LAMAR, COLO. — A third-generation farmer and rancher in southeast Colorado, Jensen Stulp lives close to the land, supporting his family on what it provides and working to keep it fertile and strong.
To protect his topsoil from blowing away in the winds off the plains, Stulp uses a kind of drill to poke holes in the ground at planting time, instead of gouging out the land with a plough. He lets his wheat fields lie fallow every other year to prevent depletion of the prairie soil. For pasture, he relies mostly on buffalo grass, a tough and resilient native plant that can stand up to blistering heat. He cuts his wheat so that knee-high stubble remains in the ground after harvest, providing valuable ground cover that helps return nutrients to the field, keep weeds at bay and capture the moisture from snow and rain.
“It’s a more natural way of farming,” Stulp explained, pausing to reflect on the link between his own livelihood and stewardship of his land alongside the old Santa Fe Trail.
“Farmers and ranchers were the first environmentalists,” he said. “We only work off what the land gives us. If we use the land the way the good Lord designed it, we’ll do better.”
Watch Jensen Stulp describe the 2012 drought impacting farmers and ranchers in the nation’s heartland.
(Photo by Melanie Blanding)
For centuries, American farmers like Stulp have nurtured the ties between nature and food, developed techniques for protecting precious resources like water and land and taken pride in their record as responsible caretakers of the land.
Seldom has all of that been more important than now.
With drought drying up 63 percent of the country as of early August, half of the country’s corn crop is in ruins, along with 60 percent of its pasture land.
(Photo by Melanie Blanding)
Lamar is bone dry; its irrigation canals dried up in early July. In late June the temperature here 爱上海shlf1314论坛
Crossposted with www.theGreenGrok.
News flash in the GMO world: the worm has turned.
They say that familiarity breeds contempt. An axiom should be that overuse breeds resistance.
A case in point: through o上海桑拿论坛千花网
We’re Creating Super Bugs and Super Pests, Too
Another type of resistance-breeding we technologically savvy humans excel at is with pests.
Repeated use of pesticides can encourage the rapid evolution of pests that are resistant to the chemicals we’ve concocted to eradicate them. Entomologist Robert G. Bellinger, from Clemson University, noted [pdf] that as of the mid-1990s:
It seemed like a great idea — genetically modifying cotton to kill its much-feared pest, the pink bollworm. But those bollworms are turning out to be peskier pests than conglomerate Monsanto bargained for. (USDA)
- more than 500 species of mites and insects were resistant to pesticides (see example) and
- some 17 insect species were resistant to all major classes of insecticides.
And the resistance doesn’t stop there. Now resistant to their former fatal pesticidal foes are:
- more than 270 weed species (examples here and here),
- more than 150 plant pathogens, and
- about a half dozen species of rats. (Holy rodent empire, Batman!)
In each case, the development of these resistant bugs (be they bacteria or pests) necessitates the development of new, more powerful antibiotics or pesticides to replace the ineffective one. It’s a grand race between the forces of Darwinian evolution and the forces of modern technology.
Now comes news of a new wrinkle in the resistant-breeding/new-killer-technology race. Why a new wrinkle? Because it involves the development of bacteria-resistant pests.
Some years ago, Monsanto, the world’s largest seed-producing company, came up with what seemed like a great idea for keeping the feared pink bollworm out of cotton, the world’s largest insecticide-consuming crop, according to the United Nations.
Through genetic engineering Monsanto created a new kind of cotton — a genetically modified organism, or GMO, cleverly called Bollgard. The GMO in this case has a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows it to secrete a toxin that stops a bollworm dead in its tracks. In one fell swoop two problems are eradicated — the bollworm, which is done in when it chows down on the cotton (did I hear anyone say just desserts?), and the need to spray insecticides, so there’s less environmental impact. What’s not to like?
Bollixing the Bollworm Battle
The product has been enormously successful for Monsanto, especially in India where some 83 percent of last year’s cotton crop was genetically modified.
But Science reports that trouble’s brewing in Bollgard-world. It seems that Monsanto has “detected unusual survival” in the pink bollworms munching down on their Bollgard cotton. In other words India’s cotton-crunching bollworms are becoming resistant to the toxin-secreting Bollgard. And this is not the first report of pests developing resistance to GMO crops with the Bt gene. I guess you could say that when it comes to GMOs, the worm has turned.
