Posted on October 7, 2020
If experience is the best teacher, then surely we have learned a few important, unforgettable lessons in this otherwise forgettable year.
If it isn’t a good teacher or we are uncaring students, then we’ve squandered most of the year, over $4 trillion, and almost 200,000 lives on lessons still needing to be learned.
That’s not […]
Posted on August 14, 2020
Two generations ago, no one in the cattle business ever thought “herd immunity” was a solution to bovine brucellosis. Instead, farmers and ranchers, often with the help of U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarians, blood-tested every animal they could find to discover, trace, and isolate the disease’s source and spread.
It was hard, dirty work but […]
Posted on August 6, 2020
While most county and state fairs are Covid casualties this year, a giant, buzzing Ferris wheel—America’s relationship with China—continues to spin at such a dizzying pace that, sooner or later, it will break to harm riders and bystanders alike.
While that idea may fly in the face of current beliefs, it doesn’t fly in […]
Posted on July 29, 2020
Mid-July was always summer’s sweet spot on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth.
With June’s rush of sweaty work—wheat harvest, straw baling, laying corn by, cultivating soybeans, and weed spraying—finally complete and before another cutting of alfalfa was ready, mid-July slipped in with treats like fresh peaches, sweet corn, and juicy garden tomatoes.
Mid-July also […]
Posted on July 23, 2020
If the ill-tempered and deadly first half of 2020 had been a first-calf heifer on the dairy farm of my youth, my father would have ticketed it for the freezer a month ago.
His yardstick of heifer potential was short: If she lived up to her breeding, she was a “keeper;” if she “put more on […]
Posted on July 6, 2020
If you’ve ever butchered anything from a rabbit to a hog—and butchered is the right word, not the bleached “harvested”—you know there will be blood. Butchering, after all, is a bloody business.
While 95 percent of Americans are carnivores, it’s a safe bet that nearly 99.9 percent of them haven’t thought much about where […]
Posted on May 27, 2020
Before we take the next unsteady step into a very different future, let’s make sure it’s a step up the ladder and not a step off the plank.
How? We can start with disciplined decision making: Use proven facts, lean on practical experience, and focus like a laser on what is safe and smart.
Posted on May 13, 2020
One reason—there were others—for my departure from farm magazine writing was laughter. Let me explain.
In the early-1980s, the world, like now, was headed to hell in a hurry and agriculture was leading the parade. U.S. interest rates were a crushing 14 percent, farmland prices were on their way to plunging 40 percent in just five […]
Posted on April 30, 2020
There’s a brittle beauty to this year’s spring. Amid the swaying daffodils, cotton clouds, and already roaring tractors and dust-shaking planters hides a deadly virus with a special fondness for those of us in rural America.
In fact, rural America is perfectly primed for Covid-19, according to any epidemiologist worth their student loans. The virus […]
Posted on April 30, 2020
Coronavirus, a farmer in a recent news story noted, “is the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
It may feel that way now but, honestly, that back-breaking straw hit the camel decades ago when the nation’s top agricultural, academic, and political leaders embraced dollar-driven efficiency over safety-centered resiliency as the overarching goal of American farm policy.