• Tyler Harris

    Worldwide Support for Small-Town Missouri Family

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on April 18, 2014

    It never ceases to amaze me how small towns can pull together in times of need. Last week, while making several treks to interviews along the Missouri River, I passed through the town of Tarkio in Atchison County, Missouri – a prime example. One of the town's youngest residents, 5-month-old Landon Shaw, is battling a rare form of cancer. Members of the Tarkio community are rallying to support him – by plunging into frigid water, and making donations in his name. In the past few…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Showing Consumers the Face of the American Farmer

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on April 4, 2014

    This week I had the privilege of participating in a private screening of the documentary "Farmland," highly anticipated among farm families across the U.S. and set for release at the beginning of May. Most farmers are aware consumers have questions about how their food is produced. The goal of the film, produced and directed by Academy Award winner James Moll, is to address these questions. So, it made perfect sense the screening, hosted by Kansas Farm Food Connection, took place in…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Combining Passion for Ag and Music

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on March 22, 2014

    They don't call it agri-culture for nothing. Anyone who has grown up around farming or spent any extended amount of time around it knows there is a culture all its own surrounding agriculture. Of course, music isn't exempt from this. While perusing online information on Kansas's Gypsum Hills, (this is what I do with my spare time) I found a self-described "ag rock" band whose singer/songwriter is from Medicine Lodge, a town in the Gyp Hills region in Barber County. Being…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Cattlemen Share Experiences This Past Winter

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on March 5, 2014

    Only in the Midwest can we go from 50 degrees one day to single digits the next. This weekend didn't bring the onslaught of snow the Kansas City area expected, but enough cold and snow to kill my motivation to run and keep me indoors – I'll take the dreaded treadmill before I brave the weather outside. This winter has been undeniably rough, and cattlemen throughout the U.S. have had their hands full. With temperatures dropping to the single and even negative digits in many parts…

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  • Tyler Harris

    UAV Potential For Ranchers

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on February 19, 2014

    Flying a UAV across a room is one way to get peoples' attentions. It sure got my attention at the 2014 Global Ag Symposium in Concordia a few weeks ago, when natural resource engineer for University of Missouri Extension in Boone County, Kent Shannon piloted a PJI Phantom across the stage of the Concordia Community Center. Farmers love looking at the newest equipment and technology, and UAVs, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are definitely one of the key topics heard in the precision ag sector…

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  • Tyler Harris

    A Shift In Beef Cow Numbers Over The Years

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on January 24, 2014

    On one of my recent ventures into southeast Kansas's cow-calf country, I had the opportunity to visit Jim DeGeer's Gelbvieh seedstock operation in Neosho County. While discussing Gelbvieh replacement heifers, DeGeer and I spoke on his roots in Barber County. For those who have never been there, the topography serves as a true counterargument to the common misconception that Kansas is all flat. Take a drive through the Gypsum Hills on Highway 160 west of Medicine Lodge, and you'll…

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  • Tyler Harris

    A Look Back At The Origins of American Stockmanship

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on January 3, 2014

    Some time off over the holiday week was just what I needed to catch up with friends and family. Although I didn't have the chance to travel the West like I would have if it were a warmer time of year and I weren't snowbound on the home place, I did familiarize myself better with the West, albeit vicariously, through the eyes of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian narrator, known only as the kid. I'll spare readers the details of McCarthy's work. Anyone who has read any of his…

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  • Tyler Harris

    European Influence in the Midwest

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on December 19, 2013

    This fall, I had the privilege of visiting an Iowa farm family that has taken sustainability to a new level. Dean and Betty Van Kooten, who raise corn and soybeans near Kellogg, Iowa, added pigs to the operation when their youngest son Joey came back to the farm. Building two hog barns was a way for Joey and his wife, Michelle to come back to the farm and build equity. However, hog buildings use a lot of electricity. To improve the overall sustainability of the farm and offset 100% of the…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Creston Community Shows Support Through Roll-Over Sale

