HPPR Environment

Awareness:
geography
geology
hydrology (water, aquifers, rivers)
flora
fauna (wildlife)
climate
weather
ecosystems
climate change

Management & conservation
water conservation
soil conservation
wildlife protection
policies & regulations

Our Turn At This Earth: Cheater Bars And Self Reliance

Jan 11, 2018
Joe Angell

As a young girl, I resented the gender divisions on my family’s Kansas farm, where my brothers worked in the barn and fields and I was relegated to cooking, gardening and cleaning the house with my mom. Today I realize that all of our work contributed equally to our thriving in that place, but I grew up in a cultural climate that viewed women incapable of fixing a tractor, while to cook or sew threatened a man’s masculinity.

As our short days of winter flutter by, many High Plains gardeners (like myself) have our minds on the forthcoming growing season. Today's Growing on the High Plains comes as a response to one of these foliage-focused friends that asked me about planting for pollinators—namely, monarch butterflies. They do have plants of preference, and I'll share some tips for those interested in showing these "flying flowers" some hospitality. 

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After a Colorado farmer suffered a massive heart attack, his doctor gave him some unusual medical advice – to no longer talk about water.

As The Greeley Tribune reports, Harry Strohauer farms in Gilcrest, Colorado and Like dozens of farmers along the South Platte River, has suffered from the effects of curtailed well pumping, the result of legislation, a Supreme Court case and battles with surface water rights owners.

Jeff Kramer / Wikimedia Commons

In 2018, Amarillo has already seen unseasonably warm and blisteringly cold temperatures. That’s no different from last year, when Amarillo set a number of weather records, according to The Amarillo Globe-News.

Parts of the city are still experiencing the longest dry spell in recorded history, and that drought comes after what was the city’s seventh wettest year ever last year.

From Texas Standard:

A lot of Texans will be paying close attention Monday to the words and tone of President Donald Trump as he addresses farmers and ranchers at the American Farm Bureau Convention in Nashville. At a time when Texas is growing in population,  becoming less rural and more urban than it was 10 years ago, advocates say rural issues are no less important than they once were. And that's the message Trump aims to send during his Farm Bureau speech. But what do Texans want to hear, especially on issues such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA?

From Texas Standard:

Here's the situation: you're driving down the freeway and miss your exit. But no need to stress – just take the next exit and pull a U-ie at the light. If you're lucky, that intersection will include a "Texas turnaround," making what you've done perfectly legal. But in other states, this traffic device is unknown.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has released an updated fish consumption advisory list for 2018.

Lyndon State College Meteorology / Wikimedia Commons

High Plains residents have been experiencing a warmer than average winter, with less snow than usual. Yet, when we turn on the television, we’re inundated with stories of polar vortexes and unprecedented cold snaps back East. So, what’s going on?

While politics has sharply divided red and blue states in recent years, there’s a new divisive force that is separating conservative and liberal areas—weather.

Luke Clayton

We hunters are not always fortunate enough to drive a vehicle right up to a downed game animal and sometimes, we have to pack the meat out. As luck would have it, Luke harvested a good eating "meat hog" just before deadline for this week’s show.

Our Turn At This Earth: In The Mojave's Mirror

Jan 4, 2018
Julene Bair

As a young woman, newly single after my marriage had ended, I bought a little one-bedroom Victorian in an unassuming, foggy San Francisco neighborhood. That house would be worth a fortune today. But I was young then. I didn’t think about my financial security in the distant future. I wanted to live my dream now. I sold the house a few years after I bought it for what I considered a tidy profit and moved to the Mojave Desert, to live alone in a rock cabin and teach myself to write.

No, we're not in Kentucky...and I don't think you saw me standin' around. Nonetheless, we have a pretty "loony" topic this week.

Last week I offered some history of The Old Farmer's Almanac, and this year's edition foretells a pair of rarities for us High Plains dwellers: blue moons, twice in the first few months of 2018.

Today's Growing on the High Plains offers the backstory on lunar "blueness" and what we might expect in our forthcoming growing season as a result.

Older Farmers Struggling In Silence

Jan 3, 2018
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There’s an eerie silence among aging farmers but that doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling.

As Politico reports, in recent months, lawmakers introduced legislation to make sure young farmers have their voices heard in the next farm bill.

Luke Clayton

Wild pork is plentiful during the winter months at Luke Clayton’s house and he puts it to use in various ways, but any lean meat - domestic or wild - will work with this recipe. 

Luke first learned how to prepare this tasty dish from a Mexican cook at a hunting camp down on the Texas/Mexico border back in the late 70s.

Rather than measure the cumin, salt, garlic, etc., Luke much prefers to taste test the stew as it cooks. Cumin is the predominate seasoning and it's important to use enough of it to give the dish it's "Mexican" taste.

Today's installment of Growing on the High Plains explores the longest-running, continuously-published periodical on our continent. While I remember the petite, butter-yellow booklet regularly crossing the counter at my father's pharmacy, I wanted to share some of the fascinating history of this annual reference volume and what it has meant to those who have historically made a living off the land.

Luke Clayton

Luke tells about a very busy week he enjoyed hunting and fishing with his buddies from Canada. Luke and friends enjoyed a mid-winter outdoor vacation pursuing wild hogs at night with thermal gear, hunting them with rifle and bow during daylight hours, and catching big blue catfish weighing up to 54 pounds with mutual friend guide David Hanson at Lake Tawakoni. Luke's Canadian buddies even had a chance to land their first largemouth bass on the adventure.

