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Dan's Writings

May 18, 2018

Bird Blitz - 2018

I didn’t know this until a week ago, but every year The Nature Conservancy organizes a bird count on the lands that they protect by either outright ownership or through conservation easements. Our ranch is protected from development or exploitation by a TNC conservation easement so we are eligible to participate in what they call the Bird Blitz. The idea is to count as many bird species as possible in a twenty-four hour period. This year the day of the Blitz was May 18.

 

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April 21, 2018

Earth Day - Forty-Seven Years Later

I remember the first Earth Day. It was such a wonderful idea, everyone pitches in to adjust the trajectory of mankind’s relationship to Earth and we wouldn’t have to face the destruction of our home. In those days most of us were thinking about recycling pop bottles, putting out bird feeders, stopping the dumping raw of sewage into our waterways, and picking up hamburger wrappers that were routinely slung out of the windows of really fast cars that got about eight miles to the gallon.

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April 06, 2018

The Endless Prairie Wind

Now we move into spring. Both the Ides of March and the Vernal Equinox have passed. Dawn comes a little earlier each morning; the sun eases itself little-by-little northward in the eastern sunrise sky. The prairie winds blow and whistle and sometimes howl. But, if you are going to live on the prairie, you will live with the winds.
Prairie Sunrise
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March 02, 2018

In Solidarity With Parkland, Florida

Like a lot of Americans, I have been paying close attention to the kids who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It’s very unlikely that I will ever experience anything like what those kids have gone through. But when I watch their faces as they stand up and speak truth to the legislators who hold the power and responsibility to see that our schools are safe and about the need for society to do something to protect them, I see something in their postures and in their eyes that is vaguely familiar.
English Setter View article

October 04, 2017

We Need More Octobers

Perhaps my best argument against the theory of Intelligent Design is the indisputable fact that the vast majority of the good things to do in life happen in the same month. I’m talking about October and more specifically, October on the Great Plains. Winter out here can be inhuman, the last few summers have been unbearable. Spring can be good, but unpredictable. The time of year we wait for is fall. And the fall month of choice is October.

Grouse Hunters

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May 16, 2017

Education By Bull Boat

At Wild Idea we do everything in our power to see that all the parts of the buffalo are put to good use. That’s why I was so interested in the telephone call I got from Doctor Craig Spencer, biology professor at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. For several years, Craig has been bringing his biology classes out to our buffalo ranch to talk about grasslands and the history of the Great Plains and last year, one of the students asked if I’d come to their campus to do a public reading and talk to some of the classes.
Dan O'Brien and Augustana Students View article

April 20, 2017

How Buffalo Taught Me to be a Responsible Capitalist

I belong to the Baby Boomer Generation and if you are a Millennial, Gen-X, or Gen-Z person, I owe you an apology. My cohorts and I are the ones that didn’t adequately stand up to the forces of ignorance and greed that are killing everything that is wild. But we were the first generation that understood that what humans were doing to wild things was suicidal. We are culpable for knuckling under in the face of the power behind that insanity and I’m sorry for the part I played in that tragedy.
Dan O'Brien on his Bison Ranch

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February 17, 2017

As one travels…

As one travels the center of our country the effort to conserve and restore the diversity and natural systems of the American Great Plains is evident. Conservation groups, government agencies, and individuals are hard at work on a thousand projects; from habitat restoration, to reintroduction of endangered species, to watershed protection, to base-line science that will help us understand what needs to be done. I see these efforts everywhere I go and I marvel at the array of fronts on which lovers of the “Big Open” are working.

prairie landscape

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January 14, 2017

We live in a land…

We live in a land of accidental monuments. Mostly they were erected in the beginning of the last century and were not intended to mark the passage of great events. They were intended to be the beginnings of something. They dot the landscape in the form of leaning or tumbled down buildings surrounded by tree groves dying of thirst. Sometimes there are moldering corrals of rotten boards brought in by trains that no longer run. Sometimes the county road that once led to them is still passable. Sometimes those roads have been over taken by what was pushed aside to construct them. Often there is only a depression that marks the root cellar where precious vegetables were stored for the few years that the dream survived.

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November 11, 2016

"The Week Just Passed" by, Dan O'Brien

Our culture suffered a setback during the busy week just passed. Many people are deeply upset and there are those who couldn’t care less. The election, of course, is a big story. But I’m not sure it should be. Elections come and go.

Some of the clarity gained over the last five or six decades will no-doubt fade, but the nugget of what was revealed in that time will remain. We know much more about what makes us human than we did fifty years ago.

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