In 1952, Clarence Keyes sold his dairy herd and began buying registered Angus cattle from breeders in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska. He became an active member of both the Northeast Nebraska and Southeast Nebraska Angus Association due to his close proximity to both areas. One of the first Angus bulls Clarence can remember buying was from the Atwater Bros. of Albion. One of the first show sales he went to was in Otoe County, Nebraska in 1955. The bull was placed near the bottom of the class in the show, but the cattlemen found him and he was nearly the top seller of the sale.
In the early 1960s, Clarence and Beulah began selling their bulls at the Norfolk Sale Barn on the third Thursday of every May. This continued into the 1990s with their son Kevin.
Around 2000, the development of Omaha began to noticeably make the availability of farmland more difficult, but the family began expanding the cow herd. Kevin and Teresa began making annual trips to Minnesota to purchase heifers from Teresa’s cousins’ annual production sales at Flying W and WR Bar Ranch. Several trips were made to TC Ranch to purchase herd bulls and replacement heifers. With the rental of additional pasture in recent years, the herd has expanded to today’s current numbers.
As Kevin and Teresa’s daughters’ interest in showing cattle increased, Kevin began to look for quality cattle that were good enough to be contenders in the show ring and make productive cows. While attending Husker Harvest Days in 2008, Kevin became acquainted with Brian Stoller of Bear Mountain Angus. This acquaintance has turned into a working business venture and lasting friendship.
Today, Keyes Angus is operated by Kevin and Teresa Keyes with the help of Frank and Suzette Utter. Daughter Melissa, her husband Mark Nelson and their sons Roy and Charlie currently live near Moville, Iowa where they raise cattle and farm. Mark and Melissa, along with Mark's family, feed the calves from the ranch out at their feedlots in Northwest Iowa. Daughter Jenny and her husband Jared farm near Springfield, Nebraska and raise their two children, Minnie and Co (named for Grandpa Clarence Oliver Keyes). Daughter Michelle and her husband Garrett Swanson live and farm near Mason City, Illinois and have a daughter, Mae.
Kevin’s parents, Clarence and Beulah, have been crucial members of the operation from the start. Clarence passed away in June of 2018 at the age of 94, almost 95. Although he wasn’t able to leave the house as much as he’d have liked in the last few years, he was still involved as much as he could be with his cell phone and the big picture windows overlooking the farm, keeping an eye on the goings-on of the day.
As one generation was on its way out, another arrived. Melissa and her husband Mark welcomed a son, Roy David on May 22nd, 2018. Clarence was able to meet Roy a week later when Mark and Melissa brought him to Springfield for a special visit.
Clarence Keyes was born on the farm and he died on the farm. If he was still here today he’d be proud of his family and the cattle they have to offer in this year’s sale and sales to come.
Beulah continues to live on the farm and enjoys looking over the black cows she and Clarence have always loved.