SAGE CENTER TOUR

SAGE of Sustainable Agriculture and Energy Center

SAGE, in much of the western United States the first thought of the word sage is joined with brush. It’s pretty when it’s green, it provides habitat for sage grouse, and multiple other animals. But the sage I am talking about is the SAGE of Sustainable Agriculture and Energy Center in Boardman, Oregon. This I-84 visitors center provides hands on learning, graphics and experiences to visitors about modern agriculture and how western Umatilla and Morrow Counties. This region has grown to be one of the most unique and diverse agricultural regions in the world.

I have been back in eastern Oregon over a year, and have been talking about taking a guided Port of Morrow tour with my friend Anna and making a stop at the SAGE Center for months. Finally, I did it. I wanted to show a college friend who was in town from Texas, and equally as passionate about agriculture what we do in eastern Oregon, and how and what people are doing at the Port of Morrow.

Heather and I loaded up with Anna as she drove us around the port describing the processing facilities, energy resources, wood and ethanol plants, freezing and shipping buildings and grain export terminal that is shared by two local grain marketing cooperatives.

Heather and I taking it all in.

Heather and I taking it all in.

As we are still in the midst of the west coast port crisis, the importance of agricultural product transportation finally slapped me in the face. Have you really ever stopped to think what it really takes to move raw and finished products to the consumers of the world?

View from the Port of Morrow offices looking on to the Columbia River.

View from the Port of Morrow offices looking on to the Columbia River.

The cost for either moving products by truck or train are ridiculous than barge. The Columbia River is a priceless asset to Oregon and Washington agriculture not just for the small trickle of water that is used for irrigation, but for moving products in a timely, cost effective manner. There is an awesome display, that was my favorite part of the SAGE Center tour, unfortunately I didn’t snap a picture of it… Here are the facts though:

Barges move 1 ton of grain 500 miles on a single gallon of fuel. Compare that to semi trucks that moves 1 ton of grain only 60 miles on a single gallon, and you’ll see why grain barges still hold the keys to grain export.

Needless to say, I loved the SAGE Center and our personal tour of the Port. (Thanks Anna!) Here are some of my pictures and video from our adventure in Boardman.

Some farmers, ranchers and food production plants are accessing water from the Columbia River currently. There is current plans to utilize more water from the river to support agricultural production in the region. This will only be done with strict management practices. Currently, the river (the gallon jug for visual reference) is flowing at he average annual flow for the Columbia River at The Dalles, Oregon is approximately 190,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) (1 cfs = 448.8 gallons per minute). And the amount of water that is removed from the river for irrigation or energy purposes is less than one half of a percent, or represented as just over a tablespoon.

Some farmers, ranchers and food production plants are accessing water from the Columbia River currently. There is current plans to utilize more water from the river to support agricultural production in the region. This will only be done with strict management practices. Currently, the river (the gallon jug for visual reference) is flowing at the average annual flow for the Columbia River at The Dalles, Oregon is approximately 190,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) (1 cfs = 448.8 gallons per minute). And the amount of water that is removed from the river for irrigation or energy purposes is less than one half of a percent, or represented as just over a tablespoon.

"Generations of our family have cared for this ranch and its natural resources an in turn the ranch as cared for our families, livestock, wildlife while providing quality beef to feed many people. It is a privilege, a challenge, and at times a burden. But we do take a lot pride in what we do and produce. Ranches are an essential part of a successful economy for our county, state, and country." -- Mark and Tami Rietman, Triangle Ranches, Heppner, Oregon

“Generations of our family have cared for this ranch and its natural resources an in turn the ranch as cared for our families, livestock, wildlife while providing quality beef to feed many people. It is a privilege, a challenge, and at times a burden. But we do take a lot pride in what we do and produce. Ranches are an essential part of a successful economy for our county, state, and country.” — Mark and Tami Rietman, Triangle Ranches, Heppner, Oregon

Want to learn how french fries are really made?

So this beauty of a tog boat was one of the last to sail the pre-dammed Columbia River. Check out the movie Sagebrush Sailors for more history of this brave or slightly crazy river cowboys!

So this beauty of a tug boat was one of the last to sail the pre-dammed Columbia River. Check out the movie Sagebrush Sailors for more history of this brave or slightly crazy river cowboys!

Next time you a driving through Boardman, take an hour or so and check out the SAGE Center, and keep supporting Oregon agriculture!

