I had two reminders this morning about how quickly life can change and why we never should take anything for granted.

I’m babysitting the emergency scanner for the weekend.My responsibilities are to pay attention to anything our Hub cops and crime reporter might need to follow up on for Monday’s Kearney Hub and to go to anything that really is a big deal, such as a fire, big traffic accident or storm damage.

At 4:33 a.m. today, there was a call to a house fire out in the country about 3½ miles northwest of my house. Before I got there, the scanner chatter told me everyone had escaped safely. I don’t know who the family was yet or how many people were in the house, but a small bicycle laying on its side in the front yard tells me that a least one child lives there.

The fire was under control in about an hour. The house didn’t burn to the ground, but given the roof damage, the amount of smoke and the volume of water sprayed inside, I can’t imagine that it will be repaired.


Meanwhile, everything except for the night clothes the family wore probably is ruined. That’s probably especially true for such irreplaceable things such as family photos and keepsakes.

Talk about a huge life change that never could have been imagined when the family went to bed last night.

Later this morning, the pastor of our tiny, trying-to-rebuild Disciples of Christ congregation said his car spun out of control south of Kearney as he commuted from Minden, where he is full-time minister of a Disciples church.

A cold front moved through south-central Nebraska while I was at the fire. The temperature dropped around 20 degrees in about 20 minutes. Winds already were gusting to 45 mph or higher. We had rain when we went into church, which is a blessing ahead of planting season in this dry part of the country, but it was sleet when we left.

Since about 12:30 p.m., we’ve had a full on blizzard. The scanner tells me that our Buffalo County deputies and Nebraska State Patrol troopers are overwhelmed with vehicles off or blocking roads and (so far) minor accidents.

The pastor said that when his northbound car stopped after spinning on the wet highway this morning, it was straddling both lanes of traffic. Thankfully, the closest southbound car and all the vehicles behind it were able to stop before running into the pastor’s car.

That was a blessing.

It also is a reminder to enjoy every part of our lives – our family, friends, work and recreation – because it all could change or be lost in an instant, on a wet highway or by a spark.

Past NFPW President Cynthia Price of Virginia hit on several topics recently in her blog that had me nodding in approval

The first was a decision to allow “over” to mean “more than” in the new AP Stylebook. Sorry AP, they do not mean the same thing and I will continue to change the wrong use of over whenever I see it in a press release or newspaper copy I am asked to edit.

The other issue Cynthia raised is the importance of finding distraction-free time to focus on just one job that needs to be done. I’m sure she would agree that it’s also vital to occasionally find some “me” time in a quiet place where almost no one knows where you are and it’s possible to turn off the cell phone and other 24/7 ties to the noisy, busy universe.

Her distraction-free zone to get an important work project done was in a waiting room while her car was being serviced.

I enjoyed some reading time on my travel days to and from the NFPW spring board meeting in Birmingham, Ala.

However, I topped that for a few hours Saturday morning with my annual late March-early April solo time in a small plywood box that serves as a photo blind in a corn stubble field just east of Fort Kearny. Each spring, I go in before sunrise and hold my breath in hopes that at least some of the 500,000-600,000 sandhill cranes who have been in the Central Platte Valley the past four to five weeks will decide my spot in that particular field will be their first stop of the day.

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My morning in that small blind, with its two milk crates for seating, straw floor and sliding wood windows on all four sides, is one of my favorite days of the year. There also are a couple of folding chairs for additional visitors if all they want to do is sit and watch the show, but I use the entire space when I take photos.

The sunrise was beautiful and several dozen cranes landed within photo range almost immediately Saturday. They ate waste corn in the field and talked in to each others in variations of a part chortle-part purr sound.

Some flew off to other places. Others landed. It seemed that dancing was the first order of business after landing. They spread their wings to look big and impressive (the males, perhaps?) and jumped into the air, often taking corn cobs, stalks or leaves with them to toss in the air.

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I just kept taking photos, knowing that I would catch some of the crane ballet and also miss a lot of great photo opportunities. The images worth saving help me keep the wonderful memories of my time alone with the sandhill cranes.

I enjoy being in the large Rowe Sanctuary blinds along the Platte River with 25 or 30 other people who watch cranes fly into the river roosts at nigh and leave in the mornings. Silence is required, but that doesn’t stop people from catching their breath at the sights and sounds.

