Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dory Cove fire: Family-owned restaurant will be missed

A unique, family-owned restaurant at Lincoln City, Ore. was destroyed by fire last night. Fortunately, no one was injured when the Dory Cove Restaurant burned down.

According to a Statesman Journal story, the fire started near 10 p.m. on Nov. 29, then flared up a couple more times through the night.

Dory Cove Restaurant was along Roads End, and was a popular place for people to get seafood after visiting the nearby beach. Often there were line-ups of people waiting to get in.

While tourists enjoyed it, the place was popular with the local people because of its large portions of good food and family atmosphere.

The restaurant wasn’t fancy, but down-to-earth with artwork and knickknacks of an ocean theme. What made the place was the family who owned and operated it for more than three decades. Roy Johnson wrote on the restaurant’s website about how he and his family ended up with the place in the early 1970s after he retired from the Air Force and they moved from California to Lincoln City. He had been encouraged to go into the business by Dr. Neal, an officer from the Beale Air Force Base in California who had property at Lincoln City near the current location of the restaurant.

“Living on the Oregon Coast was an answer to my dream of living in a place that I loved dearly and was a good family area. Although I had never operated or worked in a restaurant I felt that I had to give it a try,” Johnson wrote.

Many people probably know the restaurant best for its clam chowder, which earned it to become one of the most popular places in the Northwest. It was especially popular for the customers who may have come from cool, windy walks along the ocean shores nearby at this time of year.

However, Johnson admitted that when he first opened the restaurant, “I had never made Clam Chowder but I knew it was popular. Having made other types of Chowder I determined that I should follow the same method. The first pot I made was considered very good by those who tried it. I often said the Good Lord was smiling on me...”

The clam chowder was better than good. And with pride Johnson wrote about the restaurant, “It has also been picked as one of the Northwest’s best places to eat for several years in a row and Governor McCall frequented us often because he loved our burgers!”

The Johnson and Neal families were both involved in the restaurant through the years, and many summer students found jobs at the restaurant during the busy summer months.

But it was the families that owned and worked in the place that influenced why customers kept coming back and encouraging more business by word-of-mouth since it first opened on July 1, 1973.

It was their familiar faces that greeted people and made people feel welcome. For example at Halloween they’d take the extra time to talk to the children about their outfits before handing out candy.

It was the type of place rural people would appreciate, especially at a time when so many restaurants are chain-owned.

Dory Cove felt like a small town business, and people appreciated and adopted the place as almost a second home, whether they went for the comfort of clam chowder or a hot cup of coffee.

Hopefully the community now will return to comfort the owners and staff of Dory Cove.

Dory Cove Restaurant

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Not just another nut case

At first it looked like a tough nut to crack.

For the farmers who had shelled out a lot of money to produce their crops, they were frustrated when thieves stole large caches of tens of thousands of pounds of almonds and walnuts in California. Millions of dollars were shaken from the profits of these producers.

But police have pried open this mysterious case.

As a recent Capital Press story explained, mysterious activity at a warehouse led police to find suspicious business rolling along: apparently, almonds were being repackaged in unmarked boxes for possible shipment or resale.

Police forces from three counties helped to make the arrests of the alleged crooks tied to the stolen nuts.

One of the detectives was thankful for the additional manpower. “ We have two rural crime detectives, so it was nice to have a Rural Crime Task Force in place to get 12 or 13 detectives to respond on a Sunday evening. It shows the kind of intensity behind this investigation for them to drop everything on a Sunday night and go to Sacramento,” said Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy Royjindar Singh.

Although the story didn’t say it, probably the alleged thieves and the police had a similar line about dropping everything on a Sunday night, whether it was the police dropping other work or family activities or the suspects dropping the stolen goodies at the warehouse.

“Ah, nuts,” might have been an appropriate line.

On a more serious note, the two people arrested have been charged with stealing $1.7 million worth of nuts in the last year.

The stolen nuts that were dug up so far in the case are worth about $400,000, so police will continue to scurry around looking for more evidence of the thieves’ trail, a mix of thefts from different processors in several counties.

Anyone who continues to squirrel away any evidence or can help lead police to net any more arrests can contact the Rural Crime Prevention Task Force in Tulare County.

Capital Press story

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Playing games, podcasts, punchin' cattle and horsin' around

The games module I mentioned in an earlier post is now operational on the website. If you like to play sudoku, crosswords, word search or word scramble puzzles, you can now do that from our main website. Just look for the "Game Center" link on the left navigation bar of the Capital Press website, or click on this link. New puzzles will be available daily.

Also new today is the newest (fourth) episode of the Farmers' CAP, Capital Press Agriculture Podcast. You can find it at our podcast page ( You'll find a link there if you want to subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.

And if you like horses, cattle or other types of livestock, you may want to pick up a copy of this week's Capital Press, which comes out Friday, Dec. 1. As I mention in the podcast we have a special section inside the upcoming issue on Livestock and Horses. You'll also be able to find the special section materials on the website.

And speaking of new stuff, if you are still looking for Christmas gift ideas, this one could be money in the bank. The eighth Capital Press commemorative truck is now available, just in time for the holidays. The die-cast replica of a 1937 Studebaker Woody delivery van is a great toy that's also a bank, where you can stash away some of your cash. See it for yourself in the Capital Press store, along with some of the earlier trucks in the series that are still available. Proceeds from the sale of the truck go to the Capital Press Newspapers in Education program to promote literacy and agriculture awareness for students.

There's all kinds of new stuff on the Capital Press website. You can listen to a preview of what's in the next edition while you do a crossword puzzle, then catch up on some of the ag news and do some Christmas shopping and contributed to students' education all in one spot.

Has anyone else noticed those sudoku puzzles are sort of addictive?

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Should media cover politics better — or just leave it to ads?

A recent study in the Midwest is quite fascinating, but also disturbing: it showed people mainly got their political news and information prior to an election by television broadcast and the majority of that was paid advertising.

In other words, the coverage was probably quite biased, not very in-depth, and may have even been loose with the facts or context as often political opponents are tempted to slam each other and integrity and honesty are usually ignored.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison did the analysis as a project. Funded by Chicago’s Joyce Foundation, the UW-Madison’s NewsLab project is called the Midwest News Index and is doing an ongoing study on content and effect of local television news in several Midwest states: Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

While the study focused on the Midwest for a month prior to the mid-term elections, probably the public here in the West Coast can relate to some of the findings.

“Local newscasts in seven Midwest markets aired 4 minutes, 24 seconds of paid political ads during the typical 30-minute broadcast while dedicating an average of 1 minute, 43 seconds to election news coverage,” reported the university.

“The analysis also shows that most of the news coverage of elections on early and late-evening broadcasts was devoted to campaign strategy and polling, which outpaced reporting on policy issues by a margin of more than three to one (65 percent to 17 percent). These findings come amid studies consistently showing that voters look to local television newscasts as their primary source of information about elections.”

Some of the fascinating things the study found:

“From Sept. 7 to Oct. 6, local television stations devoted an average of 36 seconds to election coverage during the early- and late-evening newscasts captured in the study. The new findings show that 2,392 election stories aired in captured broadcasts on the stations in the seven markets while 8,995 political ads aired during the same period.”

“The average length of a single story devoted primarily to elections was roughly 76 seconds. By contrast, a similar national study conducted by NewsLab during the 2002 mid-term election found the average story ran 89 seconds.”

“Forty-one percent of the election stories were aired in the final week before Election Day.”

UW-Madison political science professor Ken Goldstein, who directed the project, said “Scholars, reformers, policy makers, and broadcasters may hold different opinions on the responsibilities of broadcasters and the relative effect of different sorts of campaign communications, but the data here are unambiguous — local television news provides less news on politics than many other topics and the coverage is overwhelmingly characterized by stories on strategy, horse race, and the game of politics. Any intelligent debate needs to begin from that starting point.”

While we might not have the number crunching and second-by-second analysis of the political information that aired in the Pacific Northwest and California, and some television stations deserve credit for doing more than others, in general the public probably faced similar circumstances here.

