At the age of 13, with the help from my dad, I purchased 14 head of commercial Hereford, fall calving cows, along with their 15 calves. It was an exciting time for me indeed. It was a childhood dream of mine to always own Hereford cattle. I would spend the majority of time every day after school with my new cattle project. Then, as a freshman in high school, I came across a "Polled Hereford World" in the Ag classroom and fell in love with registered Polled Hereford cattle. I then purchased my first registered polled Herefords in the spring of 1974 from Hickory Ridge Farms in Ortonville, MN from John & Sally Schults. In the spring of 1975, I purchased another 13 head of yearling heifers from Elton Erickson, Kensington, MN. Then to take my herd even farther in numbers and quality, I was able to purchase an additional 25 head of yearling heifers each from Endres Farms & the Tesch Farms in SD, in the spring of 1977.
Through the years, cattle were purchased both private treaty and at production sales from a number of progressive breeders in the upper Midwest until I reached the number of 120 head of registered polled Herefords and 60 head of grade Hereford cattle as well. In the early 1980's, through the selection of better herd bulls and A.I. sires, I was able to make giant strides in the genetic strength of my herd. As our family farm grew to 5,000 acres, 4,200 tillable acres and as interest rates rose to 21 ½ percent and cattle prices fell, I made the decision to sell off all of my grade Hereford cattle and to cut my registered polled Hereford herd in half to 60 head.
It was during this time that the consistency, production and eye appeal greatly improved in my herd. It was obvious to me, as a result of my culling process, that the genetic strength of my herd was uniquely woven together by the hands of God. The results was a reality of my prayers and dreams, all nestled into a few more great years of raising registered polled Hereford cattle for me.
In the mid 1980s, I was privileged to exhibit many MN bred and owned champions, many State Fair champions (MN, SD, ND, WI, IA, CA, CO, KS, MO, MT, WY), as well as Champions at the largest Livestock show in the World - the Denver National. I have memories to last me a lifetime, all given to me from the good Lord, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. All of this was indeed a true blessing to me within a few short years as a first generation Polled Hereford breeder. I was truly abundantly blessed more than I could have ever imagined.
In 1985 I went through some personal challenges that caused me to seek my creator and to desire to live more for Him. In June of that summer the good Lord watched over me and spared my life from a terrible truck accident that could have easily taken my life. During this same time period I was looking for a good riding horse to help work cattle with. Also unknown to me a deacon from an area church by the name of Jerry Amdahl had been praying every day during his devotional time for the Lord to send him someone to witness to that would impact their whole family. Only by God's grace could we have met, but we did when Jerry advertised a horse for sale! While we met and rode horses one afternoon Jerry invited me and my family to attend a church service with him that coming weekend. Tami and I attended, along with our 2 daughters and it was during the service that God's love and presence touched our hearts in a significant way. It was there at Calvary Assembly of God that I opened my heart & life to Jesus Christ and His word and I allowed the Holy Spirit to change my life in ways that I had not encountered before.
In the next two years I fell deeper in Love with Jesus Christ than ever before and He became first in life. He became both my Savior and my LORD!. My search for true meaning in life had come to an end. God's Kingdom became more important to me than anything in my life. My heart and soul was focused not upon building my little kingdom but on building God’s Kingdom! In the fall of 1987, while combining soybeans I sensed the Lord's calling into full-time ministry. The Holy Spirit spoke clearly to me heart and said that God was calling me to a greater harvest. After a diligent time of prayer with my wife Tami, the decision was made to disperse my herd and to enter into full-time ministry. I selected a date in August of 1989 to sell out. Yes, it was a hard decision but one that brought the Lord's grace and peace to my heart.
The Lord put all the pieces of the decision together by His mighty hand. He opened the door of opportunity for me to sell my ¼ interest in my prize herd bull, JR Nick the Butler in the Opryland Hotel in 1988, along with one of his daughters, JPH Butler Bonanza 12T. Nick had sired many champions, many bull test station winners and females with gorgeous udders. Semen had sold into 45 states and all of Canada and several other countries. It was a time I will never forget as I personally led Nick around in the sale auction ring as Dale Stith brought the sale of the bull to $58,000.00 for my ¼ interest. And if that wasn't enough for one day for this young breeder, an hour later I was able to lead 12T around and see her sell for $25,000.00 - both selling to Big T Ranch in Ohio.
So it was that the excitement had started for Nick the Butler and his progeny. With my herd deeply influenced with his genetics things were all set in place. So as August of 1989 came closer, I had no second thoughts of my decision to sell my childhood dream, to start life all over and to enter ministry, which I knew nothing about at the age of 30. With the result of my sale, it was obvious that the good Lord's will had been accomplished. Cattle sold into 19 states, with a sale average of $3017.00 a lot. God story, His-story had been written in my life!
I have been both privileged and blessed to meet many wonderful Hereford breeders from all across the United States - many of which are still my close friends. They are great people!
In late August of 1989, I loaded up my wife and three kids and headed off to full-time ministry training at Trinity Bible College in ND. Here I am 25 years later, still following my Lord & Savior, and now founder and president of Hope For The Rancher. God is still writing His-Story!