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Farming California Style


Fri, Apr 20th, 2001
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Monday, April 9, 2001

Anyone listening to the news lately could make a fair assumption that California has been having many resource problems in their recent history. What most people don’t realize is how it affects California’s farm economy. The water shortage and electricity black outs are two examples of California’s ongoing problems.

If you look into the future just fifty years, the number one bargaining commodity won’t be computers, technology, cars, land, oil, petroleum, or fuel of any sort for that matter. The hot item of the century will be fresh water. Minnesota will capitalize on this great asset of having the largest fresh water source in the world right at our doorstep. But guess who won’t: California. California is one of the most populated states in America, checking in at 33 million residents. Even more impressive than their population numbers is the fact that they are producing more dairy products and fluid milk than even Wisconsin, the dairy capital of the United States. San Joaqin Valley, California, has also been named the largest agriculture area in the nation because of the amount of production and diversity found there.

How does this relate to the water shortage? Farmers depend on water for everything. Dairy cows cannot produce milk without water. Livestock of any sort need water to survive. Irrigation has become a way of life for crop farmers in the hot, dry deserts of the southwest.

In the dairy business, farmers came up with an ingenious idea for mastitis control. Barns with cows milking 1,000 to 12,000 cows are using back-flush systems. The only problem with this is the tremendous amount of water used. In a barn milking ten thousand cows three times a day, 60,000 gallons of water are used each day; and this is just one farm. There may be dozens of other farms within the same county doing the exact same thing. Some of this water is reused for other purposes, such as parlor cleanup and manure flushing, but it is still several thousand gallons of water. And they wonder why they have water shortages!

Also popular in dairy farms is cooling cows with misters stationed throughout the barns. Although they don’t appear to use much water, misters do go through quite a bit, most of which evaporates into the arid heat before it reaches the cows.

Water is sure taking its toll on southwestern agriculture. Without the water, farmers are packing their bags.

Another recent problem is their en .....
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A New Way of Looking

Fri, Apr 20th, 2001
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Monday, April 16, 2001

The first bones belonged to a cow and her unborn baby. I found them near a small wetland by the South Fork of the Root River. I trudged back up the hill to my house carrying a huge pelvis that looked like a primitive mas ..... 
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"Alias Brontosaurus"

Fri, Apr 20th, 2001
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Monday, April 9, 2001

Although known as Brontosaurus to most people the long-necked giant dinosaur serving as the mascot of the Sinclair Oil Company, or as Fred Flintstone’s "steam shovel" for all you cartoon fans, is in reality properly calle ..... 
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Seed Starting

Fri, Apr 20th, 2001
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Virginia CooperMonday, April 23, 2001

About the time of year when most people are still worrying about winter storms and road conditions, some of us are performing secret alchemical rituals in the darkness of our basements and back closets. Ba ..... 
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Talking to Strangers

Fri, Apr 20th, 2001
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Monday, April 23, 2001

Those of us who live along quiet and sparsely populated township roads pride ourselves on knowing what is going on around us. After all, how tough should it be to keep track of the few neighbors with whom we are privileg ..... 
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Trash Talk

Fri, Apr 20th, 2001
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Monday, April 16, 2001

I went for a walk with my two kids a few Sundays ago.

The sky was wonderfully blue, the sun warm and we knew that the last vestiges of winter would soon be gone.

We crossed the road to our neighbor’s woo ..... 
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Fri, Apr 20th, 2001
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