This leads to a few cautions and conclusions that can be sobering: first of all, are the media truly serving the public the best in preparing potential voters for making wise voting decisions? In the interest of selling expensive advertising space and filling airtime with other news such as what is happening in the entertainment world, has the media lost its direction in being more responsible in preparing people to vote?

Secondly, would voters even listen if the media tried to do a better job in explaining issues and covering political candidates more in-depth? Would the public care or just tune out if the media expanded their coverage time of politics?

Thirdly, if political ads are the main source of information influencing voters, should there be higher standards in truth, integrity and context in political advertising, although some people would argue that goes against Freedom of Speech within current legal lines.

And lastly, if there are so much political ads on television, and people are mostly influenced by these ads, does this mean that only those with deep financial pockets can afford to run for politics and make their case to be elected?

Will this restrict potentially great leaders from being involved in political campaigns or cause them to lose because they couldn’t match the millions of dollars spent by political opponents and special interest groups?

Goldstein made a good point about how this should be a starting point for an intelligent debate.

Hopefully, people will take up the challenge and hold that debate before the next election to help strengthen this country’s democracy rather than allow 30-second soundbytes help them choose who represents them at different levels of government.

Midwest News index
Joyce Foundation

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Saving Gaudette

It was on the shores of Lake Superior, in the woods of Ontario while I was working at a log cavalry fort that contained The Church of the Departed Spirits and the biggest goose I ever saw, that John Gaudette swore I saved his life.

Actually, all I did was bring him a bottle of whiskey when he was feeling kind of puny. He was lying in the bunk in his darkened cabin one evening, moaning that his long-dead mother was about to pay him another visit. He'd been cutting firewood for several days, and I figured he was more tired than sick, but he was pushing 80 and you never know. I set the bottle on the wood floor next to his bed and left quickly.

But let's back up a bit. It was a summer in the early 1970s. I was several months past a three-year association with Uncle Sam, still trying to figure out what to do with myself, and I was hitchhiking back to Oregon from New Jersey, where I'd gone to visit an army buddy. In Michigan I decided to detour north into Canada, and a few days later found myself in a little town on Lake Superior named Wawa. The locals told me the name was Indian for Big Goose. I suggested it might be Indian for water but they missed the joke — half of them spoke French anyway.

Since I was near broke and had a long way to go, I inquired of the local citizens the whereabouts of a place to sleep and perchance a temporary job. In short order I was ensconced among the woods south of town in the cabin of a gregarious nickel miner who was going away for awhile and said he needed someone to "watch the place" while he was gone, even though there wasn't a lock on the door. Wawa was that kind of place, with those kind of people. He told me to report to a man named Turcotte who owned a local tourist attraction nearby and who just might have a few odds and ends around the place that needed doing.

The next morning I wandered down the gravel road a few hundred yards from the cabin and in a large clearing came upon a fort straight out of a John Wayne western, complete with blockhouses at the corners. The log gates were open, so I strolled inside and stopped in shock. There in front of me was the biggest goose I'd ever seen. Maybe 40 feet high, a Canadian honker made from plaster or concrete or something. I stood there for a bit and in short order a stout, sixty-ish, khaki-clad man I figured to be Turcotte came smiling from one of the buildings that lined the inside of the fort.

He proudly showed off his creations in an impromptu tour of the place. He and his wife had spent years constructing the fort, which included "guest rooms" in the blockhouses; the large honker at the entrance (he affirmed that Wawa did, indeed, mean Big Goose); and a small chapel constructed entirely of whiskey and wine bottles mortared together into what he called The Church of the Departed Spirits. And, yes, by the time the tour was over he allowed as how he could steer a little dough my way if Id help him with some projects around the fort.

Turcotte obviously had made his pile elsewhere, because in the couple of weeks I spent there I never saw any tourists in the place. The only "guests" were the Turcottes' in-laws from British Columbia who had come with their kids and grandkids to spend the summer.

Now back to John Gaudette. He was a grizzled, rail-thin old coot that no one knew very well, although he'd lived in the same small cabin for several years, just down the road from my temporary abode. He had a reputation as a standoffish old grouch, and people warned me to stay away from him. Of course, I took that as a challenge.

John spent most of his days in the summer sawing and splitting firewood to get him through the long Ontario winter. There was no electricity in that neck of the woods. One morning I wandered over to his place and began helping him augment his woodpile. By noon we'd actually spoken a few words to each other, and by 3 p.m. we were fast friends. John just wasn't used to people.

In the course of the next couple of weeks I helped John when I wasn't needed around the fort. I discovered he had been alone for most of his life, after various careers as a farmer, miner and logger. He'd never been as far south as the United States and didn't have a clue where Oregon was. He told me about all the dogs he'd had, and apologized for being between dogs at the moment, that he'd recently buried his last one back of the cabin. He told me that at night his mother often visited him, even though she'd been dead for 50 years.

I didn't see John one day, and that evening knocked on his door to see if he was okay. Turns out he was sick in his bed, staring at the ceiling. I asked if I could bring him something, and he said he couldn't think of anything. Then he said, "Mother's coming tonight." I told John that while I'd love to stick around and meet Mom I had errands to attend to, and hastily made my exit.

The next day I made a run into town and, at Turcotte's suggestion, bought some "medicine" for John — a pint of whiskey. Turns out Turcotte knew John pretty well. That evening I visited John's cabin again, and set the bottle alongside his bed where he was still stretched out, then retired to my own cabin.

In the morning I told Turcotte I was heading down the road back to Oregon, and he gave me 50 bucks and best wishes. While I was cramming things into my backpack later at my cabin, there was a knock on the door. It was John Gaudette, standing hale and hearty and fencepost straight, but with chin trembling.

"Heard you was leaving," he said. "You saved my life."

"Aww, John, it was just a little medicinal whiskey," I replied. Then I asked him how he knew I was leaving.

"Mother told me," he replied, a tear coursing down one stubbled cheek. Then he stuck out a bony hand, patted me on the shoulder and walked away.

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Where'd you learn to drive?

Snow is not unheard of in the Willamette Valley, but it is unusual. I'm not sure how cities like Denver, Chicago and Minneapolis deal with the winter deluge of snow, because urban drivers in the Portland/Salem metropolitan area don't handle the white stuff on the roads very well.

The snow today in and around the Willamette Valley hasn't been much more than decorative on the hills and rooftops of high buildings here in Salem, but judging from the morning traffic reports, it was snarling traffic.

Growing up in rural Eastern Oregon, I got some wheel time on snow-covered roads once in a while. But if truth be told, I haven't driven much on snowy or icy roads of late. Ten years in the sunny deserts of Southern California and the stint in the San Joaquin Valley got me out of practice. The worst winter weather I had to put up with during that stretch was the legendary Tule fog in the San Joaquin Valley, another phenomenon that make you long for sparsely driven rural roads because urban drivers don't handle driving into a fog bank any better than they handle driving into a snow bank. And both situations leave you wondering if you going to make it to your destination with your taillights in tact.

I do vividly recall one Willamette Valley snowfall at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend some years back when I was a student at Oregon State (winners of the 2006 Civil War game over arch intrastate rival Oregon by the way. Go Beavs! On to Hawaii this weekend and then bowl bound!).

My college roommate, Andy Saylor, his stepsister, Libby Davis, and I had gone back to Echo, Ore., for the Thanksgiving holiday. Andy and Libby's home away from college was a farm just a few miles down the Buttercreek Highway near Echo, Ore., from where I grew up. So, it made the holiday carpool pretty convenient. But the trip back to Corvallis was anything but convenient. It started snowing on our westward journey and just got heavier the farther we drove.

If you've ever traveled through the Columbia Gorge in a snowstorm you know how treacherous that can be. I think both Andy and I would have preferred to be driving, rather than passengers in Libby's old VW Bug. Actually, Libby and the car handled the slick roads rather well. But that old bug had no window defroster, so Libby would pull off one of her gloves and place it against the windshield to use the head of her hand to melt the ice enough so the wiper blades could sweep the windshield clean. We figured that once we got out of the gorge, the snow would turn to rain, and the trip from Portland to Corvallis would be far less harrowing.

