Kansas Bird Checklists

Kansas Bird ChecklistsIf you plan on doing any birdwatching in Kansas this Memorial Day weekend, equip yourself with a checklist first.

The Kansas Ornithological Society offers free PDF downloads of the following checklists:

Also, be sure to see the species county dot maps for a visual presentation of where in Kansas a particular bird has been seen.

These maps and checklists are updated as new birds are found in the state and in individual counties. Check back periodically.

Before you hit the road, print out your state checklist. For an extra challenge, start keeping track of your bird sightings by county! Good luck!

Bouvier des Flandres

Bouvier des FlandresDog experts disagree on the history of the Bouvier des Flandres. All we know for certain is that, from time immemorial, sturdy cattle dogs lived and worked in the Flanders region of Belgium and on the northern plains of France. What types of dogs went into the gene pool is mostly unknown. Some monks at Ter Duinen were early breeders, and we do know that they imported Irish Wolfhounds and Scottish Deerhounds to cross with local farm dogs. Where the local farm dogs came from, however, is uncertain. Some experts suggest they were descendants of herding dogs from the rest of Continental Europe, perhaps various types of schnauzers, but this is mostly speculation.

In any case, the Bouvier des Flandres was strictly utilitarian. It was quite versatile, pulling carts for butchers and driving and guarding herds of cattle for merchants. It also found a place on the family farm, completing any work necessary, from working grist mills to defending property from intruders.

Every region had its own preferred type of Bouvier. Differences in size, shape, and color abounded for many years. Even when the first breed standard was drawn up in 1912, great variation was permitted.

The face of the breed changed quickly when World War I struck. In war-torn France, all suitable working dogs were pressed into military service. The Bouvier des Flandres again proved its worth and versatility. It could deliver messages, haul guns, and search battlefields for wounded soldiers in need of help. These were dangerous jobs, however. The breed paid a heavy toll during the war.

One of the survivors was a dog named Nic de Sottegem. He was saved by a veterinarian with the Belgian army. After the fighting was over, dog show judges were given an opportunity to examine both Nic de Sottegem and his progeny. His structural quality was considered so excellent that he and his offspring were used as the basis of a new, more uniform standard. Breeders not only sought to replicate Nic de Sottegem’s good points, they relied heavily on his descendants to rebuild the numbers of the breed.

Much of the rebuilding process occurred in the 1920s. It was also at this time that the Bouvier des Flandres was taken to America. AKC recognition was granted in 1931. The breed quickly caught on, not as a working dog, but as a show dog.

Today, the Bouvier enjoys moderate popularity across the United States, having achieved the rank of 83rd in AKC registration statistics. It is not one of the more common farm dogs, but is still represented at most herding trials.



Many Bouviers today are kept as companions or show dogs, but they are still quite able to work. They make good therapy dogs and guide dogs.

On the farm, the Bouvier des Flandres is a trustworthy general-purpose worker. He is best known for herding cattle, but he is quite suitable for working sheep and poultry. He is a dutiful guardian of family, livestock, and territory. He can even pull a cart of firewood or garden produce.

But the fortitude of the Bouvier is perhaps at its best in the dangerous, trying duties of police and military work. He can do anything from sniffing out drugs to apprehending a fleeing criminal. Likewise, he can be absolutely depended on in search-and-rescue work.


Bouvier des FlandresTemperament

The Bouvier des Flandres combines a bold presence with quiet manners. There is little he fears, and there is absolutely nothing that can rattle him out of his calm self-possession. He is a thoughtful dog, used to making his own decisions and relying on his own judgment. Fortunately, his judgment is extremely sound. He can readily size up a situation and respond with the precise action necessary. Even around strangers, he is never aggressive unless he feels that danger is in the air, preferring to awe intruders with his cool scrutiny.

But with members of his own household, there are few dogs more loyal and deeply affectionate than a Bouvier des Flandres. He is happiest within sight of his family, and if they scatter he will do his best to nudge them back together. He loves children, but is far less patient with other dogs. Caution is needed with cats and other pets, but most Bouviers will accept these animals if raised with them.

Even though the Bouvier is a willing worker, he must first be taught to respect human authority. During adolescence, he can be somewhat difficult to live with, as he will push the limits whenever possible. He can be very rowdy during play at this time, as well, so be careful about leaving a young Bouvier alone with small children. Training must balance kindness and firmness. The Bouvier can learn quite quickly and has a keen memory, so don’t bore him with needless repetition. Just remember that he needs to think before he can react. If he has learned to respect your authority, he will obey you—just give him time to process what you are telling him.

