News

A study by Texas A&M University has found that rural living can be deadly. A lack of emergency services in outlying areas is costing lives, notes The Rural Blog. The study found that, during an emergency, those living more than 30 minutes from an emergency health-care facility have a 46 percent mortality rate, compared to only 21 percent for those living within 30 minutes of a hospital.

"Resting" Barbecue Improves Flavor

Jun 25, 2015
Joshua Bousel / Flickr

For many years barbecue aficionados have had a problem. After the meat had finished cooking, every method of keeping the barbecue warm throughout the day until it could be served resulted in dry meat. Steam tables turned it to mush, heat lamps zapped the moisture from it, and leaving it in a pit cooked the meat even further and dried it out.

tortoiseforum.org

A look at a seasonal bug that's not really a garden pest but more of an outdoor nuisance at this time of year.  Buzzing incessently around any bright light to be found, and then crashing into anything that stands in their way, junebugs are a favorite menu item for toads.  So I put out the welcome mat for toads big and small, giving them right-of-way on garden paths and offering a cool dark hiding place during the day.  When it's suppertime, I leave the light on outside and offer the toads the best table at the Junebug Cafe.

Oklahoma to Allow Online Voter Registration

Jun 24, 2015
Vox Efx / Creative Commons

A new law will allow Oklahoma voters to register online, reports the Southwest Times Record. The law, which goes into effect November 1st, authorizes a secure online system that will accept voter registration applications from voters with a valid Oklahoma Drivers License or ID card.  The new measure is one of several election reforms proposed by Senator David Holt, a Republican from Oklahoma City. More than two dozen other states already have electronic voting systems.

A Remembrance of Black Wolf, a Forgotten Kansas Town

Jun 24, 2015
Legends of Kansas / Public Domain

The Legends of Kansas website has posted a fascinating history of a Kansas ghost town known as Black Wolf, which was situated on the north bank of the Smoky Hill River. Located halfway between Ellsworth and Wilson, the town began as a station on the Union Pacific Railroad.

US Public School Funding Still Unfair, Report Suggests

Jun 23, 2015
Tom Woodward / Flickr Creative Commons

A new study finds that public school funding continues to be unfair across America, reports the watchdog website schoolfundingfairness.org. Despite the country’s economic recovery, states have been slow to restore public school funding to the levels they experienced before the recession. Students living in impoverished areas suffer the most.

Big Companies Expand Testing of Organic "Biopesticides"

Jun 23, 2015
Dan Charles / NPR

One of the biggest hurdles farmers have faced in recent years is the sticky problem of how to kill weeds organically. As conventional farmers fall under increasing pressure to use fewer toxic chemicals, they have begun to search for less pernicious methods of eliminating weeds, according to NPR.com. One answer is microbe-produced pesticides, known as biopesticides.

Take a great singer-songwriter-Amos Lee- add the renowned Colorado Symphony and put them together in one of the most spectacular live venues in the country-Red Rocks Amphitheater.  The result is this week’s featured CD.  Recorded on August 1, 2014, ‘Live at Red Rocks’ is a mix of tunes from all 5 of Amos’ previous records.  We will listen to it this week on High Plains Morning. 

Donnle Nunley / Flickr Creative Commons

The Rural Blog reports that minimum wage is severely inadequate to support a single-parent home in the United States. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, workers in Hawaii would need to earn $32, in California $27, and in New York $26 an hour to afford a decent two-bedroom apartment.

Panhandle Corn Crops May Recover from Wet Conditions

Jun 23, 2015
killermart / Flickr Creative Commons

Many Texas and Oklahoma panhandle corn producers have had to delay planting due to wet conditions produced by record levels of rain in recent months.  The High Plains Journal reports that corn farmers are considering planting corn hybrids that mature earlier, or perhaps planting other crops such as grain sorghum.

Barclay Gibson

While many towns in the Texas Panhandle have grown over the last century, others have dwindled in population, and some have been almost completely forgotten. The website texasescapes.com has a section dedicated to the ghost towns of the panhandle, where you can learn about the forgotten past of the Llano Estacado.