We figured wrong.

Fortunately, as we were driving south on Interstate 5 in a driving snow, we heard a report on the radio that Oregon State had canceled classes on Monday. Rather than press on in the nasty weather, we stopped off at a motel in Salem for the night.

Now that was a snowstorm.


Unfortunately, there was not enough snow this morning for the Capital Press offices to close for the day, so it's back to work today after the Thanksgiving holiday. I'm sure I'm not the only person realizing they've eaten too much good food in recent days. I blame my family. Due to some spread out living arrangements, I've actually overindulged in two holiday meals over the last two weekends. OK, maybe I should blame farmers too, for growing that food that looks and tastes so good, especially when it's prepared by experienced and talented cooks in someone else's kitchen.

I need a nap and a good post-holiday diet.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Taking games seriously

It's a bit humbling sometimes to work for a newspaper. So many people work to put news and information in each edition that is as timely, relevant and informative as possible. So after doing all that work, it's quite an ego check when you get calls from people -- not calling about the front page stories or the photos or calendar listings -- who want to complain because the wrong crossword puzzle ran in the paper.

It makes you realize that people don't all want the same thing out of their newspaper.

I ran into puzzle complaints with some regularity earlier in my career as most of the jobs I've had were at so-called "mainstream" newspapers. So when I came to the Capital Press in June 2005 I had some adjusting to do. It was quite different to work for a newspaper that was all agriculture, all the time.

In fact I was surprised to see that we were running a crossword puzzle. But we do. And just like every other paper I've worked at, all you had to do was leave the puzzle out one week, or make some sort of production mistake with the puzzle, to find out that even readers of this ol' farm paper like their crossword.

Well, if you are a puzzle person, you may be interested to know that the Capital Press website
will soon be featuring several puzzles for your brain-teasing enjoyment, including a crossword and a Sudoku puzzle. Once we get the new feature launched (which could be as early as Friday but more likely to be next week) we'll bring you new puzzles every day that you can do on your computer.

Now, we have to figure out is how to erase using a mouse.

Oh, and speaking of new features on the Capital Press website, we added an image gallery today featuring some of our recent editorial cartoons.

You know what they say, it's always something. Or should I say it's always something new on the Capital Press websites. Puzzles, image galleries, podcasts, blogs.

Oh, and we report farm and ranch news too.


I'm off the next couple of days, spending Turkey Day with my daughter and cheering on Oregon State in Friday's Civil War fooball game against the dreaded Ducks from Eugene.

So have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone (yes, even you Ducks out there).

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Coming to – and coming off — movie theaters near you soon

As movie theaters get ready for the holiday season, they will be thrilled to hear about the sneak preview of something great coming up.

Forget whether there’s a blockbuster on the horizon, a superstar signed up for a new movie, or some new technology that makes animation look even more lifelike than Michael Jackson: what will make the owners of theaters jump up and down for joy — because they can now do so safely without having to nervously glance first at the floor — is that researchers are developing …. wait for it … easily removable chewing gum!!!

(Extra exclamation marks seemed appropriate when talking about anything to do with movie theaters, either that or using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS TO LET PEOPLE KNOW THIS IS THE GREATEST NEWS EVER! SHOCKING! DON’T WAIT! TELL OTHERS!!!)

The reason you need to wait for it is because this exciting development may need a bit more time to go from the research stage to when consumers help it to appear under a theater seat, on the sidewalk, in your dog’s hair or stuck in other inconvenient disposal places near you.

Why do people stick their gum in these places, and how much gum did researchers personally chew to test this gum will both remain questions to be tackled another day, along with how gum ho these researchers are about their job. Obviously they must like it if they stick with these jobs until they find results.

But getting back to the main topic: the company Revolymer is the one that is looking to produce the new polymer that is the modified gum base that will solve so many gum problems of the world. Large scale product is expected within the next three years in Mostyn, North Wales at Revolymer’s plant there.

“As well as making the gum easier to remove, we also are looking at ensuring we get the best flavor possible as well as taste retention, as such we wish to find the best formulation possible,” Roger Pettman, the company’s chief executive, was quoted in He added: “We are expanding to focus on the growing application of our polymers which have uses from not just the confectionery industry, but to medicines and even anti-graffiti paints.”

While people chew on those ideas for a while, perhaps they should be given some
facts that were published by Better Oral Health magazine about gum, using information from the Wrigley Company, which collected its information from the Chewing Gum Book by Robert Young.

There were great gobs of wisdom to be shared. (Note: The writer of this blog stuck some editorial comments to the facts. Who could resist?)

“To grow all the mint Wrigley needs for its mint flavored gums would take 53 square miles of farmland – about 30,550 football fields!” (Note the exclamation mark that was included. Feel the excitement?)

“The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company grows enough mint for the Spearmint gum to fill about 16,300 football fields in just one year and all of it is grown on U.S. farms.” (Nothing like linking farming and football, especially at this time of year.)

“Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit and Spearmint gums are more than 100 years old. Your grandparents probably chewed these when they were kids!” (No mention is made of where our grandparents might have hid their gum.)

“Orbit was invented as a special wartime brand and was supplied to the Armed Forces, since it was recognized that gum eases tension, promotes alertness and improves morale.” (Perhaps every work place should include gum as part of the benefits package it offers employees each year.)

“People have chewed on natural materials for hundreds of years, including thickened resin and latex from certain trees, sweet grasses, leaves, grains and waxes.” (Perhaps these were the ancestors of current gum researchers. Imagine their first scientific exchanges: “I’m not chewing that. You chew it. You suggested it first.”

“Humans are the only animals on earth that chew gum.” (We might want to disagree with that statement, since we probably have all seen dogs chewing on gum they have sniffed out and gobbled off the ground. The sight isn’t pretty later.)

“Can you really remove gum from your hair with peanut butter? It has been proven that if you knead a small amount of peanut butter between your fingers and the gum, the gum will disperse enough so you can remove it.” (But then how do you get out the peanut butter?)

“A new study shows that chewing gum may help make people smarter by improving memory and brain performance. In tests scientists found the ability to recall remembered words improved by 35% among people who chewed gum, however it does not aid concentration.” (So teachers should let students chew gum in class?)

Alas, if the world does move indeed ahead with easily removable gum, there will be one downside to it all.

There are a few loyal MacGyver fans that probably recall the actor Richard Dean Anderson often using chewing gum to foil many a villain as he used it to get out of sticky situations. If this gum is no longer that difficult to grapple with as heroes battle to save the world, it really leaves a bad taste in the mouth of those disappointed television action show fans. Their bubble finally burst in believing a pack of gum could someday save their lives.

If anyone is interested in why a blog on agriculture is focusing on gum, it’s to support the mint growers that we have, such as Bill Smith of St Paul, Ore. who grew 260 acres of mint this year in the Willamette Valley. (For more on Smith, see
Capital Press article on him.)

Plus for Thanksgiving people may have been looking for a conversational topic (besides the weather) to share with all those relatives during those awkward moments between when the meal ends and the sports games start.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

When the interstate and info highway come to a stop

It felt like Friday the 13th.

It began with an attempt for some of us to travel the interstate between Portland and Salem this morning.

I was traveling from Salem to Portland, and our sales rep Cathleen Hogan was trying to get from Portland to Salem.

Accidents along the way, including a semi-trailer rollover north of Salem, Ore. caused major backups when all lanes northbound and later even southbound were closed as authorities attempted to clean up the mess.

Result? Cathleen spent a lot of time in long lines going southbound, then used backroads to get to work, about an hour and a half later than usual.

Meanwhile, I was attempting to travel northbound and as a large amount of time passed and I had gone between 2 mph and a complete stop for most of the 45 minutes, I realized I would not make my appointment in Portland. I called to say I might be a wee bit late. But hopefully I would be able to make that usual one-hour trip to my destination by the end of the day, I said optimistically.

