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Wednesday, February 7, 2007


Baxter Black, DVM

ayne Cornell

On the edge of common sense

Ethanol and cattle feeders

I was having a chat with one of my cattle feeding friends. I often think of these calls as therapy … for both of us. He gets to release all of his frustrations about the injustice of corn farmers being allowed to make a profit due to the demand created by ethanol production.

“Talk about ingratitude! Never once did I complain about the price of corn when feeders went from 98 cents to $1.04! I hung with ’em, fed as many as I could just to keep demand up. Now, when finished cattle prices are dropping, they are raisin’the price of corn! Can you believe it? And I just bought new tires for the front-end loader and donated a new wing for the library at the U of Nebraska! Go Huskers! What’s a man supposed to do! And they want to raise the Check Off to $2 a head! Shoot, the Cowbelles used to do it for free!

“Oh, I contracted some corn ahead, but you know me, I like to play the odds — now look what’s happened, and it’s all the farmer’s fault! They knew it was gonna go up. They told me! I thought they were just trying to con me into buyin’ early! But the slippery buggers were tellin’ me the truth! Who ever heard of such a thing?”

On and on and on. I benefit from these therapeutic phone calls because I used to feed a few cattle but have now conquered the vice. I can listen as a reformed gambler listens to a hopelessly mired addict;

Not important ...

but possibly of interest

Precious family events fade

A friend who is about my age, showed me a photo he recently discovered. It was of a group of men and women ranging in age from about 20 to 80. The oldest member of the group was my friend’s great-grandfather. One of the youngest would later become his father.

My friend pointed out various people in the photo. He knew who most of them were even though he wasn’t born when the photo was taken. He said the family portrait was probably taken at a family reunion. They had one almost every year back in those days.

any) for their contributions. Everything was homemade. There were a half-dozen varieties of potato salad (I like Mom’s best), green beans in mushroom gravy, baked beans, stuffed celery, and watermelon and homemade pie, cake and ice cream for desert. There was only one acceptable reunion meat dish — fried chicken. Every fried chicken contributor had her secret recipe, and if you were a reunion regular you quickly learned which chicken to grab first. If your chicken was the first to disappear, it was a badge of honor.

My father’s family was big on reunions, too. The earliest “holidays” I remember were Christmas and the annual summer gathering of the clan. Smaller gatherings were sometimes held in Middleton, but the big reunions were in the Caldwell Park. You had to send an advance party to stake out picnic tables early on Reunion Day. Every weekend there were several different large family gatherings in the park.

One year the event would be called the Matthews Family Reunion (Grandma Cornell’s family). The next year it would be the Cornell Family Reunion. The same people attended both reunions. That’s because most of the older members from both families were born in Jewell County, Kan., and grew up together. The Cornell and Matthews tribes were related by marriage in so many ways it was hard to separate them without a printed program. So when the Cornells migrated to Idaho in 1910, a lot of Matthewses came along, too. By the time I arrived, the members of the two families still in Kansas were a minority. So almost every summer some of them came to Idaho for a visit. That always merited a reunion.

The reunions were potluck affairs with the park tables heaped with food. Nobody went to the deli (there weren’t

After the picnic, the kid cousins chased each other around the park and the adults sat around talking about the events of the past year(s). The “old people” sometimes told family stories that had been passed down (and probably enhanced) over several generations. But those of us who should have been listening to this oral history didn’t pay much attention.

My friend said when his grandparents died, so did the annual family reunions. It was much the same in our clan. When Grandma and Grandpa Cornell and their brothers and sisters were gone, the gatherings ended.

Nowadays, the only time I see most of my cousins and their children and grandchildren are at funerals. Most Americans know little or nothing about even recent ancestors. Multiple marriages and divorces have created “extended families” with no roots. Even in our family, we only celebrate holidays with a few close relatives. And when our generation is gone, I suspect even those gatherings will be more infrequent — victims of our changing society.

The doomsayers claim global warming will destroy us. I believe the loss of our sense of self poses a greater danger.

From Washington Time for Idaho to take the lead

“Hi, I’m Baxter. I’m a cattle feeder.” “Tell us your story, Baxter.” “I borrowed money from a banker in Texas. He took my singlewide trailer and vet truck as collateral. My cattle buyer friend purchased me a set of slab-sided 2- year-old Mexican steers from a rodeo producer during one of New Mexico’s annual droughts. I fed ’em three months. They gained 4 pounds a day. Brought 56 cents a pound. I paid back the loan, cleared $50 a head, bought a doublewide, a box of cigars. I was in tall cotton. That was 1985. I have never made a dime feeding cattle since.

“I quit last year and have been cattle-free since, but guess what! Last month I borrowed enough to buy an interest in an ethanol plant in Iowa. No way it can lose. No way!”

by Sen. Mike Crapo Idaho and other Mountain West states are home to amazing natural resources. We work hard protecting

phrase “speak now or forever hold your peace” cannot be more appropriate right now; the federal government needs input from Idahoans. Please make your voices heard in a

and conserving these resources, including abundant native wildlife, in correct balance with our livelihood and recreational pursuits. We’re fortunate to have science and technology resources to accomplish the best for wildlife and the people and communities that interact with these animals. Two weeks ago, the Fish and Wildlife Service started a 60-day comment period on a proposal to de-list the Gray Wolf, Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment. This is the next important step in the journey toward responsible co-existence of wolves and people in today’s Idaho. Idaho is

constructive manner.

The U.S. Department ofAgricultureAnimal and Plant Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS) recently completed its Fiscal Year 2006 Wolf Activity Report. It reported more than 70 packs in Idaho — about 650 adult wolves. There are certainly concerns about wolf predation among ranchers and hunters: the report found that approximately 26 of the packs were involved in livestock predation, and there are ongoing studies about wildlife predation. The most effective management of challenges posed by wolf-human interactions

more than ready, willing and able to undertake Sen. Mike Crapo

(including the livestock industry and hunting)

management of wolves through effective implementation of the state management plan, in a new environment of sensible de-listing.

One year ago, in the Advanced Notice for Proposed Rulemaking, the federal government found that the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf population was fully biologically recovered. At that time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had approved both Idaho’s and Montana’s state wolf management plans. In a change from last year, delisting in Idaho and Montana will no longer depend on federal approval of Wyoming’s plan. The current 60- day comment period presents a critical opportunity for Idahoans to participate in the decision-making process. The

rests at the state level, especially now that wolves have not only been recovered in Idaho, but are thriving. In fact, when the federal government brought wolves into Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, the final Environmental Impact Statement to Introduce Wolves stated that a “recovered population” would be 100 adult wolves in each of the three recovery areas. That number has been greatly exceeded. With more than 85 breeding pairs and more than 1,200 wolves in the tri-state area, wolves are successful and ready for state management. Idahoans have every right to manage Idaho wildlife and will succeed

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    See Washington, page 11B

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