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Township Roads: Gopher Mine


Fri, Apr 18th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

They say that all wealth comes from the earth and I was reminded of that early last Sunday. Against my better judgment I got up early. I ground some coffee beans and set our high-tech coffee maker to do what it does best Ė noisily boil water and slosh coffee all over the counter. Then I went outside to see if I could rekindle the brush fire I had built on Saturday. The weather was uncomfortably cooler than I thought it would be.

As I stepped over a gopher mound on my way out to the brush pile, the cold air and the early hour triggered one of those strange out-of-mind experiences. I looked down at my bare hands and expected to see them chapped and dirty as they might have been decades ago. That image came to mind because, when I was a kid, I was often out early on spring mornings to trap pocket gophers before I went to school. For a few seconds my mind was convinced that I was out for gophers again.

I never had anything personal against pocket gophers. As rodents go, they seem to mind their own business and Iíve never seen one digging in a house. However, pocket gophers do cause lots of damage to hay fields and have to be removed. For this reason, they carry a state-sponsored bounty on their little brown heads. Somebody has to make the fields safe for alfalfa, and back then I was the kid for the job.

Trapping gophers is not a sophisticated task. Gophers are not wily, although there is an occasional individual that seems to be un-trappable. I used simple pan traps that some might consider cruel, but it was "us versus them", so all methods of gopher disposal were acceptable. I anchored the traps to the ground with willow branches. These had to be tall and stout enough to be seen from a distance so the traps could be spotted and found later.

I covered my trap line on bicycle or on foot. If I was lucky and the conditions were right, my dad let me drive the old International pickup. Iíd ride, walk or drive around the field until I found some fresh gopher mounds. I felt it was always important to choose the very freshest mound so that I would be assured of having the best chance at an active gopher. Pocket gophers are solitary critters so they donít share their tunnels with anybody. Tunnels may branch out in many directions and can lead to the surface through several mounds.

Once I selected what I felt was the choicest mound, it was time to open the tu .....
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Prairie Notes: Take me home, country roads

Fri, Apr 18th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Last March, my older sister Jenni called, wondering what to do about our motherís dilemma. Momís recently diagnosed osteoporosis left her unable to bend or lift meant no spring cleaning without help. On a mutually agreed upon weekend, I drove to my s ..... 
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The Commute: "The Bachelor"Bangladesh-style

Fri, Apr 18th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

An old student came back to see me this week. He had some big news: heís getting married this summer. Heíll return to his homeland, Bangladesh, for the wedding. The exact date is not certain, but he knows it will be in July. Hereís the interesting pa ..... 
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Journal Writing Project: Jamie Howe

Fri, Apr 11th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

We are off to somewhere greener, somewhere warmer. We have waited four long years to get on that motorcoach in the spring. But itís finally here. The Class of 2003 is bound for Washington D.C.!

Ever since our freshman year we h ..... 
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Of People, Places & Things: Hong Kong, a city under siege

Fri, Apr 11th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

I was driving home from work a few days ago when I heard a friend of mine being interviewed on the radio about the impact severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was having on Hong Kong.  ďThere have been more than 22,000 ca ..... 
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Journal Writing Project: Kyle Anderson

Sat, Apr 5th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

March has always been an exciting time of the year. Old Man Winter seems to lose his touch. New breeds of athletics mark the calendars in high schools. Baseball, Track and Field, and Golf teams gear up for the months to come. People pack away their w ..... 
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Township Roads: Spring Fever

Sat, Apr 5th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

By Wayne Pike

Another beautiful day. It is just barely spring, but todayís weather was a complete relief from winter and an introduction to what we might hope is seven straight months of comfortable weather. Although we have had ..... 
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