Thursday, January 31, 2008

More protests on Klamath settlement

We have another video from freelancer Jacqui Krizo on reaction the recently announced Klamath water agreement. Krizo was in Yreka, Calif., to hear what people had to tell the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors about the deal.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Schafer confirmed as agriculture secretary

The U.S. Senate confirmed Ed Schafer, a former governor of North Dakota, as the next secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Read the story here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Now for something completely different

Want a sneak peek at some of the ads that may be showing during the Super Bowl?

AP has some snippets from ads from Budweiser that you may be seeing Super Bowl Sunday. Click here to take a look.

Or maybe this one is more to your liking. It's an ad for a Sunsilk hair product, which features the late, great Marilyn Monroe with modern era pop starts Shakira and Madonna.

There are some other Super Bowl sneak peek videos available too from:

Carmen Electra in an IceBreakers Ice Cubes spot;
and one about drugs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A closer look at a worthwhile cause: the Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassador program

When Shannon Henderson placed the crown on Heidi Larson on Jan. 19, showing the transition of one Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassador to another, music blared, streamers flew, and applause thundered from 300 people gathered at the event in Salem.

Larson was still shaking from nervously being on stage with six other women who had competed for the honor to represent their state. As the crown touched her head, she was shocked, but also proud she had competed and come so far and would be able to represent an industry she is passionate about.

Larson also felt she had gained some great friends through her experience. “Even if I didn’t get it, I am so proud of all the other girls, that we’re so close. It wasn’t like we were competing. We all did our best, and we know whoever got chosen would do a great job … Everybody was rooting for everybody, and that was a great feeling to have that kind of friendship that builds throughout the year.”

For Henderson, the coronation was emotional — it was a time to celebrate what she had accomplished in the last year, to watch a video of what she had done in her official role but also share images of her growing up with her family. It was also a time of relief. As she said later in interview, a year is about the right time for the position. It can be an exhausting agenda for the year, especially as she reached her goal of talking to more than 10,000 students.

Next week, Capital Press will have a multimedia package of stories, pictures and audio online, as well as a story and pictures in our Feb. 1 newspaper on the youth page, about the princess-ambassador program. The package will include interviews with the last three princess-ambassadors in Oregon, their families, as well as some of the people who ran but weren’t successful, and those who run the program.

For the past three years, I have followed some of these remarkable women and watched as Oregon Dairy Women has helped them to do more than just represent the dairy industry. They have grown more confident, better public speakers, more focused on career choices, and developed into leaders of tomorrow.

Hopefully, the stories and these women describing their feelings about the program, experiences being involved, and the lessons they have learned — and taught others — will encourage others to be involved in similar programs that are held by agricultural organizations in this and other states.

While the mission of the dairy princess-ambassador is a serious one to educate people about the dairy industry, there also can be a lot of lighter moments.

Henderson handed out at each table this year a sheet of paper that shared some of her favorite school presentation moments.

Here are some of the questions she received during the year.

1. How many babies can a cow have?
2. Can milk get stuck in the cow?
3. Do you work at the Dairy Queen?
4. Aren’t cows supposed to ROAM FREE?
5. Can different cows’ milk have different flavors?
6. Where did the first cow come from?
7. How does the “nutrition stuff” get into the milk?
8. Can you ride a cow?
9. How fast can a cow run?
10. How fat can a cow get?
11. Do you wear your crown to your farm? Do the cows like it?
12. Have you ever had a cow run into a wall when she was tired?
13. If a cow falls on her side, can she get up?
14. Do cows snore? My dad snores!
15. Do cows ever run away?
16. From a 1st grader: “Does chocolate milk have the same amount of calcium as white milk?”
17. Shannon: “Grass is another part of a cow’s healthy diet.” Student: “Cows don’t diet!”
18. When baby cows are born, can they be a different color than their mommy?
20. Shannon: “In review, can you name one food a cow likes to eat?” Student (thinks hard): “RATS!”
21. Why do you call them cows?

Stay tuned to Capital Press newspaper and next week for more coverage.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

And another one gone

Former senator (and actor) Fred Thompson dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination today.

His one vote in the Blogriculture poll wasn't enough to save his candidacy.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Deal heats up water war in Klamath Basin

The latest video for the Capital Press is from Klamath Basin freelancer Jacqu Krizo, who got some reaction on film from farmers and ranchers who are concerned about a settlement announced last week on water use in the basin.