Election Day

Maddee:

Go vote, and in Oregon that is as simple as hitting your mail box.

Let’s keep talking about your questions tied to agriculture not just stopping on election day. And to all Oregonians, agriculture 10% – Nearly 10% of Oregon’s economy is related to agriculture when you add in transportation, marketing, warehousing and storage, and related services.

140,000 jobs – Approximately 1 in 12 Oregon jobs (140,000) are tied to the industry, with about 60,000 of these located on farms.

Originally posted on nuttygrass:

Well the day is finally here.  The day that my husband and I stop coming to your mailbox via the thousands of flyers you have received about various issues.  The day that the mudslinging, blue seed lies, and mom’s for marijuana finally all stop coming in through our TVs, Pandora, yahoo ads & hulu.

I won’t say that I’m not nervous. I think that there is a lot on the line, even though this is a midterm election.  But no matter what the outcome, I do feel like we, as farmers, have taken the opportunity to get our voice out there.  I hope that people really took the time to ponder what these measures are all about.  I also hope that this will continue conversations in the future between farmers and our urban neighbors.

The conversation about GMO’s is a long one, it’s complicated and frustrating at times.  But it’s…

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30,000 Miles and Counting

It’s been a whirlwind year to say the least! 

When I left Kansas City, I had done only 11,000 miles on my car in a year and a half, which still basically breaks my heart. My gypsy soul had been crushed. That has been solved, and Paula is much happier not sitting at The Ethans. I think on last count, I am over 30,000 driving miles and a few cross country flights have energized my gypsy ways.

The first tourist stop...

The first tourist stop…

Firstly, moving to rural America is difficult, especially in a town consumed by an older population and a small community college. Clint and Darcy so kindly took me in for what we all thought would be a month long stay. One month turned into seven, and I can’t thank them enough for all of their amazing hospitality. Late nights, random weekend trips and a never ending house project lead me to probably earning worst roommate award… If you ever get the chance to be greeted by Darcy laughing first thing in the morning followed by recorded Superior sale commentated by Clint, your day will be made!

My first week at work included Round-Up, which might as well been my own welcoming party. Only kidding, but it was a great excuse to see friends I hadn’t been able to connect in a while. Even the endless cups of Coors Light couldn’t drowned out the fact that that living in Pendleton was still going to be a struggle. So decided to buy a house, which has been a never ending adventure. Lesson #89,836 don’t by a house…ever. Just kidding, just make sure the seller is not a pot smoking, indoor cat owner. Or just install a kegerator, it’s cheaper than bottles, and you’ll need some of the finest brews to make it through a major renovation. Actually, skip the beer and hit the whisky.

Here is it, make an offer, I might part with it. Hugh just may not left me after all the work we have done.

Here is it, make an offer, I might part with it. Hugh just may not left me after all the work we have done.

One of the greatest things about being back in the PNW, is leaving the PNW. No offense, but in Oregon specifically, the speed limits suck, you can’t pump your own gas, and goodness all I want is some fresh green chillies and live music. I have enjoyed doing some cross country travels for the National Hereford Women, helping the Colyer family and see some of the best friends a girl could have. 

The Cowboy Rides Away Tour -- Tacoma.

The Cowboy Rides Away Tour — Tacoma.

The one and only Miles McKee.

"Who is that girl wearing pearls at the derby?"

“Who is that girl wearing pearls at the derby?”

If you know my story, you’ll know how fortunate I have been to draw a family that has given me a passion for good cattle. I haven’t been to the ranch or even my mom’s place as much as I’d like, but it’s comforting knowing I can have supper any night of the week with any member of my crazy extended family. I just might have to drive a 100 plus miles.

Christmas afternoon with the ladies.

Christmas afternoon with the ladies.

My favorite place in the world, somewhere down Chandler Lane.

My favorite place in the world, somewhere down Chandler Lane.

I thought settling into Umatilla county would be no big deal, but let me laugh and realign my mindset. It’s been a bigger deal. The state line might as well follow state highway 11, because growing up a county over seems like a foreign country to most. I have learned to introduce myself more ways than I ever have living in various place throughout the country.

