The single farmer connection
Jim collects oil lamps and Bibles. Annie says she's "tired of going out with guys who don't know which side is up on a cow."
They're among those trying to find companionship through Country Connections, a Superior, Neb.-based dating newsletter, geared to folks living in isolated farming communities.
Bill Blauvelt said he founded Country Connections six years ago after reading about the plight of single farmers who had a tough time finding spouses. Since then, its circulation has grown to more than 1,500.
Most subscribers are from Nebraska and the Midwest, but some live as far away as California and New York, he said.
Subscriber Joe Cockson, 39, lives in Bellwood, about 60 miles west of Omaha. He said he wants to meet women, but not necessarily find a spouse.
Mollie Sampson, 36, who lives north of Wichita, Kan., said she received about 60 letters after Country Connections ran her profile and picture.
"If there are that many possibilities out there, I am not going to settle for second best," she said.
A 2 1/2 -foot-tall great horned owl took advantage of the holiday shutdown at an asphalt plant in Orlando, Fla., to make her nest there and lay her eggs.
fTC Unfortunately, the roost was nestled against a giant fan that can get hot enough to broil eggs and roast owls.
So manager Larry Ashmore kept the Sloan Construction Co. plant idle for 1 1/2 days, at a cost of $6,000, until the eggs could be retrieved and the owl shooed away.
"You can't just turn your head the other way," Mr. Ashmore said. "You have to do what's right."
Because great horned owls -- as well as their eggs and nests -- are protected by state and federal law, various officials had to be consulted about the move. It took all day Monday to contact the Audubon Society, the state game commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The owl was shooed from the ledge Tuesday morning by a bird handler. The eggs were then whisked to a heating pad at an Audubon bird-care center.
"Now when they hatch," Mr. Ashmore said, "I want to see what we spent all that money for."
They lead a trash-free life
After some good-humored quizzing, the Pittsburg, Calif., City Council granted an exemption from its new mandatory garbage charge to a man who convinced members that he and his wife don't produce any trash.
Homer Woodward, 67, said the two usually eat out, so they have almost no paper products to throw away.
What little there are, they toss into their wood-burning stove, along with dead tree branches. They feed their yard clippings to animals at their farm, and recycle all their glass and aluminum.
"What about razor blades?" asked Councilwoman Mary Erbez.
"I use an electric razor," Mr. Woodward replied.
"What do you do with the ash in the stove?" Mayor Ron Currie asked.
"That's mixed into the soil," Mr. Woodward answered.
The questions and answers continued for about five minutes Monday, but Mr. Woodward had an answer for them all.
The council finally voted 4-1 to exempt him and his wife from the $16.80-a-month bill.