Saturday, August 29, 2009

Good review for Ozarker's autobiography

Jim Hamilton, publisher of the Bolivar Herald-Free Press has written a review of Rocky Comfort, by Wayne Holmes, a book he calls an "episodic autobiography."

An excerpt:

Holmes grew up poor and tough on various farms around Marionville and Aurora. Not quite 3 years old in the spring of 1933 when the family moved by wagon from western Kansas to the Ozarks, Holmes experienced on one hand an idyllic backwoods childhood — running the trails with his dog Tuffy, hunting ’possums, skipping school and going fishing in Honey Creek. His pictures in the early chapters are invariably of a grinning youngster in overalls — the stereotypic carefree, country boy of those much-romanticized “good ol’ days” in the Ozarks.

On the other hand, Holmes recounts the embarrassment of eating biscuits in school when other kids had store-bought bread and of wearing striped “relief overalls.” He cites an episode during the war while the family worked in Wichita, Kan., in which he was beat up by city toughs and berated as a “Missouri hillbilly.” He still despises the epithet, “hillbilly.”

Holmes is a former Drury University professor; that's an important credential for many people, especially those who are outsiders looking to move to the Ozarks. For me, it's unimportant, but the book sounds good; I'll see if the Rolla Public Library can get it for me.--R.D. Hohenfeldt

No ash tree is resistant to emerald borer

By Jim Low
Missouri Department of Conservation

Campers crisscrossing the Show Me State over the Labor Day weekend could unwittingly spread a devastating forest pest. That is why the Missouri Department of Conservation is reminding vacationers to buy firewood where they plan to burn it and not take any home.

The emerald ash borer is a green beetle that has caused millions of dollars of damage in forests across the Northeastern United States and the Upper Midwest. Missouri’s first infestation was discovered last year in Wayne County.

The beetle’s habit of tunneling beneath tree bark, coupled with Americans’ love of camping and campfires, has caused the pest to spread more rapidly than it might have otherwise. Campers who take firewood with them from one campsite to another can carry emerald ash borer larvae, which emerge and infest new areas.

Campers can avoid spreading emerald ash borers – along with other forest pests or diseases – by buying firewood in areas where they camp and burning it all before leaving. Even moving firewood from one campground to another in the same neighborhood can spread parasites and diseases. Campers who accidentally move firewood should burn it immediately.

Missouri is one of 13 states where emerald ash borers have been found. The others are Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Virginia.

Emerald ash borers are not native to the United States. They were discovered first near Detroit in 2002. Experts say the pests probably hitched a ride there in wooden packing material from Asia. The pest has decimated ash tree populations in southern Michigan. So far, no North American ash tree has been found that is resistant to the pest.

For more information about emerald ash borers, visit, or call 866-716-9974.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Missouri music and musicians

Michael McDonald, originally from Ferguson, Mo., a St. Louis suburb; he played with the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan, before a solo career:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

“Don’t move a mussel” during Labor Day weekend

By Jim Low
Conservation Department

With Labor Day coming up, the Missouri Department of Conservation is urging boaters and anglers to be aware of the danger that invasive aquatic plants and animals pose for Show-Me State waters and take measures to prevent their spread.

Invasive Species Coordinator Tim Banek said zebra mussel larvae, known as velligers, were found in recent surveys of microscopic plants and animals at Pomme de Terre Lake in southwest Missouri. He said that as adults, the fingernail-sized invaders could interfere with the established food chain in Missouri lakes and streams, making them less productive for sport fish and replacing native animals.

“We don’t know exactly what changes might occur, but other areas where zebra mussels have taken hold have experienced ecological changes that were bad for fishing and tourism,” said Banek. “Missourians can avoid spreading zebra mussels with some reasonably simple precautions.”

Banek urged the thousands of Missourians who will be out fishing and boating during the long Labor Day weekend to take the following precautions:

· Inspect submerged portions of boats for adult zebra mussels after each use. Adults are fingernail sized with dark and light stripes. Small zebra mussels give hard surfaces a sandpapery feel.

· Check trailers, ropes, minnow buckets and anything else that was in the water. Report any suspected zebra mussels to the nearest Conservation Department office.