The Bouvier is a well-behaved housedog when his activity needs are met. A daily job will help him feel like a useful member of the family. When he does spend time outdoors, he needs to be contained in a physical fence at least five feet high. An underground fence is not a sufficient barrier, as he is nearly impervious to the slight tingle of most electronic collars.

As a herding dog, the Bouvier des Flandres is a quiet worker. He mostly relies on his imposing size to influence his charges to move. He has a strong instinct to gather stock, using a physical body block to prevent escapes. He can also drive animals from behind.



The Bouvier des Flandres matures very slowly. During his first two to three years of life, exercise him gently to avoid damaging soft bones and joints. Running and jumping should be avoided at this time.

His digestive system is something to be reckoned with. He tends to suffer from embarrassing flatulence. More seriously, he is prone to bloat. All Bouvier owners are advised to become familiar with the symptoms of bloat, as it is a life-threatening condition. Avoid this problem by feeding your dog two or three small meals daily instead of one large meal, and avoid undue excitement and activity within an hour of meal time.

Some autoimmune disorders exist in this breed, including cancer and hypothyroidism. Fortunately, the latter is still not terribly common.

Otherwise, the most common health problems in the Bouvier des Flandres include:

  • Glaucoma.
  • Hip dysplasia.
  • Elbow dysplasia.
  • Subaortic stenosis, a birth defect that narrows the left ventricle at the point where it joins the aorta.



  • Minimal shedding.
  • Partially hypoallergenic coat.
  • Adaptability to most conditions, particularly cold.
  • Hardiness.
  • Versatility.
  • Strength.
  • Endurance.
  • Agility.



  • Unsuitability for homes with other dogs.
  • Need for plenty of human companionship.
  • Need for firm training.
  • Rowdiness when young.
  • Coat that tends to collect debris and saliva, particularly around the beard.
  • Special grooming requirements to maintain wiry coat.
  • Exercise requirements.


Complete Series

Dog BreedsDog Breeds


Seeds From the Tombs

King Tut's SeedsMany gardeners know that cool, dry, dark places are ideal for long-term seed storage. Many gardeners cite the seeds found in ancient Egyptian pyramids as evidence. According to the popular story, these seeds, after lying dormant for thousands of years, sprouted when planted.

While most scientists would agree on the perfect conditions for storing seeds, most deny that seeds found in Egyptian tombs have ever germinate.

Mummy Seeds

The story that seeds from pyramids were sometimes viable was born sometime in mid-1800s England, a time and place definitely in the grips of mummy mania. Archeologists, both amateur and professional, were unwrapping mummies at every opportunity without compunction. In this process, they frequently uncovered small surprises rolled up with the bodies, including seeds. Seeds were important in Ancient Egyptian funeral rites because they symbolized burial and resurrection.

The first known instance of someone claiming to have sprouted ancient Egyptian seeds was published in 1843 in The Gardeners’ Chronicle of London. The Gardeners’ Chronicle reported that some wheat seeds were found in the hand of a mummy unwrapped in London. A crop was raised from one, and the next generation of seeds was available at exorbitant prices. The Lurgan, Portadown and Banbridge Advertiser and Agricultural Gazette shed some additional light on the story in 1849, reporting that the seeds were brought to England by Sir William Symonds and were then being grown by Francis Fforde of Ireland. In 1857, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine ran an article by T.E. Thorpe on wheat, noting its exceptional longevity and mentioning this incident as an example. The article also observed that the wheat tillered prolifically—“fifteen stems…sprung from a single seed.” For comparison, note that most American farmers hope for two or three tillers per plant; British sources (navigate to page 10) note that under ideal conditions up to 35 tillers are possible. Thorpe went on to speculate:

From this great increase it is naturally suggested that wheat now grown is a degenerate class of the same species formerly common in Egypt; else, it is argued, how could the Egyptians have supplied the Assyrian, Grecian, and Roman empires from their superabundance above their own wants?

A separate instance came to light in 1844. In this case, the story was that Thomas Pettigrew, a famous unroller of mummies, had found some wheat and pea seeds in a vase in a sarcophagus in the British Museum. The wheat all failed to germinate, as did many of the peas, but W. Grimstone of the Herbary in Highgate reportedly managed to coax some of the peas to life.

In the early 1850s, or possibly even earlier, more reports surfaced of Egyptian plants sprouting. In this case, Lord Lindsay of Britain claimed that he had found a root in the hand of a mummy he had unwrapped in Egypt. After being planted, the root grew into a dahlia.

