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Baxter Black

Baxter Black tackles ag issues with a strong funny bone. Black is an American cowboy, poet, philosopher and former veterinarian.

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The ad read:

For sale: 30-acre ranchette with two wells, year-round creek, round pen, loading chute, run-in shelter, paddocks, corrals, granary and poultry condo, a perfect place to watch people and critters grow and thrive in a Montana atmosphere!

Poultry condo? That would clinch it for me!

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Oh, no, just when they were beginning to wear me down, a new study concludes that by 2100, forests in the mid- and high-latitudes will make some places up to 10 degrees warmer than they would be if the forests did not exist.

Does this bode ill for the salesmen offering to sell you carbon offsets by planting a tree in honor of the luxury appliance in your home? Alas, it merely points out the problem of scientists guessing, speculating, hoping, wishing, or projecting answers to questions that remain unproven.

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This is a story where the perpetrator must remain anonymous. Hereinafter he shall be called, “He who learns the hard way” or simply, “He Who.” He Who plotted over the long winter days about how to feed corn to a deer for a few weeks to fatten it up. Grain- fed venison, he envisioned. Succulent.

His first step was to procure a deer. Many congregated at his cattle feeder. Positioning himself behind the feeder, he waited, rope in hand. He Who stepped out, threw his loop and caught a doe around the neck. She just stood there and stared at him.

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Diversified farming has always been considered a legitimate alternative for farmers and ranchers. Midwestern farmers have done well using corn, soybeans and a pen of feeder steers.

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My mechanic has a lot in common with my mother’s doctor. When the steering wheel locked up on my 3/4-ton, 4-speed 1969 Ford F-250 with split rims and a manual choke, we cajoled it down to George’s garage in town. On my truck’s last visit to George’s, he replaced the power steering pump, so I figured I was good for a while but not so! I left it over the weekend with instructions to please fix it.

My sweet mother has had a long relationship with her doctors. They have kept her ticking through the Great Depression, World War II, four children and two husbands, as more than her share of afflictions struck away at her health. She still has an ongoing schedule of doctor’s appointments. Sometimes she has a complaint, or the visit is just for a checkup. But no matter the purpose of the visit, it seems the doctor can always find something that’s not quite right which requires an additional test or pill.

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She came in the shadow of her big sister, Katrina, and wreaked havoc on the Cajun gulf coast of Louisiana. Her name was Rita. It was September 24, 2005. Whereas Katrina was like pouring water on a city in the bottom of a bucket, Hurricane Rita was her own 100-mile-wide tsunami.

Livestock producers across the country have been ravaged by fire and blizzard and drought; the backside of Louisiana was not spared. A massive wall of seawater forged its way up the canals and bayous into the lowlands along the coast across the southern belly of Louisiana, sweeping megatons of natural and man-made refuse inland for miles. It picked up houses, boats, cars, barns, fences, horses, cows, goats and wildlife as far as it could reach, then turned on its head and returned seaward, a monstrous backhand that was a thumb in the eye to man’s meager attempt to control the waters.

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