Saturday, March 28, 2015


The cowherd starts its first ever annual trek from Pastures a Plenty down to Terry's river pastures for the summer grazing season.  We finally figured out that it was cheaper to move the cows to the hay than the hay to the cows.  Winter worked pretty well up here on the prairie, but we really didn't get the use of the herd for foraging crop residue as we hoped.  We need to improve our practices, and we are trying to figure out if a fall calving herd can be as useful in this way.  About half our herd calves in fall.  The other half should begin dropping calves two weeks.  The river is a much better place for that to happen.  So down they go.  We will have a bunch of loud left behind calves around here for a week or so. 


Tuesday, March 24, 2015


It was a privilege and joy to travel last weekend to the Children's Theatre in Minneapolis to view "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" in the excellent company of grandson Tanner.  The playwright and players did fine work of getting the story on stage.  The entire story was done with three actors and two musician/actors and one set in one act.  Quite a feat.

And yet all the themes that make this the archetype of the American story by the first actual American author were there:  Huck's developing sense of ethics and morality must unfold in a country full of unattached drifters and con artists, ghosts and uneasy spirits, overblown southern "honor", violence, race hatred and wrong headed religion.  Huck's heartfelt "Alright, I'll go to Hell then!" plays as a beacon of hope in my head all this time later.  My thanks to everyone involved.


Saturday, March 7, 2015


Avian influenza or "bird flu" has just destroyed 14000 turkeys in a building in Pope county just north of us.  This time the standard news story seems to be that the perpetrator of the crime was the wild duck population.  We breathe a sigh of relief that for a change, our small farm flock of laying hens are not the culprit in the massive losses incurred by big poultry.  A few years ago at first outbreak, small flock owners were the villains of the piece, spreading poultry death (and human illness and death) about indiscriminately. 

No one-in the news business at least-seems to have thought to ask why, if bird flu is so deadly to confined turkeys, do we still have wild ducks flying around?  Shouldn't it have been deadly to them too, since they are supposedly the vectors of infection?  Those questions might lead to more questions about agricultural production practices and eventually to some real answers!