I enjoy spending three to four hours watching the cranes alone and at eye level even more. At times Saturday, I sensed they knew I was in the box in their field, but they didn’t feel threatened. They just did their thing and I did mine, until they scattered and I could exit without scaring them.

When I got home late Saturday morning and took a walk, I heard three sets of sandhill cranes fly over my head. I live a few miles north of the river and I’m sure they were taking advantage of a strong south wind to begin the second half of their migration to breeding grounds in northern Canada, Alaska and Siberia.

With warmer weather forecast this week, all of them may be gone by Palm Sunday. I’m always happy to see the first ones arrive in February and sad to see them leave in early April … mostly because I’ll have to wait another year to crawl into the Fort Kearny field blind to restore my soul.

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By the way, if you want to see some good reporting about the migration stop in the Kearney area, the NBC and CBS nightly news programs each did a piece, and Nebraska photographer Joel Sartore had an essay on the March 30 edition of CBS’ “Sunday Morning.”

You can find those videos on the NBC and CBS news websites by searching “sandhill cranes.”

I walked a few blocks of the Freedom Road Saturday afternoon in Birmingham, Ala., including sidewalks around the 16th Street Baptist Church and paths through the amazing Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

It’s interesting and a little unsettling to be old enough to have museums reflect my life, although in this case, not my times.

I was a child during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. I saw the black and white images, literally and figuratively, on the TV set in the living room of our rural Nebraska farmhouse. We watched the network news almost every evening.

The news on TV and in the newspapers, and lessons learned in school are as close as I got to the disturbing acts of hate and amazing examples of courage in those years. That important part of our nation’s history was centered in the heart of the South, where average people fought for change by joining hands and walking the Freedom Road.

Even as I stood in front of a memorial to four African American girls killed in the Sept. 15, 1963, bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, on a Sunday morning, no less, such cruelty seemed inconceivable.

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I had the same feeling a year ago in Memphis as I stood in the parking lot of the Lorraine Motel, looking at balcony of a second floor room where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot.

Every place has a unique history that is a mix of sadness, great accomplishments, gains and losses. In some places, history seems almost frozen in time. In others, it takes a museum, or better yet a local resident, to reveal how much things have changed.

Among my life’s great blessings have been opportunities to travel, especially to places all over the United States where local history is a part of every American’s history.

Many of those travels over the past 35 years have been linked to National Federation of Press Women conferences and board meetings. At the annual conferences, I almost always take a pre-tour or post-tour organized by our local hosts. Last year, I did both.

Our spring board meetings are focused on meetings. In Birmingham, the elected board met Friday morning, and the appointed directors present in person and via a phone connection joined us on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

We had time to network – every NFPW gathering involves networking – when we went to lunch and supper together and with several Alabama affiliate members.

On Saturday afternoon, host Elaine Miller took us to the Civil Rights Institute, across the street from the church and a park with several sculptures depicting events from those terrible times in 1963.

16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park1

We also went to the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in a nearby theater. We had a guided tour of the museum there and then a private 30-minute concert by members of the Birmingham Heritage Band. The music ranged from Etta James’ “At Last” to a “Blues Brothers” tune to some great unfamiliar, toe-tapping, hand-clapping instrumentals.

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How many such wonderful experiences have I had as a Nebraska and NFPW member? Far too many to count.

I spent part of Sunday afternoon and most of the day Monday seeing some of the things around me every day through different eyes.

The Nebraska Tourism Commission and Kearney Visitors Bureau hosted a tour for travel journalists from across the country. A writer and photographer who came on the March 2013 tour produced the 14-page spread about the sandhill cranes’ mid-migration stop in the Central Platte Valley for the March 2014 edition of Smithsonian magazine.

While the 500,000 or so sandhill cranes that spend March and early April between Kearney and Grand Island were the focus, including trips to river blinds at the National Audubon Society’s Rowe Sanctuary Monday morning and evening, there were many other things to show them.


They started at The Archway museum that spans Interstate 80 just east of Kearney. The two-story arch displays the history of all the transcontinental transportation through Kearney, including the Oregon, California and Mormon trails, Pony Express, Union Pacific Railroad, Lincoln Highway and I-80.

The final stop is a replica of a diner, with windows to look down on the westbound lanes of the interstate.


After Monday morning’s river blind visit, smaller groups went on different mini-tours that included Fort Kearny and the Classic Car Museum, Willa Cather’s Red Cloud and to Harlan County Lake just north of the Kansas state line, where white pelicans and other waterfowl gather in the spring.


