Lonesome Tree in Sandhills

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nebraska: Water, Cattle, Manufacturing and Tourism

Nebraska's Sandhills have a unique beauty all their own.  Expansive grasslands as far as the eye can see growing under beautiful enormous skyscapes.  Most travelers totally miss it when crossing our country, thinking the entire state of Nebraska is but a wasteland!  
Loup River
in Sandhills
of Nebraska
Almost all of Nebraska covers the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides filtered pure water to man and beast alike, inviting migratory birds and other wildlife to feast there as well.  The Ogallala Aquifer is replenished by snow and rainfall, and due to depth and acres covered, Nebraska accounts for about 67% of the volume of the Aquifer's groundwater (Texas and Kansas account for 10% each).  The total water storage is about equal to that of Lake Huron, providing irrigation from the High Plains to almost 14 million acres in Nebraska (46%), Texas (30%) and Kansas (10%).  For more information: Water Encyclopedia
Irrigation from the Ogallala Aquifer certainly helps Nebraska produce great grain crops and the Sandhills grasslands produce some of the world's best beef.  According to the Nebraska Beef CouncilNebraska's economic engine is fueled by beef cattle raised throughout the state - $6.5 billion cattle sales impacted its economy by $12.1 billion in 2009.  
Traffic Jam
The top 3 beef producing counties in the entire U.S. are in Nebraska - Cherry, Custer & Holt Counties.  Nearly 5 million head of cattle are marketed in a state with only 1.8 million residents (2010 Census).  The Nebraska Beef Council claims Nebraska produces more cattle per resident than all other states, including Texas and California. 
Choice cuts of beef can be ordered directly from Nebraska ranchers, which they deliver to any place so long as it is located in the United States.
Nebraska's work ethic has driven growth of manufacturing as well.  The list of Nebraska manufacturers is quite surprising; for example, Loup Valley Machinery & Mfg's molded waterproof electrical connectors made in Burwell - gateway to the Sandhills.  As of October, 2011, Nebraska's jobless rate is only 4.2%;(2nd only to North Dakota's 3.5% jobless rate, thanks to an oil boom). Why go to China when it can be made in Nebraska.

See some of the wild, wild West at Nebraska's Big Rodeo smack in the middle of ranch country.  Take your family to see the "real deal" - buckin' broncos, calf roping, barrel racing, and bull riding complete with clowns narrowly escaping those horns!  Chow down on Nebraska's choice steaks at the local Legion Club or enjoy some fine cuisine at the Sandhills Grill. Drive around the area and enjoy!

Nebraska's Big Rodeo is in Burwell, which is only a 3-hour scenic drive out of Lincoln, Nebraska's capital, along the Loup Rivers Scenic Byway.  But don't take my word for it - go see all of Nebraska's Scenic Byways - or take a virtual tour with the video at right (best view is full screen).
The NEBRASKAland Magazine is a treasure trove of interesting history and events held in Nebraska, including wildlife photos.  You will also find wonderful photos and descriptions of the Sandhills' landscape and its plant and animal life on Kody Unstad's website: The Nebraska Sandhills 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Diversions of the Soul: The Road Less Traveled

Dr. Susan Bodnar, a clinical psychologist teaching at Columbia University Teachers College, posted an article titled "Don't forget where you came from" at CNN's online: In America: You define America. What defines you? 

Dr. Bodnar's article kicked off very interesting comments discussing why our country is experiencing significant social division among the have-wannabes, the semi-haves and the never-will-haves.

Many stories posted in comments reflect the division between those who earned college degrees and those who have not, but it seems much of this division is driven by talk shows calling educated people "elite" as if it's a dirty word. Comments suggested those who left poverty behind by getting a college education have experienced considerable angst reconciling their educated upwardly-mobile lives with family and friends left behind.

Pursuit of a higher education used to be seen as good for the country. Higher education was the Holy Grail that immigrants worked so hard for their children to have, so when did it become something bad for the country & why???

The discussion has inspired Dr. Bodnar to delve further into the sensitive issue of who we really are as Americans - what divides us and what unites us.  Stay tuned for more later!