Roughly 40 Nebraskans hauled and unloaded 30 trailers full of cows to the Beatrice 77 Livestock barn to help the Niss family of Pawnee City.
The family’s patriarch, fourth-generation farmer Bryce Niss, 35, died in a rollover crash in November.
Niss was survived by his wife, Dani Niss, and children, Weston, 10, Reid, 6, and LilaBelle, 3. After months of grieving and preparation, the Niss family decided to do a total herd dispersal of its estate.
Jeff Broady, Niss’ father-in-law, said the family participated in the sale at the beginning of the year, something Bryce did every year. Broady said the sale on Thursday, Jan. 21, is going to be much harder for the family, because Bryce’s cows were his pride and joy.
“That’s really what he worked hard at, but he worked hard at everything,” Broady said. “Wonderful father. Wonderful son-in-law.”
Broady said Bryce and Dani always did business at Beatrice 77 Livestock, so once the family decided to liquidate the calves and cows, they chose to do it there.
Broady said people traveled roughly 50 miles, including from Pawnee City, Lewiston, Burchard, Johnson, Du Bois, Tecumseh and Auburn, to help deliver the cows to Beatrice 77. He said Bryce was always one of the first people to help someone out when asked, and that he was not surprised by the support his family’s received because that’s just what rural America does for each other.
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“The accident happened on a Tuesday morning, November 17, and by 3 p.m. that day there were 29 farmers harvesting his crops,” Broady said. “They finished it up the next day at 11 o’clock in the morning. His crops were completely finished, harvested and in the bins. The community has just been wonderful with Dani, bringing meals and helping with the kids, just anything that she needs. I can’t thank the community and the region enough for everything that they’ve done.”
Dennis Henrichs, a manager at Beatrice 77 Livestock, said he has unfortunately seen people organize auctions like this before when a fellow farmer has died.
“Tragedy certainly brings out the best, and it does prove that Bryce had hundreds of friends and people that would come to his need,” Henrichs said.
In addition, Niss’ 202 black angus bred cows and 10 Nemaha Valley breeding bulls being auctioned, Henrichs said a rollover auction is being held for a three-year-old bred cow donated by Heldt Family Farm, and a model barn built by Glenn Katz, with the proceeds going to help fund the Niss children’s education.
Henrichs explained that Niss would sit under the clock on the south wall of the barn to purchase cows from the Heldt family. He said the area under the clock is being reserved for the Niss family during Thursday’s auction.
The auction starts at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Beatrice 77, located at 3320 N. Sixth St. in Beatrice.
Henrichs said individuals wanting to donate to the family but not participate in the auction can send a check to the Beatrice 77 in the Niss family’s name.
Broady said he was at the Niss farm on Monday, and while loading his truck he thought he saw Bryce walking across the way.
“It’s been tough. It’s been hard. Emotions I don’t know how to put it into words,” Broady said. “With the love of family and the community, we’re getting through it.”