Farmers’ outlook grim as drought withers crops

For the past 13 months, rainfall deficits that have damaged crops in northwestern Missouri have been slowly moving southeast across the state, creating the worst long-term drought since the late 1980s.

Even with last week’s showers, it will take months of above-normal rainfall to overcome the impact, said Pat Guinan, climatologist with the commercial agricultural program at MU.

The U-Haul migration

As Terry Stiles knows, moving can be a real nightmare.

Stiles has worked at TLC Moving for about a year and a half. He’s moved hundreds of houses and has seen some horrible packing jobs.

Lessons of the land

A farmer's destiny: Andrew Stanton relies on the earth

to sustain him and his future generations

Lessons of the land: Patricia Lopez

In the San Joaquin Valley, Patricia Lopez worked off and on in the fields with the sun on her back. It was the hardest work she’s done. Now she, her husband, Javier Lopez, and their two children, Jasmine, 11, and Xavier, 4, spend their summers in a little garden they rent through Columbia’s Community Garden Coalition. They hope some day soon to have their own piece of earth.

What we used to do, we would get up early in the morning. We would cut the grapes from the vines and then we would put them in the sand and lay a piece of paper on the sand. Just spread them out so they would dry up to be raisins. I think I started doing this when I was about 6 or 7 years old. I think the hardest part was just being out — the fields where the sand is at, you’re talking about a hundred degrees temperature. It tires you out.

Lessons of the land: The Kirk Family

About five years, ago Thom and Renate Kirk made a decision that brought them closer to the land — Thom would give up his job as a registered nurse while Renate continued working in the same position. Today, the couple boasts a thriving heirloom vegetable and seed business at their home in New Bloomfield, as well as four young daughters. Thom raises the plants and the girls during the day, and on Fridays, the whole clan gets together to pick, wash and bake for market on Saturday mornings in Fulton.

Thom: I grew up in central Indiana, the oldest of eight kids, and we didn’t eat anything unless it came out of the garden, pretty much. My father was a descendent of the Great Depression. We had a huge garden, and we preserved and dried and canned everything we ate, almost.

Lessons of the land: Margot Ford McMillen

Margot Ford McMillen watched farming change from a family-operated holistic system to a massive industry. But she never let go of her feeling that the old way, no chemicals allowed, was the best way. On most Wednesday evenings, she co-hosts a farm issues radio show on KOPN.

I grew up in a suburban area outside Chicago, and then I spent my summers with my grandparents and cousins and all my father’s family outside Decatur, in Taylorville. I just loved being there because of the self-sufficiency of it. Where I would come from my suburban home, if you needed something you went to the store. At my aunt’s house, if she needed something, she went out to the garden. That from the beginning — it made total sense to me. It was the way that I preferred to live.

Lessons of the land: Phoennix Conway

Phoennix Conway has always felt a kinship with the earth. First, it was through navigating trails at church camp. Then in college, she found the faith that fit perfectly: paganism, an earth-based religion. Now she marks the seasons with rituals and makes it her mission to care for everything as one interconnected whole.

I grew up in the Church of the Brethren, which is actually an old farming tradition from Germany and it’s very similar to, say, the Amish and the Mennonites. They’re peace-oriented and service-oriented. And the main teachings are following in the footsteps of Jesus, in the sense of doing as he did and living simply and being stewards of God’s creation. Which makes sense, because it came from a farming tradition. And who has a closer relationship to the earth than a farmer?

Bingham’s babies

Doves coo from inside the garage door and pigeons (or rock doves, Columba livia) slip in and out under the three-inch opening. The pigeons circling the roof are chaotic and mesmerizing. With a whoosh they simultaneously land on the gutter and peer over the edge. They seem at home.

  Nancy Bingham began rescuing pigeons 20 years ago, and they’re her children. She’s says they’re free to leave but are spoiled by good food and a bath, so they stay. She has pigeons over 15 years old, even though they usually live only five years in the wild.