William C. Johnson

The town of Eads in Kiowa County, Colorado, was already familiar with wildlife tourism. The community saw the cleanup and preservation of a wetland south of town as an economic development opportunity, which would attract birders to the habitat to observe local and migrating waterfowl. A ConocoPhillips grant, administered through Playa Lakes Joint Venture, got the project rolling.

Public Domain

In this age of chain restaurants and big box stores, the Dodge City Daily Globe has published an important reminder about the first people who lived in the Dodge City Area. These people did not live in cities or towns. Instead they moved in camps as they followed the Buffalo across the plains. The Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche and Arapaho, were nomadic, and they used the buffalo for virtually all of their needs, including food, shelter, and tools. The slaughter of the buffalo was no accident.

The Evolution of the Great American Combine

Jun 22, 2015
Edmund Garman / Flickr Creative Commons

Kansas Agland has a report on how much wheat combines have evolved over the last century. According to the ag website, harvesting wheat a century ago involved cutting wheat stalks with a horse drawn binder and gathering them in bundles. The bundles were then stacked into windrows to dry, after which a giant steam-powered threshing machine separated the wheat kernels from the straw. The entire process was extremely labor intensive.

Daniel P. Sink of Vernon, Texas / Public Domain

According to historian Barry Scobee, Comanche Chief Quanah Parker once appeared in Big Bend seeking peyote. Glenn’s Texas History Blog reports that Parker arrived at the Lempert Hotel in Fort Davis in the waning years of the 19th century in search of the hallucinogenic cactus. It’s unclear when the Comanche first began using peyote in their shamanistic ceremonies, but anthropologist Omar C.

Study Links Fracking to Low Birth Weight

Jun 22, 2015
todbaker / Creative Commons

A new study has linked hydraulic fracturing with low birth weight, according to The New York Times. Scientists studied almost 16,000 live births in southwest Pennsylvania, categorizing mothers by their proximity to sites where fracking was taking place. The study found that babies born in high exposure areas were 34% more likely to be small for their gestational age.

kristy fuller

99 people spent part of their Father’s Day at The Fibonacci, and were rewarded with an amazing afternoon of great music.  The Red River Songwriters group consists of our own Susan Gibson, Walt Wilkins, Drew Kennedy, Kelly Mickwee, Brandy Zdan and Josh Grider, and we were able to catch them on their way home from their annual songwriting camp in New Mexico.  6 top notch songwriters, 6 powerful voices, 6 guitars and 1 banjo, and a guest song from Zach Wilkerson.  What a great way to end your weekend.  If you would like to be on our e-mail list to find out about future shows, send an e-mail to

Nobody told me when I married a game warden that a pelican would take up temporary residence in my children’s wading pool. Nor did I realize my two tiny daughters and I would spend a couple of days throwing our hooks and lines off a bridge over Big Creek trying to catch enough fish to satisfy that visitor’s insatiable appetite. On the other hand, that eating machine never expected to vacation at our house either.

Latest EPA Water Ruling Ruffles Feathers of Farm Lobby

Jun 20, 2015
unknown NOAA employee / Public Domain

The EPA’s latest rule defining which US waters are subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act has come under attack by America’s largest farm and ranch lobby. The Rural Blog quotes the head of the Farm Bureau as saying that “the waters-of-the-U.S. proposal is even worse than before. Our analysis shows yet again how unwise, extreme and unlawful this rule is." The Farm Bureau noted the EPA has broadened its definition of a tributary.

Creative Commons

The Department of Transportation has reversed a ruling that would phase out a requirement that railroads must disclose publicly when they’re transporting crude oil. The Rural Blog reports that the rule will now remain in effect. Media outlets have raised concerns about trains transporting crude oil through dangerous or populated areas. The number of oil train spills has skyrocketed in recent years, increasing from 25 in 1975 to 141 in 2014.

Luke Clayton

 Howdy Folks!

I'm finishing up a book on wild hog hunting and processing, and my research has led to a surprising discovery.  

