• Paula Mohr

    Good call, Governor and Minnesota Lawmakers

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on January 31, 2014

    Last weekend, a letter signed by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, U.S. Representatives Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Tim Walz, and Rick Nolan, and Governor Mark Dayton was sent to President Obama, asking for immediate help to address the critical propane shortage in Minnesota. They asked for several things, including emergency funding available through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. After sending another letter Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Health and Human…

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  • Mindy Ward

    From A Shepherd, 'Thanks Ralph Lauren'

    Show-Me Life

     by Mindy Ward
     on January 31, 2014

    Yes, I have Olympic fever. I am amazed to watch athletes push themselves to the limit, in the freezing cold. Living in current deep-freeze here in the Midwest, it is hard enough to go outside and do chores. Their dedication to training and determination to win is inspiring. However, this year I am equally impressed with how the agriculture industry is front and center during the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. Last week, I wrote about Missouri’s own speed skating sensation Emily Scott…

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  • Mike and Sheilah Reskovac

    At Our Farm, 'B' Stands for Bad Road, Blizzard, Below Zero And...

    Two Hearts, One Harvest

     by Mike and Sheilah Reskovac
     on January 30, 2014

    Sheilah: When I think of wintertime, I think of “B” words – blustery, bitter, bad roads, blizzards, below zero. But the granddaddy of them all is budgeting. During January and February, Mike spends lots of time making phone calls and sitting in front of his computer looking at spreadsheets. At times, he gets a bit obsessed with his budgets – my opinion anyway. But it's an important and essential part of farming. While I keep track of all the expenses and bills, he…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Confessions of a Farm Wife: Vol. 4

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on January 30, 2014

    Let me tell you about my friend, DeAnna. DeAnna Thomas is, without a doubt, the brains behind our podcasting adventure. Although she's working for LG Seeds these days, she's a broadcaster by trade which means she has the skills to move our little conversation along, and she has the equipment and the ability to produce it all into something you'd actually want to hear. Or in other words, she edits out the parts when Emily has to chase a small child or when I can't say my…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Deals Being Done

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on January 28, 2014

    Kinze and Raven announced this week that they will collaborate on a new multi-hybrid planter control. Raven rolled out their approach last spring and Kinze made their announcement early this year. Kinze is rolling out its concept this spring and now it's clear how they'll get moving on the concept. This team-up makes sense from a development standpoint. Look around and you'll see other deals. Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer and BASF have teamed with John Deere, mainly to allow for…

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  • Curt Arens

    Which Farm Gadgets Will Be "Pick-worthy" in the Future?

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on January 28, 2014

    Old-time farm machinery and antique gadgets and advertising are pieces of our past, and link us in a very physical, touchable way to our ancestors on the farm. Old tractors, implements and household items passed on in a family can be among the prized possessions of future generations. If you are a big fan of shows like American Pickers and Pawn Stars, you know that there is often no rhyme or reason to what carries value. Things that were probably disposable at the time are now extremely…

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  • T.J. Burnham

    Dark Days of Winter Without the Holiday Glitter

    Western Ag Vignettes

     by T.J. Burnham
     on January 28, 2014

    No way around it. January is a bad month. It has the task of being the wake after the holidays when we have to address another year. That's hard with short, dark and cold days for the West. Record low temperatures in Montana don't help folks there see the silver lining of much of anything. The pretty snow simply becomes a nuisance as we come to the realization there are a couple more months of short winter days. Yet, as the days begin to lengthen, we have the first glimpse of spring…

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  • Frank Holdmeyer

    Farm policy from the grassroots

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on January 28, 2014

      My colleague Holly Spangler has been blogging lately about her experiences at the recent American Farm Bureau annual convention in San Antonio. Since I helped her cover that meeting, I thought I'd touch on some of the highlights as well. First, it was the 95th annual convention for AFBF and about 7,000 members from across the country attended. That in itself is worth seeing if you are like me and wonder about the logistics of organizing and feeding a crowd that size. But, it always…