· Remove suspected zebra mussels, along with vegetation or other material clinging to boats and trailers and put it in a trash container.

· Rinse boat bilges, trailers, motor drive units and live wells with water at least 104 degrees if live zebra mussels are found, or if your craft has been in waters known to be infested with zebra mussels. Most commercial car washes meet this standard. Allow boats and other equipment to dry in the sun at least five days before re-launching.

Anglers have a special role to play in preventing the spread of other invasive aquatic plants and animals, such as the rusty crayfish and Asian carp. One of the best things anglers can do is dispose of live bait properly. Unused bait should be placed in trash bags and deposited in trash receptacles away from water. Never release unused bait – whether fish, worms, crayfish or anything else – into lakes or streams unless it came from the same water.

Boaters can prevent invasive plants and animals from hitching a ride by draining all water from bilges and live wells and removing vegetation and other trash from boats and trailers when they move them from one body of water to another.

More information about invasive aquatic species prevention is available at

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Zebra mussel scores on an end run

By Jim Low
Conservation Department

HERMITAGE–In spite of its lack of legs, wings or fins, the zebra mussel has pulled off an end run, surprising biologists who are monitoring Missouri waters for the potentially destructive invader.

Microscopic zebra mussel larvae turned up in samples of water taken by workers with Missouri Department of Conservation at Pomme de Terre Lake in June. The discovery came as a surprise to Invasive Species Coordinator Tim Banek.

“If I would have been asked to choose the highest risk reservoirs for zebra mussel infestation in 2009, Pomme would not have made the list,” said Banek. “One of my first thoughts was whether the veligers (zebra mussel larvae) might have come in sampling nets that had been used at Lake of the Ozarks. However, after speaking with those who did the field work, I am convinced that the samples were not contaminated.”

Banek said two-thirds of water samples taken this summer remain to be checked for zebra mussel veligers. It will take approximately six weeks to analyze the remaining samples and determine whether other Missouri reservoirs are infested. Because Pomme de Terre Lake is upstream from Truman Reservoir, discovery of zebra mussel velligers in the larger reservoir is almost certain.

The zebra mussel is native to Eurasia. It hitched a ride to North America in the 1980s, arriving in the Great Lakes in the ballast tanks of oceangoing ships. Since then, the thumbnail-sized invader has leapfrogged across much of the continent on commercial and pleasure boats, whose owners unwittingly transport the mollusks when trailering boats from one body of water to another.

While a few zebra mussels were found in the lower Meramec River in 1999 and in the Missouri River in 2001, the first known infestation of Missouri’s interior waters was discovered at Lake of the Ozarks in 2006. Today, the lake has dozens of known infestation sites throughout the lake. The pests also have turned up in Lake Taneycomo, Bull Shoals Lake and in the Osage River below Bagnell Dam. More recently, zebra mussel infestations were discovered in the Missouri River around Kansas City and Chamois.

Zebra mussels pose a threat to Missouri’s economy as well as the state’s ecology. They compete with native fish and other animals for food, making them a potential threat to the Show-Me State’s lucrative sportfishing industry. Their habit of attaching themselves to any solid object dooms native mussels, which are smothered by dense encrustations of the invaders.

Heavy zebra mussel infestations can weigh down docks, buoys and other marine equipment. Infestations on boat hulls increase water drag, leading to higher fuel and maintenance costs. They can clog marine engines’ cooling systems, creating a danger of damage due to overheating.

Zebra mussels also drive up utility bills by clogging water intakes of public and private utilities. Keeping those pipes open requires millions of dollars of maintenance annually.

Banek said the Conservation Department will begin immediately spreading the word that marina owners, anglers and pleasure boaters at Pomme de Terre Lake should take all precautions to avoid spreading zebra mussels.

“We still have many, many lakes and streams that are zebra mussel-free as far as we know,” said Banek. “Boaters and anglers have it in their power to keep it that way. At present, we don’t have any way to eradicate this pest once it is established. Even if we eventually find effective ways to control zebra mussels, that job, and the damage to our fisheries, can be dramatically reduced by citizen action now.”

