Jenny Schlecht / Agweek Staff Writer
My family and I spent a few days a couple weeks back at a church camp in northern North Dakota. It's a place my husband's family has spent many years attending, and we've snuck away a few times in the past few years to attend.
STEELE, N.D. — The balcony at Pifer's Auction & Realty's new Auction Center of North America filled up as the center's consignment auction began on Tuesday, July 18, as did most of the chairs below, along with much of the standing room. So, presumably, did chairs in dining rooms, offices and living rooms across the region as bidders who couldn't make it to the new central North Dakota facility logged on to watch the sale screen online.
MOFFIT, N.D. — When he was growing up and working on the family farm in Burleigh County, Travis Schweitzer had a knack for butchering. "I kind of took to it," he says. After he got out of school, Schweitzer worked at an area dairy and for other ranchers, then later started up in the construction business. But the idea of a butcher shop never left his mind. "Many, many years ago, I almost bought a small little butcher shop south of Mandan," he says. "But that didn't work out, and I'm kind of glad it didn't."
FARGO, N.D. — Some Conservation Reserve Program acres now are open for emergency haying in drought-stricken North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana counties, a move meant to help livestock producers struggling with dry conditions. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the move on July 10, a few weeks after announcing that emergency grazing would be allowed.
As I drive west on Interstate 94, there's a place where I suddenly feel like I'm home. I've been in North Dakota since college, which I started in 2002. But at heart, I am and likely always will be a Montana girl. I'm still more than 30 miles out of my hometown of Billings, Mont., when I hit the spot — the road curves and we start down a hill. To the north is the Yellowstone River. To the south is the rough-country pasture Dad and Grandpa rented when I was a little kid.
GRACE CITY, N.D. — Ryan Topp's father, Merlin, started Topp Herefords in the 1960s. He died in 1980, and Topp's mother dispersed the registered herd in 1984. In 1988, Topp got back into the registered Hereford business, setting his sights on joining the nation's elite registered breeders.
HEBRON, N.D. — When David Wanner's calves broke out of the wooden corrals at 4 a.m., he knew it was time to upgrade his operation. Cattle getting out of the Wanners's ranch, adjacent to railroad tracks along the Interstate 94 corridor near Hebron, could spell disaster. Besides that, his family's herd had expanded from 100 to about 400, the old corrals tended to get too wet, and his son, Greg, was coming home to join the operation.
I remember visiting Washington, D.C., as a junior in high school and having people look at my group in awe when we said we were from Montana. Apparently the image "Montana" conjured was not normal teenagers in normal clothing using public transportation. They seemed disappointed to hear we used cars — not covered wagons or horses — to get to the airport.
Lora Lynn Horner will serve as Agweek's intern for the summer. Horner, 19, is a 2016 graduate of Wishek, N.D., High School. While in high school, she participated in FFA, Future Business Leaders of America, 4-H, Student Council, religion class, speech and drama, National Honor Society, volleyball and track. She grew up on a farm and ranch and says she misses that life.
BISMARCK, N.D. — Parts of North Dakota, Montana and South Dakota now are considered in extreme drought. Extreme drought is the second worst category of drought after exceptional drought on the U.S. Drought Monitor. The June 20 U.S. Drought Monitor, released June 22, showed 7.73 percent of North Dakota, 6.37 percent of Montana and 2.07 percent of South Dakota in extreme drought. Those are the only spots of extreme drought throughout the country.