The Portland people I was scheduled to meet were less optimistic and cancelled my meeting. I don't blame them. They see Portland's downtown traffic each day. I usually have just a 15-20 minute commute home from the office. I may be a bit naive about these things.

Returning cheerfully to the office after I slowly crawled to the nearest exit at the blinding speed of about 3 mph, I found the info highway had a few roadblocks.

Our email was down. Our internet access was down. This lasted the majority of today, as our brave and courageous production manager Barbara Nipp tried to steer us through the problems, navigate the challenges and carry us to our ultimate destination of getting our newspaper finished.

Did I mention that, thanks to Thanksgiving, our deadline had been moved up earlier to ... today?

As by the end of the day a few of our emails and internet sites began to trickle back towards smoother service, I noticed the vehicular traffic was beginning to slow down again outside to the usual traffic jams and the radio stations began to declare how many accidents there were between Salem and Portland.

As Cathleen left to commute back to Portland, I wished her luck.

Maybe we all better look for some four-leafed clovers before we travel on highways — real ones or computer ones — tomorrow.

Want to be President? Welcome to the West

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has still not formally declared he’s running for president in 2008, but he has been traveling the country to gain support, financial and otherwise.

In November he announced he has formed a Presidential Exploratory Committee that raises money to examine whether to run for president.

Giuliani has met with powerful New York executives as well as Texas billionaires, and during the fall election campaign he traveled to many states including Oregon to back local contenders for Republican positions.

While it is much too early to endorse anyone for president yet, Giuliani deserves recognition for one of the things he did while here in the West. He devoted an hour in early October to meeting with agricultural and forestry representatives from the Oregon Farm Bureau and American Forest Resources Institute to find out what are the issues that are important that resource side of the economy.

Giuliani’s background is usually doing business being amidst New York City skyscrapers and he ended up being one of the major voices in the country against terrorism after 9/11.

However, in Portland he took time to learn about the impact of the Endangered Species Act, how agriculture needs a guest-worker program, what is the impact of land-use planning and other issues. As the OFB reported in its latest newsletter, he also discussed “the importance of agriculture and natural resource communities to national security and prosperity.”

Farm and forestry representatives had short notice of Giuliani’s visit, but seized the opportunity to make sure some of the top OFB staff was present, and more importantly, that farmers were there to talk face-to-face with the potential presidential candidate.

Whether or not Giuliani is successful in his ambition to be America’s top leader, he will still play a very influential role in what happens with politics and policy platforms in the election campaign.

Having access to him this early and providing him with an education of what matters to the West is invaluable.

As others with political ambitions announce their intentions in the next few months, there should be similar attempts made to invite them here to the West and meet with them to do similar discussions.

Hopefully they will follow Giuliani’s lead and seriously recognize the importance of agriculture and forestry and take time to meet with representatives of those sectors.

Only then can there be better, more relevant policies and laws developed that are hopefully beneficial to farmers, ranchers and woodlot owners in the West.

Monday, November 20, 2006

It’s a small world — really

After only a few months on my job at Capital Press in 2003, I received a visitor one day in my office.

It was a farmer from Saskatchewan, the province in Canada I had called home for the majority of my life.

Ernie Bittner had come to visit his sister in Keizer, Ore. and decided to bring along a copy of The Western Producer, the former newspaper I had worked at in Saskatoon, Sask. The newspaper in many ways is the equivalent to Capital Press here in the Western U.S.: both newspapers serve the majority of Western farmers and ranchers, only on different sides of the border. Each newspaper has high standards of quality to meet the expectations of readers, and have earned farmers calling each of those newspapers “the farmer’s bible.”

Bittner, reading his Western Producer in 2003, had seen that I had moved to Oregon to work for the Capital Press. His sister in Keizer received the Capital Press and saw a story that I had formerly worked at The Western Producer.

It was a joy to talk to a farmer from my home province and to get that copy of a familiar newspaper I had grown up with for so many years.

As Bittner chatted with me that time, I asked where in Saskatchewan was home for him.

At first he wasn’t sure if I would know the place.

“Carrot River,” he said, starting to explain where it was.

“Why, I have relatives that live in Carrot River,” I exclaimed. “But I’m not sure if you would know them.”

I gave the name of a woman related to my father.

There was a pause. Bittner chuckled. Sure he knew her. Why, they went for coffee practically every second day together! Knew the family well. Just never realized I was related to her.

I told him to pass a hi to her when he returned home.

Today one of the people here at Capital Press dropped off a plastic package of newspaper clippings, mainly from The Western Producer. I grinned, knowing who must have delivered them.

Sure enough, Bittner phoned in the afternoon. He’s in town to visit his sister for a couple of weeks in Keizer, and is spending Thanksgiving with her.

As I had a nice chat with him on the phone, Bittner added that my relatives passed along a big hello.

It definitely is a small world.

It reminded me of another example from a few years ago where I was taught how small this world could be at times.

A close friend of mine from university had decided to take an extended period of time to travel Australia. She was walking on a beach one day along the eastern coast of Australia when she saw one person walking on that beach towards her — wearing the familiar jacket of the university we had attended in Saskatchewan. Eager to talk to someone who was from Canada, and even the same province and university, she went over to talk to this stranger.

And then she realized he looked familiar. Why, yes, she was positive she had met him before.

As the two stood there talking on the Australian beach, trying to figure out how they knew each other, it finally struck them. They did have something in common, and they finally remembered how they had met in the past.

They both knew … me. One day at the university, years before, I had introduced them to each other.

My friend wrote me a letter later talking about how bizarre life can be to find herself talking to a guy in Australia about me.

Surely I can’t be the only one experiencing the “it’s a small world” syndrome.

I look forward to hearing from others about their experiences.

'Tis the season of deer and quackers, beer and crackers

This time of year it’s sometimes tough for newspapers to find their usual sources.

There are some farmers still harvesting their crops; some ranchers are starting to move their livestock for winter pastures and feedlots. And yes, some may be travelling long distances to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends.

But there are two other factors really impacting the farm community: hunting season, and football season.

Let’s start with the latter.

These are the final days of the football season for college football teams. They are fighting for Bowl eligibility but also for bragging rights in some of the classic games between teams within states.

For example, the Apple Cup in Washington state was played last weekend; this Friday it’s the Civil War that allows Oregon’s Ducks and Beavers to clash.

For anyone who is not familiar with these teams, they are much meaner than their names might suggest. While the game is played in Corvallis, Ore., home to the Beavers, technically top billing should go the Ducks when it comes to comparing mascot anatomy. But the Beavers have shown they can really chew down on competition, winning some impressive games this season. For anyone who doesn’t give a dam about football, or I’m ruffling some feathers with bad puns, perhaps I should quit comparing the two teams.

The point is that a lot of farmers have been flocking to stadiums or huddling around television sets to catch these football games. Whether they are former graduates of the college, or their kids currently attend university at these places of higher learning, farmers enjoy the chance to watch the games.

As one farmer from eastern Oregon told me, when he suddenly was offered a couple tickets a week ago for the Civil War game he decided to drop everything later this week and head to Corvallis. He’s thrilled to just be there. Plus he hopes the Beavers stomp the Ducks.

Then there is hunting season. While a football game may keep farmers and other sources for our newspaper away for a day or two, hunting season is several weeks long. Pity the organization that even attempts to hold a conference or a meeting during this time period. Pity companies who are juggling their holiday schedules. There is a lot of pressure to let the hunters escape from fields and offices and put on camouflage and bright orange caps. Be the target birds or deer, there is a basic instinct for a lot of people to book time off and hunt.

Some states, such as Iowa, have asked hunters to donate their deer to food banks. This is an excellent suggestion. Hunters get a chance to do something they enjoy and feel good about being charitable. Food banks and those they serve are grateful for the extra food.

