Little rancher, big purchase
Royce Grueb has a great start on his future in the cattle business, and he’s only seven years old.
And on April 18, he bought his first bull.
Grueb is well-known around his Dupree, S.D. home. He’s been doing chores with local ranchers and reading bull sale catalogs for over half his life.
In fact, when he was in daycare at his mom’s daycare facility in Dupree, the other kids would gather around him as he’d “read” sale catalogs to them.
His first bull sale purchase came about when he and his dad, Nate, were visiting Brent and Nancy Thiel. The Thiels partner with the Lindskov family to sell Charolais and Angus bulls, and Nate was looking at bulls. Royce went with his dad several times to look at bulls, and he struck up a friendship with Brent.
As soon as they got to the Thiel ranch, Royce began talking with Brent. “Within three minutes of being there, Royce tells me that Brent is his best friend,” Nate said. “We were there for three hours and you could not get him and Brent away from each other. They talked about bulls, fences, feed bunks. You name it, they talked about it.”
Royce had been studying their sale catalog, and had picked out Lot #2, a Charolais bull. Thiel took him to the pen, showed him the bull, and told him, “Gee, Royce, you have a pretty good eye. That’s one of the best bulls in here.”
All the way home, Nate said, he heard from Royce, “Dad, we need to buy bull number two.”
Nate had planned on buying a bull, but wasn’t sure #2 was the one he wanted.
On his calendar at home, Royce was crossing off the days till his birthday, April 6. After that, he crossed off the days till the Lindskov-Thiel sale, April 18.
The day of the sale came, and Nate and Royce were in the audience. Nate was watching the prices, and on a limited budget, thought he would bid on #2, “just to make Royce happy, to be able to tell him we tried,” but not sure he’d win the bid.
The bull started at $5,000, with Nate’s bid, and someone else bid $6,000. It was out of Nate’s price range, so he said quit.
Then the unthinkable happened. Thiel stopped Lynn Weishaar, the auctioneer, and the sale.
“He made Royce stand up, and he said, ‘this is Royce Grueb, from Dupree, he’s in kindergarten, and this is his pick of the bulls. Lynn, let’s sell that bull to Royce for $5,000.”
So Royce got his bull. He and his dad high-fived, and “I don’t think his feet touched the ground for the rest of the day,” Nate said. “Everybody there had to come and talk to him about his bull. He’d rattle off his birth weight, all he knew about the bull.”
The next day, neighbors went to pick up their bulls from Thiels, and Royce went along. When #2 came home, “that bull got checked three times that day,” Nate said. Nate and his wife Sara , live in Dupree and ranch on the side while Nate works for the NRCS and Sara runs the daycare. The bull was at a neighbor’s place. “We drive by the bull every day, and (Royce) is so mad at me, because we haven’t brought him home yet,” Nate said.
Royce’s love affair with cattle and ranching began several years ago.
When he was three and four years old, Nate joked that they had to “schedule” chore time for him, as he rode with different neighbors to do chores. He’d go with Delbert and Kody Woodward, Jace Birkeland, Rob Farlee, Marty Burgee and others. He knew how many bales each place got, his dad said, and knew chores better than his dad. When Nate did chores for Birkeland, Royce knew exactly how Jace turned his tractor wheels so it was easier to plug the tractor in. Royce “got mad at me because I didn’t turn the wheels the right way.”
Another time, when Nate did chores for Jace, he thought he was done but Royce, who was three, kept saying, “more cows, more cows,” pointing to the south. Jace had forgotten to tell Nate about the cows south of his place that needed to be fed.
He has 300 bull sale catalogs in his room, his dad reports, and strongly dislikes school. His kindergarten teacher has modified instruction for him, so his math assignments include “buying” cows, figuring out how many bales and buckets of corn to feed them, and writing “checks” to his dad for lease on his cows.
“All he wants to do is ranch and drive truck,” Nate said.
Royce and his dad are partners on #2, but Royce got to pick out the ear tag color: blue, and the name for the bull, Deuce.
He chose that bull because “I like his face, his body, and his tail. I liked how he was built.” His favorite cows are red, and his favorite bulls are white.
“I told Brent, you probably made a Charolais man out of him,” Nate said.
Thiel enjoys Royce’s company and his verve for the cattle business.
“It’s kind of neat when a young person has such a passion for livestock. (Sale day) was a special day for me.”
Thiel has offered to take Royce with him when he delivers bulls. “You cannot find a bigger hearted, nicer man than Brent Thiel,” Nate said. “And you have to lump the Lindskov crew in there, too. The whole crew, they’re good people.”
Nate knows they didn’t have to sell a bull to him and Royce. “They did it out of the goodness of their hearts.” He knows his son’s situation isn’t the only time that other youngsters have been helped. “I don’t think it’s entirely uncommon for an older guy to help a younger kid get started and encourage his interest in the industry.
“I had no idea that Brent was going to do something like that. For them to take an interest in Royce, and foster (his interest) is what’s really cool to me.”
Royce has two older siblings: sister, Reagan, who is 13, and a brother, Radley, who is eleven.
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