This was tucked in with my mail. Sad news regarding our country post office that I wrote about in February: https://lynnwoolf.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/whats-so-special-about-milton-kansas-67106/

My V. says,  “That little ol’ post office never hurt anyone.”

Maybe this was the last resort of a desperate person in need. I bet the good people of Milton would have helped this person, if they only had asked.

(E. photo)

Baby goat born on National Ag Day 2011

What is more perfect than celebrating National Ag Day with a birth day? Make that two birth days. This baby goat was born today about 7:30 a.m. He looked like he had already grown when I checked on him three hours later — as well as developed a little goat attitude. He’s a cross between a Nubian (dairy breed) and a Boer (meat breed).

See him in action: http://www.youtube.com/user/lynnwoolf?feature=mhum#p/a/u/0/EbOLxpLdBbU.

We were also surprised with a new calf early this afternoon. His momma is keeping him tucked away in the pasture, so no photos to share yet.

I can’t wait for the kids to get home from school.

Milton, Kansas, rural post office

Milton, Kansas, rural post office

News this week:

The U.S. Postal Service will begin the process of closing as many as 2,000 postal offices in March and will review 16,000 more — half of all existing post offices — that are losing money, The Wall Street Journal reports. The new round of closures is in addition to 491 that are already being shuttered.

What will this mean for our rural post office, a tiny white building in the near-dead town of Milton? I headed to Milton to find out. The town is about 10 miles from our farm.

Postmaster Betty is not worried. She gives me the facts (after recognizing me by the volume of mail we get). She has two mail carriers which serve 287 rural mailboxes in the nearby town of Norwich and 104 post office boxes at the Norwich hardware store. (Unfortunately, Norwich’s post office shut down a year or so ago because of a moldy building.) She also serves 138 rural mailboxes in the Milton zip code and 26 boxes in her building.

She’s proud of the vintage post office touches in her building, which used to be a one-bedroom home.  The outside was painted just last year, she says. While I’m there, a customer comes in to buy stamps and she answers a phone call or two. We chat about life — everything from the weather to mobile phones to the Internet to recent farm family tragedies.

Betty and her post office are treasures — real-life Americana. I hope she’s right that Milton, Kansas 67106 will survive the cuts. Take a peek:

Suppesville full-service gas station (Kansas)

Blizzard ’11

February 2, 2011

Snow plow blizzard winter

Random act of kindness: Snow plow opens up our driveway after the blizzard.

Yesterday’s storm had clever nicknames on Twitter, like the Blizzard of Oz, Snowpocalypse and Snowmageddon. I didn’t feel very clever when looking out at the sheets of horizontal white snow, though.

We had prepared ourselves and the animals as best we could. It never seems enough when the wind is blowing at 30 and 40 mph and wind chills drop below zero. The drifts had sharp peaks and some stood six feet deep. We face north, toward an open quarter (160 acres) of wheat, so some snow even blew into the house.

Worse yet, we had two Nubian dairy goats about to give birth (kid). They had shelter and straw, but the wind was blowing so savagely that it whipped around and into where they lay. V. trekked out time and again to check on them, even moving them in midstorm to another drier spot. He never complained.

Today, wind chills remain subzero, but the blizzard has moved on. The dogs are out running through snow drifts. The chickens are pecking at snow that blew into their house. The calves were back out on wheat pasture early this morning — and we’re still waiting for the baby goats to arrive.

We ended up only getting four inches of snow. We’re thankful for any moisture for our thirsty wheat crop. We also send out a big thanks to our township snow plow driver, who took the extra time to open up our driveway.

#140conf Small Town

November 1, 2010

It was quickie grilled cheese for the kids tonight. And, the bottle calves were fed just a little late. They forgived me, though. I had a good excuse. I spent the day soaking in social media knowledge, tips and strategies at the 140conf Small Town in nearby Hutchinson, Kansas. Our mission: Explore the State of Now.