And hunting deer will ultimately help the deer population. For the last few years, the deer population has grown in various parts of the country, from a combination of reasons. There are less natural predators, less people hunting and some areas experienced milder winters than in the past. When there is too many deer, they compete more for food resources and sometimes face starvation or diseases spread too easily. They also wander more into populated areas and clash more with humans and cars.

One of the reasons there has been fewer hunters in some areas of the country is because of the concern regarding the introduction of avian flu to geese and the spread of chronic wasting disease in the wild deer population.

While hunters are encouraged in some areas to send the deer heads to laboratories for tests for CWD, there is an uneasiness as well as long delay before results come back. Farmers are encouraged to freeze the meet until they know if the meat is safe. In areas with confirmed cases of CWD in the past, it’s a lot tougher now to find people hunting deer to consume later.

For those of us that know the taste of deer sausage or jerky, hopefully the disease will be controlled better in the future and more people will again seek licenses to hunt.

On the first day of hunting season this year, my family was among those who did not hunt for the first time in decades because of the CWD concerns. There must have been some signal that went out among the deer population about this decision. That day alone we saw five mule deer and three white tailed deer.

As for birds, our skies and ponds have been filled with them. Our land lies just underneath one of the busiest migration paths for ducks, geese, sand cranes and even whooping cranes.

But these deer and quackers probably knew they were safe.

After all, many of the hunters were watching football and armed with the necessary supplies of beverages and snacks.

We thank you for this food...

This week is Thanksgiving. American families will be coming together for a big feast this week to celebrate all the things we have to be thankful for in this country.

We especially thank the farmers and ranchers who make it possible for us to have such a family feast. In tribute to those farmers and ranchers, we have the Capital Press Thanksgiving editorial as the third episode of the Farmers CAP podcast.

For those of you who follow such things, the podcast is also new available through the iTunes music store. You can also find all of our episodes at

Friday, November 17, 2006

John Deere to politicians: keep our tractors out of ads

Once called stealth advertising, product or brand placement in television shows and movies has become less subtle and more blatant.

This might have begun after Reese’s Pieces used in the E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial movie drove up sales by 65 percent, but there has been a noticeable increase in the number and frequency of brand names in movies and certain television programs.

At first, viewers might not have thought twice to see certain brands of alcohol, sunglasses, soda drinks, cigarette brands or computers while they were being entertained. Yet inexplicably, they may have been drawn to buy these products in the future.

But as the public becomes more aware that companies have paid to have their products displayed in the background, used by the actors or appear frequently during the program, consumers may have become more suspicious.

Would their hero really have chosen that type of product because of taste, usefulness or because it’s the best ... or was it because that company offered the most money to have its product in that show?

Earlier this month, a farm machinery company took an unusual step: John Deere issued a statement to defend itself during the election campaign when John Deere products appeared in some political advertisements.

The press release stated:

MOLINE, IL (November 03, 2006) — John Deere equipment and John Deere-branded clothing have been used in various political advertisements in the U.S. during recent campaigns advocating a candidate or issue. While John Deere is a strong advocate for free speech, use of the brand in political ads is not authorized by John Deere. Some members of the public have been led to believe that John Deere endorses a candidate or position because John Deere's brand or equipment appears in these advertisements. This is not the case. John Deere considers unauthorized use of its brand to be an infringement of the company’s rights to protect its brand name.

This poses an interesting dilemma: companies for the most part probably appreciate free broadcast publicity and product placement — in the right light and positive context, or maybe as a subtle hint in the background — and it can help sales if viewers decide to purchase more of their products.

But with the sensitivities of politics, companies may want to distance themselves and appear neutral or decide themselves which political contender they wish to be associated with for the long term.

Time will tell if this is the start of a more such news releases in the future, especially from the agricultural industry, and if the public sees non-identifiable nameless, colorless, shapeless machinery and agricultural products on the TV or on the big screen.

(In the interest of full disclosure, this blog today was not influenced, paid for or otherwise encouraged by any specific special interest group or farm implement company.)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Watch when working with or winching cows

The cow may have jumped easily over the moon in nursery rhymes, but a cow sure comes down hard after it’s been winched up even a few feet from the ground.

A Reuters story yesterday related a valuable lesson learned on an Austrian farm. When dairy producer Leopold Zeilinger had a 1,764 pound sick cow too ill to stand, he used a winch to suspend her so he could milk her, according to Reuters.

The story added that when the mechanism broke and Lulu the cow fell on the farmer, breaking several of his bones, “It took 25 firefighters, his wife and a son” to roll the cow off him.

“There was no word on Lulu’s fate,” the story ominously ended.

It can be surmised the farmer may have been tempted to send her to the Big Dairy Pasture in the Sky at that point.

The story does raise a serious reminder that handling livestock can be dangerous.

Anyone who has worked with dairy cattle will sympathize with the Austrian farmer. Anyone who has been pushed up against a stall, had a sudden cow leg come crashing down into a milking pail, or had to face down the wrath of a defensive cow who has just calved, can tell you that the placid, docile image of cattle is rather deceiving.

Rice University, in Houston, Texas warns of the serious injuries a cow can cause and even suggests people may want to use shin guards because “cattle kick forward and out.”

Kentucky has found animals caused a third of all farm-related injuries in that state, with only machinery and falls being a higher cause of injuries. The majority of the animal injuries was caused by cattle and horses, and “half of the cattle injuries occurred while the animal was confined for medical procedures or for loading and transport,” reported Kentucky researchers at a conference in Ohio in 2002 to do with agricultural health and safety.

In 1997, Oklahoma State University found that half the cattle-related injuries were due to human error.

Dealing with cattle requires caution, especially when since cattle can be easily stressed and can react quickly. Never trust that cow — no matter how ill, docile, passive or tame she may seem. Don’t forget that bulls should be trusted even less: they inflict some of the highest percentages of injury, especially in comparison to their numbers on the farms and ranches.

And now there is the latest lesson: be careful when winching up a cow to milk her, unless you know where you might be able to get 25 firefighters to help save you later.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I need something to wash this down

So, it goes to reason that if crop prices go up, that should be a good thing for agriculture. But a couple of news items this morning leave me wondering.

One story from Associated Press came from yesterday's earnings report from Tyson Foods. Tyson was reporting their third consecutive quarterly loss. The reason, in part, was blamed on higher corn prices. The chickens and cows that become the foods in Tyson Foods are costing more to feed, which is likely to mean it's going to cost consumers more to feed their families.

Why? Corn liquor. Or more accurately, corn fuel. Ethanol. Increased demand for ethanol is contributing to a 10-year high in price for corn.

But on the flip side of the supply-demand ledger, fewer people are eating meat. So, Tyson says it's paying more and selling less.

So while Midwest corn growers may be in hog heaven, cattle and poultry ranchers may not be quite so happy.

You know who is happy? The folks who do seem to be making money in the confusing economic morass are those on Wall Street. In a story broadcast this morning (click here for a link to the video on on the Today show from CNBC, the five largest Wall Street firms alone will pay out $36 billion in bonuses this year, which would set a new record. The bonus bonanza is attributed to a robust and rejuvenated stock market. It will eclipse the record set in 2005 when $21.5 billion in bonus cash was awarded.

So, how many farmers and ranchers out there, who produce the raw materials for the American economy, are having all-time record grown when also absorbing higher fuel and fertilizer costs, higher wage costs and other rising expenses?

It's something to chew on.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Two peas in a podcast

It's official, we have "launched" the Capital Press podcast, with not one but two, count 'em, 2!, episodes of our podcast.

Here's the story posted within the hour on the website:

Capital Press launches podcast

The Capital Press is adding to its Internet and multimedia offerings with the official launch today of a podcast.

Two episodes are available for download of the Farmers' Capital Press Agriculture Podcast, or Farmers' CAP.

In the latest episode, readers can get an auditory taste of some of the stories that will appear in the Nov. 17 editions of Capital Press.

Current plans call for posting a new podcast about once a week, however additional podcasts could be posted if interest or event warrant.