Among measures Banek urges citizens to take are:

· Inspecting hulls, drive units, trim plates, transducers and other submerged portions of boats for adult zebra mussels after each use. Adult zebra mussels are fingernail sized with dark and light stripes. Small zebra mussels give hard surfaces a sandpapery feel.

· Examining crevices and recessed areas around motor housings, trim tabs and behind water intake screens on motors’ lower units.

· Checking trailers, ropes, minnow buckets and anything else that was in the water. Report any suspected zebra mussels to the nearest Conservation Department office.

· Removing all suspected zebra mussels, along with vegetation or other material clinging to boats and trailers and put it in a trash container.

· Rinsing boat bilges, trailers, motor drive units and live wells before launching them in another location helps prevent transferring microscopic zebra mussel larvae. Use water at least 104 degrees if live zebra mussels are found, or if your craft has been in waters known to be infested with zebra mussels. Most commercial car washes meet this standard.

· Allowing boats and other equipment to dry in the sun for at least five days before re-launching in another lake or stream.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cowboy translation

From the internet again:

Cowboy's Ten Commandments posted on the wall at Cross Trails Church in Fairlie, Texas:
(1) Just one God.
(2) Honor yer Ma & Pa.
(3) No telling tales or gossipin'.
(4) Git yourself to Sunday meeting.
(5) Put nothin' before God.
(6) No foolin' around with another fellow's gal.
(7) No killin'.
(8) Watch yer mouth.
(9) Don't take what ain't yers.
(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff.

Y'all git all that?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Foretelling the future

Here's a cartoon that explains the decision our country is faced with today, although this cartoon was made many years ago.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fiscal responsibility still an imperative for Missouri

By Rep. Dan Brown
District 149

It probably seems like every time you turn on the television, there’s another plan from the White House and Congress making government bigger and our taxes higher. It sounds like they have no qualms in saddling our future with a massive amount of debt. Even Governor Nixon is quoted as saying, “If there’s debt, Missouri kids and grandkids will pay that debt off.”

Most recently, you’ve probably seen clips from town hall events on healthcare. You may have even attended one. I believe it has been a great testament to the will of the American people. We don’t want bigger government and we don’t want higher taxes. When talking about a government healthcare system, we want a program that is accessible, affordable and provided to the people who need it the most. We want private health business to continue to grow and flourish. And we want all citizens to have a right to the care they desire – not the care the government dictates to them.

The House is and has been dedicated to strong fiscal discipline. For the past several years, we have produced a balanced budget and made tough decisions. We have stayed away from big government programs and wasteful spending – and we intend to remain fiscally responsible.

Most importantly, we want to hear from you – the people of Missouri. I hear from my constituents on a daily basis. I urge all of you to contact your local legislators and help to create a bright and solid future for the state of Missouri. As always, please feel free to contact me either by calling my office at 573-751-5713 or by email at

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Missouri Music and Musicians

Scott Joplin, a Texas native, who lived in Missouri for a few years. He went to college in Sedalia where he worked in the Maple Leaf Club and wrote the Maple Leaf Rag. He later moved to St. Louis.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Foot Rot, Fescue Related Lameness Can Decrease Cattle Gains

