Tag Archives: Rural America

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.

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

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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.


Moving in the Impala…

Just encase you were wondering how to move all of your worldly belongings in an Impala…
Pack it tightly, neatly, and well like a puzzle. 

No, I can’t I am really going to be rollin’ in my Impala, unless there is a tail wind, watch out! I can say this is not the first time I have done this either, my multiple long distance moves have added another skill to my resume such as, gypsy like moving abilities.  

I am making my first trip with my belongings to the Midwest this evening. Just so turns out my one of my best friends and little sister is graduating this weekend from K-State. So the timing is perfect!

Lessons learned from pulling a trailer completely apply in this situation.

  • Stopping distance due to weight as completely decreased.
  • Blind spots…EVERY WHERE…make wide turns.
  • Signal early.
  • From hauling livestock, sudden stops were not allowed by my mother…”Don’t you even think about setting” those cows up would be my mothers favorite line…drive slow if needed.

Needless to say, this could be a long trip to Manhattan. And I am thankful for limited traffic, and straight roads between Lubbock and Manhattan. 


Mom “check the air pressure in your tires!” Done.


My co-piolt…suitcase.


My roommate said she was impressed with my puzzle packing abilities, and that we got my room put into my car.

Did You Grow Up Working–Working in Agriculture?

Have you forgot about the Department of Labor proposed law focused on agricultural child labor?

When I was home over Christmas I had forgotten about it, but as my sister and I were working calves, feeding cows, checking water, and working outside, I was instantly taken back to how we were raised. Working in agriculture.

LK and I had a childhood that included working side by side with my Dad pounding fence posts, or one of my favorite tasks constructing shelters with sheet metal. I could always count on my sister to help hold down hay bale (just kidding–we all bucked bales during the summer) and you could always find LK power washing the trailer after every livestock show.

LK and I at the PI show with Slayer who was selected as the Champion Market Lamb, raised by family friends Boatman Club Lambs

Keep in mind, since I was 16 my sister and I attended most livestock shows by ourselves. Not the standard, but with two working parents, it was what had to be done if we wanted to exhibit our animals. My parents would meet us where ever the show was on Friday afternoon or how ever it best met their schedule. I know they didn’t like sending us down the road like that, but that was life for us. My sister and I learned a lot from those experiences, and our numerous youth livestock projects were our life, and the majority of my family time.

Chris Chinn posted a blog that I picked up off of Facebook this morning. By far and away it is the most complete, honestly written blog post that I have seen regarding this issue. It is mentioned that building fence and operating powered machinery would be illegal for children or youth under the age of 16 to do on a farm or ranch. I know for a fact that safety was a top priority growing up, I didn’t see it then, but every time I climbed on the tractor and my Dad reminded me to put on my seat belt, I know why now. Chinn also testified last week in front of a congressional subcommittee about this issue, you can see her testimony below.