The first episode, which was made available to visitors of the Capital Press blog site, Blogriculture, last month featured audio clips from the newspaper's endorsement interviews with the candidates for Oregon governor.

A link to the pocasts can be found under the multimedia section at or by going to

The rss feed, which would allow you to add the rss feed for the podcast through an rss reader can be found at

To subcribe to the podcast using iTunes, click on this link.

I will confess that the podcast cannot yet be found in the iTunes directory. Apparently you have to create an iTunes account to do that, and of course the iTunes/Apple folks want credit card information in the hopes that you buy stuff on there. I didn't want to use my personal credit card to do that on a company computer, because we sometimes share computers here, or equipment gets swapped when there are upgrades and such. I didn't want my credit card information plugged into a machine here. And I don't have a company credit card — which given my interest in high-tech toys is quite prudent on the part of my employers!

So, that's one last detail to iron out on the whole podcasting thing, well besides just getting better at it (hopefully).

But we are officially podcasting — that is until we get the first reports of auditory injuries to those who dared listen to my voice, particularly on those little iPod earphones jammed straight into their ears.

I shudder to even think of the pain inflicted.

Time to gobble down some turkey trivia

Last weekend newspaper ads and flyers began to dedicate a considerable amount of space to reminding customers it was time to get their turkeys for Thanksgiving.

To entice shoppers, they offer different attractions: buy $100 worth of groceries and get a free turkey. Or buy a ham and get a free turkey. Or for a certain amount of money, get a turkey and all the other things you might possibly need for the dinner table for your guests.

The ads have grown a bit more complicated. In the past, a turkey was a turkey, and the biggest consideration was what size of turkey should be bought. The size of turkey purchased was usually influenced by three things: the amount of people expected to dine, what size was the oven at the house, and how big was the roaster the cook owned.

Actually, there was also a fourth consideration. How many turkey leftovers did the cook wish to have for the next few days or weeks afterward. When every possible turkey leftover recipe has been exhausted and turkey muffins are being considered (possible mixed with left over pumpkins from Halloween), it’s time to give up and declare the turkey feasting season is officially over.

This year Roth's grocery stores is encouraging people to pre-order their holiday turkeys, and provides a form to clip out of the newspaper and give to the meat department.

Obviously, selecting turkeys is a bit more complicated now, as shown by the descriptions of the turkeys.

First, there was Norbest Free Range: “This Grade A young turkey was lovingly raised on a traditional family farm, free to roam outdoors to soak up fresh air and sunshine.”

The second choice was Norbest Family Tradition: “This is another premium quality A-Grade young turkey, 100 percent natural, with no added MSG or other ingredients.”

Third up, the Norbest Fresh Turkey: “Norbest Tender-Timed Yoing Turkeys are Grade A premium quality, deep basted throughout with natural turkey broth. No MSG added.”

And last but not least, Shelton's Fresh Free Range Turkey: “Shelton Turkeys are raised in open range pens for up to 26 weeks. The turkeys are NEVER fed or administered any antibiotics or artificial growth stimulants. Shelton turkeys have been the standard of excellence since 1924.”

Shelton's turkeys come from an interesting past. According to the company website, "Shelton's Turkey Ranch started in 1924 with one hen and one tom that had been given to Mr. & Mrs. Shelton as a wedding gift. It evolved into a champion breeding facility that received many awards for body conformation and feather color. As an offshoot of the trophy breeding business, the Shelton family began growing holiday turkeys for the folks in the Pomona Valley of Southern California. As demand for the broad-breasted Shelton turkey grew, the emphasis was placed on growing turkeys for the holiday market.

"When the second generation Shelton farmer, Fred, died in 1969, the Flanagan family, Shelton's largest distributor, purchased the ranch and incorporated it into their own distribution business. They soon added chicken production to the mix and eventually began manufacturing and marketing value added products to the natural foods industry.

"From those two turkeys and two people in 1924, Shelton's has grown into the largest Natural Poultry marketer in the country," said the company website, who stresses "our chickens and turkeys don't do drugs."

The family that owns the company also emphasizes that the turkeys are processed by hand. "There are advantages to being a family business like Shelton's. Three generations of our family are involved in running it, and that means that our traditions of quality, value and nutritional integrity are never taken lightly."

For anyone curious about Norbest, the co-operative has a website that outlines its history as well as share recipes, turkey facts and even has a virtual turkey farm tour.

Norbest is celebrating its 76th year existence, with some fourth-generation turkey farms helping contribute to Thanksgiving dinners here in the west.

Norbest’s website outlines some of its history, if anyone was wondering if there is a northwest connection.

“Norbest, Inc., headquartered in Midvale, Utah, is a federated marketing cooperative dealing exclusively with turkeys and value-added turkey products. It is the oldest cooperative organization of its type in the world, and is one of the top turkey marketing firms in the United States.

“Norbest's cooperative members include turkey producer/processor cooperatives in the states of Utah and Nebraska, consisting of approximately 125 independent turkey growers.

“Norbest had its early roots in the early 1920’s as a producer-owned marketing cooperative called Utah Poultry. In 1930 Utah Poultry, along with other related businesses from Utah, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, and Nevada combined to form the first regional turkey marketing co-op in the United States. Its headquarters was established in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 9, 1930. The new cooperative was known as Northwestern Turkey Growers Association,” said the company website.

“The objectives of the new association were to “produce and pack a higher grade of birds, to establish a known quality ... to eliminate as much speculation as possible ... and pack a product, using federal grades, of uniform standard quality that will command both respect and the confidence of buyers.” In its first year of operations, the co-op had revenues of $1 million dollars on 3.5 million pounds of product; a far cry from the 125 million pounds annually produced by Norbest today.”

Norbest has undergone some changes in its members, its markets, and finding ways to help people cook the turkey or to get people to consider it as an everyday menu item.

“All this growth has been built on traditions of high quality and the strength of a popular brand name. The Norbest brand is one of the world’s best known and respected. Norbest products are sold throughout the United States as well as in Pacific Rim countries, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Middle East,” said the company.

“Membership in the Norbest cooperative has changed a few times over the 69 years of its existence, as local farmer co-ops have merged, dissolved, or changed focus. Today the members of the Norbest, Inc. cooperative are Moroni Feed Company in central Utah, and Nebraska Turkey Growers Cooperative in Nebraska.”

As for some of the interesting turkey facts, Norbest includes:

Turkeys are a variety of pheasant and have roamed the world for about 10 million years.

The Aztecs may have been the first to domesticate the turkey.

When Christopher Columbus came across the turkey in the New World, he called it tuka: something about his mixed up geography knowledge at the time and still thinking he was in India. He carried some turkeys back to Europe, and needless to say, they were a big hit, and by 1530 turkeys were raised domestically there.

Ben Franklin lost his bid to make the turkey the United States’ national bird, instead of the bald eagle.

Forget the image of the Wild West and cattle drives. There used to be turkey drives, including a case of moving them over the Sierras in California to Carson City, Nev.

And yet another piece of trivia from the website: “Domesticated turkeys cannot fly. Wild turkeys can fly for short distances up to 55 miles per hour and can run 25 miles an hour.”

Just a wild guess, but probably one would guess that no matter how “free to roam the outdoors” the turkeys are these days at certain farms, turkey growers prefer to keep their turkeys domesticated rather than wild.

They’re much easier to catch.

Is it a podcast yet?

It's taken longer than expected, but we finally have done the groundwork to begin producing an agriculture podcasting in earnest. The software we had been waiting for to make creation of the rss feed easier came in Friday afternoon. I still have a lot to learn about it, but I've got enough figured out that we have a url for our podcast site now, and the first audio file, though now outdated, has been linked in.

My next mission is try to get episode two produced and posted.

Now if only I could find some better on-air talent.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Podcastus interuptus

So far, my career as an agriculture podcaster has been off to a rocky start.

As I wrote more than two weeks ago, I was able to record and post an audio file, the first of what I still hope will become a series of podcasts. But I've been waiting on some new software to help me figure out how to actually do the things that will help me make that audio file (and the others that will hopefully follow) into a true podcast. At the time of that Oct. 17 posting, I thought the software might be in house later that week.

