Takeaways from Bundy Ranch

If you are like me you have probably discussed Cliven Bundy’s ranch standoff with the BLM this last week at least once.

The Takeaway

The Bundy Ranch situation has highlighted some points many of us have been trying to get people to pay attention to for years. Now we just have to make sure those points are heard through the banter.

  • The dangerous overreach of the Endangered Species Act. 

The original dispute started over a tortoise that got listed as an endangered species.  The BLM decided in order to save the tortoise they needed to restrict grazing on ranchers.  According to several reports Bundy was the only rancher left in his area because of his resistance to reduce grazing.

Currently environmentalists want to list the Sage Grouse as an endangered species.  This bird has habitat in 11 different Western states.  What will that do to ranchers and grazing if the bird is listed?  Personally, I believe the Sage Grouse is the spotted owl for ranchers and will no doubt mean certain death to an industry.

  • The obscene amount of the land the federal government “owns” in the West. 

It is NOT appropriate for the feds to “own” 53% of Oregon and 85% of Nevada.  The founding fathers never intended for this to happen and the people in charge can sell that land anytime they want.

  • The power radical environmental groups have over our government. 

The Center for Biological Diversity threatened to sue the BLM if they did not remove Mr. Bundy’s cattle in the last year.  The Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) allows non-profits to sue the federal government and if they are successful in their lawsuit their attorney fees are covered by the taxpayers.

However, depending on which party is in charge of the government the radical environmental groups have found an easy way to make money.  They use “Sue and Settle” techniques to receive their funding.  We are not talking a couple thousand dollars we are talking millions of dollars.  It is estimated that between 2000-2010 “12 environmental groups had filed more than 3,300 lawsuits over the previous decade, recovering over $37 million in EAJA funds.” 

Continuing Action

My hope is the people outraged by the BLM’s actions against the Bundys put their passion towards something positive.

If any part of Cliven Bundy’s situation was upsetting to you, I would suggest that you start advocating for reforms on the federal level on the issues I listed above.

This is why elections matter. It matters who you vote for at the Federal, State and County levels.  They all have a say in your freedoms and your livelihoods.

Federal Government dominates land in the West.

Federal Government dominates land in the West.

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My friends Carin and Larry have done a nice job of summarizing up the story on their blogs.  Please read them both they give awesome insight.

Karen Budd-Falen, a lawyer in Wyoming, has done extensive research on environmental groups abuse of EAJA

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Government Logic

Some days I wonder if our federal government is run by complete imbeciles. Seriously, if someone could explain their thought process I would greatly appreciate it.

Recently the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced their proposed budget of $1.1 billion and their top priorities.  They are going to spend $2.8 million dollars on fertility control for wild horses.  Also in the budget they are going to spend money to preserve the sage grouse habitat.

This makes absolutely no sense to me!

Over 50% of the land in Oregon is owned by the federal government, roughly 32 million acres. Half of that ground is owned by the BLM. Many ranchers also lease federal lands to graze their livestock on.

The horses and the sage grouse share the same federal ground.  If the BLM was truly concerned about either they would “get rid” of the horses and in turn help stop the sage grouse from getting listed as an endangered species.   The horses are contributing to the depredation of the sage grouse’s habitat.

Currently, the BLM spends more dollars than we can imagine on rounding up these horse and treating them.  The government feeds, sterilizes and medicates the horses.  This is not a win-win situation.  Horses provide nothing for the land or the taxpayers.  However, our government feels like this is an appropriate use of OUR funds.

This is just a long list of things lately that has me scratching my head about government.

  • Why does our government restrict precious ag tools that could solve our labor issue? <– I picked up on this at the Precision Farming Expo I attended last week.
  • Why does the EPA need to add more rules to the Clean Water Act, while claiming it won’t change anything?
  • Why does the federal government need to own so much land in the west?

What is your opinion or suggestion on we change how United States government functions?  Because currently I am at a loss.  I do know that elections matter and that includes all of them, county to federal.

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The Mack

It has been busy.  The sun came out and we started fertilizing like mad.  In fact we are over two-thirds done. However it has started raining which has put us on hold for a while.

Tristan (the husband) runs the fertilizing buggy and I am head truck driver.

Game camera catches Tristan

Game camera catches Tristan fertilizing fescue

Both fertilizer trucks are yellow cabovers with powerbins. I prefer the 13 speed 1979 International however I have found myself more often than not in the 1977 5 speed Mack.

The Mack was the first truck I ever drove. Before it was a fertilizer truck it was a water truck for when we used to burn fields.

