Neighbors to the World
Spend 36 hours exploring rural Nebraska
Rural Nebraska has so much to offer that we want to take our readers past the one story/one business model to encompass all that can be seen if you spend an entire weekend exploring this neck of the woods. In this 36 Hours feature, we’ll take you through the Arapahoe, Cambridge, McCook region, exploring what these towns have to offer through video, photos and words. We hope this might inspire you to make plans to visit rural Nebraska on your own weekend adventure. You’ll be surprised at how much you can find in 36 Hours.
Rural Success Stories:
Guardian Angels Life Services
Financial Guardian Angels
This month we visit with Shelly Wieland, chief executive officer of Guardian Angels Life Services, Inc. (GALS). We first visited with Wieland back in 2011, and we wanted to catch up with her to see where the past four years have taken her financial management business.
In this update, writer Betty Sayers learns about the successes that continue to drive GALS forward. The company helps with financial management for those with disabilities who find it hard to manage their own finances.
It is a unique concept and one that is in high demand. The biggest challenge at GALS has been managing growth while always putting the clients’ needs first. Learn how this company has grown from two employees with nine clients to 11 employees serving 704 clients in October’s Rural Success Story.
Everything old is new again
by Michelle McCormick
We showcased Earth Junk in Sargent, Nebrsaka, in a past Rural Success Story, but the antique store has changed and updated its presence so much that we decided it was worth a second look.
In this update, writer Michelle McCormick revisits the antique store that specializes in reselling American-made Ethan Allen and Tell City furniture. She marvels anew at the craftsmanship that comes from made in America quality workmanship.
McCormick also learned about Shop Sargent Saturdays, a strategy led by Earth Junk owner Cindee Haddix to accommodate both the buying public and antique dealers. Learn more about Earth Junk’s latest endeavors in this month’s Rural Success Story.
Oxford Locker takes meat cutting up a notch
Writer Roni Lewis visited Oxford Locker in Oxford, Nebraska, recently where she found owner Carl Kramer has remade the meat locker into a destination that puts the community on the map.
When Kramer bought the locker, he wasn’t content to keep the business just as it was. Instead, his drive and vision transformed the processing plant into so much more. Not only does Oxford Locker provide butchering and processing, the business also serves noon lunches and sells hunting accessories and fire arms.
Kramer caters to his customer’s unique tastes and opinions, which is why he currently sells 15 varieties of jerky. And now Oxford Locker has opened a second location in Kearney, Nebraska. Find out more about Oxford Locker’s recipe for success in this month’s Rural Success Story.
Red Road Herb Retreat and Learning Center
Red Road Herbs is living textbook
by Betty Sayers
Betty Sayers met Rachel Liester, a country herbalist and entrepreneur at her family’s enterprise, Red Road Herbs, near Stanton, Nebraska, for a crash course on herbs and their medicinal and healing properties.
Rachel, her daughter Jazmine and husband Michael invite people to their gardens to learn about herbs and how plants connect to the planet. “Plants are the original medicine and offer healing,” Rachel said. “Plants keep us healthy over time. They look pretty and association with plants increases feelings of well being.”
The Liesters also invite the public to Red Road Herbs for various events over the summer. Rachel invites us to stop and walk through the grass barefoot in this month’s Rural Success Story.
Articles & Essays:
A day in the life of a Nebraska hunting dog
Here at Nebraska Rural Living, we always strive to give our readers a view of something they haven’t seen or heard about before. So when we received a few beautiful hunting dog pictures, we knew we needed to tell the story behind those pictures.
Enter ShennonDoah, a writer and teacher from Holdrege, Nebraska. Shennon created a voice for that hunting dog and shares that story with us in our feature essay this month. She crisscrosses the Funk Lagoon as Bella the hunting dog, sniffing out pheasants and delighting us with Bella’s antics.
It’s a new view of an age-old pastime, one that hunters across the state will be taking part in starting at the end of October. We hope you enjoy this unique essay with gorgeous pictures.
