Home is where the herd is

Christmas is over, the New Year has passed, don’t fret, don’t worry, your troubles won’t last, 2020 will be a good year.

I’ve got little to do, but wonder what do cattlemen do in winter. A strange question to you, but I live in the Midwest, in Kansas, to be exact, near the Flint Hills, where the deer and the antelope play, once home to buffalo, where now cattlemen raise their stock.

Curiosity got the cowman.

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So, rambling across the internet, I came across John Schlageck’s article in Kansas Living, “How do farmers care for cattle in the winter?” It is the story of Berndt family and their farm, nestled in the hills of the Saline River Valley, where the cowherd “has weathered Kansas winters with below-zero temperatures and bitter-cold northerly winds since the late 1800s, when Leslie Berndt’s great grandfather began raising cattle.”

I imagine the Berndt family feels that home will always be where the herd is. I imagine it’s a stressful life – feeding and watering, and caring and tending the herd, and getting ready for calving in mid-February.

But as an old wrangler once said, “It is not work if you love what you do.”

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Origins Coffee Shop, Haviland Kansas

 

[This post is about small towns in Kansas. Remember to shop local and support Main Street America.]

If you haven’t noticed it, small towns in Kansas are disappearing, like a deliciously hot cafe latte at Origins, A Divine Coffeehouse in Haviland, Kansas.

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Origins, a Divine Coffeehouse

The small towns whose homes had white picket fences and a neighborhood grocery store that once epitomized America are cut off from the rest of the world by miles and miles of large scale grain operations, casualties of a system that has less and less use for small farmers, the ones Thomas Jefferson proclaimed were so precious to a healthy state.

If travelers experience Kansas anymore it is a glimpse at 85 miles per hour on the way to Denver, Kansas City, or south to Dallas. I was on my way to see my son in Ft. Collins, Colorado traveling west on Highway 54 one stop before Greensburg when I pulled off into Haviland for a cup of coffee.

Main Street heads north, no stop lights, no traffic.

As of the 2010 census, there were 701 people, 228 households, and 162 families residing in the city limits. Haviland, if you are planning to go there, is best known for the Christian affiliated Barclay College and free tuition, as well as the Haviland Crater site located at 37° 34’ 57” North latitude, 99° 09’ 49” West longitude. The impact left a hole that measured 30 by 50 feet in Kiowa County farmland.

The coffee shop is called Origins: A Divine Coffeehouse. It is right there on Main Street, a charming space with a sofa, tables and chairs, hot coffee and sandwiches. Sadly, if I read the Facebook post right, it is closing December 15th.

Maybe the death of rural Kansas is inevitable, maybe it is not. Whether small towns can be saved depends on Big Business and State government finding a way to bring jobs back to rural America.

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Haviland, Kansas