One day about 10 years or so ago my dad says, “Marie I need you to take a water truck down to Camas Swale.”  Me, “I don’t know how to drive truck.”

I got two lessons up & down our road with J-Man our family bulldog on the back and then I was sent down the road. I could shift to higher gears easily enough but downshifting, not so much.  I got to where I was going and kissed the ground. And like any good farm dad he told me “Don’t tell your mom or grandma.”

Today, The Mack is a good fertilizer truck, she does her job but she has a few quirks.

  • Mold growing on steering wheel
  • Mouse House, which bounces down on me every time I hit a bump
  • Outside door handle doesn’t work so you can’t shut the door if you are not in it
  • Smoke comes out of dash once in a while

Although I am fairly certain every farm & ranch has a truck/tractor like The Mack.  A rig that serves its purpose faithfully but has a couple of quirks.

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Europe’s Breadbasket & the Rest of Us

Ukraine is a player in the global agriculture economy. It is the world’s 3rd largest exporter of corn and 5th largest exporter of wheat.

The turmoil going on in Europe’s breadbasket is affecting our markets here at home.  The wheat market spiked and now we are selling the remaining of our 2013 wheat.   For the moment, Ukraine’s misfortune is our opportunity.

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Seed, green, almost ripe, in barn

Now what happens if this continues and Russia gains control of Ukraine?  The region Russia is supposedly wants is known as Crimea.  It is where the main port is. It is also where Russia has a naval base.

A few thoughts:

  • Those who control the food & fuel supply control the people. Europe’s food, fiber and fuel flow through the Ukraine.
  • While the US grain markets are benefitting from the turmoil what does this mean long-term for the world food supply if it continues?
  • My friend Jeff shared these thoughts on his facebook, and I cannot disagree:

    Is history repeating itself?

    Is history repeating itself?

Sadly, The United States currently has a weak administration.  Putin does not respond nor does he care if he is breaking some international law so a stern talking to is not going to stop him.  Plus, is there a law that has stopped a criminal yet?

What does the future of agriculture look like if no one steps up and puts Russia in its place?  What are your thoughts on the subject as a whole?

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The Speed of Life – 3rd Blogiversary

My term as Oregon Women for Agriculture president ended Saturday afternoon after two quick years.  It made me reflect on how fast and how much has changed in the last few years.

Three years ago I wrote my first blog post and since then I have:

Because of this blog I have:

  • Gained broader perspective on agriculture as a whole
  • Become a better writer
  • Made new friends, farmers and non farmers.
  • Recognized on different levels for doing what I love, talking about agriculture!

Thank you for reading the last three years! It’s been a whirlwind but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.  Looking forward to the years of head and sharing it with all of you! Also stay tuned for a BIG blog update!

Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
-Mark Twain

Do you have a favorite post of mine?? Please share in the comments! 

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Felfies: Farmer Selfies

About a month and a half ago my cousin posted a buzzfeed article on my facebook wall.  It was about the newest internet trend: Felfies or Farmer Selfies.

During our road trip to Reno this weekend for Krone Baling School, I compiled all my “Felfies” from my instagram account. There are two plus years of pictures.  I don’t have cute farm animals to show off but I do have tractors, trucks and bulldogs.

Felfies: Farmer Selfies #flipagram featuring @ryegrassman @callienoel1 made with @flipagram♫ Music: Pistol Annies - Hell On Heels

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Oregon’s Right to Know

“Labeling Genetically Engineered Food” could be on the ballot in November if House Bill 4100 in the Oregon Legislature is passed.

I testified in opposition to this bill and mandating labels on genetically engineered food.  Here is my testimony:

Hello, my name is Marie Bowers.  I am here in opposition of HB 4100 and mandatory labels on genetically engineered products.

I am a fifth generation farmer in Harrisburg, Oregon.  On our farm we grow grass seed, wheat, meadowfoam and this year, hopefully, turnip seed. If the slugs haven’t ate them all.

Most everything I grow is a food crop. The grass seed feeds sheep and cattle locally, nationwide and internationally.  We pasture our fields with sheep all winter long.  The wheat goes into noodles.  The meadowfoam is unique, the seed is crushed for the oil in cosmetics, and the meal or left over stuff is then used as cattle feed.  There is also the delicious honey from the bees that pollinate the meadowfoam.

We are constantly trying to expand the diversity of the farm. We try new methods, crops and technology to find what fits and makes sense for our farm.  However we are often limited by soil and climate of the area

Farmers have many different tools and methods they can utilize to produce safe and abundant food.  Genetic engineering is one of these tools.  No one makes you use one method or another it is all about choice and diversity.

