It's a busy, busy time of year in the Rural Republic, so we've been kind of on again and off again with our daily roundups. We'll try to keep this site somewhat responsive to our readers' interests, so if you feel something's missing on the days we don't post a roundup, please let us know. Conversely, if you'd rather see us focus less energy on roundups and more on something else, we'd like to know that, too. We're a no-budget, volunteer outfit here, but we aim to please!
So, for your consideration, here are some stories that caught my attention today.
The U.S. government has been pouring a lot of money into expansion of rural broadband recently, but not all broadband is created equal. Apparently, some of the broadband connections in rural areas of the United Kingdom are inferior to a much lower-tech solution: carrier pigeons! The BBC has a report on a competition held in which ten pigeons with USB drives strapped to their legs took on a five-minute video upload. Seventy-five minutes after the pigeons were released and the upload was started, the birds had reached their destination 120 km away, while the upload was only 24% complete.
Moving back across the pond and heading north, a column in The Williams Lake Tribune details a British Columbia feedlot's creative attempt to find a niche market. Seeking to "produce a product that is equal to Japan’s Kobe beef, where Wagyu cattle are fed a beer a day and massaged with saki before they are slaughtered," Bill and Darlene Freding are experimenting with feeding each of their cattle a litre of wine every day. Reportedly, the results so far have been delicious... and, as the author says, "the cattle aren't drunk, just happy."
Some other cattle that may not have been so happy were reported having been "rustled" near Chadron, NE. KRVN tells us that, while cattle rustling is no longer the hanging offense it was in the "Old West," the state of Nebraska still takes this crime very seriously. Thirty-year-old Jacob Otte was convicted of two different instances of stealing about 10 head of cattle and reselling them in another part of the state. The penalty: two consecutive 3-5 year terms in prison, plus about $17,000 in restitution (mainly to the insurance company that covered both ranchers' cattle). Don't mess with Nebraska cattlemen.
And don't mess with Texas... or, at least, the Texans in Hemphill County in the northeastern corner of the state's panhandle. The Texas Observer has an interesting article about the residents of the county and their confrontation with billionaire T. Boone Pickens, who has been systematically buying up water rights in rural Texas to sell to the state's sprawling cities. In another "water is for fighting over" story, the county is ground zero for a legal battle in which Texas courts will decide whether or not groundwater is - like oil and gas - owned in place by the person with rights to that water and, if so, whether a groundwater management district placing restrictions on pumping is an uncompensated "taking" of that property. It obviously gets complicated with legal jargon, but read the article: the people trying to sell their water rights are somewho both victims and victimizers in this scenario. The same story will no doubt be played out across the High Plains in the coming years.
So long for now, and have a great weekend. I hope sometime soon, we all get a little time to relax!