By David Burton
University Extension

Lameness in cattle is not a good thing when research shows daily gains on stocker steers and heifers could drop as much as 0.50 pound per day according to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“Lactating cows will experience a drop in milk production which can result in slower gains on their nursing calves. From the bull’s standpoint, sore feet could cause him to totally stop breeding cows during his lameness,” said Cole.
Foot and/or hoof problems typically are thought to arise from a bacteria, Fusobacterium necrophorum that invades the animal through a break in the skin.
“The break can come from the skin being soft from being in water or in lush wet pastures. Stiff forage stubble, rocks, brush hogged sprouts or any other sharp objects such as nails or wire can result in puncturing the skin,” said Cole.
Foot rot can invade front or rear feet.
According to Cole, when foot rot is prescent, there is pronounced swelling in the hoof area and the toes spread part and there is a break in the skin. A foul-smelling odor is detectable when the hoof is examined.
“Normally antibiotic treatment along with a direct application of medication between the toes will clear up the problem in a few days,” said Cole.
A second cause of lameness may be related to the fescue endophyte fungus or ergot. This lameness differs in that the affected feet normally are the rear ones and antibiotics or other medication seldom give relief.
“The fescue-related problem results from the consumption of compounds produced by a fungus, either visible or invisible to the naked eye. At this time of year, there is a good chance the ergot fungus that develops on the fescue seedheads is the culprit,” said Cole.
That fungus can result in poor circulation in the animal’s body and rear legs and tail switches may actually slough off. A close inspection of the leg may show a ring around the pastern area where the skin has broken and spots of hair can be missing above the hoof.
The use of antibiotics can help prevent some secondary infections, but won’t correct the problem. It is best to remove the cattle from the pasture where the problem was first noted.
Next, the cattle showing the worst symptoms should be put in a non-fescue or novel-endophyte fescue pasture and fed some concentrate and alfalfa-grass hay.
“Repair is slow and may not occur. Rear hooves that don’t slough off likely will show extra growth during the next year. Good producing cows may be worth trying to straighten out, but don’t expect a miracle,” said Cole.
Producers who have cattle that may have been affected by the ergot or fescue toxins should contact University of Missouri Extension.
“We would appreciate knowing about it so we can continue research into fescue-related lameness,” said Cole.
For more information, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102; Gary Naylor in Dallas County, (417) 345-7551; and Dona Funk in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Thinking of moving to the Ozarks?

Are you interested in fleeing from your big city in another state to the peace and quiet of a small town in the Missouri Ozarks? If you're thinking about Rolla, think about these things:

1. There's nary an opera nor ballet in either Pulaski or Phelps counties or surrounding counties.

2. Never, ever say Row-lah. It is Rolla, and it is pronounced RAH-lah.

3. Rolla's traffic problem is worse than it was when I move here in 1984, but it's nothing compared to Houston or Dallas, the armpits of the United States.

4. There's plenty of outdoors activities.

5. For high-brow artsy-culture folks, the town to live is Rolla. We even have an Arts District.

6. Rolla is halfway between Springfield and St. Louis. I know that you outsiders like to do some "serious shopping" so that's where you can go, as so many of the wealthy in Rolla do. Perhaps that is why we have so many empty buildings downtown. We poor folks shop at Wal-Mart, K-mart and Aldi.

7. We don't have a Starbucks. We have a Panera Bread Co., which is a chain bakery that serves coffee. We also have a coffee shop near the campus called The Giddy Goat and a new coffee shop on Highway 63 called Harvest Coffee Co., which is my favorite.

8. We have no mall. Sorry.

9. Our city is working on a big sprawl along the interstate called the Rolla West project, which the big daddies of local government hope will lead to a mall and a Starbucks so we can be just like big highway towns.

10. Rolla has a two-layer society, especially in the schools. Way up there on the socioeconomic scale are the professors, doctors, lawyers, federal workers high on the GS rank, high-ranking support staffers at the hospital and university and scientists who work for a couple of corporations. They stick together, and their children stick together in the schools. Down here in the strata where I live are the tradesmen, the lower-paid support staff members at the hospital and the university, retail clerks (there are no factory workers here); they stick together, as do their children in the schools. We're all pretty happy the way this works, at least I am. I enjoy not having to put up with the bigwigs, and I assume they're equally happy not to have to deal with the likes of us.

Any questions?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Gout is a Real Pain but can be Treated Says Specialist