Diversity is a beautiful thing, particularly in Oregon agriculture. That’s what allows Oregon farmers to grow over 230 commodities in this state.  The different methods, markets and technologies all work together for Oregon Agriculture and ultimately benefit the state’s economy.

The proponents of this bill ultimately do not support diversity. They would like to see GE crops disappear entirely, no matter the cost to family farmers and the cost to family shoppers.

The late President John F. Kennedy once said, “The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.”

Labeling Genetically Engineered products are costly.  The cost will passed down to the farmer.  There are costs to the implementation and enforcement of the regulations.  Someone needs to pay for that.

There is also the cost of litigation.  The bill clearly states that if a mistake is made you are wide open to litigation.  Any person supposedly aggrieved by a mislabeled food can seek legal action against whoever they feel is responsible for it.

To be clear I am not against labeling, I am against mandatory labeling.  There are many companies out there that currently label products GMO free.  If you buy Certified Organic you are guaranteeing that you avoid GMOs.   Mandating an additional label is redundant and pointless when the labels already exist.

Ultimately this bill seeks to stigmatize competition through legislation & litigation not with honest marketing.

I urge your No vote on HB 4100.  Mandating genetically engineered labels are costly, a regulatory nightmare and ultimately redundant.

A couple of things I pondered when writing my testimony:

  • The bill doesn’t mention animals fed GE products but it also doesn’t exclude or exempt them, what is to say later on someone gets mad at their steak because it was fed GE and not labeled..would a lawsuit get through?
  • What is the fiscal impact of implementing such a law? Regulations cost money.

My GMO wish list:

  • A grass that kills slugs as soon they take a bite
  • GE Wheat
  • Salmon I can eat (Deathly allergic to the stupid things)

Related Links: 

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Filed under Agriculture, GMOs, Green Agenda, Politics

Winter Storm 2014

For the second time in two months we have had a “severe” winter storm, at least for the South Willamette Valley.

For the second time in HISTORY we went snowmobiling in our fields! We even went down county roads to a field 10 miles away.

The snow started on Thursday. Now if you were new to the Willamette Valley you might have thought the world was ending. When it snows where it typically does not snow everything comes to a halt.

The husband and I had signed papers for a HOUSE, a real house, on Wednesday. The plan was to have keys on Thursday.  I am not very patient so before lunch I emailed the escrow officer asking the status of recording.

This was her response:

Okay, I am so sorry BUT FED EX has the package in Portland.  UGH!  We cannot close without the ORIGINAL seller docs.

Yes, I was aware that I-5 was a literal mess and 20 cars had piled up 40 minutes north of us but still, I NEEDED A HOUSE! Thankfully, Fed Ex came through.  The title company called about 3:30 pm that they had recorded .

The husband and I jumped into his pickup full of wedding presents we had not opened yet. Drove to OUR house, unloaded.  We borrowed my mom’s Yukon drove to my storage unit, loaded more presents, the husband loaded my bed in his pickup and back to OUR house we went!

OUR house!

OUR house!

Well the snow continued. The husband had started working full-time on the farm in October but prior to a farmer he was a full-time paramedic.  He continues to work part-time on the ambulance. He was scheduled to work Friday night to Saturday night.  A drive that should have taken him an hour took him two & a half hours.

I went snowmobiling Friday afternoon with my parents and a family friend. It was a blast riding on unplowed roads and zooming around the fields.  Unfortunately my snowmobile decided to break down.  We had to leave the sled in the field and planned to get it the next day.

2nd time this year! Crazy!

2nd time this winter! Crazy!

However about 4 PM on Friday the freezing rain started.  This is something that is most annoying and no one should have to experience.  Basically rain falls from the sky in near ice form and freezes to whatever surface it hits.  I made it home that night with no problem.

Saturday morning I decided to venture out to my parents.  I needed to help dad get my snowmobile, plus they have coffee and food at their house. My house was not at that point yet.

Driving in snow does not bother me.  I have lived in Pullman, Washington where I drove a milk truck in the snow at least a dozen times. (I worked at the WSU Creamery.)  I lived in Central Oregon and drove in the snow at least a few times each winter.  I find it a fun challenge more than anything else.  Test my skills as a driver.

Although I do not think I have ever driven on an inch of ice until Saturday morning.  It was about 10:30 am and the roads had barely been touched by drivers let alone a snow plow.