Phelps County Community Foundation
Community foundation spurs county’s growth
by Kristine Jacobson
There’s one organization in Phelps County that’s had a hand in nearly every major project in the county for the past 40 years, from major projects like the YMCA and the Nebraska Prairie Museum to simple improvements like a soccer fence or a playground update.
Phelps County Community Foundation was established in 1976 from the estate of a generous Holdrege resident. An aggressive and creative volunteer board has grown that initial gift to touch all of the communities in Phelps County for great community impact.
The foundation has changed the entire landscape of Phelps County, creating safe and fun communities where people live, work and play. Find out how the Phelps County Community Foundation grew from a generous estate gift of $300,000 in 1976 to a thriving foundation with assets of more than $17 million in this month’s essay.
Exploring Nebraska from a kayak seat
This month we welcome a new essayist to Nebraska Rural Living. Brad Eifert is a lifelong resident of Nebraska and has worked for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 22 years. His passion for all things outdoors led him and a friend to embark on a 36-mile kayak trip down the Missouri River in July.
What Eifert found along the way was serenity and beauty, coupled with the fierce and sudden intensity of Mother Nature’s whims. Eifert’s trip coincided with the Fourth of July holiday which created the perfect setting to celebrate America’s independence.
All too soon, the trip was over and Eifert found himself lamenting his return to reality. But he has learned that the best way to beat post trip blues is to plan the next adventure. Join Eifert on his adventure in this month’s essay. His tale may just inspire you to plan your own great escape.
Finding Nebraska Rural Living in New York City
When writer Angela Davis visited New York City recently, she found herself surrounded by water towers. Those towers took her straight back to Nebraska where water towers proudly mark the landscape of rural towns across the state.
As she tours New York City, Angela is continually reminded about scenes from rural Nebraska. She reminisces about all the unique water towers that dot Nebraska and finds that even half a country away, connections can be made between urban and rural in this month’s essay.
Cedar Hills Vineyard
Drinking in all seasons at Cedar Hills Vineyard and Gardens
by Betty Sayers
The Rural Foodies thoroughly enjoyed the scenery through the South Loup River Valley, but they were even more delighted to find Cedar Hills Vineyard and Gardens at the end of the road. Owners Clay and Heidi Schutz welcomed them warmly and it was the perfect day.
Writer Betty Sayers explores the story that brought the Schutzes to Cedar Hills a bit earlier than they had planned. The couple jumped right in with enthusiasm when they bought the winery in 2014. Heidi, whose former career was in medicine, enjoys the role of winemaker, and Cedar Hills offers red, white, blush and fruit wines.
Cedar Hills is open every weekend and offers a bed and breakfast, along with a tasting room and licensed kitchen. The Schutzes have learned from advice shared by other Nebraska winemakers and though the hours are long, they are enjoying the adventure. Learn more in this month’s Rural Foodie feature.
Nebraska Food Cooperative
Nebraska Food Cooperative cultivates healthy food system across the state
by Kristine Jacobson
For nearly 10 years now, the Nebraska Food Cooperative has been connecting small farm producers to customers through their online ordering site. The cooperative has helped many producers grow their businesses substantially and Caryl Guisinger, general manager for NFC, said the cooperative feels like a family.
NFC helps more than 80 Nebraska small businesses connect with customers who want locally grown, farm-fresh food. Customers browse hundreds of products sold by Nebraska producers and can receive deliveries at local drop-off sites as frequently as every other week.
And, the food cooperative’s popularity has been growing across the state in the past year as new drop-off sites, new producers and new customers have been added. Read more about this growing cooperative in this month’s Rural Foodie feature.
Bursting with energy at Lewis Produce
by Betty Sayers
Writer Betty Sayers first met Marlon Lewis in Holdrege, Nebraska. They were both attending an meeting organized by Nebraska Food Co-op to discuss how to best highlight fresh local produce. The well-spoken man captured Betty’s attention and she soon arranged to make a trip to his garden near Orleans, Nebraska.
That’s how she found herself wandering through rows upon rows of bright green leaves and vibrant vegetables at Lewis Produce one summer morning. High tunnels loomed large in the background as Lewis talked about how he transitioned from a career as an industrial arts teacher and basketball coach to a full-time gardener.
