2014-07-28 00:00:00.0 07/28/2014 In This Week's Journal
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ISSUE: 07/28/2014

Purple reign: A splash of lavender in the heartland

By Doug Rich

Lavender was not their first choice, but it turned out to be the best choice for Jack and Kathy Wilson. They started the Washington Creek Lavender farm in 2005 after trying several other specialty crops on their hilltop acreage in rural Douglas County, Kansas.

In 2004 the Wilsons moved to Kansas from Chicago, where Jack was a TV producer and Kathy was a nationally recognized food photographer. Kathy is originally from nearby Lawrence, Kansas, but Jack is from New Jersey.

Jack said even now he will look out the window of their log home and ask his wife, “What is that out there?” and Kathy will say, “For the last time, Jack, that is a tree.”

The idea for moving to Kansas arose when Kathy inherited some land in the valley along Washington Creek. They purchased some land for their house and the top of the hill above their home, which is where they eventually planted lavender. Jack said they tried several crops before settling on this colorful crop.

They tried tomatoes first but a hailstorm wiped out their first crop. Next they planted organic basil. It grew well and a store in Lawrence agreed to buy their crop, but there were some problems. In order to deliver fresh basil, Kathy had to drive up the top of the hill at 4 a.m., shine lights from the truck on the basil to harvest it, clean it, and then deliver it to town.

“I didn’t realize that the weight we were paid on was mostly the stems,” Wilson said. “I took all the leafs off the stem and delivered nice, clean bags of basil leafs that weighed basically nothing.”

Black gold pumps green into economy

By Lacey Newlin

Things have changed a little since Jed Clampett first struck oil on television in the early 1960s. With the rising cost of operating a farm, especially in the midst of a drought, the term “oil boom” has become a safety net for agriculture. Rather than financing a mansion with a cement pond in Beverly Hills, oil strikes have kept many family farms afloat during trying times of late.

According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, the cost of production has shot through the roof. In 2007, the census reported $241.1 billion were spent on farming expenses. That number increased by 36.4 percent in 2012, totaling $328.9 billion American farmers spent to keep their operation going. These numbers are only expected to increase.

With the rising cost of raising a crop and purchasing cows, it’s no wonder the average farmer’s age keeps going up. The average age of the primary farm operator has risen from 50.5 years of age in 1982 to 58.3 years as of 2012. The 2012 census also indicated only 10,714 farmers in the U.S. are under age 25.

Some parts of the United States, like Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota and Montana, among others, have been lucky in that the existence of oil and gas has helped to alleviate these two problems by some measure.

“It has really made a lot of good paying jobs,” said one farmer. “These young men can come home, back to the farm and can stay and raise their family instead of going to a city and getting a job in a different profession.”

Red Angus members appointed to BIF board

The Red Angus Association of America was well represented at the 46th annual Beef Improvement Federation Research Symposium and Convention in Lincoln, Neb., June 18 to 21. At the end of the annual mee

Study: Zilmax has no apparent detrimental effect on cattle health

The cattle feed additive Zilmax has no noticeable detrimental effect on cattle health or well-being, according to research by scientists from the Univ

Champions named at 2014 National Junior Angus Show

Over 700 Angus juniors and their families traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana, to compete in the 2014 National Junior Angus Show (NJAS) July 6-12 at the Indiana State Fair Grounds.

Stars, cattle drive re-creation on tap in Dodge City

By Dave Bergmeier Cinema stars and the subjects of the Western prairie will take center stage as part of Dodge City Days, which will include a Longhorn drive re-creation plann


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