Tag Archives: farm

Living with 
Livestock in Omaha

June 19, 2017 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Hungry for a taste of the simple life? You don’t have to sacrifice the convenient luxuries of living in the Omaha metro.

Nick Batter, a lawyer who raises livestock in the Ponca Hills area, knows how to get the best of both worlds.

From left: Nick Batter and Jill Stigge

Batter owns five acres near Hummel Park, just outside of the city limits. He says he can’t imagine any other place where a young professional can raise a pig or shoot a shotgun in his or her front yard, and then drive 10 minutes to have sushi or see a Broadway show.

Urban Logistical Hassles

After first determining whether barnyard animals are allowed in your neighborhood, Batter says there are some challenges to raising livestock in the Omaha metro.

“There’s not many people to buy livestock from,” he says. He has to go on road trips to get animals. He must be selective about breeds due to space limitations: He raises a more docile breed of pig and a shorter-legged sheep (it runs slower). He doesn’t have space to overwinter animals either.

Batter’s livestock selection changes throughout the year to accommodate his space. He gets baby animals in spring and slaughters them after the first frost. By the end of April, he already had sheep, lambs, goats, rabbits, laying hens, and was expecting four pigs to arrive soon.

Limited access to feed stores presents another logistical challenge in the Omaha metro,  he says. For a variety of reasons (including his professional schedule), he has to buy feed on Sundays, and only one store is open when he’s available—and it’s in Irvington.

Nevertheless, he says the perks of animal husbandry outweigh any hassle.

Perks of Residential Livestock

Batter says his animals mostly “live off the land,” and their diet is only supplemented by feed. His rabbits and sheep eat grass. “Goats eat everything green,” he says.

He pens the pigs under mulberry, walnut, and oak trees. So, the pigs eat plenty of berries, nuts, and acorns. Batter finishes fattening them on black walnuts, a “very American walnut,” he says.

Batter doesn’t need to mow the lawn. The sheep do it. His two border collies make sure the sheep don’t leave the property.

He says the animal pens are near his home due to space limitations. His window faces the pens, so if predators are in the area—and his animals are distressed—he knows quickly.

Batter eats fresh eggs and chicken. “Keep them warm, keep them watered, keep them fed,” he says of the chickens. “They really do the rest.” He gets two to three dozen eggs a day. “They’re producing eggs like crazy,” Batter says. “I’m not even feeding them.”

The chickens eat bugs and grass, which they prefer. Batter enjoys sharing eggs. “Sharing eggs is expressive,” he says. “Time goes into it. It’s a way to share your personal time with somebody.”

Batter practices ethical husbandry and reaps the rewards, both in food and in spirit. “I’m not divorcing myself from the process [of processing animals],” Batter says. He knows his animals have a good life. “Every day of their lives is terrific except for the last day,” Batter says, adding that it pains him to waste meat: “You realize it came from a life.” And in the case of his backyard farm, a life that he nurtured and raised.”

Do It Yourself

Before investing in urban livestock, would-be farmers must research the zoning of their neighborhood. Circumstances are different all across the Omaha metro. To be safe, the University of Nebraska’s Douglas-Sarpy County Extension Office encourages homeowners to check with neighborhood associations or county planning and zoning offices.

“There are so many different situations, SIDs, acreages, in city limits, out of city limits,” says Monte Stauffer, an educator with the county extension office. “The person who can make that decision is at the county courthouse; you just have to give them an address.”

For advice on raising chickens, Stauffer suggests reaching out to Brett Kreifels, an extension assistant with a master’s degree in poultry production. Meanwhile, Stauffer (an animal sciences and animal husbandry expert) can answer any questions about pigs, calves, horses, sheep, and goats.

Kreifels and Stauffer are available by phone at 402-444-7804. A receptionist at the Douglas-Sarpy County Extension Office directs queries to the relevant experts on staff.