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  • Rod Swoboda

    Urging Action On Propane Shortage

    Iowa Farm Scene

     by Rod Swoboda
     on January 27, 2014

    An unprecedented jump in propane prices (doubling within a couple days last week) has some rural Iowans wondering if they'll be able to pay their heating bills this winter. State and federal leaders have vowed to get to the bottom of the LP-gas price explosion. Propane prices hit $5 per gallon in some areas of Iowa, according to a special survey by the Iowa Department of Agriculture. The statewide average rose to a record $4.18 a gallon on Thursday January 23. A day earlier the same survey…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Tell Legislators to Stand Firm In Support of Agriculture

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on January 27, 2014

    Indiana has a Right to Farm law. For various reasons and because of rumblings about opposition to animal confinement units around the state, Senate Bill 186 was introduced to further clarify the importance of agriculture and animal production. This language would be added to existing law. The House companion bill is Bill 1200. Senate Bill 186 passed out of the Senate Committee hearing the bill unanimously in mid-January. Indiana Farm Bureau is on record applauding the efforts of the lawmakers…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Repeated Cold Blasts Add to Winter Wheat Crop Concerns

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on January 27, 2014

    OK, grammar gurus out there. What is the plural of vortex? Vortexes or vortices? However, you spell it, I sure am sick of the polar variety of the above. Yes, I am a bit of a wimp for complaining about merely being slammed with periodic near-zero or sub-zero temperatures made worse by 60 mph winds when my colleagues elsewhere are also getting hit with a foot or two of snow, along with zero-degree temps and high winds. I think maybe it isn’t just the bitter cold, it’s also the…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Three States, Two Panels, One Flu

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on January 26, 2014

    I had every intention of blogging last week. I had a plethora of information from AFBF to share, and mentioned as much when I last blogged…um, almost two weeks ago. Then, sickness. Which really messes with your plans. Also, snow days. To recap, I made it home from AFBF in Texas with something resembling respiratory flu. I got some drugs (yay, drugs!) and I left again the next weekend to speak at the South Dakota Young Farmers & Ranchers conference (sidenote: they are the nicest…

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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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  • Josh Flint

    Precision Planting Shows Off the Future of Planting

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on January 24, 2014

    If Precision Planting is a different company since being purchased by Monsanto, I sure can’t tell. They’re just as innovative as ever. Whenever founder Gregg Sauder speaks, he stresses perfect seed placement, every time. Numerous times I’ve heard him tell the audience that speed isn’t everything. Turns out, Sauder’s engineering team was working behind the scenes to achieve a different goal – planting at 10 miles per hour! The last piece of the puzzle to…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    You Had Better Speak Up on the Renewable Fuel Standard

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on January 23, 2014

    “Please don’t allow corn to be used for gas, we need it for food…” “We must not increase ethanol to E15 level. Ethanol is hard on machinery…” “Use of corn and soybean (for fuel) should be lowered or completed ended. They are planting on marginal land, wasting comondities (sic) for no good reason, driving up prices for food and land…” “Do not change the amount of ethenol (sic) put in gasoline. This is working…

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  • Curt Arens

    Weather Outlook for the Upcoming Growing Season

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on January 21, 2014

    I know. I’m obsessed with the weather, it is true. I admit it. I watch TV weather reports with amazement. I listen for updated radio reports and read everything I can about the weather, trying to catch differences in reports from varied sources. I was an animal science major in college, but had to sneak an ag meteorology class into my course schedule. So, it should be no surprise that I sat in on a session at a farm show in Norfolk recently featuring Al Dutcher, Nebraska’s state…

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  • John Vogel

    May anti-GMOers choke on a ‘Phil Robertson’

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on January 21, 2014

    I'm continually perplexed by the tunnel vision and "my way or no way" attitude of socio-politico activist groups – anti-frackers, anti-GMOers, anti-gunners, anti-food animals, and more. They've gained power and influence, at least in part, due to a generally clueless, gullible populace who'll believe just about anything posted on the Web. The antis are no different than the self-righteous who attacked Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson for his personal viewpoint…