If you haven't read the story by staff reporter Mateusz Perkowski, you can find it here. The competing interests for water in the Klamath Basin has long been a caught up in a contentious battle. The new "agreement" doesn't look like it will end the feuding any time soon.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Field ready

By Kevin Duling

Winter is the time for farmers to catch up on their equipment maintenance. Most farmers have a goal for each piece of equipment to be “field ready” before the spring work begins. I’ve always had a dream of having the equipment ready by mid-January so I can ski through winter’s end, but that is only a dream.

Winter is also a great time for farmers to shop for new and used equipment to update their fleets. Through farm sales, classified ads, and the Internet, farmers will spend hours looking for the right machine. Through the years I’ve been a farmer, I’ve noticed that “field ready” for some is not field ready to all.

A few years ago, we found a slightly used baler at a well established dealership. The baler had only been used two seasons on a small hobby farm. The price seemed fair and the hours were low, making the sale go quickly, especially since it was labeled “field ready.”

After three years of toil, cursing, fluffy bales, log bales, banana bales, and a few good bales, the baler is now what we would phrase as “field ready.” Since the dealership was the culprit on the false advertising, we still considered the “field ready” phrase as somewhat sincere if a fellow farmer used it.

Our next great winter drive for lunch included the possibility of purchasing a slightly used grain auger from a dairyman. The ad in the paper coined the machine as “like new.” Used augers are usually completely worn, so the idea of one “like new” seemed worth the 200 mile journey.

While parked by an old, rusted beast of an auger directed into a silo, we speculated on where the dairyman would take us to view the advertised one. Concern rose as the man shut his pickup off and closed the door behind him.

After brief introductions, I cautiously asked where the auger was so we could have a look. With a puzzled look, he slowly pointed at the rusted beast just to my left. With Dad trying not to laugh, I had to find the appropriate words that would not turn the man’s puzzlement to hostility.

“Let me turn it on for you,” he said. “It may look rough, but it handles the wet feed as if it were brand new. Just watch!”

With the auger swaying back and forth like a snake in the water, I had to fake a stomach sickness causing me to run behind the silo to get out of sight. This time I let Dad keep the straight face and come up with the excuse for not purchasing it.

The next trip for lunch involved going to look at an eight wheel tractor with low hours and a low price. The obvious question of “What’s wrong with it?” was racing through our minds on the trip down.

Upon entering the farmer’s equipment yard, we felt guilty about driving a dirty pickup onto this finely manicured lot. The farmer, dressed in semi-formal attire, introduced himself and led us to the shop. Inside the shop were three tractors. Of the three, two had men waxing and polishing them, as if preparing for an exhibit at an auto show.

His only statement concerning the third tractor, the one for sale, was how he demanded his employees keep every piece of equipment clean enough to eat off the floor. He mentioned how he fired a man for leaving mud on the floor of the cab.

While visiting about the tractor, his wife entered the shop with a small tray full of freshly baked chocolates. After we raved about the chocolates, the man stated, “She’s been a great wife for me; kind of like this tractor. I will miss this tractor.”

With the purchase agreement and a handshake, we headed for home. My brother asked me if I quizzed the farmer about transmission noises, the hydraulic system, or engine performance.

My reply, “Well, no, he said it was field ready!”

Kevin Duling is a wheat farmer from Maupin, Ore. His columns are posted on the Capital Press blog on Fridays. Comments are welcomed at There will not be a column posted on Jan. 25.

Copyright, January 2008, Kevin Duling

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fit to be roped and tied

Have you seen the video of the 2-year old roper? Yes, I mean a rodeo-type roper. OK, maybe he's not riding horseback and flanking cattle — yet — but this young Oregonian is well on his way to becoming a calf roper or team roper or steer roper in the rodeo arena someday. Check out this video from Associated Press.

Updates from Farm Bureau convention in New Orleans

Bob Krauter of the Capital Press is in New Orleans for the American Farm Bureau Federation convention. He's already posted a couple of stories from the gathering. As you might expect, the still incomplete farm bill has been a big topic of discussion there. Both acting-Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner and Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman have addressed it so far.

Look for more updates from Krauter on the Capital Press website and in Jan. 18 edition of Capital Press.

