Heard around the West
Frontier Days can get rowdy, but rowdy doesn’t
begin to describe what rodeo contestant Neal Daniel did in a bar
last July: He got into a fight he still can’t remember and
stabbed a rival seven times. But after a judge recently ordered
Daniel to pay the victim $32,000 in restitution, Daniel, a Texas
native, offered to give the victim $50,000, telling the
Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, "Your honor, I’ve
dishonored my family, my friends and myself, and I would just like
the opportunity to restore that honor." Daniel also backed out of
several rodeo venues in which he might have competed against the
man he knifed.
another surprising story, the high school student council
in the rural community of Farson, Wyo., wanted to raise money for
the Make-a-Wish Foundation, a charity for terminally ill children.
But the Friday night dance and pie auction was a dud, until a
student suggested calling a nearby bar, where workers from the
Jonah oil and gas field were spending their weekly paychecks. That
did the trick, says resident Marcia Hensley. When the oilfield
workers showed up, they began bidding with such gusto that the pies
started fetching $175 apiece. When the night was over, the kids had
It’s tough enough that chinook salmon have to climb
fish ladders to overcome Bonneville Dam. What’s
worse is that the young fish encounter sea lions that have learned
to climb the fish ladders just to pick off an easy meal. Sea lions
are formidable predators, and they have long lurked below dams to
prey on migrating salmon. Their increasing hunting skills may be
having an impact, although salmon face so many obstacles,
it’s hard to be sure. But something is obviously killing the
fish: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the 10-year average
for returning chinook at Bonneville is 9,708 fish, but in mid-April
this year, the total return was just 56 fish. The good news is that
sea lions can be deterred from dams by recorded whale sounds.
NEW MEXICO Bill Reid is an
outdoor educator who’s been "bitten, stung or sucked
on" by everything from rattlesnakes and hornets to
harvester ants and ticks. But no skunks have ever sprayed him,
although he once looked up to see the raised rear end of one
dancing in his direction. In Desert Voices, the
newsletter of the Chihuahuan Desert Conservation Alliance, Reid
admires the dainty animals, noting their insouciance in the wild
and their utility: "A barn with skunks has no rats at all." Houses,
however, are a different matter: Reid reminds us that now is the
time for skunks to check out basements as potential denning sites.
Baby skunks, born in early spring, grow to nearly adult size within
about eight weeks.
The bad news is that it takes 10 to 12 years for
sturgeon at a fish farm to grow to be 5 feet long. The
good news is that once the fish reach that size, they’re
ready to produce tasty caviar that fetches $45 an ounce.
That’s why some southern Idaho farmers are betting on farming
the huge white sturgeon, especially since the fish’s wild
Asian relatives increasingly suffer from poaching, pollution and
overfishing. Caspian Sea caviar is now so rare that it sells for
$78 an ounce, reports Oregon Public Radio, opening the door for
Western "cowboy" caviar.
A new book by Carol Steinfeld, called Liquid
Gold: The Lore and Logic of Using Urine to Grow
Plants, says we flush away a perfectly good
nitrogen-builder for our gardens. Steinfeld insists that "real
flower power" comes out of each of us, and all we need is some form
of "urine diversion" to take advantage of what we do naturally.
Whimsical drawings by Malcolm Wells, the guru of underground-house
design, make peeing on plants seem perfectly sensible. Learn more
on the Internet at Liquidgoldbook.com.
UNDERGROUND Three slime-mold beetles have been
named in honor of this country’s president, vice
president and secretary of Defense, thanks to two former Cornell
University entomologists. The scientists were charged with naming
65 new species of beetles; now, three of the insects will achieve
immortality as Agathidium bushi, Agathidium
cheneyi and Agathidium rumsfeldi,
reports The Associated Press.
Betsy Marston is
editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country
News in Paonia, Colorado. Tips of Western oddities are
often shared in the column, Heard around the