattle in hot weather.

The feedlot was able to grow because we had customers.  We had people that would own the cattle and then pay us to feed and care for them.  It was very important to Steve to always be very honest in pricing the feed and caring for the cattle.  While Steve enjoyed the friendships gained through those customers, it was his dream to own all of the cattle.  The work ethic, drive to succeed, openness to using the future's market to manage risk and a whole lot of prayer has allowed Steve's dream to come true.

Steve continues to look for ways to improve our cattle handling
skills including using low stress techniques.  Here Steve and I
are bringing cattle up to the barn for further examination.

 Today Steve continues to work as hard as he did forty years ago.  He is up at 5 a.m. and packs more in a day than some folks do in a week.  It is not because Steve is a superman.  Steve is passionate about what he does and he has the determination to work through all types of weather to make sure the cattle get the best care he can give them.

Steve has his fence fixing supplies ready to go.

My guy has a lot of passion for his job, and yet it pales to the affection he has for his family.  Steve welcomed each of our children with great joy and enthusiasm.  He is known for sharing his breakfast in the mornings, grilling new meals with beef at supper and tales of covered wagon stories at bedtime. He also wrote many Christmas poems that combined a unique message with a special gift for each member of the family.  Now Steve is taking great pleasure in spending time with his grandchildren whenever he can.

Our three grandchildren are gathered around Steve with our
oldest daughter Ginger standing in the background.

The foundation of all of this passion, dedication, determination, affection, trustworthiness, loyalty, tenacity and love is his faith.  Steve continues to grow in his desire to be a holy man of God.  Much of that growth has come through prayer and reading.  Steve is known for the many books he has going at one time and many of those have to do with spiritual growth.   Steve would love to pass on our farm to one of our children or grandchildren.  Even more important to him would be the passing on of the faith he has received from his father.

Steve learned to farm and feed cattle from his dad, Francis. Last
fall Francis became suddenly sick spending the last few days
of his life in the hospital.  The night before Francis died Steve
gave his dad as much comfort and love as he could.

"I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.  This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."  John 13: 34-35