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home : columns January 16, 2018

Sisters Country birds
Dead snags become large drums for the pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus). Whether proclaiming territory, communicating, or chipping out a nest, decaying trees are essential for a healthy population of the largest species of woodpecker in North America. With a body length of 15-19 inches and a 29-inch wingspan, they have a home territory of 320-600 acres.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Low snowfall attracts winter hikers to Black Butte
I wasn't planning for our first hike of 2018 to be in January, and I certainly didn't expect it to be at higher elevations. At least, that was the case until the new Sisters District Ranger, Ian Reid, told me about his family's New Year's Eve climb of Black Butte.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Black Rock blues
I admit to a conservative streak in my nature. One problem with that is a tendency to paint the past in golden hues and promote a world that never really existed. And it's probably accurate that if we are ever to learn anything, and carry that knowledge forward, we can't do it by living too long in the rearview mirror.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Baking bread and other life lessons
There's something growing in my refrigerator. I see it when I open the door...rising, bubbling and needing my attention. All kinds of things are changing right now. It's a new year, full of possibilities and transformation. But nothing will happen if I don't take a few risks.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
New Year's resolutions for your pet
Ready to take on the new year? Resolutions are a great way to start the year off, whether they are a list of things to accomplish or fun ideas to make 2018 your best year yet.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Use your kindness wisely!
Pam Nord of Sisters came home and found a so-called, "chicken hawk" caught in her chicken pen fence. There were no chicken feathers or parts strewn about, so she immediately focused on the plight of her not-so-friendly visitor.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Something for nothing
My grandfather warned me a long time ago that "You can't get something for nothing," which always sounded like an unassailable bit of wisdom pulled from Stonewall Jackson's Book of Maxims. But granddad wasn't around for the invention of Bitcoin.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Ed O'Farrell's midnight ride
On a recent research trip into the Nevada outback, Nugget editor Jim Cornelius and I had occasion to stop for a few minutes in Silver Lake, to pay our respects at a monument in the local cemetery. Ten feet high, unprepossessing, the monument was erected in 1898, to remember the victims of Oregon's deadliest fire.

The Silver Lake Fire of 1894 isn't really the stuff of a Christmas column, except that in the midst of an agonizing tragedy there were also towering acts of selflessness.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Steal this column
The real crux of the word-ban issue at CDC isn't that the words are "banned." They aren't, not really, and as of this morning there are no credible reports of bonfires on Capitol Hill fueled by the ritual tomecide of policy manuals. Officially, the words are merely "discouraged."
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
When the wolf comes to town
Few subjects in wildlife conservation are as fundamentally polarizing and explosive as the topic of wolves. And like most subjects in our "Breaking News" zeitgeist, the hyperbole shills on all sides of the wolf issue seem to work in feverish piques, pandering to our baser emotional responses, and often ignoring outright any evidence contrary to their own cherished narrative.

In other words, we hear mostly from the mostly unreasonable.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
The monkey's fist
If there was ever a time to examine the wisdom and efficacy of attempting to govern 320 million people as a single entity, maybe now is it.
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
The Mill Party
I am sentimental about sawmills. That's especially true around Christmas because the Sierra Pacific sawmill - at one time the second largest of its kind in the United States - was also the principal private employer where I was raised, in the sparsely populated northeast corner of California.
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Spiders forever!
Yes, I admit, I've done it to every one of my six children and 13 grandchildren: I've exposed them to the beauty and the role of spiders in our lives.
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Understanding your dog's body language
What is your dog trying to tell you?
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Vegetable transparency - a lesson in good governance
It's time to come clean. Way back in March, or April, maybe it was May, I wrote in these pages predicting - it was really more of a populist pandering, almost a campaign promise - that we would grow 500 pounds of vegetables. That was worth a giggle then, and somewhere inside I knew it was bold, but it seems much funnier now.
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
The tiger beetle
One of fastest and most aggressive beetles crawling, running, and chasing other invertebrates on the surface of our home planet can be found on the Oregon Coast: the tiger beetle. With apologies to my good pal, great artist and musician Dennis McGregor, I stuck a head-on photo of an adult tiger beetle on the head of the tiger, and another crawling up its body, like he likes to do.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Meet the new boss: Dawn of the Red Century
Next week will mark the centenary of the greatest evil to befall mankind in the dark, catastrophe-ridden annals of the 20th century.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
The first True Bill in the big collusion extravaganza has finally been handed down. Early Monday morning, in a showbiz fail, Paul Manafort, former chairman of Trump's presidential campaign, made a strangely unattended perp-walk with his lawyer into the FBI's Washington D.C. field office.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Bull by Bull
• Vernon - of whom I often write - was a gentleman, a scholar and an artist. Best of all he was a master farrier. When I look out to my barn I see his turn-of-the-century Hay Budden anvil sitting on the stump right where he last used it. Since his death in 2012, a number of shoers have asked if I ever plan to let his anvil go, to which I reply, "Lee Christensen has dibs on it when I croak." Until then, often times when I walk past it, I pick up the hammer and let it ring out again, as only a forged Hay Budden can.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
The alligator lizard
In Al St. John's field guide, "Reptiles of the Northwest," the section on lizards ends with two very similar look-a-likes, the Oregon alligator lizard, (Elgaria scincicauda) and the California alligator lizard, (Elgaria multicarinata), and lists an additional five subspecies. Turn the page after that and the snakes begin, starting with the rubber boa.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

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