In 1856, a Dr. Deck supposedly received part of a dried resurrection flower from a group of Arabs. These Arabs claimed to have taken the flower from a mummified priestess about ten years before. Dr. Deck found that the resurrection flower could revive when wet, albeit temporarily.

Science and Seeds

Scientists began experimenting with the germination and viability of seeds as early as the mid-1800s. Most researchers could keep their seeds alive for only 10 to 15 years at the most. A theory was formulated that the maximum lifespan of a seed was 30 years.

In June 1921, the New York Times ran an article on the reaction of British scientists to a claim then current in American that morning glory seeds found in the hand of a mummified girl sprouted. J.L. North, curator of the Royal Botanic Society, listed three reasons for doubting the claim before proposing an alternative theory:

In the first place, though grains were frequently buried with a mummy to provide food in case the corpse came to life, they were always baked to prevent germination. We have in our museum some such grains, burned black. Secondly, the morning glory is a convolvulus. The plant inhabits moist districts and not dry localities like Egypt. Thirdly, no seeds of the convolvulus last a very long time.

What really happened, I think, is that seeds of the morning glory happened to be in the soil in which the ancient grains were planted, and developed in normal fashion.

Many of North’s statements are can now be regarded as either doubtful or simply false:

  • There is relatively little record of pre-baked seeds found in tombs. In fact, some seeds, such as coriander, were actually planted in tombs and allowed to germinate. (It is worthy of note that some Egyptian seeds have carbonized simply from old age.)
  • A plant remarkably like a convolvulus (probably a bindweed, still a problem in Egypt today) is often portrayed in Ancient Egyptian art, sometimes in wreaths but also shown in marsh habitats, climbing up papyrus stems. The fact that a convolvulus can regenerate itself from just a small fragment of root may have been symbolic of rebirth in Ancient Egyptian culture, and its clinging habit may have been associated with femininity.
  • Most farmers and gardeners with the misfortune of being familiar with weeds in the bindweed family know that convolvulus seeds can last for incredible lengths of time, even under suboptimal conditions. Field bindweed seeds have been scientifically proven to live for a minimum of 50 years, outstripping other noxious weeds.

In 1933, a series of experiments were made on some wheat from Egyptian tombs. Every possible method of inducing germination was attempted, including an effort to use colored glass. All were in vain. The seeds merely crumbled to dust.

Scientists say that all viable seeds that come out of the tombs today are probably interlopers transported by rodents. Other instances may be hoaxes that salesmen love to market to tourists.

Unfortunately, scientific trials of seed longevity rarely last for any considerable length of time. Most experiments are abandoned after 20 or 30 years. Furthermore, no one botanist can continue the work alone, assuming the working lifespan of a botanist is 50 years at maximum.

What scientists have determined is useful, however. As a general rule, weed and agricultural seeds last the longest. Barley seeds, for instance, remained viable at 123 years of age in one study. Vegetable seeds are rarely viable for more than a few years under normal storage conditions, although when carefully sealed and stored at cold temperatures they can remain viable for at least 20 years. Some species can last 50 (beets) or even 60 years (tomatoes).

How Long Can a Seed Live?

Theories on the absolute maximum lifespan of seeds were shattered when a Japanese botanist uncovered lotus seeds in a layer of peat at the bottom of a dry lake bed in Manchuria. After the find, the seeds went to a museum, where they lay dormant for at least a decade. When a germination test was finally carried out, nearly all of the lotus seeds sprouted.

Scientists were astonished. The peat in the lake bed was thought to date back to the Ice Age. Evolutionists place the end of the Ice Age at 10,000 years ago at the latest. Creationists frequently suggest that the Ice Age occurred shortly after the Flood, probably about 4,000 years ago—still a very long time for a seed. Based on carbon dating results, however, scientists discounted the possibility of the seeds being a thousand years old and suggested that they were more recent interlopers.

Another incredible resurrection of old seeds came in 2005. In 1973, archaeologists recovered seeds from the (then) extinct Judean date palm at the ancient fortress of Masada, the site of the last stand of the Jewish Zealots against invading Romans in A.D. 73. Troubled times resulting from Roman and then Arab occupation reduced the cultivation of the tree, leading to its extinction around A.D. 500.

At the time of discovery, the seeds from Masada were about 1,900 years old. They went into a drawer at a university in Tel Aviv until 2004. Painstaking methods were used to revive them the following year, including a hot-water bath, a dose of seaweed-based fertilizer, and a solution of hormones. On March 18, 2005, the date palm “Methuselah” emerged from the soil, bringing the species back from extinction.

