You could count on two things when Brooklyn Zimmerman sorted cattle on sale days for Stockmen’s Livestock in Yankton.
She could be found atop her horse, commandeering cattle to the right alleys and pens — and she would always be accompanied by her dog, Sage.
Actually, Greg Faehnrich noted another of her traits while working alongside the 21-year-old woman.
“She would outwork the guys,” he said with a laugh.
Zimmerman showed a passion for ranching and a promising future working with livestock. Sadly, her young life was cut short when she died in an Aug. 4 automobile accident south of Freeman in Hutchinson County.
Stockmen’s Livestock will recognize its late employee Sept. 16 with the Brooklyn Zimmerman Memorial BBQ. On its website, the livestock auction described her as “our faithful and loyal co-worker that was tragically lost recently.”
Stockmen’s owner-auctioneer Greg Ryken has scheduled the tribute in conjunction with a regular sale day at the sale barn, located along East Highway 50 in Yankton. The public is welcome to attend the short program, meal and auction of items starting at noon.
Zimmerman worked at the sale barn for about a year before her passing, according to Stockmen’s human resources manager, Theresa Dozier.
The money raised at the Sept. 16 event will go toward Zimmerman’s funeral expenses.
“We start at 9 a.m. with the feeder sale, and then we’ll stop at noon for the program. We set aside a 30-minute block of time,” Dozier said. “We’ll have a few words (said in Zimmerman’s memory), and then the auction. We have a lot of things people have brought us, and we’re still taking donations.”
The donated items so far range from a painting by Crofton, Nebraska, artist Jolene Steffen to a large toy barn.
In addition, a “grab and go” barbecue lunch will be served at the Stockmen’s Livestock café, with a freewill donation taken for the meal.
For Faehnrich, the upcoming program and fundraiser will provide an important way of remembering Zimmerman.
“She was so fun to be around. She was easy going, but you didn’t want to get on the wrong side of her,” he said, laughing as he recalled jokingly giving her a hard time on the job and she gave it right back at him.
Zimmerman graduated from Avon High School in 2017 and attended Lake Area Tech in Watertown, he said. She then moved to Philip, in western South Dakota, where she worked as a ranch hand.
Zimmerman’s obituary described her passion for horses and ranching.
“Brooklyn loved to go ride horses anytime she had a chance. She was always the first person to volunteer at work and vaccinate cattle,” the obituary said. “Any task that involved ranching, she had a passion for. She enjoyed roping and going to watch rodeos in her free time.”
In addition, Zimmerman loved to go fishing and spend time outdoors, the obituary said. She loved children, whether or not they were related to her, and her favorite name to be called was “Auntie Brooklyn.”
Zimmerman was accompanied everywhere by her beloved dog.
“Brooklyn always had her four-legged sidekick, Sage, where ever she went,” the obituary said, referring to the dog as her “Number One fur child.”
In recalling his co-worker and friend, Faehnrich noted the influence of Zimmerman’s ranching experiences in western South Dakota — even after she returned to the southeastern part of the state.
“She loved it out there, but then she moved back here (to Tabor),” he said, noting she brought the rancher mentality and work ethic with her.
She used those skills in handling the work in the alleys and pens on the Tuesday and Wednesday sale days. She and Faehnrich worked to make sure, once the cattle left the auction ring, they reached the right destination.
“She was one of the people making sure that cattle got into the proper pen with the buyers’ number. It sure was nice to work the pens and alleys on horseback because it really shortened the amount of area we had to cover on foot,” Faehnrich said. “She always brought her dog, Sage, with her wherever she worked. And Sage really saved us a lot of work. We had the horses, but Sage helped move the cattle up the alleys.”
As a major part of her job on sale days, Zimmerman made sure alleys were open or closed as needed in directing livestock to the right pens.
When the sale ended, the work wasn’t done, Faehrnrich said. “After every sale, we had to clean out the ring and alleys, and she never skipped out once,” he said.
Zimmerman jumped into action right away, he said. “We would shovel out areas that we couldn’t reach with the skid loader,” he added.
While she didn’t work at Stockmen’s for a long period of time, Zimmerman made a definite impression on the operation and those around her, Faehnrich said.
“She did just a really good job. She was just a special person from a nice family. She was a wonderful life cut short,” he said.
Faehnrich fought back tears when he talked about hearing of her death. He described a shocked feeling and becoming physically sick for 20 minutes.
“I just couldn’t believe she was gone,” she said.
As a tribute, Faehnrich took extra folders from the funeral, laminated them and put one on each of “her” gates where she worked in the yard. He has held back two folders, hoping to place them at her accident site.
Faehnrich said he was glad to see Stockmen’s planning a program and benefit in Zimmerman’s honor. He believes the tribute will provide a deserving honor for the young woman.
“Greg (Ryken) and the others have done a really good job of putting this together,” he said. “Today, the world needs a little more of things like that.”
For more information, visit Stockmen’s Livestock on Facebook or visit online at stockmenslivestock.com
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