Update: 2 p.m., Jan. 14: We've added links to Farm Bureau video in the story on Stallman's speech (see links at the bottome of that story) and added a story from freelance writer Jerry Hagstrom to the convention coverage package, which we have grouped in a section on Farm Bureau coverage on our website.

At journey's end

Bill Inman has made it. And Blackie did too. Bill and his trusty mount finished their cross-country journey from Oregon to North Carolina in just over 6-months time. The journey's end was reported by the Associated Press.

If you haven't been following the story, Capital Press reporter Mateusz Perkowski interviewed Inman before he started his trip back in June about why he was going to ride on his own reverse Oregon Trail trek.

Inman and his entourage documented the trip on their own website too.

It's an interesting saga. A man sets out on a horse in search of a slower pace of life from a bygone era and documents it all using modern technology. I guess it is possible to keep one boot planted firmly in the past while having the other boot steps boldly into the future.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Some things never change

By Kevin Duling

My buddy and I sat near the back row of the classroom. The subject was social studies. The teacher was a man who did not believe in laughter. Most days I could focus and learn the subject as the teacher wanted me to. Some days I could not.

There was at least a month during that school year when someone would have to start a car just outside the classroom. This someone would attempt to start their car everyday at 9:40 am. I remember that time because I used to dread it.

At 9:38, my buddy and I would glance at each other hoping that person would choose walking, instead of starting that beast of a car. At 9:40, we would hear the car door shut.




Not only would the car fail to start without this daily ritual, it lacked a muffler. That person would have to repeat the above madness at least three times in order to have a successful launch. My buddy and I found that extremely amusing. The teacher did not.

I’m not sure how much of the social studies class I can remember today, but I can remember the car. My buddy and I were always astonished how nobody else would even acknowledge the failing car. I find similar situations happening today.

I just received a pouch in the mail containing the pictures from our elk hunting trip last fall. The first picture is my dad proudly holding the head of a large bull elk. The second picture is my dad, my brother, and a lifelong family friend holding all three of their bull elk heads. The third picture is my cousin Bob riding on a large stump as I tow it back to the fire pit.

I believe my cousin’s goal was to hang on for eight seconds, so he could have a scoring ride. He informed me he was the current leader in the western stump riding association and a trip to Vegas for the finals was imminent.

After chuckling about Bob and my picture, I began to see the direct correlation on why Bob and I did not bring an elk home. Perhaps the things I see as funny get in the way of worldly success. How many times has success been thwarted by my uncontainable sense of humor?

Moving to the present, my fiancĂ©e Misty and I were invited to a black tie event at one of Portland’s hotels. The New Year’s Eve event included wine tasting, dinner, a chance to meet a former Miss America, and listening to the former Miss America sing in the New Year.

I rarely attend these “proper” functions, as I don’t own a black tie, nor do I understand how to act at these events. A fish out of water would put it mildly. Misty was excited about the evening, so I had to go.

To start the evening, a friend talked Misty and I into having our portrait drawn by a local artist. Artist she may have been, but I looked like Fat Albert and Misty looked twice her age. Perhaps it was a portrait for 25 years from now.

To me, the highlight of the evening was when the event was ending. A man who looked to be in his seventies sucked in a balloon full of helium and yelled out “Happy New Year Everybody” just as the audience was quiet.

Of the forty people present in the room, I only noticed his table plus four people laughing at his blaring pinched vocal chords. Miss America’s husband was sitting at our table and he noticed me laughing. With a twinkle in his eye, he calmly handed me a balloon and grabbed one for himself.

I suppose success can’t be measured just by material things and accomplishments. To me, an evening with good food, good drinks, and great company, accompanied with laughter makes the perfect evening. If the man in the corner had decided against the helium, the evening wouldn’t have been complete.

Laughter is good like medicine and more people need their prescription filled.

Kevin Duling is a wheat farmer from Maupin, Ore. His stories are available on the Capital Press Blog every Friday. Comments are welcomed at

Copyright, January 2008, Kevin Duling

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Richardson bails in spite of ag blog voter support

Bill Richardson may have got a vote as the best presidential candidate for agriculture here in the Blogriculture poll, but it wasn't enough to save his campaign. The Democrat announced officially today he's dropping out of the race.