The Truth About Ancient Egyptian Seeds

The fact is, we may never know the truth about the viability of Ancient Egyptian seeds unless repeated attempts are made to sprout them, as germination rates in ancient seeds can be quite low. While the vast majority of the old seeds are undoubtedly long dead, there may be a few hardy survivors that gave rise to the tales of mummy seeds.


If you enjoy research and writing, you are probably always on the lookout for a better way to keep track of information. Scrivener is an outstanding program that can help.

As for telling you what Scrivener can do, it’s hard for us to know where to start, since it can do so much.

ScrivenerFirst off, Scrivener is an excellent way to organize research materials. You can import a variety of files of use to you, including photos, audio clips, and PDF documents. You can also take your own research notes. Even though these important research materials are gathered into one document with your paper or manuscript, they can be compiled separately. More on that in a moment.

Because of the different viewing options available to you, it is very easy to read your notes as you type your manuscript. You can even add internal or external references as you go.


Organizing a manuscript is suddenly very easy, especially with the included templates for both fiction and nonfiction works. A folder titled “Manuscript” contains your work. You can add any number of subfolders for chapters and sections. Index cards can hold synopses for each chapter and section. Need to reorganize your work? Just move text and folders around in the binder, or go to the corkboard for a really user-friendly view of the project.


Tracking goals is easy, too. Set up word-count targets per manuscript, document, or session. Mark the status of each chapter or section as you go.

When it comes time to output your work, Scrivener’s compile settings are extraordinarily flexible. Select which parts of your manuscript you want to export. Format text, headings, and footnotes to achieve your desired look. Then save your work in a variety of formats, including:

  • PDF.
  • Word document.
  • Open document format.
  • HTML.
  • MOBI.
  • EPUB.


We are just scratching the surface here. We recommend starting out with the helpful tutorial that installs with the program. Then open up a template and start modifying it to fit your research and writing needs.

Versions of Scrivener are available for Windows, macOS, and iOS. Download a 30-day free trial or dive right in and purchase the software!

Border Collie

Border CollieMost of the herding dogs of the British Isles trace back to a common ancestor—the big, black-and-tan mastiffs brought by Julius Caesar around 55 BC to guard and drive livestock to feed the Roman army. Of course, British and Scottish sheepdogs do not look much like mastiffs. This is owing to the influence of small herding spitzes brought by the Vikings after the collapse of the Roman Empire. The two dogs, mastiff and spitz, proved to form a powerful combination.

Ever afterward, sheepdogs were a part of everyday life on the desolate pastures of Scotland, the hilly country on the border with England. Ancient writers tell us that the sheepdogs of the Border country could be trusted to take a flock out to graze during the day and herd them safely home at night. Early on, the farm collie, or Scotch Collie as it was called at first, was bred to work.

Life went on the same for centuries, each generation of farm collie being more or less like the last. But matters suddenly began to change with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Suddenly, wool and mutton became big business. Shepherding morphed from a matter of subsistence to more of a commercial enterprise. Scottish farmers expanded their flocks considerably, but of course this meant that they needed greater assistance in handling them. A good dog was often cheaper than a shepherd, and frequently more reliable. Greater efforts were made to improve the farm collie, enhancing his speed, precision, and obedience.

In 1860, Queen Victoria made a trip to Scotland and fell in love with the humble farm collie. Almost overnight, the shepherd’s dog became the devoted companion of the aristocracy. However, wealthy breeders preferred a fluffier dog with a more refined build. A split began in the bloodlines of the farm collie, the aristocratic version assuming sole ownership of the name Scotch Collie. This dog was also called the show collie or just the Collie, and is the breed now exemplified by the immortal Lassie. The dogs that stayed behind in the hill country to work were just known as sheepdogs.

At this time, however, the ideal sheepdog had yet to come to the forefront. Whenever shepherds met, it was inevitable that the conversation would turn to sheepdogs and, often, to boasting about the best dogs. Some dogs drove stock before them, while others fetched sheep to the master; some were incessant barkers, while others preferred to work silently. Since the situation was the same wherever sheep were worked with dogs, shepherds conceived the idea of holding contests to settle the disputes.

The first sheepdog trial in history was actually held in New Zealand, but the first trial of note was hosted in Bala, Wales, in 1873. A Scottish dog named Tweed won prizes for both herding and beauty. But the future of both herding trials and sheepdogs changed forever in the 1890s when Old Hemp appeared on the scene.

