Jenny Schlecht / Agweek Staff Writer
What do journalists and farmers have in common? More than you would think. I grew up on a farm and ranch, but my early love of the Little House books sparked an interest in writing. Journalism seemed like a logical and interesting way to be a writer. Demographically speaking, few people with my background stick around journalism. But I've never felt out of place in a newsroom, and I think that is, at least in part, because the two worlds have more in common than meets the eye. Here are three ways agriculture and journalism are similar:
MENOKEN, N.D. — Jerry Doan in the mid 1980s attended the Savory Institute, an organization focused on the importance of soil health that was started by conservationist Allan Savory. In the intervening years, Doan's Black Leg Ranch has become a paragon of a ranch striving to improve the environment. But when Savory on July 19 visited the ranch about 20 miles west of Bismarck, N.D., he promised he wasn't going to go easy on his analysis of Doan's efforts.
SAND SPRINGS, Mont. — As firefighters work to continue containing eastern Montana's Lodgepole Complex Fire, ranchers in the area have begun to evaluate the damage. Travis Brown is thankful for his neighbors, the ones who came when a wildfire jumped the highway and headed toward his house in Sand Springs, Mont. "Every one of our neighbors lined up on highway to turn it away from our house," he says. Brown has lost two cows that he knows of right now to the fire that burned 10,000 to 15,000 acres of his pastureland. That's about a third of his pasture.
ROBERTS, Mont. — Bob and Ruth Dubsky spent most of their 76 years of married life on their northern California ranch. But eventually the day came when Bob had to go into an assisted living facility. "He begged me to do something, not to let him go in there," says John Dubsky, the grandson of Bob and Ruth Dubsky. "To let him down, it just killed me." So he put everything he had into building an assisted living facility on a farm north of Roberts, Mont., within view of Red Lodge Mountain and a short drive from both Billings and Red Lodge.
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.