Trappers can sell the pigs to processors.  the processing plants have a USDA Inspector on the premises.  

Each hog being shipped to Europe is tested for trichinosis, a parasite sometimes prevalent in hogs, and very widespread in bear.  I thought all hogs, both domestic and feral were carriers of trichinosis.  That's not so.  I learned in thousands of pounds of meat, not one has tested positive for this disease.

William Majoros / Creative Commons

Scientists in Wichita who’ve been studying the feathers of a small bird called the dark-eyed junco have come across something interesting, and possibly troublesome. The Wichita Eagle reports that scientists found pathogens resting in the birds’ belly feathers. This might not necessarily be a concern normally, but here’s where things get interesting:   The winter habitat of juncos is being degraded. Intensified agriculture is causing the birds to choose less than optimal habitats.

OKCPS Emerson

The online magazine Slate this week provided readers with a fascinating view into America’s educational past. Workers renovating a high school in Oklahoma City came across a number of blackboard lessons that had been frozen in time. The blackboards, which had been covered by new chalkboards in 1917, still retained lessons and drawings on math, reading, music, handwriting, personal hygiene, pilgrims, and God.

John Moore / Getty Images

Texas is suing the Obama Administration to block its plan to offer amnesty to millions of immigrants. But a recent report by the Center for American Progress has concluded that Texas actually stands to profit immensely if the president’s ambitious plan is upheld. The Huffington Post notes that the president’s plan would benefit Texas’s GDP to the tune of $38.3 billion over ten years.

Brennan Linsley / Associated Press

While marijuana is now legal in Colorado, you can still be fired for testing positive for the substance. The Washington Post reports that the state supreme court ruled 6 to nothing this week against a man who was trying to get his job back after failing a drug test. Colorado now becomes the fourth state to rule against an employee in such a case.

Cromwell Solar

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Westar Energy faces a challenge — or at least it’s anticipating a challenge — in the growing number of Kansas homes sporting solar panels on their roofs.

Like other utilities, Westar relies on a pricing structure that largely depends on customer usage. The company charges a small monthly fee for customers to access its grid. But for the most part, how much customers pay each month depends on the number of kilowatt-hours of electricity they use.

Kansas resident, Shona Banda, faces five counts, four of them marijuana related. Banda was booked into jail, and later released after posting $50,000 bond. If convicted on all counts, she could be looking at 30 years behind bars. Sarah Swain, of Lawrence, is her attorney. She says cannabis oil cured Banda of her Crohn’s Disease, and if she goes to prison and can’t get that treatment, she will likely die. According to Swain, Banda has been without the oil since her home was raided, and has lost a dramatic amount of weight, as a result. She’s also had to undergo oral surgery, due to infections that Swain says had been kept at bay by cannabis oil. Swain’s goal is to take Banda’s case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary, to stop marijuana from being classified as a Schedule 1 drug, defined as having no medicinal value.

Robert Deutsch / USA TODAY

USA TODAY reports that, not only are more Americans becoming eligible for Medicare, they are increasingly sicker than their predecessors. Diagnoses of kidney disease, depression and high cholesterol have seen double-digit increases since 2008. In addition, over half of all Medicare beneficiaries have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Two-thirds of today’s Medicare beneficiaries have multiple chronic conditions, and 15% have at least six long-term ailments.

Image engraving by
J. Pass / Wellcome Library/Creative Commons

Slate reported this week on growing concerns in the scientific community about the continued necessity of the leap second. At issue is the fact that time tracked by atomic clocks diverges with time determined by the Earth’s rotation.  Every year, scientists insert a “leap second” into official time so that timepieces on Earth will match up with atomic time.

Andy Marso

From the Kansas Health Institute:

For years Garden City resident Shona Banda has been self-medicating her Crohn’s disease with cannabis oil and making no secret of it, touting her homemade vaporizer on YouTube and in a self-published book.

Now Banda could face up to 17 years in prison for doing so, in a case that has medical marijuana advocates enraged and legislators from both parties saying it is past time to re-examine the state’s drug laws.

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