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  • T.J. Burnham

    Super Bowl Fever Like a Holiday High

    Western Ag Vignettes

     by T.J. Burnham
     on January 21, 2014

    I remember when I graduated from Michigan that I would only watch college football. I agreed with Dad, who felt once athletes were paid for what they did, it made the sport to commercial to stomach. So, defending the family concept, I put down the big NFL teams whenever they were mentioned. Then, one of my sons became an avid fan of the NFL and began watching Raiders and 49er games regularly on our TV. Not one to ignore the interests of my children, I sat and looked as well. Then, sometime…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Story Reminds Us to Appreciate What We Have Today

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on January 20, 2014

    Jennifer Campbell is a farmwife from Franklin, Ind. She and her husband, Chris, have a livestock and hog operation, and three kids, from sixth grade to senior year. Sounds like a typical farm family, right? There isn't anything typical about the way Jennifer writes. She's a social media queen, and does her own blog. Recently, she began writing some Web items for our Indiana Prairie Farmer website. You can find some of her articles online now. She just told me the headline for her next…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Bright Future For Corn, But Does Danger Lurk Around Every Corner?

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on January 18, 2014

    “I think the future is pretty bright for new crop corn… I think we have a lot of [profit] potential,” said Mark Pearson, host of the Market to Market TV show, at the South Dakota Corn Grower Association annual meeting. He said he expects corn to stay around $4 per bushel in 2014. With more aggressive marketing than was required in the past two years, farmers will be able make money on corn, he said. “Are we going back to $2.50, $1.25 [per bushel] corn? Are we going…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Bye Bye Hefty Write-off?

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on January 17, 2014

    Got a chance to sit in on the Farm Futures Business Summit earlier this month and listened to Dwight Raab from the Illinois Farm Business Farm Management Association discuss a range of management and cash flow strategies. There was one slide, however, that caught my eye. And it's one that could have as much of an impact on your iron buying in the next few years as the price of corn. In that presentation he showed the history of the Internal Revenue Service Section 179 Expense Election from…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    My 2 Cents On The Renewable Fuel Standard

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on January 16, 2014

    There’s still time to let EPA know what you think of its proposal to cut the Renewable Fuel Standard. EPA wants to cut the RFS requirement from 14 billion gallons of biofuel this year to 13 billion gallons. The corn and ethanol industries make it sound like the world is ending. The deadline for comments is Jan. 28. I haven’t written to the EPA yet, but I’ll give you my two cents worth here. I don’t like mandates. I don’t like the government picking winners…

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  • Don McCabe

    Extension Service to Celebrate Centennial

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on January 16, 2014

    About four years ago, in November 2009, Nebraska Farmer published a special issue celebrating the magazine's 150th year of serving Nebraska agriculture. The magazine was first published in October 1859, when it was Nebraska Territory and eight years before the state officially joined the Union. This year, there's another celebration of a major contributor to Nebraska and the nation—the centennial anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by…

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  • Mike and Sheilah Reskovac

    Important Anniversary Day Didn't Come Off On Schedule

    Two Hearts, One Harvest

     by Mike and Sheilah Reskovac
     on January 14, 2014

    As all farmers know, things don’t always happen like they're supposed to. And, you don’t always get to celebrate important days on time. Our first anniversary was on November 30 – yes, the first one! But since Thanksgiving was late and harvest was prolonged, we didn’t take do anything special, besides saying "Happy anniversary." We normally don’t do anything for New Year’s Eve. So we – yes, both of us – decided we'd postpone…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Lessons from the '80s: Your Most Important Assets

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on January 14, 2014

    I'm writing this while sitting at the American Farm Bureau Convention. I just attended an economic outlook workshop and I've sat through a panel where a handful of state Farm Bureau presidents are reflecting on the '80s. If there is one common theme here, it is that times are about to change. The message, especially to my generation, is a strong one. More than once I've heard that if you've been farming less than 10 years, you haven't yet experienced anything…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    All Is Well After a Big Computer Scare

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on January 13, 2014

    The clever scammers are out and about. Here’s one that had me in a panic Monday afternoon and I offer my story by way of warning to all of you who just might fall for this clever scam. I picked up my office phone to call Unified Messaging and check my voicemail. The automated voice told me that my passcode “does not agree with our records.” I thought I had mistyped the code. So I tried again. Same message. Huh? So I quickly looked up a phone number for help by typing…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Who Will Print the First T-Shirt: 'I Survived the Winter of 2014'?