We'll leave him in the poll anyway. After all, he's one of only three presidential candidates to get a vote so far in our little poll.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Cast your vote for the food-and-fiber president

With the New Hampshire primaries going on today, it's got me thinking about presidential politics. I was wondering which of the presidential candidates would be best for America's farmers and ranchers. Rather than speculate, I figured I'd turn to Blogriculture readers to help determine the answer.

I've added a couple of polls, one Democrat and one Republican, to let you the people decide who will better serve rural American from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Feel free to cast your vote in one, or both, polls on who you think would be the best president from each party for American farmers and ranchers.

We'll leave the poll up for a few weeks to collect as many votes as possible, so come back and see how your candidate is doing in the days and weeks ahead.

Monday, January 07, 2008

New Dairy and Livestock 'barns' built at

Farmers and ranchers in the West raise hundreds of things to feed and cloth the people of the United States and the world. At the Capital Press newspaper, we try to cover as many of them as we can, with particular emphasis places on the biggest commodities in our region.

We realize that finding information we have published on particular commodities can be a bit of a challenge sometimes on our website. We have a search function that can help, but if you find one story you like and want to read other stories similar to that one, sometimes that can be difficult, short of running a whole new story search.

We hope some changes we've made to the site will make it easier for subscribers to find some stories they may be interested in. In print, we publish pages each week dedicated to issues for dairy producers and livestock producers. Now, we have added links to our online Dairy and Livestock pages to help subscribers interested in those topics stay on top of developments in those specialties throughout the region.

Look for the Dairy and Livestock links on the left-side navigation bar on And if you have any other suggestions on how we can make our websites easier to use, please let us know.

Friday, January 04, 2008

I won't give a finch!

By Kevin Duling

Animals typically rule the roost at my place. I always presumed I would just have a dog and maybe even a cat. Throughout time and a few unfortunate events, I was left with two cats, fourteen chickens, a barn full of guinea hens, a pet steer, a dog, some wild quail which must be fed daily, and lastly, two finches.

When I leave for a small vacation, (all my vacations must be small with that many animals) I have to print out a detailed map of instructions on the appropriate care of each animal. The two finches, Frederick and Francine Finch, are by far the highest maintenance of all.

Daily care for finches involves simply changing their water, blowing the chaff off their food dish, giving them five fresh leaves of spinach, replacing the millet stalk, and wiping the poop off the perches. For the sake of time and entertainment value, I did not mention the cage cleaning, mite control, the proper mixing of charcoal with the gravel, the cuttlebone, and keeping the thermostat constantly above 65 degrees.

A few years back I was contemplating whether to give them to someone else or keep them. Frederick was busy trying to get a small piece of a millet branch into their nest. It was slightly too big and too slippery to stay inside. Frederick would place it in position and the branch would slide back out, falling the far twelve inches to the cage floor.

Two hours later, Frederick was still trying to get the small stick to stay up in his nest, while Francine waited patiently on the nearby perch. Finally, after hours of work and toil, Frederick got his branch to stay. With a cheerful little song he decided to get some approval from Francine.

As they sat together on the perch looking horizontally at their nest, the branch decided to fall back out. Frederick’s reaction was an ear piercing “CHIRP!” I do not speak finch well, but I do know this was not a kind word. After Frederick’s sinful outburst, Francine glanced at Frederick and began to verbally let him have it.

It was not until evening when I discovered the extent of Frederick’s verbal discharge. For the first time, Francine would not let Frederick into the nest. He had crossed a line and he was in big trouble. For a full week Frederick slept on top of the nest, while his spouse slept inside.
Finally, after trying for seven long nights, she allowed him to come back in and sleep in the bedroom. The happy little couple hasn’t had a problem like that since. I have managed to witness at least a dozen traits from these two that would correspond directly to a married couple.

Being engaged, I have to ask myself what verbal outburst I am capable of that will end with me on the couch for a week. I am also curious what I will have to do to get me off the couch. One would not think one could learn so much from a pair of birds, whose aggregate weight equals about 2 ounces.

Life hasn’t always been perfectly rosy for the two finches. They have suffered through a week of paint thinner fumes, a week of staying at the grandparents while the paint dried, numerous temporary furnace outages, some heat waves, a cat dangling from the cage, and the time I tried to start a fire with the chimney completely plugged. All of these events were life-threatening to the finches, but together they made it through.

Hardship comes every spring and fall when I clean out their nest, which requires them to rebuild with tiny sticks and pieces of napkin. After a couple of hours of remorse and complaining, they get to work.