Along the drive to the lake, which is about 20 miles southwest of my family’s farm, there was an opportunity to talk to the travel writers in my van – one each from Colorado, Chicago and Connecticut – about farming and Nebraska life in general.

None of them had been to south-central Nebraska before, so there wasn’t enough time to tell them or show them everything I would have liked. However, I did get an idea of how some people, especially city folks, view agriculture and rural America in general.

Some of it was good. Some of it was way off the mark. Oone animal lover wanted to let all the cattle in feedyards run free, seemingly not caring about how they would survive in our winter dry pastures or what it would do to the state’s economy.

But even the way off the mark comments told me something about the media messages people in other parts of the country get and illustrated the need for Nebraskans to do a better job of explaining how we live, what we do and how we do it.

Seeing my world through different eyes was unsettling at times, but also nice when I heard tour participants talk glowingly about the surprisingly wonderful things they saw in just two days.

It’s good for us to get different points of view, whether we’re promoting tourism or belong to a professional organization like NFPW.

What’s that old saying? If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

Always listening to the same voices and the same messages rarely seems to be a good idea.

I heard a great quote Saturday afternoon at the 40th anniversary open house at the National Audubon Society’s Rowe Sanctuary.

NFPW members who were on the Nebraska pre-tour ahead of the 2011 conference hosted by Nebraska and Iowa visited the sanctuary located on the south side of the Platte River southeast of Kearney.

They learned about sanctuary’s mission to maintain the bare river sandbars whooping cranes and sandhill cranes prefer as overnight roosts during the five to six weeks of their spring migration stop.

The staff has many conservation and nature programs throughout the year, but each spring they host visitors from across America and from 50-plus countries who come to see many of the 500,000 sandhill cranes that stop in the Central Platte Valley to feed in the cornfields and wet meadows during the day, and roost on the river at night.

Rowe Sanctuary and the Crane Trust near Grand Island have river blinds where you can go to watch cranes come to the river at night and leave in the morning.

Crane time is a great show whether it is seen from a blind or from your car while driving rural roads. There were only a few cranes in the Kearney area a week ago. Now, it’s prime time.

I took photos of a group getting drinks at a pond just west of the Gibbon I-80 interchange Saturday afternoon on my way Rowe Sanctuary for the anniversary open house.

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Some folks around here don’t think sandhill cranes are big deal because they come and go every year. Some are just now embracing the fact that we have one of the world’s great nature events in our own backyard. There is a story and multi-page spread of photos by a Smithsonian writer and photographer who were in the Kearney area for 10 days last spring.

I can watch sandhill cranes – the few hundred whoopers in the wild flock are a rare sight – for hours, especially if I have a camera in my hands.

So it was great Saturday to hear Paul Johnsgard, a world-known ornithologist specializing in the Great Plains, say something about sandhill cranes that will have me looking at them, and especially listening to them, in a different way.

Johnsgard first saw the cranes in the early 1960s as a new member of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty. He was so amazed by them that he says today the only reason he has stayed in Nebraska for all these years is he can’t live without the crane experience.

When I asked him if every spring visit still is special, he quickly said yes and explained why.

And then, just as I was closing my notebook, he said, “I think of them as an angelic choir where nobody sings in tune.”

This great scientist has written more than 50 books. Many are handbooks and pure science, but as you can tell, he also writes about natural history and his own crane experiences.

I suspect that parents and teachers hear a similar choir when groups of children get together to play or work on a project. I know I get a sense of that at NFPW conferences, especially during meals, when all the different voices are mixing in different octaves, tempos and accents. I can’t pick out words or true meanings, but there are sounds of joy and communing.

Sandhill cranes have a general vocalization that is kind of mix between a cackle and a purr or vibrato. But there is much more to hear from groups, including calls of alarm from the watchbirds, sounds made by dancing lovers … or prospective lovers, and even something that resembles a referee’s whistle.

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I think Johnsgard knew I would add my own personal sentence to his quote about an angelic choir where nobody sings in tune. As any crane lover would tell you, it is some of the most beautiful music you’ll ever hear.

It has been a good birthday, as birthdays go at my age, even though I didn’t spend it with my twin sister Lisa. One of her twins, a senior at North Platte High School, is the Tin Man in the school musical of “The Wizard of Oz, with performances Friday and Saturday nights, and this afternoon.

