Krab Inc. of Paxton, Nebraska
Mads and Kirsten (Norgaard) Krab came to the Paxton area in 1891 after arriving from Wahoo, Nebraska, and having previously sailed from Denmark in 1880. The home site consisted of a quarter section of leased school land and they lived in a sod house until 1912 with two sons and six daughters. Their son, Martin, and Lucille (Hagge) Krab were married in 1928 and continued the operation by purchasing a section of grassland in 1940. Their son, Gene, and Jeanne (Perlinger) Krab were married in 1953. When Gene returned in 1955 after serving four years in the Air Force as S/Sgt, they continued operating the land near Paxton and in 1973 incorporated to form Krab Inc. with the help of their family. Their children include: Rhonda & Mike Bailey of Lincoln; Mike & Chris (Buss) Krab of Ogallala; Rod Krab of Paxton; Steve & Tweety (Kramer) Krab of Paxton; and LuAnn & Jeff Kluch of Papillion. Gene works with Rod and Steve as the main operators for Krab Inc. Their operation also relies on the help of the Rollie Albro family, Brad Bown, and Gene’s grandchildren, the Bryan Krab family and Martin Krab, who is presently serving in the U.S. Army.
Summertime finds the Krab’s livestock being rotated through owned and leased pastures in the sandhills north of Paxton. The livestock are then wintered south of Paxton on cornstalks. The other enterprises of Krab Inc. include irrigated and dryland corn, dryland wheat, alfalfa, hay meadows, and a feed yard. All of the corn and alfalfa raised by Krab Inc. is utilized by their cow herd in the feed yard, essentially adding value to those crop resources. The manure is utilized as fertilizer on the meadows and the farm ground. Soil samples are taken every year on all irrigated ground and every third year on meadows and dryland.
Krab Inc. generally manages their sandhills grassland with a two-pasture rotational grazing system. One pasture is used in the early spring and late summer, while the other is used during the warm season. The following year the usage is reversed in each pasture to help maintain plant diversity and vigor.
The Krab’s have added new wells and tanks so that there are currently 35 windmills, several electric wells, and two miles of running creek to provide water in their pastures. They recognize how the added water resources allow for improved cattle distribution in their sandhills pastures and make the grazing system more sustainable. They have also installed cross fences so that no one pasture is larger than a section in size, with some pastures reduced to a half section. The reduced pasture size allows for better herd management, including better record keeping on the cows and bulls.
Krab Inc. has done an excellent job of utilizing the new fence and water improvements they have installed to enhance the key process of grazing management. They have a long-standing practice of leaving residual grass at the end of the growing season to help ensure future production. Proper stocking rates and decisions on when to move the cattle are the result of their careful monitoring of the grassland resource. Their trend toward good to excellent range conditions indicates that they have a vigorous plant community that can tolerate drought better than before. They have also made timely adjustments due to the recent dry spell, such as early weaning of the calves. Their overall herd size continues to grow despite the dry weather, which is a credit to their good management.
The Krab’s have also managed to heal disturbed areas such as blowouts and old prairie dog towns. This has greatly reduced or eliminated the effects of wind erosion on these areas. In the blowouts, they accomplished this by shaping the steep edges and feeding hay on the areas of open sand. Then they followed up by changing the season of use from summer grazing to dormant season grazing. Now healed, those pasture areas are paying back productive dividends in their growing season grazing rotations. Krab Inc. has utilized the technical assistance provided by USDA-NRCS and the Twin Platte Natural Resources District during several of their projects. The CRP program helped return some of their cropland back to grass. The NSWCP and EQIP programs have also helped in the development of new water sources and fencing. The Krab’s have also planted tree windbreaks to offer livestock and wildlife protection.
There are other projects planned for the near future as they continue to look for ways to improve their land. They have hosted tours to share this vision with others. Members of the Krab family have also regularly attended range tours at other locations to look for new ideas and continue to grow. Krab Inc.’s goal is to be good stewards of the land by keeping the natural resources better than they found them for future generations. They appear to be right on course.