Lingering winter shocks spring birds triggering living ideas on aging brain


Spring sprung. Winter fled. Four robins in my front yard wouldn’t lie to me! They hopped about looking for worms in 52-degree weather. I’m sure these early migratory arrivals were shocked as me the next morning. Wind chill dropped into 20s.

Whap, winter returned like a sharp elbow blow to the nose.

Happy robin talk I heard that afternoon, changed. In the warmth of spring I overheard happy chirps. They sang of spring.

Next morning, Mama robins nagged Papa robins. Why did you bring me back to this misery? Winter teased and fooled us, again. Snow came back in forecasts.

National media report massive birdlife loss in changing weather. Can species survive? Can we survive? We changed the weather, not the birds. Who can switch back? Not the birds.

My memory fools me in recalling weather. January was awful, in my mind. But, MU climatologist, Pat Guinan keeps me straight. His January summary showed temperature average for the month at 33.9F. That’s 4.3 degrees above long-time averages.

Going back a bit there’s more. December to January average shows warmest since 2010-11. Now we have a five-way tie for second warmest Dec-Jan period on record. I don’t remember it that way!

Here’s another change. It was wettest January in 15 years. Now, I do know that wet cold sinks into my old bones and stays. Memory and records don’t jibe.

Thank goodness for data keepers. Numbers make good science to replace idle thoughts.

This leads to another elbow idea. A sharp bend in practice of data keeping helps a whole lot of Missouri beef cow-herd owners. Too many use memory, not records on their heifers. Data lifts Show-Me-Select replacement heifers above what may look like perfectly good heifers. Genomic data tells differences worth knowing and using.

Herd owners can attend MU Extension SMS meetings this winter to plan more sales. Stay tuned and come hear new ideas.

While sermonizing, I make another sharp turn. I’ve said, “Thank a Farmer.” It’s a national time of year to do that.

I suggest another national Thank You. Do not forget farm wives who keep farmers going. Wives are farmers, and they hold jobs that bring in regular grocery money and health insurance. Farmers need those to stay in business. Talk about contributions.

In Columbia, when I end up in a hospital, my nurses have been most often farmwives coming in far from Columbia.

As one said, “We do what needs to be done, so they can do what they (husbands) want to do.”

Another elbow. Be alert in troubled times for signs of suicide—in farm wives. We hear about farmer suicides. Not so much the impact on wives thinking suicide. Be alert. Help starts in talking and hearing.

A couple of very private talks with farm wives revealed this idea to me. I was totally shocked to hear these stories. The tale tellers didn’t “look” suicidal. It takes listening to “see” it.

I come from strong rural culture that doesn’t brag on soul mates enough. I recognized that long ago and try hard to change my ways. It’s tough. Men are bosses in relationship, right? Boy, I’ve had elbows to the nose from my feminist friends. I’m learning to listen better. And, I try responding in better ways. Those traits make me a better journalist, also. Listen more. Ask questions for clarification. Education never ends.

I’m stealing an idea from New York economics-writer Paul Krugman. He’s countering Zombie ideas that should die, but become undead. They remain believed and acted on, eating brains of the unsuspecting still using them.

Should I make another transition back to my beef herd owners? Do they retain Zombie ideas? No, they join me in searching out those bad ideas that need stomped on.

Support your newspapers. Print carries power, while Zombies lurk in my Internet feeds. I’m old, still learning. Please write: Use facts and data you’ve learned. Not undead zombies in your mind.


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