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Farming California Style


Fri, Apr 6th, 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 donít realize is how it affects Californiaís farm economy. The water shortage and electricity black outs are two examples of Californiaís ongoing problems.

If you look into the future just fifty years, the number one bargaining commodity wonít 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 wonít: 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 donít 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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Crossing Cultures

Fri, Apr 6th, 2001
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Monday, March 19, 2001

It's a bone chilling November evening in 1979. Members of Sheie and Garness Lutheran Churches of rural Mabel wait in the LaCrosse airport for a family coming across the Mekong River, Laotian mountains and centuries of cu ..... 
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"Alias Brontosaurus"

Fri, Apr 6th, 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 Flintstoneís "steam shovel" for all you cartoon fans, is in reality properly calle ..... 
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Escape from America

Fri, Apr 6th, 2001
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Monday, December 11, 2000

I guess Iím a snowbird at heart because every year about this time, once the temperature dips below zero and looks like itís going to stay there awhile, I start yearning to go south. Way south. All the way down to Ecu ..... 
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The End of Treadmill Time

Fri, Apr 6th, 2001
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Monday, April 9, 2001

It must be spring, or at least the calendar tells us it must be. The first cardinal of the season finally found our bird feeder, just in time to begin discovering his naturally provided foods as they are exposed from unde ..... 
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Something smells fishy

Fri, Apr 6th, 2001
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Monday, April 2, 2001

A lot of people have been asking me why the county is dumping the county engineer, Steve Voigt. "What has he done wrong?" they ask, implying that there is some smoking gun somewhere that would point to malfeasance or insu ..... 
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Fri, Apr 6th, 2001
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