Rural America

Groundhog Day

The calendar may show Labor Day but with another enormous American harvest and its resulting low prices just around the corner it feels more like Groundhog Day.
The movie, I mean, not the shadowy holiday.
The reason why, as Bill Murray’s boorish character learns, is because we’ve been here before. And before and before and before. In […]

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We Need to Talk

It’s August and that means much of Congress is, literally, either out of session, out of the country or out to lunch. That doesn’t mean, however, some of its more diligent members aren’t somehow serving the public.
Take the House Ag Committee. (Please.) A handful of its 46 members will attend three Farm Bill “Conversations in […]

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Dew Point

The sun’s steady rise slowly spreads its gathering light on the morning dew until the lawn dances with sparkles and the day with possibilities.
The July dew, soaking wet and glistening bright, almost always promised a day of sunshine, heat, and humidity on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth. Jackie, the farm’s main field […]

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The Stupidly Expensive Non-Broadband Blues

Twelve years ago this month, the lovely Catherine and I moved from a three-story, oak-lined Victorian house in town to a modern, all-brick home in an unincorporated, rural community six miles north.
The mid-life migration delivered a quieter, safer life of no ladders, no roofing, and no painting.
The move also traded our faultless, $50 per month […]

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“Done Reading Your Rubbish”

Six months may have passed since readers last got their say in this space but nothing during that time has mellowed their views of this effort, the words they use to explain those views, and some of their more colorful suggestions on where they think I should store my ink pens.
For example, a March column […]

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Grocery Getter

When Jeff Bezos, the founder, chairman, and CEO of giant online retailer Amazon.com, Inc., paid $250 million for the money-losing Washington Post in 2013, market analysts downplayed the purchase as little more than a bored techie billionaire using pocket change to buy a hobby.
They were wrong. Bezos buys businesses, not hobbies.
By 2015, the Post had […]

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If It’s Not Broken…

Farmers and ranchers are a resourceful lot. Their widespread reputation for fixing almost anything anywhere—often with little more than baling wire and spit—is well-earned and greatly admired.
One thing these masters of the mechanical don’t do, however, is fix what isn’t broken. No farmer or rancher wastes either sweat or bubble gum on tires that aren’t […]

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You’re Getting Warmer…

In a White House Rose Garden ceremony June 1, President Donald J. Trump announced he would pull the U.S. from the Paris treaty on global climate change. It was a matter of national sovereignty, explained Trump.
Or, as he colorfully noted, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
True, but he was elected […]

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Trump’s Butcher Shop

Donald Trump may want to “Make America Great Again” but his proposed 2018 budget contains no plans to make rural America or the nation’s less fortunate great again.
In fact, according to the Trump Administration’s budget blueprint, American farmers, ranchers, and down-on-their-luck citizens must achieve greatness with trillions less in government support so it and Congress […]

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Ag’s Greatest Innovation

In my youth, May brought two noticeable changes to the big Lutheran church my family faithfully attended. The first was heat. No building on earth better held daytime heat from Mother’s Day through Reformation Day than that century-old house of worship.
The second was the season’s short-sleeved parade of lost limbs, a brutal testament to the […]

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