Edna Peterson of Brady, Nebraska
Edna Peterson was preparing for life on the ranch at an early age, having ridden a horse to school three miles each way, including to high school at Farnam. After graduation she took a K-8 teaching position in Stapleton. She also taught at Eustis and at various rural schools. Edna and Lloyd met and were married on December 31, 1948. They had no children of their own, but took in numerous foster children over the years. Though challenging at times, raising foster children was rewarding for the Petersons, especially as Edna sees them succeed later on in life.
By the time they married, Lloyd had purchased three ¼ sections of land. Some of that was cropland where they raised alfalfa, corn and wheat. They also raised some hogs to help pay the bills. Early on, they had more cows than pasture so they rented nearby corn stalks and also rented pasture from north of Tryon to near Stockville. They also rented pasture in the Garfield Table area of Lincoln Co., and when the owner was ready to sell, he wanted Lloyd and Edna to have it.
So they bought that property and later added gradually to their grasslands by putting together several sections of land purchased north of Brady in the Sandhills. Edna noticed that the longer they had their land, the more they saw the value of grassland conservation. They made early improvements through the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation Program. This took place through the NRD with technical assistance from the USDA – SCS and later, NRCS. This partnership allowed them in the mid 1980’s to add a new livestock well, 2.5 miles of water pipeline and six new water tanks to improve livestock distribution in the pastures, one of which had been three miles long before being cross fenced.
The formation of the smaller pastures, as well as their management adjustments that went along with them, helped achieve a higher range condition on their operation with the assistance of USDA-NRCS and NRD conservationists. Lloyd passed away in the early 1990’s, but Edna was determined to keep their ranch going. With the encouragement of kindly neighbors and hired help, she not only maintained the ranching operation but enhanced it with a continuing conservation effort. This included several projects through the Natural Resources District and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. These projects included the addition of five new livestock wells from 1994 to 2006. Also during that time, about 3,500 feet of water pipeline was installed to supply four new stock tanks.
The creative design of the newest watering system makes the most of a single well pumping to a high point where two enclosed supply tanks are located. These tanks then gravity feed to the stock tanks in several pastures located at various distances. The pasture in use at any given time has a reserve for when the wind does not run the windmill. A current EQIP agreement with USDA is continuing to improve the grazing resource with more watering locations for the livestock. The grazing rotation gives pastures needed rest from grazing so they recover and remain healthy.
Impressive are the quality and variety of grasses in the pastures of Edna Peterson. It shows that she has an understanding of the balance needed between current and future production. This long view of resource management is key to sustaining one’s ranching operation for years to come. It is about resisting the temptation for short term over-use to maintain long term productivity and grassland health, which is the foundation of a good ranch. For this reason, Edna Peterson is being recognized for her grassland conservation and management efforts.