September 26


North Dakota traffic hazard


Unlike high-traffic areas where drivers are alert for other drivers, trash and lost loads on the highway, here in North Dakota, we look for different obstacles — livestock on the road.    All it takes is one loose string of wire on a fence and some agile calf will get through, leading others to the other side of the fence — even if the grass is no greener.

Fortunately here in North Dakota, your sight distance is great enough that it’s unlikely that you would come up on something like this without a lot of  opportunity to see what could be ahead.

On highway 36 near Wing, North Dakota, these calves calmly went about their exploration, milling about the ditches and highways.   I drove through the small herd, then turned to get this image up the hill from me.  They were politely cooperative.  I got my shot and headed on away from them.

If any other vehicles had approached I may have flashed my lights to warn them of the impending traffic hazard.  But again, as is typical in North Dakota, you just don’t see a lot of traffic out here.  Most of the moving vehicles, at least along this road at this time of the year, is off to the side of the road. A lone combine gobbles up grain that will move by truck from the field to the nearby storage at a farmer’s grain bin or at the nearby elevator.

It’s a pastoral, quiet lifestyle here on the Northern Plains.  Safe too, if the greatest danger is not road rage, but highway heifers.

May 25

Calves on the alert

They’re getting old enough to almost take care of themselves. These calves east of Wilton are part of the spring crop of calves.  They’re still pretty defenseless, but they’re smart enough to pay attention to a photographer lurking in a nearby ditch.

The USDA says that the value of North Dakota’s cattle herds is $705,903,000. That’s a lotta bucks in those calves!  There are a lotta cattle out there and the good news is, according to the USDA, cattle prices are on track to be as high or higher than they were in 2008 and 2007 which were record years.

That means these little guys are worth a lot of money to their owner/producer.  To make the good news better is the weather has been good enough to provide good feed, too.  I’m happy that livestock producers are seeing a good turn around in their business.  If you’re a cattle producer this year, how are things for you?