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on January 13, 2014

    How much cold and snow you can handle and still go on with business as usual varies, depending upon what you're used to. Friends from Minnesota claim temperatures in the minus 15 to minus 20 F category are no big deal. Maybe not if you're dressed like an Eskimo every day! When they came to Indiana last week, it meant putting on three layers of clothing, a scarf, a face protector – anything to stop the stinging cold. It meant making sure livestock had water and heat, depending…

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  • Rod Swoboda

    Don't Miss "40 Chances" Photo Exhibit

    Iowa Farm Scene

     by Rod Swoboda
     on January 10, 2014

    Over the course of their working lives, most farmers get about 40 growing seasons or 40 chances to improve upon every harvest. Actually, that's true for most everyone -- each of us gets about 40 chances to accomplish our goals in life. The World Food Prize Foundation, headquartered in Des Moines, is hosting a photo exhibit titled "40 Chances, Finding Hope In A Hungry World". Open to the public with free admission, the exhibit features a collection of 120 photos by Howard G…

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  • Holly Spangler

    College: 'Congratulations! You're In!'

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on January 10, 2014

    You know how you used to fill in the blanks on a bunch of papers, agonize over an essay or two, send it off to the college of your choice and then anxiously await an acceptance letter in the mail? Yeah, it doesn't work that way anymore. Except for the essay part. There's still a lot of agonizing there. But there are no stamps; it's all digital. You submit your application online, and you learn your fate online. And that, as it turns out, is pretty exciting. Last month, my niece…

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  • Curt Arens

    Out On a Limb: Planting Trees on a Treeless Plain

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on January 10, 2014

    Over the past year, I’ve written numerous bonus blogs each month featuring the “Families That Grow Our Food,” hoping to tell the ag story to our urban friends by relating the back stories of many of the interviews we’ve written in recent years about hardworking farm and ranch families. Now, it’s a new year and I’ll take on a new topic in bonus monthly blogs. One of my interests as a farmer over the years has been trees, woodlands, shelterbelts and orchards…

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  • Mindy Ward

    Baby Farm Animals Arrive In Spring. Not On This Farm.

    Show-Me Life

     by Mindy Ward
     on January 9, 2014

    While individuals snuggle by the fireplace with hot chocolate watching their favorite movie, I am spending the coldest days of this Missouri winter in the barn. You see, young spring lambs frolicking in the green pastures are only in children’s storybooks, at least in my neck of the woods. Around here, lambs are born during an all-white winter wonderland. This latest snow blast left my barn with snowdrifts, sub-zero temperatures and wind chills reaching 25 below zero. My 5-foot-1-inch…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    No Small Potatoes ...Or Tomatoes

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on January 8, 2014

    Would a share of $1.3 million market interest you? That’s how much farmers’ market vendors sold in South Dakota in 2013, according to a South Dakota Department of Agriculture estimate. That’s up from $583,000 in 2102. “Farmers’ markets are growing,” says Alison Kiesz, SDDA marketing development director. Sales probably didn’t double from 2012 to 2013 because SDDA is improved its survey methods. But the trend is definitely up and the sales are…

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  • Jennifer Vincent

    There Are Ways To Help The Hungry

    Michigan Musings

     by Jennifer Vincent
     on January 7, 2014

    I'll admit it, I'm frugal. Maybe a kinder way to say that is I'm thrifty. Not necessarily because I have to be, but because I hate waste… of all kinds. I know it's the way I was brought up. I can still hear my mom saying, "Don't stand there with the refrigerator door open," or "get cleaned up quickly and get out of the shower," or "if you're cold, put another sweatshirt on," or, the ultimate, "eat all that you take on your…