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I'll share my experiences with the many living Christmas trees we've had through the years. While they require a little extra care and attention (and demand a much shorter indoor stay), live trees make for a cozy, rustic Christmas display.

Our family has welcomed a variety of trees into our holiday home—and want to know the best part? Unlike cut trees, these fragrant fellows stick around all year long, reminding us of the love and joy shared during the season it sparkled in the spotlight.

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This winter is expected to be unusually warm and dry on the High Plains. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect your home from winter weather.

The Edmond Sun has published some tips for making sure your house and family are safe through the long winter months. Unclogging your drains and gutters can ensure that they don’t freeze up when the temperature drops.

Advanced biofuels have been touted as the next step beyond the corn-based ethanol that’s the bulk of the country’s renewable fuel for cars and trucks. These next-generation options were supposed to bring jobs to rural communities and provide farmers with fresh revenue sources, in addition to reducing the carbon footprint of vehicles.

Nearly a decade of federal incentives encouraged companies to invest in cellulosic technology, which produces ethanol from crop waste such as stalks, cobs and leaves left on fields after harvest, and at least three plants were built in the Midwest since 2014.

But cellulosic ethanol is harder to make than grain ethanol because it uses the inedible and irregular parts of the plants, meaning it was tough for machines to chew up the wet, heavy material. And companies faced other challenges, such as a steady supply, fluctuating markets and stalled policy decisions.

Wikimedia Commons

Wind turbines are often installed in areas, like the high plains, where wind tends to be particularly strong. But a new study has found that climate change may affect wind patterns.

As the Washington Post reports, the study, published in Nature Geoscience, found through computer simulations that, in the central United States, the amount of wind energy that can be harvested may decline by 8 to 10 percent by 2050.

This finding lines up with another recent study out of Harvard which found that regions of China have already seen a decline in winds due to climate change.

Luke Clayton

Each week, Luke brings us some fishing or hunting news from the great outdoors. Sometimes, like this week, he passes along little bits of information that makes the time we spend outdoors easier and more productive. This week, Luke gives a recipe for making dehydrated has hbrowns topped with cheddar cheese. 

For many years, Luke and many camp cooks have spent time during the early morning hours slicing and shredding potatoes for hash browns to go with the standard bacon and egg camp breakfast.

Our Turn At This Earth: The Beauty Of Dry Places

Dec 15, 2017
CCO Creative Commons

As Plains farmers, my parents had to stay focused on very practical concerns. Our livelihood depended on carefully preparing the soil, then planting, nurturing and harvesting crops. But the impractical whims of the sky often interfered with my parents’ practical efforts. My ancestors had chosen a marginal and often ruthless climate in which to ply their weather-dependent trade.

Wind Turbines' Ill Effects

Dec 14, 2017
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While wind energy is of benefit to environmental health, it seems to be having some ill effects on human health.

As Gatehouse News reports, a couple in Michigan knows that firsthand.

Cary and Karen Shineldecker of Mason County Michigan began suffering anxiety, headaches, ear pressure, tinnitus, heart palpitations and sleep disturbances believed to be caused by low-frequency pulsations after Lake Winds Energy began operating its 476-foot-tall turbines around their home.   

We've all heard of a ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate a new building, but have you ever seen a crew of construction workers hoisting what looks like a Christmas tree to the highest beam of a completed structure? Well, I assure you: it's a thing! Commonly referred to as "topping out," this age-old ceremony has a fascinating history that spans the globe.

For the third straight year, Kansans can expect a higher than average danger for wildland fire. 

Oklahoma Forestry Service

Amid an unusually dry winter, counties in Oklahoma have begun issuing burn bans, reports KOKH.

Most of the burn bans are in counties in the eastern part of the state, but Cimarron, Harper, and Alfalfa counties in western Oklahoma have also issued bans. As of Monday, Oklahoma had issued burn bans for 16 counties. Oklahoma hasn’t seen much rain over the past two months.

Google recently announced it has now purchased 3 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity for the year, thus reaching its 2017 goal to go 100% renewable.

As Vox reports, this involved closing wind-power deals for around 400 megawatts in South Dakota and Iowa, and just under 140 megawatts in Oklahoma.

Illinois Touted As Property Tax Model For Wind Farms

Dec 11, 2017

color:#333333">Illinois’ taxing model for wind energy companies is touted as one of the best in the country, bringing in $30.4 million in property taxes in 2016, according to economic experts.


Luke Clayton

Making venison barbecue the way Luke explains how to make it is a great way to use pre-packaged steaks that are cut into half inch or so thickness. Luke uses his Smokin’ Tex Electric Smoker to supply the wood smoke flavor and he also slow cooks it in the smoker to make it really tender.

But, for those who don't have a smoker, a bit of liquid smoke and an oven should suffice. So, if you have venison steaks in the freezer and have a "hankering" for some tasty barbecue, give this week's show a listen!  

Our Turn At This Earth: Wild Times

Dec 7, 2017
Julene Bair

May, 1968. I’m 18, too young to know what love is. This guy comes to my small western Kansas town driving a classic 1956 T-Bird. I decide to attend college in eastern Kansas rather than in Colorado as I’d planned, because that’s where the guy lives. By October he proposes, and in January we are wed. I drop out of school and off we go to San Francisco, where he has found a job as an audio engineer.

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I invite you to join me as we take a visit to the Wagon Wheel Cafe & Bakery in Ulysses, Kansas to celebrate one of the best things about being alive: PIE!

Tune in today to find out how these dedicated bakers keep the crusts and fillings flowing throughout the year, and especially during the holidays—and see if your favorite pie is one of their best sellers.

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