Nisley's Spotlighted As Farm Family Of The Year By Lexington Area Chamber Of Commerce
The Lexington Chamber of Commerce honored the Fred and Andrea Nisley family Friday night as the 2017 Farm Family of the Year during their annual banquet.
The Nisleys trace their roots to his great-grandparents, John and Sarah (Johnson) Nisley, who moved to then Plum Creek, Neb., from Steelton, Penn. They established their homestead south of Lexington on 80 acres of land purchased for $8 an acre. They built an 8-by-12 foot sod house and lived there for six years. In 1886 they bought more land across the road and built a new home where they lived until they moved to town.
Along with farming and transporting, Nisley was a stonecutter by trade and cut stone for buildings in Lexington such as the Cornland Hotel and First National Bank. He also carved stone and created the statue on top of the Dawson County Courthouse, along with cemetery monuments and stones, many of which are still standing in area cemeteries today.
Sarah and John were the parents of 10 children and their son, Samuel Ira Nisley, and his wife, Ethel (nee Harrow), farmed the half section around the homestead. They had three children and Fred’s father was their son, Samuel Harrow Nisley.
Sam married his high school sweetheart, Ruth Wallace on Feb. 7, 1942. Sam served in the U.S. Army from August 1942 to November 1945 and when he returned from the service he and his brother, Rex, continued to farm the homestead and other land south of Lexington.
Over the years the Nisleys were able to grow their operation and in 1958 Sam and Ruth sold a quarter of land near what is now Tyson and purchased ground 12 miles south of Lexington, where Fred and Andrea Nisley currently live. Sam and Ruth were the parents of three children: Margaret (Margie), Frederick (Fred) and Robert (Bob).
Fred Nisley attended Morton Elementary School in Lexington from kindergarten through third grade and from fourth to eighth grade went to District 4, south of Lexington. Growing up he was involved in 4-H. He was a 1966 graduate of Lexington High School where he was active in FFA.
Nisley then attended Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo., where he graduated in 1970 with an agri-business degree. One of the draws to the Colorado school, explained Fred, was the fact it was on a quarter system and during the spring and summer; students were able to participate in internships.
His first internship was with Sun Basin Growers, a branch of Pacific Cooperative in Quincy, Wash. Other internships were three months with Simplot Soil Builders in Walden, Colo., Encampment, Wyo., and Johnstown, Colo. After graduation he went back to Quincy, Wash., to work until 1972.
But notes Nisley, “The only thing I ever wanted to do was farm,” and so he did just that. “The good Lord and a lot of other people helped me do it,” he added.
In 1975 he bought his first land, an 80-acre piece from his uncle, Rex Nisley. About the same time Clyde Wallace asked him to rent his ground and this gave Nisley the opportunity to get into farming. The rental agreement lasted 40 years until Clyde’s children sold the ground.
Nisley notes he has had many wonderful landlords through the years. At his peak, Nisley farmed around 2,500 acres, most of which were rented. He continued to acquire land and in 2012 purchased the family farm from his brother and sister.
Our farmer met Andrea Timm from Eustis, a 10-year 4-H member and a 1970 graduate of Eustis High School. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska in 1974 and her master’s degree from Kansas State University in 1978 in textiles, clothing and design. The couple was married on Aug. 13, 1977, in Eustis.
Andrea has been an Extension Educator with the University of Nebraska Extension in Dawson County since 1979. Given the ups and downs in farming, Fred notes he is grateful Andrea has the job she has. “It certainly has helped,” he said.
Fred and Andrea are the parents of two children, Erica and Clay. Both attended District 4 School like their father, and both were 10-year 4-H members. Life on the farm meant working with corn, soybeans and alfalfa, along with helping out with the cow-calf operation and backgrounding calves. Both have some favorite memories of growing up on the farm.
“The farm was the perfect playground for a youngster,” recalls Clay. “I would pretend that I was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle for hours. Just fighting off all of the evil nemesis’s, which in reality meant I would go find the machetes my parents hid from me or use broom handles and terrorize things. I would leave large notches on trees; destroy my mom’s rhubarb and squash, even poke very large holes in the black tarp that cover the silage pit. But hey, someone had to save the planet, right?”
“I did not necessarily understand until I moved from home that things like endless miles of dirt roads, country school, garden fresh produce, cattle tanks for swimming pools and driving legally at the age of 14 were not common experiences for all kids,” says Erica. “I’m very fortunate for the childhood I had. “
Irrigating was a common chore both recalled. “I don't believe anyone gets giddy about waking up early to go set irrigation water,” said Clay. “But in my teens there would be those days where the summer sun felt just right in the early morning. The sound of the wind blowing through the cornfield and the cool water running through the aluminum irrigation pipe underneath my hands. Miles from nowhere. That awesome sense of serenity, where it is just you and the land.”
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