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on December 12, 2013

    This hasn't been an easy post to write. For myself and many others from Creston and the southwest Iowa region, last week was an emotional one. Part of me is still in shock after learning the Saturday after Thanksgiving that T.J. and Nate Frey, 11 and 9 respectively, passed away. They were exploring on their family's farm in Adams County when they tragically fell through the ice on a pond and drowned. This was one of the same ponds two of their older brothers, Casey, Brandon, myself…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Farmers Help Community Build New High School Track

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on November 26, 2013

    It's not uncommon for farmers and other community members to work together to support the community, from volunteering with local 4-H and FFA programs to donating to those in need. When interviewing a farmer in Marshall County, Kansas last week, I learned how 42 volunteers helped the Axtell community by constructing Axtell High School's first track, which was finished this spring. "Axtell high school has never had a track for its track team," says Marshall County farmer, Bill…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Antique Plow Day Draws Young and Old

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on November 15, 2013

    Last Saturday, I made the trek from Kansas City up to Conway, Iowa – about 45 minutes from where I grew up, to check out the 9th Annual Fall Antique Plow Day. For those who have never been to Conway, it's a town of 40, as of the 2012 Census, in Taylor County in southwest Iowa. Mike Sleep, who lives in Olathe, Kansas, one of the original organizers of the event, says it started with him and a couple friends with plows that hadn't seen daylight in a while, including his own…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Farm Accidents Hit Home

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on November 4, 2013

    Driving west on Highway 36 as the sun went down in north central Kansas, where I spent my Halloween, I heard a local advertisement on the radio with a message that is all too familiar: more farm accidents occur during harvest than any other time of year. This tragically hit home the week before, when a 5-year-old girl was killed while riding in the combine with her father in Dickinson County, Kansas, about an hour and a half from where I was at the time. Several days later, another farm…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Reminder Of The West Bottoms' Agricultural Roots

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on October 25, 2013

    I've written before that urban centers, despite popular misconception, have historically been, and are still strongly connected to agriculture. Kansas City's West Bottoms are no exception, being a mixed bag of urban bohemia and agricultural history. With the numerous antique and vintage shops like Good Juju and Hickory Dickory, it might not seem like the kind of place that was once home to International Harvester and Advance-Rumely plants and the Kansas City Livestock Exchange, but it…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Minimizing Stress When Weaning Calves

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on October 22, 2013

    Fall has come to the Midwest, and with it, the leaves change, farmers are harvesting corn and soybeans, and the holidays are around the corner. For beef producers around the United States, fall also means separating spring-born calves from their mothers. For calves, cows, and producers alike, weaning is a stressful time – especially if weaning coincides with castration or dehorning, which many beef specialists advise against. Too much stress on the calves can result in stress on the…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Old Proverb Rings True With Self-Reliant Farmers

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on October 4, 2013

    Although it's not certain who first said it, the proverb, "necessity is the mother of invention" has been translated in Plato works and was used in England as early as the 1500s. Over 500 years later, that expression still rings true, especially among farmer-inventors. Farmers know it's not always practical to have a mechanic fix a broken piece of equipment, and with a little bit of farmer's ingenuity, many opt to fix these issues themselves. The same philosophy applies…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Irrigation Through The Years

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on September 20, 2013

    After two farm shows within a week of one another, I'm finally starting to get caught up on everything from the Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days. Being in central Nebraska, Husker gives a closer look at the irrigation side, including everything from central pivots to subsurface drip irrigation, which has found a place in the Midwest in recent years due to its efficiency in water use – it's common knowledge by now that the water level of the Ogallala Aquifer, which…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Precision Farming Data Going To The Cloud

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on September 3, 2013

    After a busy, but fun week at the 2013 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, I'm now getting caught up on the huge list of new products at this year's show. One thing that stood out is how advancements in technology apply to modern farming. The big thing I've been hearing about is the cloud – a venue now being used to manage precision data. Nearly all of the precision data exhibits I visited had recently unveiled a new program to send data files directly from…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Looking Back At The First Nebraska Tractor Tests