Well, we are still working on that.

But I can't completely blame the software delay. I still haven't recorded another episode yet either.

So, stay tuned. I'll post updates on developments here as they happen. I really think I need a 12-year old with a laptop to be my producer for this venture.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

4-H isn't just about sheep anymore

It's not just some new politicians that earned tickets to Washington, D.C., this week. A special tree from Washington state is also on its way to the nation's capital.

A lot of Pacific Northwest media outlets have picked up on the story since, shockingly, it is the first time a tree from Washington state has been picked for the national Christmas tree. But there is one news outlet that had some special coverage of the event.

Young Claire Turner of 4-H Network News interviewed Gov. Chris Gregoire in Olympia about the honor for the Evergreen State. You can follow the link at below to see video of that interview. And if you are interesting in some of the other things happening with 4-H in Washington state, you might want to check out the 4-H Network News blog out of Jefferson County, Wash.

While you check that out, I'll be polishing up my resume, because if people like Miss Claire Turner are delving into this whole multimedia reporting thing at such a young age, I may soon be replaced by a 12-year old.

Cookson Beecher, a Capital Press staff writer in Washington forwarding the link to the video, thanks to a head's-up she got from Gov. Gregoire's staff.

Claire Turner Interviews Gov. Gregoire About the Capitol Christmas Tree
Claire Turner Interviews Gov. Gregoire About the Capitol Christmas Tree

A peak behind the curtain

Today, I'm going to offer a look behind the scenes of at what happens when an opinion piece is written for the Capital Press.

One of our editorials in the Northwest editions of Capital Press first came to life here on Blogriculture as a post to our blog by Executive Editor Elaine Shein. Elaine is currently up in Canada, but was monitoring U.S. and Oregon election results from up there. She filed an opinion piece yesterday via e-mail and also and posted it on the Blogriculture site.

Two of the other members of our editorial board, Managing Editor Carl Sampson and I, read the piece and discussed it. We added a few refinements based on our observations of Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and his election win Tuesday night.

We edited the piece a little and used it on the Opinion page that will appear in the Northwest editions of the Capital Press that will hit newsstands, subscribers' homes and our website tomorrow.

But since you got a sneak peak at the "rough draft" of the editorial here at Blogriculture, I thought I would let our blog readers also get an advance copy of the final editorial as it will read tomorrow in print and online.

Here it is:

Kulongoski still has work to do to win over rural Oregon


While Ted Kulongoski has won a second term as governor of Oregon, voters have sent him a strong message: He has a lot of work still to be done to gain the respect of rural Oregon -- particularly the farm and ranch community.

Unofficially, Kulongoski received just under 51 percent of the votes in this week's election. Republican Ron Saxton received 43 percent. As expected, Saxton did best in the rural areas, including the eastern and southern parts of the state. Kulongoski won Portland, the place Saxton needed to crack if he wished to be a serious contender.

Considering how poorly Republicans did nationally in both the House and Senate, and how well they did in other Oregon races, Kulongoski should note that his margin of victory was rather modest due to rural voters who opposed him in large numbers.

So what should Kulongoski do during a second term if he wants to create a legacy for all of Oregon and earn some respect from farmers and ranchers?

First, keeping Katy Coba in her job as director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture would be an admirable start. She has done an impressive job of representing the interests of agriculture at the state, national and international levels.

Secondly, Kulongoski should immediately arrange to start meeting more with the agricultural organizations and their representatives in this state. Kulongoski must do more to understand and work with the agricultural and rural communities. During his campaign, Kulongoski boasted that he travels extensively in Oregon and knows the state and its issues. However, it is apparent that rural communities don't feel they know the governor or that he has their best interests at heart.

He can, and should, do a much better job of learning the issues important to farm and ranch communities, seek common ground and collaborate on solutions. He has to show respect for those people who toil on the land and spend time talking with farmers and farm leaders on issues vital to farmers and Oregon's economy. The state's economy -- meaning the state's workers and taxpayers -- still heavily depend on natural resource industries such as farms, ranches, forests and fisheries.

Kulongoski needs to be more visible in rural Oregon. He must show he listens and can be influenced by those he meets in farm country, not just the traditional Democratic base of state employees and labor unions.

Thirdly, Kulongoski needs to show leadership. This is especially true now that his party also has control of the Legislature. However, he needs to show he can work with politicians from both parties, as the Republican legislators largely represent the parts of Oregon where Saxton captured the majority of votes. Kulongoski needs to find solutions to streamline confirmation of his appointments to commissions and boards; lead state government leaders to work toward solutions; and make the Oregon of tomorrow a progressive, viable, dynamic place to live and do business.

Kulongoski should meet with the small business association and see what can be done to encourage and support the growth of that sector.

Fourthly, the universities and education system are relying heavily on Kulongoski to deliver on promises he has made in recent months. They will watch the next state budget closely to see whether he truly believes Oregon State University and others should continue to have the resources and support they need.

And finally, Kulongoski and other Democrats elected Tuesday need to work to restore the faith of voters in politics here in the West. During Kulongoski's first term, the agricultural community became very disillusioned with him and the Democratic party. They felt more than just a power vacuum in Salem. They felt ignored, frustrated and forgotten.

If Kulongoski believes the election gave him a mandate to continue doing what he has in the last four years, he is forgetting that his own party was disillusioned with his leadership, which is why he faced such a crowded field of challengers in the spring primary election.

If he uses the election as a wake-up call and lesson on how to do things better and makes an honest attempt to work harder with the agricultural community, then there is hope for the future.

However, this election serves as a sobering reminder for the agriculture community as well. Democrats are even more solidly the party of power in Oregon and now have control of most seats in Congress. Agriculture leaders will need to court Democratic support for the issues important to their industry.

Political power in the West isn't based on acreage, it's based on population.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Capital Press website is back up

It's been a busy day. Sorry I didn't get this posted earlier, but the Capital Press website is back up and running again.

Oregon election shows governor has work to do

While Ted Kulongoski has won a second term as governor of Oregon, voters have sent him a strong message: he has a lot of work still to be done to gain the respect of rural Oregon and particularly of the farm and ranch community.

Unofficially, Kulongoski received just under 51 percent of the votes in this week's election. Republican Ron Saxton received 43 percent. As expected, Saxton did best in the rural areas, as well as the eastern and southern parts of the state. Kulongoski won Portland, the place Saxton needed to crack if he wished to be a serious contender.

Considering how poorly Republicans did nationally, in both the House and Senate, and how Oregon has been more traditionally a Democrat stronghold, Kulongoski should find it sobering that almost half of the state's voters would rather have someone else lead them.

Nationally, polls before yesterday showed that three out of four voters were leaning towards Democrats because of disgust against corruption and scandals involving politicians, and in particular Republicans. There were also great discontent about the Iraq war.

In that context, Kulongoski's win shows it is even more shaky. Getting just over 50 percent of the votes does not show the state's voters are confident in his leadership. The votes may have emerged because of fear of what might happen if Saxton won, especially with some of the comments he has made about the employment of state workers and how he wanted to continue to attack their retirement plan.

So what should Kulongoski do during a second term if he wants to create a legacy or at the very least earn some respect from farmers and ranchers?

First, keeping director Katy Coba in her job in the agriculture department would be admirable. She has done an impressive job of representing the interests of agriculture at the state, national and international levels.

Secondly, Kulongoski should immediately arrange to start meeting more with the agricultural organizations and their representatives in this state. Instead of waiting for a big issues to hit the wall and be forced to react or veto what he doesn't like, Kulongoski should do more to understand and work with the agricultural and rural communities. Learn more about the issues, seek common ground and resolutions, and more importantly show respect for those people who toil the land.

Kulongoski needs to be more than just more visible to rural areas, but actually show he listens and can be influenced by those he meets.

