Posted on May 6, 2022
In a recent telephone conversation, a southwest Kansas farmer casually noted that he had stopped growing irrigated corn some years back because “it cost too much.” Curious, I asked what it cost to irrigate an acre of corn in his arid, cattle-feeding-and-corn-hungry corner of the state.
“It wasn’t the money,” he quickly explained, “it was the […]
Posted on February 18, 2022
For more than 40 years my father farmed within a mile of where the Kaskaskia River met the Mississippi deep in southern Illinois. That meant he had two, lifetime partners: the river and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, landlords of the levees that guarded our wedge of the Great American Bottoms.
Dad never argued with […]
Posted on February 11, 2022
The biggest gold rush in U.S. history is about to hit rural America and it won’t involve corn or cattle or even gold. Instead, the big money will be in pipelines.
That’s right, pipelines; pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) pipelines designed to carry CO2 from Midwestern ethanol plants to “sequestration” sites in either North Dakota or Illinois.
Posted on February 11, 2022
Of all the daily chores my father performed on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth, the most vital to me each winter morning was his rekindling of the banked fire in the tall, round wood stove that dominated my mother’s kitchen 60 years ago.
The stove was, no kidding, a Warm Morning model. It was as […]
Posted on January 3, 2022
It’s an ever more uncomfortable fact for journalists like me that 67 percent of today’s media-consuming Americans do not have one paid-for subscription to anything.
Even more striking, 87 percent of the Baby Boomer generation–we of gray hair and paid subscriptions–use free, electronic media like Facebook, Twitter, and podcasts everyday. Only Gen Z, the 18-to-25 year-old youngsters who actually remember […]
Posted on November 5, 2021
Every farm kid who grew up before the change-everything 1970s changed almost everything will recall Friday evenings meant quick chores, a quick supper, and a family night in town.
Back then, nearly every store in nearly every rural community remained open for business until 9 p.m. on Fridays so everyone–but mostly farm families–could shop, stroll the storefronts, or just visit […]
Posted on October 11, 2021
Most Americans know there are three, unalterable facts of life: death, taxes, and farmers howling about “death taxes.”
And just between you and me, there’s an-oft whispered, rarely acknowledged fourth fact of life: Nearly every farm leader knows there’s no such thing as a “death tax”–federal taxes due upon death–for 99 percent of all farmers.
That’s not an opinion; […]
Posted on September 30, 2021
Writers write, according to some poet, to make themselves immortal. True or not, it was true for that writer because that’s an unforgettable, maybe even immortal, line.
Most times, however, writers write out of compulsion; they see a story that needs to be told and they grab some paper and verbs to tell it. Below are […]
Posted on August 13, 2021
In an essay in his new book, Hogs Are Up, Wes Jackson, founder of the Land Institute near Salina, KS, revisits a speech he gave in Coon Rapids, IA, in August 2009 to mark the 50th anniversary of Nikita Khrushchev’s famous visit to the Roswell Garst farm.
During that cornfield summit, suggests Jackson, Garst and Khrushchev chatted about […]
Posted on August 4, 2021
One job on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth was to walk just-cultivated corn or soybean fields to find the cultivator parts–disk blades, sweeps, even whole shanks–left broken and unseen by my quiet, iron-bending great Uncle Honey earlier in the day.
Honey was a skilled cultivator killer. The problem wasn’t the design of our Case cultivator. […]