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on August 23, 2013

    With the launch of the new Gleaner combines in Wichita, and the Farm Progress Show next week, I've been spending a lot of time around new machinery lately. While progress is linear by definition, it's impossible to know how far we've progressed without looking at where we started and the steps we've taken along the way. As I've mentioned before, farmers love their antique iron, which is understandble, considering the major milestones along the way. Looking back…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Ag Is Something State Rivals Have In Common

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on August 14, 2013

    It's not often that I make it out to my old stomping grounds in Johnson County, Iowa. When I do, like I did last week, it's usually a several-day trip, being about a five-hour drive from Kansas City. I've seen plenty of ANF insignia all over Iowa, but I definitely notice a higher concentration when I make the trip out east. I'm not referring to Abercrombie and Fitch – as most Iowa farmers (and many Hawkeyes) know, this stands for America Needs Farmers. Most people…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Antique Tractors Aren't Just For Show

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on August 6, 2013

    Last week I had the opportunity to tour the northwest Missouri countryside on the 2013 Northwest Missouri Young Farmer and Young Farm Wives Tour. The tour kicked off at College Park Pavilion at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville with an antique tractor show, complete with Allis-Chalmers, Farmalls, John Deeres, and Olivers. These restored antiques are more than just eye candy for farmers, especially those who grew up with them. Farmers love their iron, but these antique…

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  • Tyler Harris

    County Fair Gives Rural and Urban Youth a Look At Production Ag

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on July 30, 2013

    The past few weeks have been county fair time for communities across the U.S. This includes small towns and bigger cities like Kansas City. Platte County, Missouri, where I live, is made up in part by Kansas City's outer limits in the southern corner. The northern part is made up of rolling hills where most of the state's burley tobacco crop is grown, and is dominated by pastures – mostly with horses. According to the Platte County Fair's website, early settlers in…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Fair Season Is Starting

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on July 19, 2013

    Across the U.S., county fairs and state fairs are right around the corner, or already happening. For 4-Hers and FFA members, this often means preparing for livestock shows, whether it's cattle, pigs, goats or sheep. For some, it also means pitching in in whatever way possible, either by helping set up for the kiddie pedal tractor pull or by working the concession stand, which was the case for my FFA chapter back home. Fairs take a lot of people to help out and make them possible…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Loess Hills Stand Out

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on July 12, 2013

    Sometimes when driving across a state, you run into topography that seems a little out of place. For Iowa, it's the Loess Hills, which stand out even in comparison to the hilly ground of southwest Iowa's cow-calf country. These hills are made of deposits of loess that aren't found in this amount anywhere else, with the exception of China's Loess Plateau. Interestingly, these hills also support wildlife that would normally be found on the Great Plains further west. This…

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  • Tyler Harris

    All Kinds Of Antique Tractors Can Be Seen At 4th Of July Celebrations

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on July 5, 2013

    I'm a little late, but I hope everyone had a great 4th of July. I spent the holiday back home in southwest Iowa with family and friends I hadn't seen in a while. Like everywhere else, there were plenty of fireworks, in addition to another small rural town summer tradition – antique tractor shows, and even antique tractor pulls. Driving home from Missouri, I definitely saw my fair share of them getting ready. What I've seen more of lately is LPG, or liquefied propane gas…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Different Soils, Different Winter Wheat

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on June 28, 2013

    It's well-known that the dominant wheat in Kansas is hard red winter wheat, the primary ingredient in most of the nation's bread, which also accounts for 40% of U.S. wheat exports, according to kswheat.com. However, what is often overlooked is soft red winter wheat, which is found in the eastern-most part of the state, especially the southeast corner. I recently discovered about half of the 72,000 wheat acres in Cherokee County – the southeastern-most county in Kansas &ndash…

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  • Tyler Harris

    An Underrated Natural Resource

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on June 21, 2013

    Last week I received a package in the mail I had been waiting for since December – a book that University of Missouri professor of plant science, Dr. Peter Scharf recommended at last year's Crop Management Conference. The book, "Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations," by David. R. Montgomery outlines the importance what many consider one of the world's most underrated natural resources. Many have made the case of the need for reducing soil erosion, perhaps most…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Swine Shows On The Rise