This was the first and only 140conference to be held in a small town. Previous locations included  New York, Detroit, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv. We looked at the real time Internet in a specific context — what it means for small town America. I was proud to join the voices talking about the intersection of social media, small towns and agriculture (@ZJHunn, @Kst8er76, @KSFarmGrown, @RocketGroup, @DebbieLB, @TykerMan1).

The line-up was simply outstanding. The topics ranged from tourism to education to entrepreneurship to PR to friendships, even to the lost children of El Salvador. The organizers — and visionaries —  Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver) and Becky McCray (@BeckyMcCray) provided the framework: “The next person you meet could change your life.” (By the way, Jeff and Becky organized the 250-person event almost entirely through Twitter and one phone conversation.)

I just wished my traveling farmer could have been there — both for moral support (could they see my knees shaking?) and to see how the ag community is coming together through social media. I think we can change lives, as we communicate and educate to preserve the family farm legacy.

Thanks to Jeff and Becky and their army of volunteers for providing the forum. And, mark your calendars. The next #140conf Small Town is already set for September 20, 2011 in Hutchinson.

Power of Kansas ag

October 11, 2010

Kansas Farmers Tony & Anita HorinekThe second Kansas Farm Bureau Masters class proved how powerful ag is in Kansas — and the impact our producers have worldwide. Tour stops included:

This was my first trip to northwest Kansas. I often wondered why people lived here, a question based on solely on television weather reports. It always seemed desolate and prone to severe weather. Both are true. However, I now understand the pull of an area that is so true to its Kansas beginnings — pioneers committed to making a living from the soil.

These Kansans are continuing to pioneer the way, now with the intersection of agriculture and technology. Here, Tony Horinek explain how and why he farms 8,000 acres using no-tillage methods and precision ag technology: http://www.youtube.com/user/lynnwoolf?feature=mhum#p/u/0/yPNJOQSt1kA

Listen also to KSU research engineer Freddie Lamm detail his work in underground drip irrigation. The approach may offer a solution to shrinking water supplies: http://www.youtube.com/user/lynnwoolf?feature=mhum#p/u/1/SJoG2YULj3I

Overall, I was amazed at how much these professionals shared about their work. They truly seemed to love their jobs. Maybe it’s because they’re in the middle of it all, despite being tucked away in Kansas.

Women 4 Ag

September 16, 2010

Gayla — with  her shoulder-length curls and awesome purple cowgirl boots — greeted me when I arrived a the Agriland booth at the Kansas State Fair. I was volunteering for the Kansas Agri-Women, one of several groups that sponsor the booth.

Gayla squeezed my elbow, looked me deeply in the eyes, thanked me for joining and for helping out, then said, “Let’s go find a spot for your purse.” Loved it. She embodied what I admire about many I meet in agriculture — warmth, simplicity, authenticity and always being ready for a hard day’s work, no matter where they are.

She introduced me to a long-time leader of the group — who is still active in the organization at 80 years old. I took over at her station, a scale where kids could be weighed and then compared to a farm commodity.  The kids loved hearing they weighed as much as a baby calf (about 75 pounds) or were only a few pounds shy of a bushel of corn (56 pounds). Surprisingly, parents and teachers joined in.

The booth was loaded with other hands-on activities — a combine cab, buckets full of seed, a soil tunnel, even Blossom, the full-sized cow with her squeezable udder. (“Squeeze, don’t pull,” the sign read.)

It was a fun day of answering questions and listening to stories. Gayla’s grandson stopped by. I’m sure the little boy, who was barely walking, has a limited vocabulary, but he exclaimed, “Big. Cow,” when he came upon Blossom. It was the  powdered sugar on my funnel cake of an afternoon.

Learn more about the Kansas Agri-Women and the national group, American Agri-Women here: http://americanagriwomen.org/kansas-agri-women. Follow them on at Twitter: http://twitter.com/women4ag.

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