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A hayfield stroll displays midsummer blooms

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Most summer evenings, shortly before dark, my wife and I take a walk through the hay field on the highest point on our property. It’s not really a hay field, it’s just an old field being encroached upon by the adjacent woods. I try to keep the invasive autumn olive at bay, but it’s a […]

Kids caring about conservation

Thursday, July 22, 2010

As a kid, I can remember spending the majority of my free time outdoors. Like many kids, I participated in my fair share of sports, and put a countless number of miles on my mountain bike. Yet my fondest memories as a child came from other outdoor activities. When I wasn’t in school or participating […]

New game, new rules in meat markets

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Watching Big Pork and Big Beef respond to proposed USDA rules to “clarify conduct that violates the P&S [Packers and Stockyards] Act” is like watching Wall Street bankers: They find it impossible to pull their hands out of your pockets long enough to pull themselves out of the mess they’ve made. That’s a good explanation […]

A conversation with ornithologist and author

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I met Bridget Stutchbury in the early 1980s at the University of Oklahoma Biological Station. I was teaching ornithology, and she was a visiting graduate student from Yale looking for a place to study the social behavior of purple martins. We had dozens of pairs of martins in six apartment houses right on campus, so […]

The tales of skunks and the relief when they leave

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Rusty Iron business is a little slow this week, so I’ll play Scott Shalaway and tell you a nature tale that I call (with apologies to Steven Spielberg), A Close Encounter of the Striped Kind. Nuisance For a couple of weeks, something has been digging up Nancy’s flower bulbs at the front of the […]

Picking genetics may save time sorting

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Low-stress cattle handling is becoming a mainstream practice, but have you ever thought about the ultimate low-stress sorting system — right from your computer? Advocates of low-stress handling suggest using animal behavior to your advantage. If you’ve seen a demonstration of this technique, or employ it on your farm or ranch, you may recognize something […]

Market Monitor

An obstinate and opposite market

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I am thinking this morning that the grain market is like a sixth grade boy this morning — obstinate and opposite. Whatever you suggest, he wants to do the other thing. The more you push, the more he pushes back. Too old to spank Think about it — we came out of reports that said […]

The bat days of summer

Thursday, July 22, 2010

In the 14 years we have lived here, we have had a handful of bats fly in for a visit. PETA can picket me if they want, but not all of the little critters made it out alive. My rule has always been one of kindness and understanding, love for my fellow creature and a […]

‘Family’ antics fill the long, summer days

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Usually the big calendar hanging on the kitchen door is filled with all kinds of squiggles and notes about birthdays and birds and reminders of anniversaries — the reality days of life — but so far July’s page is comparatively empty. I should write that, as of the 14th, the four baby barn swallows which […]

Answering the hard questions now will help when disaster occurs

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

As farmers, we know the cows must be milked rain or shine, hot or cold, sick or not, but what do you do when the unexpected happens? Who milks the cows, makes sure the feeding and other work gets done when the person responsible for those chores is unexpectedly unable to fulfill their duties? There […]

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