No worries, however, because Monsanto’s got a new GMO waiting in the wings: Bollgard II. Early commitments suggest that 80 percent of Indian farmers wi千花网论坛上海
One afternoon late last summer, when Zelda was seven months old, we were on a long walk in our Brooklyn neighborhood. It was about the time when we usually ventured home to play in her room for a while before having dinner in the kitchen. But there was a breeze coming off the river and I didn’t feel like going home just yet. The sun was not too hot, and there was a beautiful light shimmering over Greenpoint. Our courage was up. The restaurant at the end of our street had tables out on the sidewalk, and just one was occupied. “Let’s have dinner here, Zelda,” I said, locking the foot brake on her stroller. We sat down and lazily gazed at the menu while we waited for the high chair. I looked over at the only other patron: a woman, about my age, sitting alone, reading The New Yorker. Her hair looked freshly cut and styled. “Oh fuck, she’s reading The New Yorker,” I thought to myself, laughing. Just a woman alone at a sidewalk cafe reading a magazine. How luxurious. How common.
As I wrestled Zelda into her high chair, she started yelling. Not an angry yell, but one that was designed to get another’s attention. With her strapped in, I sat back down and looked at her. She was smiling and calling to the woman reading alone. The woman was wearing sunglasses and so was I, but still, I thought I detected a hint of annoyance. Everything in that moment was laden with meaning for me: I felt judged because my baby was being annoying and loud. I looked at Zelda’s little sundress and noticed that it had pink stains — from strawberries — down the front of it. I looked down at myself and saw that my jeans had a mysterious faint crust on the thighs from some forgotten moment of exasperation earlier when I’d simply “woosh,” rubbed my hands down my legs as a form of cleaning or drying or Jesus, I don’t know. Zelda yelled again. A happy yell. She waved frantically, waiting for a nod or a hint of recognition. She wasn’t used to being ignored. We’d sat several tables away from the lone reader on purpose just to avoid this exact scenario. “Zelda,” I said, “the lady is reading. Talk to me instead,” I said to her, trying to strike a tonal balance of level-headedness and also scoffing “babies are so dumb”-ness. The lone reader sipped her glass of wine. Zelda’s imploring got louder.
“This is a shitshow,” I thought to myself, my confidence deflating in one moment. “This woman alone, she hates me and she hates my baby for ruining her quiet Tuesday afternoon. And I hate us too. We’re annoying and gross and terrible.” I didn’t believe any of this but I felt it, completely.
I felt it as I heard a wailing baby from far off, a baby that wasn’t mine, as I ordered my own glass of wine. “Wow, loud baby,” I thought to myself as my own darling nightmare leaned over in her high chair to lick the table. I felt it still, moments later, as I saw a man in his thirties pushing an expensive, gigantic stroller down Kent Street, the wailing baby identified. “Poor guy,” I thought, “his baby is worse off than mine.” Zelda was still trying to lick the table. And I felt the feeling, still, though it began to thaw and melt away, as the woman alone reading her New Yorker removed her sunglasses and put them on the table, chugged the last of her wine, and stood up. I saw a stain on the thigh of her skinny jeans as the napkin dropped from her lap to the dirty sidewalk. She turned to the man in the stroller, who was now within earshot, baby still screaming bloody murder. “I guess he’s not going to sleep,” she said to him as he engaged the foot brake. “We should go then,” she said, glancing at me and my now silent baby.
“How old is he?” I asked, sipping my glass of wine. “Nine weeks tomorrow,” she said, smiling weakly. “How old is she?” She gestured to Zelda, who waved, smiling a drooly smile. “Just passed seven months” I smiled back. Little old nine-weeks was still wailing, dad desperately attempting to jam a pacifier into its mouth over and over. “Does it get easier?” he asked, looking up at me for the first time.
“Oh, we have our days,” I said.
“This seems like one of the good ones,” mom said, jamming her New Yorker into the stroller. “I guess so,” I said, shrugging and smiling at my baby.
Before I had a baby, I disliked them intensely. I could get along with toddlers and children; we had things in common, like getting food on the front of our clothes during meals and barking back at the dog when she barks at us. Babies seemed annoying and loud and unmanageable.
