The Billings Outpost

Special K readies plants for sale

By NANCY WHITE - For The Outpost

Walking into the Special K Ranch greenhouse, the first thing to notice is all of the color in the building. With thousands of plants lining the tables and shelves, it is nearly impossible not to notice the sheer beauty in the work that goes into the upkeep.

Next is the smell, a mixture of dirt, flowers and humidity. Each sense is able to perceive something new. In the middle of all the plants are a multitude of workers who spend their days prepping and readying these plants for sales and markets in Montana. Special K Greenhouse will sell and deliver the bedding plants to retailers, including shops like Ace Hardware, as far away as Miles City and Anaconda. 

The greenhouse is staffed with 31 residents and seven vocational advisers. The residents live at Special K Ranch, a working ranch for adults with developmental disabilities. The ranch provides these residents a place where they can live semi-independently, and have a stable job where they are able to earn a paycheck and stable income for all of the work that they do. Each resident is hard at work while sporting grins, despite a massive workload that might be considered daunting to others.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 April 2015 15:29

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Ag finding pulse here

By WILBUR WOOD - For The Outpost

“Our current food system takes wealth out of our communities,” says Ken Meter. “An uncomfortable reality but essential to talk about.”

The U.S. food system, he says, is based on long distance travel of food — either from farms and ranches into centralized processing facilities or back from those facilities to consumers, including those same farmers and ranchers; it is a food system engineered to supply, and prop up, the global export-import system.

Meter wants to propose an alternative, “a vision for local food economies” that builds health, wealth, connection and capacity.

Health, because food produced closer to home tends to be safer and more nutritious.

Wealth, because money rolls around in the local economy instead of being exported out.

Connection? Yes, between producer and consumer, but he also mentions connections “routinely ignored” — then talks about families and friends gathered to “eat around a table.”

Capacity? To do what? Not only to grow more of our own food closer to home — but also to actually cook at home. He cites “kitchens with no pots or pans” in dwellings whose occupants think “cooking” means “microwaving or going out to a restaurant.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 April 2015 11:05

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Rambunctious bison live on

Story and Photo - By CAL CUMIN - For The Outpost

Doc Woerner points to Henry’s femur while holding the femur of a Columbian mammoth.In the middle of winter several years ago, veterinarian Don Woerner of Laurel’s East Animal Center got a call for help. The Humane Society of Northwest Montana was asking him to assist in dealing with what was probably the largest animal rescue effort ever in the U.S.

Dr. Woerner had helped the Humane Society before as a veterinarian.

The 400-acre Montana Large Animal Sanctuary, spreading over 400 acres at Niaradia near Kalispell and operated by Brian and Kathryn Warrington, had managed to run out of funds and common sense to care for their 810 animals, many of which were dying from starvation and neglect.

Last Updated on Friday, 17 April 2015 11:03

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Redneck in Red China, Part 2

Dam reboots Chinese economy

Story and Photo - By BRAD MOLNAR - For The Outpost
On a smog-shrouded morning, the massive Three Gorges Dam looms over China.

Historically the fate of nations has depended on two issues: energy and transportation. Successful nations have incentivized what works and ignored what doesn’t. 

You can say what you want about China and whatever you say will be true, unless you say the Chinese are sitting on their heels. There are many proofs, but the greatest is now recognized as one of the Wonders of the Modern World: the Three Gorges Dam, known in China as the TGP (Three Gorges Project).

I recently toured the Three Gorges, the largest dam in the world, located about a 45-minute drive from Yichang (pronounced E-shaung). Though shrouded in the early morning mist, it was an awesome sight.

This dam was enveloped in international criticism with concern for the migration of sturgeon, the displacement of a million people, and the submerging of historical sites and relics from its ground breaking. Any of those arguments would have kept such a project in the United States on the drawing board and in the courts.

Completed in 2007, TGP generates 18,200 megawatts of power every hour. By comparison, the Hoover Dam generates 2,000 MW per hour. The largest dam in America, the Grand Coulee, generates 10,830.

When first completed, the TGP supplied 10 percent of China’s power, but because of double digit economic growth, and a rising middle class, it now produces 2 percent of China’s energy needs.

Last Updated on Saturday, 04 April 2015 10:55

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