Lewis Produce vegetables are grown naturally, which can be a challenging way to make a living, Lewis said. But he relies on a network of similar-minded colleagues to share tips and best practices. Find out more about Lewis Produce in this month’s Rural Foodie find.
Grinders Food Truck
Grinders Food Truck's orange glow lures them in
by Roni Lewis
The orange glow of the Grinders Food Truck lures diners in first, but then they linger and return for the mouth-watering sandwiches chef Jim Fry serves up. “You will go bananas for the experience of the Grinders Food Truck and the culinary genius of owner Jim Fry,” writes Roni Fisher.
Jim Fry has traveled the world but finds his calling in the food truck business. He serves up delectable and tasty sub sandwiches for hungry diners in Holdrege and Kearney. And his scrumptious side dishes don’t take a back seat. The food is balanced and hearty.
“We are real guys making real food,” Fry told Roni. “There is nothing fancy about it.” Roni searched the streets for the Grinders Food Truck and she shares her experience in this month’s Rural Foodie find.
Keep in Touch
Our newsletter comes out once a month, but today’s social media also allows us to keep in touch between issues. Take a look at our Facebook page. Follow us on Twitter. Find us @NebRuralLiving. And visit our blog. We love hearing from our readers, because (and we’re not biased) we have the best readers around!
Dynamic Towns & Cities:
‘A Good Place to Grow’ is fitting slogan for Stratton entrepreneurs
Sit down for a cup of coffee or lunch in Stratton, and almost invariably, one or two of the locals will begin a story about a business concept that sounded impossible – until some can-do person in Stratton brought it to delicious fruition.
Benkelman is a town with a view...and a view of the future
About as far south and west as you can go and still be in Nebraska, Benkelman is a town with a view, built on spectacular terrain featuring lookouts and ledges. Only three hours from Denver International Airport, you’ll find the hectic, high-priced urban lifestyle evolves into wholesome, affordable, rural living in Benkelman and Dundy County.
The lifestyle of the almost-mythical American rancher and cowboy come alive in Benkelman. There are more veterinarians than doctors in Dundy County, and no wonder: an estimated 70,000 cattle range on land that is all privately owned, with not a single commercial feedlot.
If the perfect small town exists, it just might be Minden
If you could sit down at a drawing board to design the perfect small town, you’d start with a superb education system, then add in gracious and affordable homes. You’d want to make sure you had a prosperous manufacturing sector so there would be good jobs and a sound economy, then perhaps you’d want to add some interesting retail enterprises on wide, safe streets. You’d want to make sure to design in a strong sense of community, with a lot of citizen participation in community decisions, quality healthcare facilities and nearby opportunities for camping, hunting and fishing. Put down your pencil. You’re describing Minden.more...
Holdrege is poster town for mid-western values
If you were looking for someplace that embodied the kind of values America was built on – hard work, education, common sense, care for others – you wouldn’t have to look farther than Holdrege, Nebraska.
Located near the geographic midpoint of the country, Holdrege is one of those towns where all the downtown intersections are paved in brick. The churches near downtown – and there are many – are venerable and substantial, with traditional steeples and stained glass windows, many referencing having been founded in the 1880s or 90s. The trees are old and big – ash and maple and oak and elm – and the houses have spacious, well-kept lawns and generous, shady porches.
Also Featured This Month
A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou beside me at Mac’s Creek Vineyards
Mac’s Creek Vineyards is entirely a family operation, with all of the key positions, including the winemaker, the vineyard manager and the operations manager, all held by members of the McFarland family.
Playing in the dirt is profitable enterprise for Kearney laboratory
For Ray Ward, a day at the office is a day spent playing in the dirt. Ward, 73, is the owner of Ward Laboratories, a high-tech soil, water and feed testing business based in Kearney. The company started in 1983 when Ward moved to Kearney.
NCTA: Why graduate with just a sheepskin, when you could have 100 cows?
Upon arrival at the University of Nebraska's College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis in 2006, Dr. Weldon Sleight realized the farms, ranches and rural communities of America's heartland were facing a troubling future.