By David Burton
University Extension

People who have been awakened by a sharp strong breathtaking pain in their big toe in the middle of the night know that gout is a very real condition.
According to Tammy Roberts, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension, gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when too much uric acid builds up in the body.
“Uric acid is a by-product of the breakdown of purines in the body. Purines are found in all of the tissues of the body. They are also found in many foods such as organ meats, dried beans and peas, anchovies and gravies,” said Roberts.
Uric acid usually dissolves in the blood and passes through the kidneys and out of the body in urine. It can build up in the blood when the body increases the amount of uric acid it makes, the kidneys aren’t able to get rid of the uric acid or when a person eats too many foods high in purines.
There are things that increase the likelihood of a person developing gout.
More men than women develop gout. Men most often develop gout between the ages of 40 and 50. Women rarely develop gout before menopause.
“Being overweight can increase the risk of gout as can drinking too much alcohol. About 20 percent of the people who develop gout have a family member who has had it,” said Roberts.
Some medications can also put people at risk for developing gout. People who have untreated high blood pressure or other chronic conditions such as diabetes, high levels of fat and cholesterol in the blood or narrowing of the arteries can be at risk for developing gout.
“Most people who have gout are able to control the symptoms but it is important to seek treatment. The first goal of most physicians and patients is to relieve pain. Next, the physician will work to prevent future attacks and prevent long-term damage to joints,” said Roberts.
There are things a person can do to decrease the severity of attacks and reduce the risk of future attacks. The first thing is to do exactly as the doctor prescribes and be sure to keep your follow-up appointments. Other things may include limiting alcohol, limiting high purine foods and safely losing weight for those who are overweight.
“New research is being conducted all of the time. Some recent research suggests that low fat dairy products, vitamin C and wine may be protective in the development of gout,” said Roberts.
For more information on nutrition issues, go online to or contact Tammy Roberts at (417) 682-3579.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How to find some rural schoolhouses

Local history enthusiasts can take a 200- mile, six-hour driving tour and see most of the remaining one-room rural schools houses in Greene County, Missouri, thanks to a document produced by University of Missouri Extension.
The self-guided driving tour, available online at, provides detailed directions as well as a photo of each school and basic information about the structure.
The driving tour is an outgrowth of the popular book, "A History of Rural Schools in Greene County, Mo." written by David Burton, civic communication specialist with University of Missouri Extension in Greene County.
The book was completed in 2000, after four years of research. Copies of the book are available for $18 (plus $2 shipping and handling) from the University of Missouri Extension Center in Greene County, 833 Boonville, Springfield, Mo. 65802.
“I still get lots of inquiries from folks wanting to see some of the rural schools in this county,” said Burton. “This driving tour is the easiest way for folks to get to see most of the schools.”
Burton points out that the schools on the tour are in a variety of conditions. Some remain in use as community centers, while others have been converted into homes, barns and even businesses.
The first goal of the research project was to get the best buildings placed on the Greene County Historic Sites Register. The next goal was to get people interested in raising money and working to preserve those historically important buildings as part of community development.
“Thanks to organizations like the Country School Association of America, there is a growing interest in preserving these old schools,” said Burton. “The preservation of old school buildings has been popular on the eastern side of the United States. I’m hoping some of that enthusiasm, and money, moves to the Midwest, specifically Greene County, in the next few years.”
More information about the “Rural Schools of Greene County Project” is available at

Monday, August 3, 2009

Rural schools served many purposes in Ozarks

Generations of Missourians who were educated in one-room county schools tend to have fond memories of that earlier era and forget the stark conditions that often prevailed in rural schools.
"Despite their limitations and lack of amenities, rural schools fulfilled their mission. They brought education within walking (or riding) distance of nearly every Missourian," said David Burton, civic communication specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
According to Burton, the earliest Missouri schools may have provided only the barest rudiments of education but they were also the social center for fledgling communities.
"The schoolhouse was a gathering place for everything from pie suppers and church meetings to holiday and political events. Such gatherings were a vital source of communication in rural communities, and they helped knit together the scattered population," said Burton.
Today, the one-room schoolhouse with its smoky stove, water bucket and outhouse is a fading memory. The emergence of a statewide road system made it possible for schools to consolidate and transport pupils to larger, more centralized schools.
"Whatever its shortcomings may have been, the one-room school served a vital function in the evolution of Missouri’s public education system and in the overall social and economic development of the state. The rural one-room school is the foundation of public education and a reflection of Missouri's rural spirit and character," said Burton.
Burton is author of the book, "A History of Rural Schools in Greene County, Mo." and a frequently quoted expert on rural school buildings in southwest Missouri. Copies of Burton's book are available for $18 (plus $2 shipping and handling) from the University of Missouri Extension Center in Greene County, 833 Boonville, Springfield, Mo. 65802.
Additional information about the book, as well as a self-guided driving tour booklet, can be found online at