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  • Jessica Lavicky

    Garage Turns Into Santa's Workshop

    The Daily Dig

     by Jessica Lavicky
     on January 7, 2014

    First of December I got the wonderful idea to turn part of the garage into a workshop. I have a small but nice set up for making photo frames. A few years back I started custom framing photos and items for friends. I would design the best frame or shadow box to fit the needs of the client. It was in the past year that I decided I would teach myself how to build those frames and shadowboxes as well as design them. So of all the months to get motivated and to start a few projects, I chose…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Never Enough Hugs

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on January 7, 2014

    It was bedtime for the little boy. As he lay in bed, his mom followed their usual routine of saying prayers, reading a book and singing a song. Then it was time for "Twenty Questions." The little boy asked more "how" and "why" questions than a seasoned journalist. Q&A usually took a few minutes. That night, he asked: "Momma, where's Jesus?" "Well," said his mom, "Jesus is everywhere." The little boy looked at his mom with…

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  • Tim White

    USDA Helps Ohio Livestock Farmers Control Birds

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on January 7, 2014

    How cold is it? For starters the keyboard of my office computer feels icy, the window next to me that overlooks Main St. in Lancaster blows chilled air through the crack of the sill, and my betta fish is swimming so slowly at the bottom of his bowl that it looks like he’s in dormancy. At home, the dog won’t stay outside for more than 3 minutes, the woodpile is shrinking as the hot-stove monster growls for more logs, my wife is cuddled next to the stove watching football and hockey…

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  • Curt Arens

    Baby, It's Cold Outside for Livestock

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on January 7, 2014

    When I was a kid, we finished hogs in outdoor lots. We managed the livestock in the winter months very carefully, keeping waterers open, even in frigid conditions, and bedding the hogs as much as possible. Still, they didn’t like to go outside to the self-feeders to eat when the temperatures dipped below zero. Who could blame them? I didn’t enjoy doing chores then either. I can recall one extremely frigid day in the early 1980s, working all day inside the warm farrowing barn…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Arctic Blast Challenges Livestock Producers

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on January 7, 2014

    Whoa! Yes, there still IS winter in Kansas as this week’s plunge into the deep freeze reminds us. Wichita hit sub-zero on Sunday night and low single digits on Monday night, with howling north winds making for totally miserable wind chill readings in the minus 20 range. :Livestock, and the humans that care for it, suffer in cold like that. To all my friends out there who are feeding cattle and milking cows and tending other livestock in the bitter cold, my hat is off to you…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Let It Snow, Let It Snow … Just Know How Much

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on January 6, 2014

    It all started because I was laid up for several weeks in early November with a bum leg. All I could do was keep it up, so I sat there and watched TV. Before long I was hooked on Hallmark's Christmas movies. Many of them involve snow, of course, plus sappy love stories, since they also involve Christmas. Then to put me even more in the snow mood, we received 8 inches in early December. My John Deere utility tractor fired up and I got the snow out of the driveway. My snow thrower…

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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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  • Rod Swoboda

    What Kind of Weather Can Iowa Expect In 2014?

    Iowa Farm Scene

     by Rod Swoboda
     on January 3, 2014

    Iowa has had some brutal cold weather in recent weeks--it's been on-again, off-again. Now in early January, the cold weather is about to get as severe as the region has seen in the last 20 years, says the National Weather Service. Wind chills reached lower than 20 degrees below zero the night of January 2, 2014. Temperatures in Iowa climbed higher on January 3, into the teens and 20s. But that brief respite will end when a cold front moves in January 4, says Kevin Skow, a meteorologist…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    5 Tips To Help You Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on January 3, 2014

     I’ve heard five things recently about New Year’s resolutions that might make them easier to keep: Don’t make so many. Bob Mulligan, senior consultant with Dairy Strategies, says to just make one. Make the resolution tiny – real tiny, advises Oliver Burkeman, a columnist for The Guardian and the author of “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.” Like, resolve to exercise for 15 seconds. Or commit to having…

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