So anything we might consider doing together and/or with Mom will wait until another time. That’s OK. My family never has thought that a celebration of a birthday or any holiday was diminished if you didn’t have it on the exact day.

My birthday weekend included spending most of Saturday in Grand Island at the Nebraska Press Women winter board meeting. Food and fellowship is part of every Press Women event, so those of us who did not have somewhere else to be at a certain time adjourned to a local Mexican restaurant.

In this picture, from back to front, side to side, are Terri Hahn, NPW President Bette Pore, Treasurer Stephanie Geery-Zink, Vice President Sherry Thompson, my empty chair, Mary Pat Finn-Hoag, Secretary Barbara Micek and Cheryl Alberts Irwin.


Mary Pat and I then visited a Grand Island gallery that is hosting this year’s “Wings Over the Platte” exhibit, in which I have two photos.

Today, in addition to usual Sunday things, I took Mom and one of her friends on an early “let’s go see the sandhill cranes” drive because it’s such a nice warm (low 70s) day.

We usually go later in the season, after more sandhill cranes have arrived in the Central Platte Valley, and we knew the cranes are late this year because of the cold weather recently. We saw some, but not enough, so I’ll try to take them out for another crane watching drive in a couple of weeks.

We did see a migratory waterfowl show on the southwest edge of Kearney. Millions of ducks and geese also stop in south-central Nebraska every year during their spring migration. They generally start arriving in February and will congregate on any patch of open water.

That includes water in sandpits along both sides of the river. The sandy soils are mined for all the many uses for sand, but particularly for road construction. What is left, because of the high groundwater table, are chains of small lakes.

There were thousands of snow, white-fronted and Canada geese on one small lake west of the Fairfield Inn. So many were huddled together that it was difficult to pick out individual birds, even with the zoom lens on my camera.


Periodically, 25 percent to 50 percent of the birds would fly up for now apparent reason. Some flew off to other sandpits and some circled in the bright blue sky and dropped back down to their original place.


Some parents might say that’s sort of like the pattern of grown children who are trying to find their place in the world.

I used my birthday as kind of a scouting trip for bird-season photo opportunities and I hope to have many days ahead – working on Kearney Hub stories or just “me” time – to watch this amazing, world-class natural event in my own back yard.

I invite all of you to put a trip to Kearney in the middle of March some year on your “must see sometime” list. I can help you find some good viewing places … and you can help me celebrate another birthday.

Family reunion time is here or coming soon on several fronts.

On a winter day with a forecast high of 7 and wind chills in the double digits below zero in south-central Nebraska, it seems strange to talk about reunions that usually are associated with spring nights spent with former classmates gathered at hometown high schools or hot summer Sundays with families enjoying potluck picnics at a park, lake or other favorite spot.

Although they are a little late this year because of the polar vortex weather, some of the 600,000 sandhill cranes that stop in the Central Platte Valley each year from late February to early April, have started to arrive.


This is their mid-point pit stop on their migration from wintering grounds along the Gulf Coast to summer breeding grounds in northern Canada and Alaska.

This reunion of cranes and Nebraskans is centuries old, at least. People come from across the country and around the world to see one of nature’s great migration events, and I’m blessed to have it in my backyard.

You have to know where to look to find them in the Kearney area now, but there is a large group of early birds about 40 miles to the east in the Grand Island area.

By the end of the coming week, as south winds blow and temperatures rise into the 40s and 50s, masses of the great gray birds with the red heart-shaped patches on their heads will commune in the Kearney area.

That means you can find a sandhill crane show – amazing sounds and lots of dancing – along almost any road within a mile or two of either side of the river.

On March 8, Nebraska Press Women will have a mini-reunion of sorts in our annual winter board meeting in Grand Island. It allows us to get a lot of business done so that we have more networking and learning time at our spring convention, which is May 2-3 in Ogallala.

I booked a flight from Idaho Falls to Kearney Friday for NFPW President Teri Ehresman to come to our NPW spring convention as national president and a workshop presenter. So that convention-reunion will be even more special this year.

In the meantime, I’ll see Teri and other NFPW board members the last weekend in March when Elaine Miller and other Alabama members host us for our annual spring board meeting.

I’m excited to learn more then about plans for the NFPW Conference Sept. 4-6 in Greenville, S.C. Information already is posted on the http://www.nfpw.org website and I know more exciting details will be explained over the next several months in AGENDA and the monthly eletters.

