Raising livestock & 4-Her’s
Larry Peterson inducted into county cattlemen’s hall of fame
Livestock and 4-H to Larry Peterson are synonymous.
Larry, a third-generation livestock producer and farmer, has raised plenty of cattle, hogs and grain.
The 72- year-old also nurtured plenty of 4-H’ers including his own children and grandchildren.
Inducted into the Dawson County Cattlemen’s Hall of Fame Saturday night in Lexington, Larry’s roots in the cattle industry can be traced back to Peter Robert Peterson.
His grandfather, Peter, bought a quarter section of land eight miles northwest of Gothenburg in 1898.
Family members said Peter and his wife, Amanda, moved to the plains from Illinois where they had grown tired of the rain and mud and sought higher and dryer land in Nebraska.
Their youngest son, Alton, was Larry’s father. Alton and his bride, Anna Stevens, settled on the family farm in 1930 and implemented mechanical practices less dependent on horse labor.
Along with grain, the Petersons raised Hereford cattle. Given a bucket calf when he was 6, Larry later traded the steer for a heifer he named “Mamie” after the wife of soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower.
Mamie’s offspring led to a herd of Herefords that Larry raised on the family farm.
In 1963, he married Carolyn France of Gothenburg and the couple ended up on the Peterson farm four years later where they raised livestock, grain and four children—Stephanie, Crystal, Page and Paul.
Described by his children and other family members as a thinker “outside the box,” Larry made many improvements to increase the efficiency of the agricultural operation including the installation of more miles of underground natural gas lines to make irrigation and grain-drying costs more reasonable and center pivot irrigation.
Sometime in the early 1990s, Larry implemented no-till irrigation on the family’s irrigated and dry-land corn that led to less wind and soil erosion and conserved soil moisture
Although Larry got out of the cattle business for a few years, the Petersons returned to that livelihood after his two sons graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
PR Partnership, derived from Peter Robert Peterson’s name and cattle brand, was formed. Today, the family uses the nearby Sandhills to pasture their black Angus herd and other acres to raise food-grade corn, corn for livestock feed and wheat.
Larry said the cow-calf operation retains ownership from conception to shipping the animals to harvest from the farm site.
Sharing family values has always been important to Larry, he said, as is opening the doors of agriculture production for younger generations.
With prodding from former Dawson County Extension educator Dave Stenberg, Larry and local cattle producer Doug Keiser—who was 17 at the time—started a new 4-H club in 1977.
Named the Tail Twisters by Doug’s mother, Donna Keiser, during a meeting in her basement, Larry said the only requirement for membership was that kids had a sheep, pig or calf for a project.
What started out with seven members eventually grew to about 40 youngsters in the “hey day” of the club in the mid 1980s.
In fact, the club was so large Larry said they divided into a Farm Club for younger members and the Tail Twisters for older kids.
In addition to showing their animals at the county and state fairs, the leaders and parents would cram kids into an old Peterson van to participate in livestock and meat judging events.
For several years, Larry said local agricultural producer Ross Bartlett loaded a semi-trailer truck with cattle, sheep and pigs and equipment and hauled the 4-H projects to the state fair in Lincoln.
Club members were also encouraged to participate in the 4-H speech contest.
These days, Larry and Carolyn’s grandchildren are part of the Tail Twister legacy started by their grandparents and continued by their parents.
The children of Page and Karen Peterson and Paul and Shannon Peterson belong to Tail Twisters in Dawson County while Larry’s daughter Stephanie Ross’s children are in a 4-H club with the same name in Custer County.
Daughter Crystal Fangmeier’s youngsters are involved in 4-H in Thayer County.
Family members say there’s not a bigger fan of beef and hog shows at 4-H fairs than Larry.
“My eyeballs sweat a bit,” he said about watching his grandchildren enter the show ring with their animals.
Although Larry is semi-retired, he was helping to move the partnership’s pregnant cows and heifers closer to home this past week.
With calving expected to start the first week of March, “they need booster shots,” he said.
Larry, according to family members, is a booster—both figuratively and literally—for future generations of livestock producers.
Upon induction into the cattlemen’s hall of fame, he said he was surprised and humbled, noting that he thinks his involvement with the Tail Twisters 4-H Club was a big factor.
“It’s not what you do, it’s what you give,” Larry said. “I think that’s what they were looking at.”
Sid Andersen of Lexington was also inducted into the hall of fame.