Thirdly, Kulongoski needs to show leadership. This includes working with other politicians on both sides of politics. Kulongoski needs to find the solution so appointments can be made to commissions and boards; influence the government to work towards solutions; and move the state ahead to where it needs to be in the future, as a progressive, viable, dynamic place to live and do business. Kulongoski should meet with the small business association and see what can be done to encourage and support the growth of that sector.

Fourthly, the universities and education system are relying heavily on Kulongoski to deliver on promises he has made in recent months. They will watch the next state budget closely to see whether he truly believes Oregon State University and others should continue to have the resources and support they need.

And finally, Kulongoski needs to work to restore the faith of voters in politics here in the West. Under Kulongoski, the agricultural community has become very disillusioned with him and the Democrats. They have felt more than just a power vacuum in Salem: they have felt ignored, frustrated, and forgotten.

If Kulongoski feels the election gave him a mandate to continue doing what he has in the last four years, then he didn't deserve to win.

If he uses the election as a wake-up call and lesson on how to do things better, and makes an honest attempt to work harder with the agricultural community, then there is hope for the future.

Capital Press webside down

Do to a technical problem from our internet hosting service, Going 1Up!, the Capital Press website has been down this morning. If there is any consolation, the site for 1Up! Software has been down as well.

At last report, it was unknown when the problem might be able to be corrected.

The problem is also effecting the website of our sister publications as well at the Daily Astorian and East Oregonian, Wallowa County Chieftain, Blue Mountain Eagle and Chinook Observer.

Canadian farmers watch U.S. election

Sometimes farmers forget that when they vote in their local communities, the outside world is watching the results.

While Canadian news rarely is reporting in the U.S. press, American news is often reporting by the media in the North. Yesterday, the majority of daily newspapers and the broadcast stations in Canada played up high in their newscasts the U.S. election and what might be the impact.

Canadian farmers and rural areas were also tuned in, attempting to understand what their American neighors might do in terms of international trade policy if the U.S. government at different levels becomes more left-leaning.

This week there were attempts to perhaps get World Trade Organization talks going again, and the U.S. plays a key role in whether any international trade agreement in agriculture will ever be achieved.

The Canadian wheat farmers in particular want to know where the U.S. and Europe will stand on their subsidies to farmers.

There is inner turmoil in Canada's wheat industry itself, with the Canadian government attempting to end the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly on international grain exports, and two of the largest grain players at a chance to possibly merge.

Yesterday, Saskatchewan Wheat Pool announced it offered an unsolicited bid to buy Agricore United: if they merged, the market capitalization would be worth more than $1.2 billion, according to Pool.

For Canadian wheat and durum farmers, this means there might be less competitors who want their grain in Canada.

If the Canadian Wheat Board was also no longer the sole seller of grain outside of the country, then more Canadian farmers may be looking south of the border to ship their grain, especially to the pasta market.

That's why Canadian farmers were watching the election south of the border: take the changes happening in agriculture within Canada, add new political dynamics in the U.S., and what happens in trade between the two countries will be interesting, to say the least.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Putting the election to bed

Well, I've watched enough election drama for tonight and made my final post for the night on the Capital Press website. Tomorrow, is production day for Capital Press, and we will be working to put some analysis of how tonight's election results will effect agriculture in California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington.

There will undoubtedly be fallout for farmers and rancher, both positive and negative, as there always is when politics is involved.

The big question in my mind is what Democrats nationally think the message was from voters who have turned over control of the U.S. House of Representatives to Democrats, and could still gain control of the Senate when all the final counting is done.

Have farmers and ranchers abandoned the Democratic Party, or have Democrats abandoned the people who grow food and fiber? Can they find common ground again? That will be vitally important to how the 2007 Farm Bill plays out. Of course the agriculture community is not completely unified on issues that will be central to the farm bill either, like crop subsidies and who should, or should not, be getting them.

I'll let the "experts" sort it out. I'm going to take a moderate position, smack dab in between the sheets of my bed.

Election update: Red tide receded in Congress

It looks like the pundits were right. Several news organizations are projecting the Democrats will gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. And at this hour, it appears the Democrats still have a shot at gaining a majority in the U.S. Senate as well.

I'm posting election number over on, but I'm trying to monitor four states, and the numbers are changing quickly. The governor's races in Idaho, Oregon and California appear to be decided, with the incumbents winning in Oregon and California and Rep. Butch Otter appears headed to the governor's office in Idaho.

Polls close on West Coast

Check the Capital Press website for results as they become available on issues related to agriculture.

Election night drama and questions

The polls will close on the West Coast in about an hour, but early results out of the East indicate that Democrats are gaining ground in congressional seats. Will the trend continue in the West?

If so, and if you subscribe to the conventional wisdom that the Grand Old Party is now the party that best represents agriculture and agribusiness, what would Democratic control of Congress mean to America's farmers? How might that effect the 2007 Farm Bill, which the next Congress will take up after the first of the year? How effective would a Democratic Congress be able to be with a Republican president? And how effective will the Republican president be in his final two years if there is a Democrat-controlled Congress?

Even if the Democrats don't get control of the House and/or the Senate, it appears likely the Republican majority, if it remains, will be slimmer.

Raining cats and ballots

Northwest Oregon and western Washington are being bombarded by heavy rains and flooding again today, creating inconvenience for some and outright disaster for others. But will it effect today's election?

There will undoubtedly be some impact, as those procrastinators who haven't yet dropped off their ballots at a collection site (or mailbox in the case of Washington voters). But if voters had to physically go to the polls today, like they do in most states, turnout in the areas hardest hit by this late fall storm would likely be down significantly.

Those in the rural parts of the state east of the Cascade Mountains may wish Oregon and Washington, why generally find it more convenient to vote from home than to drive to town to vote may be wishing this election wasn't a vote-by-mail variety this time. If voter turnout were down significantly in west-side precincts, those on the drier side of Northwest life may actually see their vote count for more.

I'll be trying to post some results tonight on some key West Coast races and ballot measures affecting agriculture on the Capital Press website after the polls close at 8 p.m. and vote tallies become available sometime thereafter — that is, weather permitting.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bittersweet homecoming

To continue the homecoming theme here at Blogriculture, I just got back late last night from a quick trip to visit family in the community where I was born. I was in Scottsbluff and Mitchell, Nebraska, over the weekend for the funeral of my uncle, Don West.

My Uncle Don was an ag pilot, better known as a crop duster back in the days when he was getting started in the business. He also got my dad, Landis West, started in the same business, which eventually led to my dad buying an aerial spraying business in Oregon. That led our branch of the family tree to the West Coast. But the family tree is deeply rooted in the farm country of the Nebraska panhandle.

That's where I was over the weekend, in the flatlands of Western Nebraska, where the exhaust stacks and silos of the sugary beet factories tower above the plains and are visible for miles beyond the fields of corn stubble, bean and sugar beets. It was my first trip back there in nearly 15 years and marked the first time I'd seen many members of my family in maybe 20-25 years.

In spite of the solemn reason for our gathering, it was good to spend time with family and see some familiar faces and terrain. Many of those faces now bear the unmistakable signs of time's unrelenting march. Even the "children" I remember as little more than toddlers are now grown with children of their own. And the landscape too revealed some signs of progress in some places and decay in others.

It seems inexcusable that in a time when it is so easy to reach out to people via modern communications methods, like cell phones and e-mail, that so many years have passed without a word passing between myself and so many aunts, uncles and cousins.

But there were no pointed fingers or heaped guilt. Instead there were hugs and genuine attempts to catch up on a lifetime of missed moments and reminisce about memories shared. Better still, there was a brief period of time to create some new shared memories.

Like seeds lying dormant beneath the ground, enduring years of drought and neglect, all it takes is some nourishing rain to made the seeds sprout and grow, flowering anew.

As for Uncle Don, grounded in recent years by failing health, he has once again "slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the sky on laughter silvered wings..." to "...touch the face of God." My thanks to World War I aviator John Gillespie Magee Jr., who wrote "High Flight," probably the best-known poetic tribute to pilots everywhere.

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