These little guys may be the highest maintenance pets in the world, but their character, perseverance, trust, and loyalty make them almost worth it. I won’t give a finch.

Kevin Duling is a wheat farmer from Maupin, Ore. His stories will be posted on the Capital Press blog every Friday. Comments are welcomed at .

Copyright, January 2008, Kevin Duling

Thursday, January 03, 2008

... toil and trouble

As the subprime mortgage debacle drags down the housing market, Barron's reports that agricultural land prices are booming across the Midwest. Analysts aren't particularly worried about a farmland bubble:

[Farmers] are reinvesting their gains in additional acreage. This means that the market isn't nearly as leveraged as was residential real estate, says Iowa State's Duffy, and so is less prone to becoming a bubble. Furthermore, farmers can lock in profits on futures exchanges at current prices going out two or three years. Indeed, 2008 futures for corn, soybeans and wheat reached new highs in late-fall and early-winter trading.
Pressure from sprawl and increasing commodity prices are part of the surge in land value, but the biggest boost is the e-word:
The rush for ethanol is easily the biggest factor behind rising farm prices. And a glut of ethanol could develop quickly as more and more farmers try to get rich quick by switching production to corn. In fact, the glut may be here. More than 130 ethanol plants now operate in the U.S., up from around 80 three years ago, while the number of gas stations selling ethanol is as underwhelming as the number of drivers demanding it. Recently, construction on three proposed U.S. plants was halted amid a growing oversupply of the fuel. Hart Energy Publishing reports that U.S. ethanol inventories climbed 12% from August through September, while average prices had slid from $1.91 a gallon to $1.67.
The article looks back at the last farmland bubble in the '70s and is well worth a read.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Welcoming the new year

What's the best way to welcome the new year?

On the farm, my family and I always liked to go for a long drive or a long walk, as weather permitted. If our roads were snowed in, and snow too deep to walk, then skidoos were used to travel the fields.

Whether by vehicle or foot, usually a few wild animals were seen along the way.

Being far from home and the family farm, I decided the best thing to do yesterday was to drive to the Oregon coast. I was curious to see the damage from some of the bad storms that have hit there in the last few weeks, but I also was drawn to the beauty of the coast and the chance to see whales this time of year as they migrate south.

Along the way, between Salem and Lincoln City, there was evidence that a fair bit of trees had been knocked down and cleaned up along the highway. In Lincoln City itself, there are still some missing signs that need to be replaced, a few roofs are being repaired, and there is evidence that trees got knocked down here and there. But for the most part, the town appears to have done surprisingly well in either avoiding direct damage or in recovering quickly from winds that had reached hurricane strength there.

From Lincoln City to Newport there are more signs of trees taking the brunt of the wind, but again, clean up has gone well in the majority of the areas. Restaurants and some other businesses open yesterday did well with business from local people as well as visiting tourists.

It was cloudy, dry and windy at the coast, keeping most people away from walking the beaches, but there were two groups that did venture out: surfers and whale-watchers. Along the coast in several places there were people with binoculars, long zoom lenses, and a a lot of patience.

They scanned the horizon hoping to see the familiar spouts of water going up to reveal where the whales were in the water. Occasionally, if people are lucky, they might actually see part of the whales as they swim or dive.

I saw only a few spouts. When the water is calm, it's a lot easier to spot the whales. However, this definitely was the time to see the whales. This past week is one of the best times to see them migrate, when the largest number travel south.

The sun was mostly clouded over, but the shimmering of the sun's rays on the ocean's surface really gave a surreal beauty to the day.

After the sun set, smaller fishing boats began to return to Newport. The cries of sea gulls and the barking of sea lions welcomed each boat that slowed chugged towards the processing plants. By this morning, their catch will start to appear in markets up and down the west Coast.

Gazing at this watery world far from the fields I had explored on past New Year's Days, I thought about how different parts of the country welcome the new year through their traditions, lifestyles and careers.

Back on the farm, on New Years Eve, my family had welcomed a new calf born a bit earlier in the season than usual. In the city, some people in the neighborhood had cheered and shot off mostly illegal fireworks for several hours. At the coast, the fishing boats prepared their boats to harvest fish and crabs.

Welcome, 2008, may it be a good year to all — no matter where people are and what they do.

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