John and Shelly Tiefenthaler are training two Holstein steers to pull a cart in a parade.
One's named Tief; the other, Thaler.
The couple also sponsors the hot dog eating contest for each Kinderfest celebration hosted annually in this Ida County community of 1,470 people.
``We have a sense of humor,'' says Shelly, a native of Holstein.
The couple can also get serious. Case in point: A donation bucket they set up recently during a grand opening for their new Food Locker Service plant. The bucket collected cash donations for the ``Beef'n Up The Troops'' program, sponsored by the Iowa Cattlemen's Foundation.
``Ted Paulsrud of Danbury is the District 7 director to the Iowa Cattlemen's Association,'' Shelly Tiefenthaler recalls. ``He was in here before our grand opening and asked if we might make a $25 contribution to the 'Beef'n Up The Troops' campaign.''
The program collects funds to purchase sticks of dried beef which can be shipped overseas and included in daily rations for military personnel. The sticks, which cost $6 per pound, are made by Triple T Specialty Meats of Ackley, Iowa. (Triple T is inspected by the federal government and, thus, can ship meat product overseas.)
``Even though we're a locker service, I hadn't heard of this program for the troops,'' Shelly Tiefenthaler says. ``But it sounded like a good idea and we knew we'd have a lot of people coming through our new facility for the open house.''
So, the Tiefenthalers set out an ice cream bucket and watched as their customers gave.
And gave. And gave.
Nearly 1,000 people attended the open house.
Instead of giving Paulsrud $25, the Tiefenthalers and their staff handed over a $1,200 donation, enough to buy 200 pounds of meaty treats for troops serving around the world.
The campaign meant a lot to this little company of 10 employees. The locker's plant manager, Rod Regennitter, was activated for duty shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was gone, serving with the U.S. Naval Reserves, for 12 months.
``It really hit home with us,'' Tiefenthaler adds. ``Not only was he away from his family and away from here, he was away from our company.''
Regennitter, who is back working now, says small items like Beef Sticks go a long way for someone serving far from home.
``I'd say the troops want letters from home first and then food from home,'' he says. ``Anytime you can get a taste of home, it eases the pressure and makes the day go a little better. I hope they keep doing this program for the troops.''
Tiefenthaler says officials with the Iowa Cattlemen's Foundation have extended the program. ``To date, they've raised over $45,000 for it,'' she says.
Tiefenthaler says their company's small part in this success story would not have happened were it not for their customers--customers who come to Tiefenthaler Quality Meats from Storm Lake to Sioux City, and parts in between. They come here, by the way, for all kinds of meaty treats. Dozens keep coming back for things like the company's famous No Mess Chili Dogs and its Skinless Brats. ``We get a lot of people who want our No Mess Chili Dog, a fully cooked hot dog that has beans, tomatoes, cheese and beef or pork all inside the hot dog,'' says Shelly Tiefenthaler. ``And nobody around here does a Skinless Brat like us. I guess things like that set us apart.''
So do things like two Holsteins pulling a cart in a parade. And things like an annual hot dog eating contest. And things like a meaty campaign to benefit the troops.