I spent a lot of time in high school babysitting. I enjoyed it, but as I fumbled towards adulthood, babies became an aberration in my life. My only experience with them, for a very long time, was seeing them throw food onto the floors of the various restaurants that I worked in. Or hearing them scream on airplanes. One of the first times I travelled long distance with my husband, I remember how shocked he was when I craned my neck around, looking frantically for the source of the screaming. “Who brings a baby on a seven hour flight?” I screeched. “I hope someone died, at least.” The sound of a baby, wailing uncontrollably, was worse than any sound imaginable, to me just then. “It’s not the baby I’m upset about, it can’t help it. It’s the parents I’m angry 上海419龙凤交友网with!” The parents, I reasoned, were putting this baby — who obviously belonged at HOME — into situations where both it and I were unhappy. Shame on them.
If there is such a thing as eating one’s words, allow me to feast on them now, barely chewing, gulping them down with a giant glass of pinot noir, since I now have a one year old baby. As soon as the ground thawed and we began to explore, around the time the baby was just a few months old, I decided to “take her out.” In practice, this meant to stores and to restaurants. At first, it was a nightmare: her in her stroller, me choking down a salad at the neighborhood bistro, nervous on behalf of the other patrons, since she could and would lose it at any moment. But there’s nothing a parent learns to ignore faster than the sound of a baby screaming, and I acknowledge this with some sense of the irony involved.
I learned some tricks. I learned to love noisy restaurants, because they hid the sounds of her loud, boisterous speaking voice. And once she was old enough to sit in a high chair, I only went to restaurants with high chairs. I had a list of them in my mind, and some of my formerly favorite haunts became absolutely off-limits. I went on off-peak hours — if the place opened at 10 for brunch, we’d be there waiting, the first people in the door. Dinner at 5PM? We’re there. We went to the same places over and over, getting to know the staff, so that they (we imagined) welcomed us. I tried to take her out when she’d just woken up — she was happier then, and hungry.
She loves going out to eat. And she makes friends at nearly any establishment we go to. But I have no illusions about her manners. Now that she is fully onboard with eating solid food, she is quite messy. The floor beneath her high chair after a meal is a bloodbath, and she hasn’t mastered the art of not pitching her bottle, or sippy cup, or bib, onto the floor whenever she has finished with it. At first, I spent a lot of time at the ends of meals on my hands and knees, wiping up piles of discarded food from the floors. Eventually, enough busboys and servers and restaurant managers discouraged me that I simply stopped trying. Now, at the end of a meal, after paying, I simply say to the server, “sorry about the mess! Her manners are a little lacking!” and hope that tipping thirty-five percent or more makes up for our daughter’s obvious faults.
I am fairly certain it does. As does being simply apologetic for it. As does not tolerating a full on outburst in a public, controlled setting. Which we don’t: once or twice, Zelda has decided that she is just not in the mood for brunch. Fair enough: off we go, out the door. I’ve left my husband several times to finish his food alone and pick up the check. I know my daughter’s limits, and I know the limits of what I, in my former, babyless days, would find tolerable. I can tell when the cute has worn off.
That’s not to say she isn’t annoying. And here is where I’ll eat my words: She is annoying. She is loud and messy and gross. She is a baby, and lacks any semblance of real-world human skills. I accept this as a harsh reality, spending, as I do, twenty-four hours a day in her company. I don’t treasure her running the butter-soaked palm of her hand down the side of my face, and shirt, and crotch, any more than anyone else would. I try to be realistic about her aptitude for the outside world, and it’s a pretty low bar some days.
As Zelda and I walked home that day, I had a stunning though obvious realization: we were all babies once. I didn’t spring into life, fully grown, an Athena in our midst. I once was an awful member of society. I once groped my mother in public and yelled for strangers’ attentions. I once hated other people’s babies, and, truth be told, I can still get a little judgy at the sight of a particularly awful baby specimen. But, now that I’m a parent of an actual, tiny, barbaric human, I see that it’s my duty to take her out, daily, into society, in order to cull her of her worst impulses. To teach her that sometimes the people sitting just one airplane seat over don’t want to talk, or that the lady reading her New Yorker five feet away isn’t her best friend. This is the social contract: we must raise our young to be human people with manners and dignity. And you, the adult humans of the world, must tolerate us while we embark on our excursion.
I apologize in advance: you are part of the journey. I promise, she will be better for it. Thank you for your patience.
The Parent Rap is an endearing column about the fucked up and cruel world of parenting