“You can do it for several reasons: to try to generate additional income, to produce your own food, or provide an educational opportunity to young people—giving them some chores to do, some responsibility that they may not get them in trouble,” Stauffer says.

Visit extension.unl.edu/statewide/douglas-sarpy for more information.

Eggs, sausages, and bacon harvested from the farm.

This article was printed in the July/August 2017 Edition of Omaha Home.

Tough as Nails

January 4, 2017 by

Here in Nebraska, many of us have mothers, aunts, or family friends like Lorraine. Lorraine bought a farm with her husband, Norman, in the mid 1960s. Both were third-generation immigrants, steeped in the agrarian ethos of hard work, honesty, and reluctance to interfere in someone else’s life unless absolutely necessary.

The Lorraines of the world are stoics. They get on with life, never complaining about aches and pains, only about the weather. They drive tractors and load pigs for the slaughterhouse. They wear boots for the mud, heavy coats for warmth, and seed caps…just like the men. They run the farms by keeping the books and selling the crops.

The Lorraines of the world are tough as nails.

Ranch women and cowgirls are anomalous to female social norms. In the United States, and across the globe, females are supposed to be feminine (remember, this is a norm, a generalization, and not true in every case).

What does it mean to be feminine? According to Sandra Bem, creator of the Bem Sex-Role Inventory, a reliable and validated instrument in most every country, feminine characteristics are those judged to be more desirable for a woman than a man. Femininity includes being affectionate, sensitive to the needs of others, eager to soothe hurt feelings, tender, gentle, yielding, cheerful, and soft-spoken. And femininity also includes (gotta love this one) not using harsh language.

Indeed, the Lorraines of the world are not stereotypically feminine. Instead, they are self-reliant farmwomen—independent, assertive, willing to take risks, aggressive, analytical, self-sufficient, competitive, and ambitious.

But according to social norms across Nebraska and the world, and the BSRI, these are masculine traits. So, ranch women and cowgirls tend to be masculine.

But masculine females don’t only exist on the ranch.

I have had corporate-employees-during-the-day, going-to-school-at-night female students complete the BSRI in my graduate business ethics courses since 1991. And I have used the BSRI across Omaha for many female professional business association workshops. What is true about the Lorraines of the world is true for the female business practitioners I have studied. Overall, they tend to be masculine rather than feminine. Additionally, some are androgynous.

Androgyny, according to the BSRI, is defined as having strong masculine and strong feminine characteristics. So females who are androgynous are both ambitious and gentle, independent and sensitive to the needs of others, assertive and cheerful.

Sounds exhausting to me.

Arduous as it may be, female business practitioners need to practice character traits, skills, and tools that are effective. So what characteristics should we strive toward to be great managers and leaders?

First, a large body of research suggests that females should have at least an average level of femininity. But…and this is an important but….strongly feminine females are perceived to be less effective by both males and females. Too much tenderness, too much yielding, and soft-spoken mannerisms do not convey confidence and an ability to lead during tough times.

However, what if strong femininity is tied to strong masculinity? Would that be effective? Though controversial, another body of research indicates that striving for androgyny is not the answer. Trying to balance or integrate strong femininity and strong masculinity can send mixed messages during negotiations and for most other management and leadership responsibilities. It is anxiety-producing and can lead to self-derogation and depression, which does not result in a perception of effectiveness.

So it looks like masculinity with a moderate level of femininity prevails. Indeed, professors Gary N. Powell and D. Anthony Butterfield have consistently shown across time and for very large samples of subjects that “the general perception of the stereotypic good manager is one of masculinity”—for both males and females. If true, females need to acknowledge and develop their masculine character traits to be seen to be effective.

The tough as nails women have it right. Thanks for being a role model, Lorraine.

Beverly Kracher, Ph.D., is the executive director of Business Ethics Alliance, and the Daugherty Chair in Business Ethics & Society at Creighton University.

This article was printed in the Winter 2017 edition of B2B.