Life on the Farm

The Summer of Honey

Faithful readers of this weekly effort may recall my darling, but dangerous Uncle Honey. He was my hometown’s quiet, easy-going milkman who retired to the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth to break, bend or beat up any plant, animal or machine unlucky enough to be nearby when Honey “helped” my father.
It wasn’t intentional; […]

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No Immigrants, No Food

To hear most of the 2016 Republican presidential candidates tell it, the nation’s biggest problem is illegal immigration.
That’s right; it’s not the incendiary Middle East, the ever-on-edge global financial markets, ballooning overpopulation, rapid climate change, or terrorism either here or abroad. It’s illegal immigration.
It’s so bad, shouts poll-climbing billionaire Donald Trump, that the only solution […]

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Out to Pasture

No July passes without baseball’s All-Star game and no All-Star game passes without most middle-aged farmboys recalling childhood dreams of playing professional baseball. That’s what we did two generations ago: we played baseball in daylight, we listened to baseball in twilight, we dreamt baseball at night.
My baseball dreams reflected my southern Illinois roots. I was […]

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“What Makes You an Expert?”

“I just read your column,” noted an Illinois critic of an early May piece that outlined a proposed, multi-billion dollar merger between the key players in the prepared foods sector.
“I have just one question,” the emailer went on, “what makes you an expert in the Sysco attempt to buy US Foods?”
Ah, blessed readers; they are […]

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Nature’s Calling; Anyone Listening?

Question: What came first, the chicken or the egg?
Answer: Neither; both arrived after a qualified veterinarian declared their farm disease-free following a complete depopulation because of an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI.
It’s no joke.
On June 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced that 192 “detections” of […]

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The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey

Two years ago, the 20th anniversary of this weekly effort came and went without notice by its founder, editor, and office cleaning crew. Two months later, that same person finally realized the oversight and, then, promptly forgot it.
This mid-May, however, there is a first-ever—most likely, only-time-ever—reminder that 22 years have passed since three daily newspapers […]

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Big Food’s Baloney

Sysco Corporation may not be a topic of dinner conversation most evenings anywhere in the U.S. but it is what many Americans are having for dinner—and lunch and breakfast—almost any day everywhere in America.
You may not have heard of Sysco, but you’ve seen ‘em.
Ever pull up to a local fast or fast casual restaurant, nearby […]

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Spring Eternal

Spring’s fast run through April all but stopped two weeks ago when an inch of cold, November-like rain took most of a Saturday to fall. A noon survey of the backyard that dreary day showed nothing moving save two Canada geese grazing in the gray drizzle like two Jersey cows in sunlit clover.
Another stumble came […]

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Real Rural Development: Local Food

Unlike most farmers and ranchers today, Scott Laeser and Chelsea Chandler can see all their livestock and nearly every acre of their farm from their kitchen’s windows.
It’s not an expansive view. The entire farm, nestled in southern Wisconsin’s Driftless region a few crooked miles west of Argyle, is a 77-acre quilt of wetlands, prairie, woods, […]

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Past Present, Present Future

As winter’s icy hands again strangle most of the country, I toss another log in the stove and grab the stack of old newspapers, aging magazines, and new books that has grown tall during winter travels.
The newspapers take little time. No trick to reading a two-weeks-old daily newspaper: headline… headline… recycling bin. The magazines are […]

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