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on June 14, 2013

    As many know, last week was the 25th Anniversary of the World Pork Expo, which I made the trip up from Kansas City to attend. While the Expo is known for its PORK Academy and business seminars, numerous pork products, and over 400 exhibitors from across the globe, what has also risen in popularity is the Expo's Junior National Show. This is following a national trend. I'll admit my background is fairly limited. It wasn't until l lived in eastern Iowa, near Washington County…

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  • Tyler Harris

    25th World Pork Expo Comes To A Close

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on June 7, 2013

    This week I had the opportunity to visit the World Pork Expo for the second year in a row. This year I had a much longer trip. Rather than driving from Adel, Iowa just west of Des Moines to the Iowa State Fair Grounds, I made the trip up from Kansas City. However, other visitors came from much further. This year, as many know, marks the 25th anniversary of the Expo, which drew about 20,000 pork producers and industry professionals from 38 different countries in 2012. This year also drew…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Divining Rods Used To Detect More Than Water

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on May 31, 2013

    The past couple springs have definitely been a little abnormal. While farmers have been planting later than normal, cattle producers have dealt with a cold, wet calving season. One farmer I visited with recently (I won't mention who) had an unexpected birth during the interview – a treat I don't have the privilege of seeing every day, living in the city. After rushing over to remove the amniotic sac from covering the newborn calf's nose and mouth, the farmer came back and…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Watch The Roads This Spring

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on May 24, 2013

    It's the end of May, and with it is construction season, and this year, delayed planting. This means more traffic on the highways and more to watch out for, with a higher likelihood of an accident. After an interview last Friday, I was driving east back to Kansas City on I-70 near Paxico, Kansas, when I noticed a line of stopped cars ahead. It turns out there was a series of four accidents in a construction zone, which apparently has had several accidents recently. Several…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Similarities to Spring of '89

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on May 17, 2013

    After the recent spike in late overnight freeze events we have been experiencing in the Midwest, I hope I don't eat my words in saying it seems that the warm weather is finally here to stay. Kansas City saw 90-degree temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday. I am a little biased, but I have to admit May is my favorite time of year. As many know, this is a busy month, and it can be hard to balance time for graduation parties, weddings – not to mention planting, especially this year…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Expansion, Agriculture Closely Tied To One Another

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on May 10, 2013

    Last week I finished up the 2013 Hard Winter Wheat Quality Tour by visiting the Kansas City Board of Trade – which, as many know, has been acquired by CME Group and will be moved to the Chicago trading floor in July. Since then, I've done some digging into the role the KCBT and Kansas City played on agriculture in the area. The Board of Trade was first organized in 1856, just three years after Kansas City was incorporated. However, it was during the 1870s that Kansas City, and…

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  • Tyler Harris

    The Impact Of Drought In Western Kansas

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on May 3, 2013

    This week I had the opportunity to meet some great people and see a lot of Kansas I hadn't seen before while taking part in my first Wheat Quality Tour. The tour split up into groups and drove across the state starting in Manhattan, before meeting up in Colby, Wichita and Kansas City on the final day of the tour. The goal is to evaluate the year's hard winter wheat crop and estimate yields across the state, while seeing and learning a lot about Kansas. While gaining a much better…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Off The Beaten Path

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on April 26, 2013

    One of the reasons I love my job is the hidden gems I find while traveling for an interview – things you won't find by simply driving on the interstate. This might be a Red Dirt radio station in the Flint Hills or a small-town diner in the Ozarks. This week, a meeting and field day took me to Weston, Missouri. I had been to Weston before, since it's only 30 minutes north of where I live in Kansas City. At one point in the 1800s, the town's population rivaled Kansas…

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  • Tyler Harris

    Honoring the Hands That Feed Us

    Town and Country

     by Tyler Harris
     on April 19, 2013

    I've driven by the Agricultural Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas, numerous times while driving on I-70, but until today – the first day it opened for the visitor season, I hadn't actually visited it. The Hall of Fame surrounded by a suburb of Kansas City, honors individuals throughout history who have made a significant impact on U.S. agriculture, and raising consumer awareness on the importance and influence of agriculture. The message is simple: "If you eat…

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