Sunday, August 15, 2010

Erstwhile Farm; "Helping you bring good food home"

Erstwhile Farm
“Helping you bring good food home.”
By Shelly Burke, Editor

The definition of “erstwhile” is former; of times past. Larry and Lanette Stec, owners of Erstwhile Farm, LLC, a small sustainable third generation family farm, have worked hard to combine farming practices of the past with modern business practices.

On a tour several weeks ago, it was easy to see that Larry and Lanette love what they are doing—raising hogs and chickens without added growth hormones or antibiotics. The animals live outside, on dirt, in the fresh air and sunshine.

Chickens live in a moveable coop (sometimes surrounded by a moveable fence so they don’t eat from the garden) so they always have access to fresh food and can wander at will. Hogs wallow happily in mud holes. The Stecs also have a large garden and grow certified grains. Crops are rotated to cut down on weeds and keep the soil healthy.

For most of their lives the Stecs have enjoyed country living. Several years ago they decided to go organic with their crops and raise outdoor hogs. Of their decision to change the focus to chemical and antibiotic-free “farm goodness,” Larry says, “We could see that if we wanted to continue to enjoy raising pigs, we would have to add value to what we were already producing, instead of becoming a larger farm. Making the change (to go organic) was a bit scary, as there was not a local mentor to guide us. We relied on the guidance of God, through the ups and downs, with faith that this was the right decision for us. We have seen God’s hand in how the land and animals can be healthy, naturally.”

The Stecs obviously enjoy the hard work of running a business. Their children, Kellan, age 23, and Bethany, 21, and Trevor, 18, helped with the “hands on” aspects of the farm—pulling weeds, sorting pigs—when they lived at home. Now Kellan is working on setting up a website for the business. Bethany contributes her photography talents in creating brochures and advertising. Trevor will go to college this fall.

The Stecs offer organic eggs for sale, as well as seasonable vegetables and different cuts of pork. Produce and eggs are sold from the farm and at several locations in Lincoln (see below for locations). Special orders are accepted.

Recently the Stecs added fresh pork brats to their line of products. Larry and Lanette experimented to get the recipes “just right” and worked many hours to get the recipes and package labels approved so they could sell the brats. They offer several varieties of brats and they are all delicious!

Erstwhile Farm is managed as farms in the past were managed, but Larry and Lanette are always looking ahead. Future goals include growing the business on a local scale and possibly by mail order. They are also doing a feasibility study and may become certified organic with their livestock.

For more information or to purchase products from Erstwhile Farm
Columbus Area: please call {(402) 897-4065} or e-mail, for on-farm pick up.

Lincoln Area: Items may be purchased at Open Harvest, 1618 E. South St., or Idea Grocery, 905 S. 27th St.

Greater Eastern Nebraska Nebraska Food Cooperative (, online year-round farmers market and local food distribution service.

Erstwhile Farm is also on Facebook.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Retired Preacher's View from the Pew

On an early morning call a vet drove by a friend’s place and noticed he had herded his pigs into the front yard and they were eating apples that had fallen. Several days later when he drove by the farmer was picking up each of the pigs and holding them up to pick an apple from the tree.

An hour later when he drove back the farmer was lifting the last pig to get its apple.

He stopped and asked, “Fred, what are you doing?”

Fred, “The pigs liked the apples that fell to the ground so much that they ate them all, so I’m lifting them up so they can get them off the tree.”

“Isn’t that a lot of work, Fred?”

“I need the exercise.”

“But doesn’t that take a lot of time?”

“Just a couple of hours every day. Besides, what’s time to a pig?”

My Dad hated to get anywhere late, but especially church services. He would rather have been fifteen minutes early than one minute late. His feeling was that it’s pretty inconsiderate to make people wait for you when you’re late. (Yes, there are times it can’t be helped.) His attitude rubbed off on me.

Unfortunately, it’s not that way with everybody. But did you ever notice, often it’s the same people who are late over and over? There are some folks who will probably be late to their own funeral.

I have always considered the time we share worshipping together as one of the most important times, if not the most important time of the Christian’s week. If, as the Pastor, I didn’t think that, why would my parishioners? That time of corporate worship, whether it’s an hour or two hours, is precious, as is all our time.

Consider that the person who works all week takes the time to worship out of their free time.

Consider the farmer or the vet or the doctors and others who are “on call” 24/7. Consider the people who take time off from their job to attend church. (We know a lady who’s a really good cook in a small restaurant who takes time off from her job to go to church every Sunday. It was part of the agreement with her boss.) How about the Dad and Mom who work all week and on Saturday have to get all the shopping and chores done that keep the household running?

We sometimes attend a church which starts late so often that “late” has become “on time“.

Sometimes it’s only two or three minutes, more often, five or more. There might be a hundred people in their pews ready to go, but they all are expected to wait while the powers that be take their time getting their act together. While they’re taking their own time, they’re taking the time of the people waiting for them, too.

David wrote in the 29th Psalm:
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.

More importantly, what does it say about us and our attitudes toward the glory and splendor of God and worshipping Him when we can’t even start on time?
Allen Geil is a retired pastor/teacher/hog farmer who lived in Nebraska for 18 years and now lives in Missouri.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August Editor's Letter

We have had a great summer so far! Morgan was the Grand Champion Intermediate Showman at the Charolais Jr. National Show in South Dakota, and Cody had the Grand Champion Steer at the Platte County Fair! It was a great way for him to end his county fair career—he will be too old to show at the fair next year. Tim and I really enjoyed watching both kids compete; the competition was tough in both events. And we also watched them enjoy time with their friends before and after the shows.

Big changes are ahead for our family; Cody will leave for college (he’s going to Kansas State University) in August. He’s excited to start this new stage in his life. We will miss him but we’re also excited for him. Morgan has been busy with FFA and FBLA meetings and she’s getting excited to start her junior year. She’s ridden her horse, Maggie, several times this summer. It’s fun to watch them ride across the pasture.

Tim is busy preparing for the club calf internet sale Sept. 12th. All the cattle will have pictures and a short video on the internet. This technology makes it easy for people from anywhere in the country to view the cattle and bid.

August is a big “anniversary” month for our family. Tim and I will celebrate our 21st anniversary on August 5th; my mom and dad will be married 45 years on August 21st, and my Grandma and Grandpa Christian will celebrate 68 years together on August 19th. Our family is blessed to have examples of enduring marriages.

I really enjoyed putting together this issue of the Nebraska Family Times! You’ll find a wide variety of articles about both local and national events.

I would like to encourage every mom of pre-school aged children to consider joining a MOPS group (you’ll find an article about MOPS in the paper this month). I was a member of the first MOPS group in the Columbus area, when Morgan was in pre-school. I so enjoyed meeting other Christian moms and sharing both joys and challenges with them. It was reassuring to talk with the other moms at MOPS and realize that no matter what I’d done, or what one of my kids had done, someone else had had the same experience. Many friends I made in MOPS are still friends today.

This is the final month the Reader Questionnaire will appear in the paper; please fill it out so I can produce a paper that you will enjoy, and that will “encourage, inspire, and motivate you” in your Christian walk. Thanks to all who have already filled out and returned their questionnaire.

If you would like an extra copy of the Nebraska Family Times to share with a friend, call or e-mail. I’ll be happy to send up to 5 copies (at no charge) for you to share.

Enjoy the rest of summer, and God’s blessings to everyone who reads the Nebraska Family Times!