2013-04-18 / Columns

From the Heartland

By Allan Burke

Spring weather remains elusive. Highs are expected to range between a chilly 28 degrees and a more pleasant 48 degrees this week, and lows will be between 13 and 33 degrees. The heartland needed the moisture, and we got 15-20 inches of it on Sunday.

Welcome wet stuff

Most heartlanders were glad to see the snow fall on Sunday, even if it was piled up by the wind. We desperately needed some moisture, and the melting snow should fill up the creeks and stock dams. There may even be talk of minor flooding, depending upon how fast the snow melts. The forecast, so far, doesn’t indicate a radical melt.

The Red River valley is more threatened by flooding this year, and that area, too, will be affected by the speed of the melt.

As of press time, I haven’t seen the statistics, but I think it’s our biggest snow storm since April 4-6 of 1997. That year, all of our snow had melted, and then a huge storm moved in, thus causing widespread flooding, including the disasters in the Grand Forks and Fargo area.

There’s been so much snow since the first of the year in the eastern Dakotas that people have shown some humor by putting Christmas decorations back up. Leah, who had taken down out snowman flag, is again flying her frosty flag in front of the house.

The downside of the storm, of course, is its impact on producers who are calving. Some are finished bringing in the new crop while other are in the middle of it. We hope the effects are minimal because livestock are part of the heartland’s bread and butter.

Green thumb time

My bride and I attended the 2013 Dakota Garden Expo in the Bismarck Civic Center on Saturday, the second and final day of the annual event. We enjoyed the booths and displays as well as the seminars.

Leah invested in some bulbs. She picked them out by the pictures on the boxes, but after assembling half a dozen packages she realized some were marked $4 and others were $25. She quickly restored the high-dollar bulbs to their respective boxes. We did not want to mortgage the pickup to get home.

She did splurge a little bit and bought a yard ornament created by Chris Thomas of Thomas Ironworks in Bismarck. He makes whimsical ornaments out of salvaged items. Her “mosquito” has an oil can body with the spout as the stinger, a fork for a tail and another fork for eyebrows. Its eyes are big washers, and its wings are cut from thin scrap metal.

I’m confident the metal bug will scare away door-to-door salesmen and stray cats.

About farmers

We especially enjoyed a mini-BBQ Boot Camp presented by four North Dakota State University faculty members. Part of their presentation focused on the importance of agriculture and the red meat industry, and they noted that very few people understand agriculture like their ancestors did.

Assistant Professor David Newman pointed out that 50 years ago about 50 percent of the U.S. population was involved in production agriculture. Today, that percentage is less than two percent—1.6 percent. That’s a lot of pressure on a few people to produce our country’s food and fiber as well as the surplus that is exported to other hungry nations.

With the expansion of the world’s population to today’s 7 billion and over 8 billion by 2025, one wonders if there will be enough food to go around. Amazingly, prime farmland continues to be paved over in the United States. I suppose you could compare that to capping oil wells. We are jeopardizing our future.

Anyway, please say “Thank You” to your farmer friends. If you’re a farmer, accept a big pat on the back for a job well done.

While you’re at it

While you’re at it, please say “Thanks!” to the state, county and city crews who have been working long hours to clear the streets, county roads and highways in the aftermath of the blizzard.

The crews are dedicated and work long hours to open roads and to make travel safer for all of us.

Also thank the public offi- cials at the various levels who have the foresight to keep the crews outfitted with modern equipment.

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