13-year-old shares with wild fire victims

By Thomas A. Kvamme

GILMAN – While 14 adults traveled 873 miles from Gilman back on March 25 to deliver much-needed hay and relief supplies to ranchers in Ashland, Kansas, devastated by wild fires made an impact, the thoughtfulness of 13-year-old Bryce Talberg was something to behold.

Photo by Janell Kay Smit, For the Union-Times Bryce Talberg gets a hug from Kansas farmer Harry Walker. Bryce traveled to Ashland, Kansas to present to Walker his earnings from milking cows on a Foley-area farm. Walker lost his farm in a devastating fire that spread through the Ashland, Kansas area.
Photo by Janell Kay Smit, For the Union-Times
Bryce Talberg gets a hug from Kansas farmer Harry Walker. Bryce traveled to Ashland, Kansas to present to Walker his earnings from milking cows on a Foley-area farm. Walker lost his farm in a devastating fire that spread through the Ashland, Kansas area.

“Because they lost everything and they needed it more than I did,” was the response of Talberg, in his giving up a paycheck he had earned milking cows, to an 80-year-old rancher.
The Minnesota delegation made the long trip and on the second day, after dropping some of the hay at a central location, it was determined that two semi-trailer loads of round bales would be delivered directly to fire victim Harry Walker.
Walker, who had some cows in need of hay, had lost everything else, with the exception of his house.
Talberg, the son of Jaci and Curt Talberg of Foley had traveled to Ashland with his mother, and his aunt Rosalina Lambert of Braham.
After first hearing about the fires, Jaci noted that she and Bryce had “talked about it” and the youngster said, “mom, I want to help.”
Jaci then became involved with organizers at the Gilman Co-op Creamery, leading to the family members making the road trip to Ashland.
For Bryce, a seventh-grader at Foley Intermediate, who has been working milking cows for two years could just as well have spent his hard earned money on his hobby of restoring tractors.
Instead, working with officials in Ashland, the decision was made to present his earnings directly to Walker.
After arriving at the farm, one of the semi drivers had presented Walker with $200 on behalf of the Minnesota delegation, telling him to buy something he needed, leading to silence and tears.
Walker didn’t want to accept the money, only struggling to say he would “buy some fence.”
Then came Talberg, as the youngster stepped in and simply said, “here’s some more,” as he presented Walker with an envelope containing $265.
Nothing much more was needed to be said, as Walker embraced the youngster and the hug pretty much sealed the deal, farmer to farmer.
Everyone in the delegation was in tears by now, leading Walker to say, “let’s unload some bales.”
In an interview following the trip, Talberg indicated he was off to the state archery meet in Duluth, participating in another of his favorite activities.
Talberg, who has loved to hunt since he could walk, has plans to be a farmer as a career.
While he is undecided, he has narrowed his choices down to “dairy or beef.”
Meanwhile, he continues to work for a family friend, adding to his dairy skills.
At the last time he had counted, Talberg noted he has 170 cows to milk, along with other chores.
He has been “hanging around,” with Lonnie Greener, a dairy farmer near Foley, since he was six, but was unable to work until he was tall enough to reach all the necessary controls.
Now he spends every day after school tending to chores, while learning the business as well.
In discussing his thoughts of the trip to Ashland, Talberg said, “I thought it was going to be more burnt, black.”
Talberg was able to spend some time with Walker, later in the evening and “we have exchanged addresses.”
The hope is to continue corresponding with the elder farmer, who he touched in a big way.
As a token of appreciation, Pete Ratka of Gilman, who also made the trip presented Talberg with a pocket knife bearing his name and Kansas engraved.
Ratka, also a farmer, concluded, “every farmer needs a knife.”
Meanwhile, when asked about her son, a proud Jaci replied, “he makes his mom cry.”