It’s never too soon to start planning for a Press Women reunion!

For now, I’m going to get a little more of my Kearney Hub work done at home before snuggling under a blanket with my kitties in my recliner.

Earlier this afternoon, my calico kitty Tas sat at the window and chattered at a squirrel that had come out onto a spruce tree limb to brave the cold for a bit. It looked chilled to the bone and soon scurried into the tree for more protection from the wind.

Its reunion with other squirrels will have to wait for a nice spring day.


The most beautiful snow is falling outside my kitchen window. Flakes big enough and few enough to count individually, and falling straight down with no wind. Those all are circumstances highly unusual for a snow day in the Great Plains.

I know my NFPW friends on the East Coast and around the Great Lakes would consider it a sin right now to use the words “beautiful” and “snow” in the same sentence, given the winter they’ve experienced.

We would love to take a share of their bounty. We’ve had very little snow and a lot of it has been what I’m seeing today – a little bit and not much help to help fill the dry soil as a seed bed this spring.

Watching the snowflakes fall lightly, silently to the ground is relaxing after a very stressful, very frustrating work week.

I won’t go into the details, but here are some of the things that were on my to do list.

The annual Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic was in town all week, as usual, but added an extra weekend this year (last Saturday and Sunday) to provide more time to showcase the skills of 31 ranch horses that also were judged and then auctioned off.

I went out last Saturday to do a story, take some photos and also video. Then I went about every day during the week to get more photos for the daily paper and for promo sections we’ll do again in 2015.

Additionall, on Thursday and Friday, the Nebraska Women in Ag Conference was in town. That allows some of those participants to spend time at the cattle show, including Mary Pat Finn-Hoag who came to Kearney with a group of teachers and students from Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

Mary Pat and I went out to the fairgrounds Thursday evening and she found a cattleman from her region washing his bull. So, of course, they stood in the wash rack area for an interview.


Having two ag-related things in town at the same time is good for visitors and the local economy, but it’s also double work on my beat. Plus, the deadline draws near for the Salute to Agriculture section. And I was frustrated and angry about how some of the photos and stories I did this week were handled in the paper.

I’m trying to use this weekend to calm down and really decide how (or whether) to react when I get to the office on Monday morning.

I’m not trying to single myself out. Every professional communicator I know has the same type of schedule. I don’t know how the ones with family responsibilities on top of their work do it. They are amazing to me.

I have no study to back this up, but I think my generation of Baby Boomers and those just behind us are the worst about asking for help or admitting that our jobs and everything else has overwhelmed us at times.

When many of today’s jobs that are common for women or even dominated by them were opened to us, the ones who stepped through that door first felt an obligation to prove that women could do the job. Admitting that they needed help or a day off weren’t options.

Many of us carry that mentality with us today.

I was fortunate that my “had enough” time came on a Friday afternoon. I slept in, really slept in, on a Saturday for the first time in a very long time. I went to the grocery story, visited my mom, took a walk, worked on my clipbook, and then spent much of the evening reading and watching TV.

Now, I’m working on some Sunday chores. I’ve had a workout on my elliptical, took a bath, have a load of whites ready to go into the dryer, have nearly finished this blog and will go to Mom’s at noon for our usual Sunday dinner together.

I’ll get out the scoop or maybe just the big broom to clear the snow from my driveway this afternoon after the snow stops. In the meantime, I’ll pause and relax as I watch a few snowflakes gently fall.

I’ve been thinking a lot this winter about my National Federation of Press Women friends who have experienced wave after wave of bad weather. That’s especially true of folks on the East Coast who are getting record snowfall and people in the Gulf Coast states who don’t have experience driving on icy roads.

I hope that everyone is safe and warm this winter weekend. I know everyone is anxious for spring.

We’ve had our share of bitterly cold weather in central Great Plains and some snow, although not nearly enough to replenish the critical soil moisture needed as planting season approaches. The last two years have been terribly dry here, and there has been lots of drought news from California, especially in their key food-growing areas.

Nebraska actually is having a peek at spring for a few days. It has been in the 50s and is expected to be near 60 on Tuesday, before falling back by next weekend.

After many days of gray skies, it was wonderful Tuesday afternoon to see the sun shine. I was driving back to Kearney from a natural resources district meeting in Holdrege, about 30 miles to the southwest, when the clouds broke.

The animals I saw as I drove along country roads seemed to have their spirits lifted too. Horses eating cornstalks in one field lifted their heads and even ran through the snow that was in the corn rows.