Hi, I am Maddee, I am from Cove…oh you don’t know where that is? It’s about 65 miles from here…known for cherries, Moss Springs trail head and Red’s Horse Ranch?
I just moved to town, pardon me, my name is Maddee. Did you go to Blue Mountain Community College? No, nope sure didn’t, I did my juco time at Linn Benton Community College…Ohhhhhh….
You go to Idaho on the weekends? Yes, it’s closer than Portland. You know people over there? Yes, I grew up showing with a lot of people from there…ohhhhh wow…who are you again….

It is also suprising to most that I had never attended a Round-Up prior to moving to town. Crazy, I know, but the world does keep spinning even. But if you dont have plans the second weekend in September,you better make plans to be in town, it is real fun!

We have hit almost every rodeo -- it's a tough job but someone has to be my date for work events.

We have hit almost every rodeo — it’s a tough job but someone has to be my date for work events.

Mom comes too...

Mom comes too…

The saga I left KC with is still continuing. My insurance company is battling the Kansas City Police Department. So hopefully by the first of September 2015 I have a clean record again… And remember kids, don’t get hit by a KC Police Officer on his way to a domestic dispute with 10 other officers. In the meantime, Paula is racking up the miles and we have been busy learning about “how great state of Idaho” is from probably the proudest member of the state and beyond.

It’s been crazy, I miss my KC pals, but it is sure good to be home for the time being! And if you ever get a wild hair, let me know your travels lead to Pendleton!

Correction: And as Tiah said I have been blessed with several news friends! 

Wordless Wednesday: Catch the Sun

Smokey sunrise coming up over the Blue Mountains highlighting the wheat stubble of the 2014 harvest.

Smokey sunrise coming up over the Blue Mountains highlighting the wheat stubble of the 2014 harvest.

Peering on to the bounty of Umatilla county, the peaks of the Cascade range can be seen.

Peering on to the bounty of Umatilla county, the peaks of the Cascade range can be seen.

Western Wildfire Season

Wildfires in the west are part of the normal summer activities.

Hazy days are closed by smokey sunsets. We are taught from a young age to be cautious. Smokey Bear is a part of everyday life as much as a childhood teddy bear. Sights and sounds of US Forest Service, BLM, state and private contractors fire trucks and rigs are normal. The repercussions of these fires devastates the land, animals, lives and the families that make a living from the land.

The impacts, the stories and discussions that one could have about the impact of fire could host conversations for days. Some are positive, and others are negative. Understanding that fire impacts peoples live is one of the hardest for many to grasp. As hard as it was for people to understand why farmers and ranchers could not act quick enough in the fall of 2013 during the Storm Atlas in southwestern region of South Dakota.

A friend who is an ag teacher, ranchers wife and now fire volunteer on the Buzzard Complex had this to say about what we she was witnessing.

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 10.29.13 AM

The fire as of Sunday was larger in land area than Multnomah County, which is home the largest population in the state. 

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 10.34.45 AM

There are dozens of other large fires burning in the west. National media outlets are picking up the stories, but they are focused on the million dollar homes in a resort town, rather than the stories of those who make a living from the land.

Stay safe out there and enjoy your summer. Thank you to all of the volunteers, contractors and fire fighters working to control this rapidly moving summer of flames.

Picture from a look out point in the Grand Ronde Valley I took this weekend when we were riding. You can see the smoke socking in the valley and moving through the region.

Picture from a look out point in the Grand Ronde Valley I took this weekend when my Mom and I were riding. You can see the smoke socking in the valley and moving through the region.

How Long is Long-Term? Are We in Danger of Sacrificing Food Security to Satisfy GMO Paranoia?

Maddee:

Food is an emotional issue, but why is it so different than any other advancement?

Originally posted on Bovidiva:

FrankenfoodsMy Twitter feed is being taken over by two things: 1) arguments and 2) comments that are going to cause arguments. Almost every tweet appears to draw a contrary comment – I’m tempted to post “Elephants have four legs and one trunk” just to see how many people reply “No, there’s an elephant in South Africa called Minnie who only has three legs but has two trunks…”

The latest discussions (debates? arguments? long drawn-out 140-character battles?) have related to the safety of GMOs. Without exception, the argument from the nay-sayers comes down to “We don’t know what the long-term effects are, so we should ban them until we can conclude that they’re safe.”

In other words, we’re trying to prove a negative – show me that there’s no adverse effects whatsoever and I’ll believe it’s ok. Utterly impossible. Can you be absolutely sure that the screen you’re reading this on isn’t causing…

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