Puberty is a long road for boys

They say that boys are three years behind girls in the maturity bracket, but I think it’s more like 10. Girls start preparing themselves for puberty just months after they’re potty trained.

My granddaughters were smearing lipstick somewhere near their lips before they could brush their teeth. And they’d clomp around my bedroom in my old high heels before they could ride their bikes without training wheels.

Creating sacred space

R’avi Kamath received a pair of polished stones from a friend’s 7-year-old daughter. The child’s simple gift sits in a platter on Kamath’s home shrine as a reminder of God’s gift of love.

“God is everything and everywhere,” Kamath said. “Eventually, God is love.”

City staff recommends Philips plan rejection

Though the city planning staff has recommended rejection of Elvin Sapp’s plans for the 489-acre Philips farm, Sapp’s representative sees the report only as an extension of debate on the proposed development.

Miles of Stripes

The yellow center stripe down endless miles of road starts beneath a 58,000-pound mechanical monster. Route BB in Morgan County had never been striped before the monster came rumbling over it one peaceful summer day.

“When people come home tonight they’ll really notice it. They’ve lived here all their lives and all of a sudden, there’s this yellow paint in the road,” said Bob Russell, driving the lead of the 10 mph procession of the three MoDOT vehicles that escort the monstrous machine its crew calls “the striper.”

Computer worm to strike tonight

Twenty-five minutes.

That’s about how long it takes for an unprotected computer connected to the Internet to contract the Blaster worm, said Oliver Friedrichs, senior director of Symantec Security Response. The software development company in California specializes in security issues worldwide.

PTA, school boards group to share HQ

The Missouri Parent and Teacher Association will move into the Missouri School Boards’ Association headquarters at 2100

I-70 Drive S.W. today.

MU nursing school 53rd on new list

The MU Sinclair School of Nursing was recently ranked 53rd in U.S. News and World Report’s 2004 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.”

The school received a score of 3.4 out of 5. Its rank, the highest of Missouri public schools, was shared with Marquette University in Wisconsin, Medical University of South Carolina, St. Louis University and Texas Women’s University.

E-mail most popular at MU

MU students and professors agree with a 2001 study conducted by an MU professor that named e-mail as the preferred method of student-professor contact.

Out of curiosity, Martha Townsend, English professor and director of the Campus Writing Program, queried her colleagues in the English department and the National Council of Writing Program Administrators, asking what method students used most often to contact them.

Help from within

When Jeffrey Johnson was a child in Arkansas with a quick temper and an even quicker tongue, his mother told him, “Boy, your mouth is gonna get you killed.”

Mid-Missouri blackout seen as highly unlikely

Whether by man or nature, overloads in the power grid can cause a large-scale outage like the one in the northeast on Thursday. Authorities are still unsure of the cause of the overload.

One theory is that lightning may have struck a power plant. Another holds that overuse may have gradually taxed the system. Like rush-hour traffic on a highway, power lines can be slowly jammed when electricity usage is at a premium.

Floyd released after bail cut to $5,000

The owner of Columbia Climbing Gym, who was arraigned on first-degree involuntary manslaughter charges Thursday afternoon, was released from Boone County Jail later in the day after posting a reduced bond.

Marcus Floyd, who was charged in connection with the death of Christine Ewing, who fell from a portable climbing wall at a Mid-Missouri Mavericks’ game, was originally held on $50,000 bond.

Police look for two robbery suspects

Police are searching for two men in connection with a robbery that occurred early Thursday morning in the 900 block of Broadhead Street.

Just before 1 a.m., a woman came home and was sitting in the driver’s seat of her vehicle when a man approached her, according to a release by Columbia Police Sgt. Eric Stevenson. The woman told police that the man reached into her vehicle and took her purse from her lap. The suspect and a second man who appeared to be involved fled on foot to the east, Stevenson said.