I have driven rigs of all sizes in various weather conditions.  Even 3 winters ago I drove a semi truck and trailer of wheat through the snow  to get it on a railcar. No big deal.  This Saturday though, I drove 7 miles white knuckled to my parents house, being sure not to touch brakes so I avoided telephone poles and ditches.

It was slippery out. You had to stomp when you walked to break the ice or else you would fall on your butt.

In the early afternoon Dad and I ventured out to go rescue the snowmobile.  The snow plows were running on the main county roads by then. But not the county road the snowmobile was on.  But we made it safely to our destination and back.

Ice Road

Ice Road

Tristan, the husband, could not make it home Saturday night because the roads where he worked were too bad to travel.  He stayed at his old house.  Luckily he made it home Sunday morning and we were off to buy things for OUR house!

The freezing rain/ice has knocked out power for thousands of people around the area  and some are unsure when it’ll be restored.  I have heard of at least four barns collapsing under the weight of snow and ice, including an 86 year old barn that my great-great grandpa built.

There are many branches and a few trees down. I wonder how many of those branches and trees are in our fields?  Hopefully we find them before the windrower does.

Were you affected by the winter storm? Share your story in the comments! 

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February 10, 2014 · 2:52 pm

Perfection

Perfection is the first word comes to my mind when I think about my wedding.

I was surrounded by family and closest friends.  The weather was gorgeous.  I was marrying my best friend.  The blessings were overflowing.  

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Sunrise!

Wedding breakfast with the girls!

Wedding breakfast with the girls!

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I went for a morning swim!

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Makeup & hair!

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Could not ask for a better sister and friend!

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Dad & his girls

Then the conch shell blew and we were married…or something like that. It was kind of a blur.

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After the wedding, we took pictures on site then traveled to a few other spots…including this cliff.

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Joel from Hanalei Shack took this fantastic image with a GoPro attached to a drone. So Cool!

These next photos were taken by my AMAZING wedding coordinator, Kaye with Maile Weddings. This all would not have been possible without her.  Seriously, if you want to get married in Kauai contact her! Check out her facebook page.

Family & Friends who were able to attend. I am blessed.

Family & Friends who were able to attend. I am blessed.

We had a ukulele player, Tommy Tokioka.  Wish he could've followed us around the rest of the trips! Amazing!

We had a ukulele player, Tommy Tokioka. Wish he could’ve followed us around the rest of the trip!

My sister captured a short clip of our first dance, courtesy of Tommy!

We had a first dance on a beach! Courtesy of an amazing ukelele player!  #tristanmarie14

Love.

Love.

Perfection.

Perfection.

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Why did I plan a Wedding in 3 months?

First of all I apologize that I have not written a lot about agriculture or farm things as of late.  My brain has been a tad bit preoccupied with my pending nuptials. I believe it’s called Wedding Brain.

Some curious minds may wonder why I planned a wedding in 3 months.  I heard murmurings as to why but NO I am NOT pregnant.

Here is why:

1) I am a farmer.  There is only about 4-5 months out the year we can get married.  January is one of them. The other months are November, December, May, maybe February and maybe June.  The last two are weather dependent.  Any other month we have fertilizing, spraying, harvest, field work and planting.

Also, ever since I was a little kid my dad made a strict rule that we could not ever get married during harvest, so a summer wedding was immediately out.

On the farm we may have the usual winter projects & maintenance, but we also get married in the winter.  My grandparents got married at the end of December, my parents and the end of November, my sister at the beginning of December and now me in January. :) All different years of course.

2) We also have to avoid hunting season.

3) I wanted a destination wedding. If I cannot get married in Oregon when it’s warm, then I am going where it’s warm.  This was really the only time of the year that it was ideal and I could be gone for two weeks. Again see reason number 1.

Destination Wedding

4) I am impatient. I like to get things done, efficiently & timely.  I don’t like to mess around with details.  And if I do have to deal with details I don’t like to dwell on them for too long.  He proposed so let’s get this thing done.  Sure it caused a bit of hurry & stress in some (or a lot) aspects of my life.  But honestly doesn’t that happen whether it’s 6 months or a year?

But for mostly reason #1 and #4 that’s why I planned a wedding in three months.

Again I am sorry for not posting more about agriculture.  “Wedding Brain” is a serious condition.

However, here’s a video of our latest ditching machine. We have to make ditches in our fields so the water can run off.  Otherwise many of our fields would be a giant mud puddle.  We try to make ditches when things are dry but cannot always get to them before the rain.

 

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