farming

On Mike Pink's potato farm at dawn, the sun is an angry red ball low in the sky.

This summer, wildfire smoke has blanketed much of the West for days and weeks. And that smoke has come between the sun and ripening crops.

Pink watches as his year's work tumbles onto a fast-moving belt and into a waiting semi truck. He's got most of his 1,600-acre potato fields yet to harvest on his 3,000-acre farm, spread over about 40 miles between Burbank and Basin City, Wash. And this thick smoke makes him nervous.

Esperanza Yanez can spot a sick cow just by looking at it.

"The head hangs down and they don't eat," says Yanez, who immigrated from Mexico two decades ago and has been caring for cattle ever since.

While learning to communicate with animals takes years of patience, Yanez says the true language barrier exists between the dairy workers and the veterinarians who rarely speak Spanish. Medical terminology can be confusing, and to avoid embarrassment, Yanez says she and other workers may feign comprehension.

The House did not pass its version of a farm bill last month, but the Senate may have a better shot this week when they consider the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.

Rae Ellen Bichell / Mountain West News Bureau

Over the last decade or so, states in the Mountain West region have used less and less coal to make electricity. Wind is one of the energy sources replacing it.

Colorado’s biggest wind farm is set to be completed by this fall — and it might even help keep a piece of state history intact.

Matt Bloom

Ten years ago, Bill Conkling worked in quality assurance at Anheuser Busch where he tested batches of beer for a living. Now, he crushes Colorado-grown grapes into more than 12,000 bottles of wine each year.

In 2007 he saw an opportunity to produce wine in Northern Colorado, so he started Ten Bears Winery in Laporte during his spare time. After 8 years of promoting his wine at farmers markets and festivals, he grew the business into his full-time job.