The legacy of Monroe resident and farmer Larry Nansel continues to live through his children.
“Our dad showed sheep for as long as I can remember,” said Kelly Sanne, Nansel’s daughter. “He really started that (tradition).”
Nansel, who passed away in 2012, started raising sheep when he was 8 years old at a farm northwest of Monroe. It’s a passion he passed on to his wife, Marlene, and their five children.
“It started with him,” said Sanne, who works at Nebraska Public Power District in Norfolk. “He brought in all kinds of animals.”
Growing up around animals, Sanne said it made sense she and her siblings acquired the same passion.
“Being around the animals, we just love it,” she said.
The children still raise livestock at the farm while juggling full-time jobs.
Despite the children establishing their lives in different areas of the county, the farm remains the central location for the family to gather and raise animals. The farm continues its growth as the family bring in more livestock to raise, such as cows, sheep, chickens, goats, geese and ducks. She noted these animals are raised for livestock sales and the county fair.
“Everything but pigs and horses,” Marlene chuckled.
Throughout the years, Sanne said, the family never failed to show their livestock at the Platte County Fair, adding they’ve only missed out three times.
“It’s a great thing to get your kids and family involved,” she said. “So it’s kind of bittersweet knowing my dad, me and my kids now show here at the same place.”
Sanne and her siblings learned the ropes of raising livestock from Nansel, and passed on that knowledge to their children. The family has taken home numerous winning titles from the fair for their livestock showmanship, as well as for the bucket calf shows. It’s a competition where young calves compete through obstacle courses and are judged based on their physical features.
“I love feeding them and caring for them,” said 10-year-old Drew Sanne, who is Kelly’s son. “And making sure they stay alive and stuff.”
This is Drew’s second year participating in the fair.
Kelly said the children’s involvement in agriculture helps fill their summer with productive activities, adding Drew works closely with the family to raise his sheep, goats, chickens and bucket calves.
“The kids all go to (the farm) to work on their projects and they have their animals out there,” she said. “They all get to work together.”
Every member of the family entered livestock into this year’s 4-H Livestock Show, with numerous grand and reserve champion titles already in the bag. A number of projects were chosen to be showcased at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island.
“A lot of people have their sports and we have 4-H,” said Lisa Finn, Kelly’s sister, who currently works at Liebig Meat Processing in Platte Center.
Although many youth might prefer to involve themselves in sports during the summer, Finn said, the children in their family enjoy spending their time out on the farm with the animals.
“It teaches the kids hard work, responsibility,” she said. “It gives them something to do; they’re not out getting in trouble and it’s a lifelong lesson …a lot of people who are looking to hire people, they look at that as a positive thing.”
And though the family raises the majority of the livestock for selling purposes, the children oftentimes grow attached to the animals they’ve spent months nurturing.
“They get a little sad about it, but then we have to remind them that next year, we will get a new friend and we will pick right back up again,” said Kim Nansel, Kelly’s sister, who works from home for LG Seeds selling corn to farmers.
The family recently purchased land in hopes of expanding the farm and looks forward to continually passing down the late Nansel’s legacy to future generations.
“It helps bring them back into agriculture and stay in agriculture,” Kelly said.
Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at email@example.com.