Canada geese and several types of ducks were sitting in the snow in another field. They flew up when my car passed by. Winter migration is just starting along the Central Platte River and at the Rainwater Basin wetlands. As early as this week, the geese and ducks now counted in the hundreds will grow to the thousands and even millions.

The first sandhill cranes often are spotted by Valentine’s Day, but cold weather as far south as their Texas wintering grounds means they will be at least a little late. The biggest numbers – more than 500,000 – will be here throughout March.

I know all the wild creatures suffer when winter weather sets in. We’ve had some windy days here that have literally knocked people down and times when we waited days for the wind chills to get at least into the teens.

Whether it’s cold weather, being overwhelmed at work or other burdens in our lives, we must take time to enjoy some moments in the sun, alone or with good friends, to lift our spirits. Without a light in our souls, we can’t do good work or be people anyone wants to be around.

The most amazing thing I saw on my drive in the sun Tuesday was a bald eagle sitting in a field of cornstalks. The field is just south of the Platte River near Odessa, where eagles often are seen in the trees. There has been a nesting pair in that stretch of the river.

I first thought the black lump with the white top was a pile of dirt with snow on top. When I realized what it was, I stopped the car, put it into reverse and prayed as I backed up that the eagle would stay long enough to allow me to shoot a few photos out of the car window.

It did, even though I know it saw me and my car. Its instinct should have been to fly away into a tree. However, I think that eagle was enjoying sitting in the sun too much.

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I just passed my 36th anniversary as a full-time journalist at small daily newspapers in Nebraska, including more than 27 years at the Kearney Hub.

This is the season when I’m swamped with special sections, special events and conferences on my agriculture beat, and too much to do in general. It’s when I think I can’t do this one more year.

The saving grace are projects sprinkled in that involve fun and interesting people and events.

One a cold, frosty Monday, I went to a cattle ranch northwest of Kearney for a family’s annual production sale. Similar sales are scattered across Nebraska during the first three months of every year as cow-calf producers specializing in purebreds – Gelbvieh at the Taubenheim Ranch – sell bulls and heifers to other breeders or cow-calf producers who want to add certain genetics to their herds.

The Taubenheims have three generations in their family business and they all were working at the sale. Also helping were neighbors and friends who walked cattle from outdoor pens to the metal building with the small show-sale ring, served a beef sandwich and tons of desserts dinner (noon meal in the country), and did whatever else needed doing while family members focused on sale duties.

I was working on a story and photo page for the Hub’s annual Salute to Agriculture section that is published the third week in March, National Agriculture Week. So I started just before the auctioneer made his first call by strolling through the outdoor pens where the sale cattle were sorted.

Nearby were some tiny calves and their mamas. I’m sure the sale building does double duty as the calving barn, where the Taubenheims can put newborn calves to warm up or keep warm on a cold day. On Monday, several babies in the outdoor pens had been tucked into piles of hay or straw that served as overcoats.


Cattle auctions are entertaining, especially when there is an auctioneer who describes each animal coming into the ring in interesting ways. Monday’s auctioneer used terms like “here’s the Hoover Dam” to indicate well-built bulls. He also referred to each bull’s well-known ancestors because breeding is everything in the purebred cattle world.

It’s also fun to hear the guys standing around the ring holler when they see a head nod or finger twitch among the crowd in the bleachers that indicates a bid has been made.


It occurred to me at the sale that political campaigns would be easier to cover as a journalist and a voter if they were more like cattle auctions.

TV and print ads don’t tell us anything. Everyone has a nice family, is a patriotic American who speaks for all Nebraskans or all Americans and will cut our taxes, etc. etc. Most campaign ads, speeches and even debates give us only well-crafted general slogans, and nothing on the record that someone might disagree with while in the voting booth.

Cattle sales also have catalogs that include a brief description and then all kinds of numbers detailing everything about the bull or heifer. It’s gibberish to most of us, but the information in those boxes tells buyers what they need to know to make an informed decision.


What I’d like from the candidates – Nebraska has a bunch of them in the Republican primary races for governor and U.S. Senator – is a catalog that lists each one’s basic bio and life experience, and then specific answers for a list of issues.

That would give me the details I need to be an informed “buyer” of a candidate … or maybe none of them.

Cattle sales and political campaigns. Just one of the many interesting combinations that are common in a journalist’s career.


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