Old Hemp resembled a modern Border Collie in every way, from his appearance to his working style. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he did not bark while at work. He controlled his sheep with a hypnotic stare, willing them to obey. His method was unbeatable—Old Hemp won every herding trial he attended his whole life through. Little wonder that Old Hemp became both the standard and the fountainhead of the Border Collie.

Some of the best Scottish sheepdogs were brought to America beginning in the 1880s, often to work on the expansive sheep ranches of the West. For about 100 years, the Border Collie was simply a good working dog.

In the 1990s, however, the breed became more familiar to the general public. Meanwhile, the American Kennel Club was in the midst of an expansion phase. The Border Collie was added to the Herding Group on October 1, 1995, creating a split between show and working bloodlines that still sparks heated debate today.

Whatever its purpose, the Border Collie is incredibly popular given its energy level and exercise needs. It is the 38th most popular dog according to AKC registration statistics, and it can be found working on many farms and ranches all across the country.


Border CollieUses

Don’t be confused by the fact that there are working Border Collies and show/pet Border Collies—all Border Collies need a job, no matter what bloodline they come from.

Working Border Collies are serious dogs that pretty much have to put in a full day of strenuous work to be content. These dogs need to live on a sizeable farm or ranch with plenty of opportunities to herd sheep. Some working Border Collies have enough force to handle cattle, as well.

AKC Border Collies are slightly more laid-back, making good companions for active families. They thrive in the hands of owners with a competitive streak, whether it comes out in canine sports like agility or human sports like marathon running. Given the right climate, Border Collies can even make excellent sled dogs in middle-distance races. Of course, herding is still appreciated by many AKC Border Collies. However, their lower octane levels help them to be content with herding in AKC trials or on hobby farms.

In their spare time, most Border Collies make good watchdogs.



The Border Collie is nothing if not intense. He loves nothing better than to work and to please. If his mind is kept busy, he is calm, reliable, and impeccably well-mannered. If he has to find his own jobs and entertainment, however, he is prone to a whole host of compulsive behaviors, including herding shadows, chasing cars, chewing furniture, finding new ways to escape, and barking at nothing in particular.

In keeping with his subtle methods of reading and controlling sheep, the Border Collie is exceptionally sensitive. This creates a unique set of training challenges:

  • A Border Collie puppy should be introduced to a wide range of people, places, experiences, and (particularly) sounds, all in a safe, fun way. Otherwise, he is likely to develop severe phobias during those early, insecure weeks.
  • Consistency is all-important. The Border Collie can detect the most subtle changes in tone, an important skill for dogs that must respond to distant whistle commands when herding on expansive ranges. As far as the dog is concerned, a word means one thing when spoken in a high-pitched tone and something completely different when spoken in a low tone.
  • Punishment should be kept to a minimum when training. The Border Collie cannot handle harsh reprimands, and will act irrationally when punished. Fortunately, he truly wants to please, so this type of discipline is rarely necessary anyway.
  • Praise should be delivered with perfect timing. A poorly timed word of praise can reinforce bad habits, especially since the Border Collie needs only one or two repetitions to completely master a new behavior. For this reason, many Border Collie owners use a clicker to train their dogs, since most trainers can press a button with much greater speed and precision than they can speak.

The Border Collie is happiest when with his family, with whom he bonds very deeply. He can get along quite well with older children, other dogs, and even the family cat (depending on the personality of the cat). He displays a strong instinct to keep all of his family members in a group, making him prone to separation anxiety. Unfortunately, this gathering instinct can also lead to dangerous situations with small children. If children run from him, a Border Collie may try to hold them with his teeth. He is not being aggressive—just controlling his flock.

When herding sheep, the Border Collie works with a style seen in no other breed. He naturally tends to make sweeping runs, working at a considerable distance from his flock. However, he can still maintain a high degree of control with his stalking approach and his unnerving stare. This intent gaze is known as “eye.” Because of his reliance on eye, the Border Collie typically prefers to work at the head of his flock. However, he is quite versatile, and can be taught to drive animals in front of him, or even to tend livestock in an unfenced pasture. Likewise, the Border Collie can learn to work either independently or under tight control from the handler.

Note that the AKC Border Collie is more relaxed than the working Border Collie, although still full of energy.


Border CollieHealth

Health problems common in the Border Collie breed include:

  • Lens luxation.
  • Collie eye anomaly, a genetic defect that prevents the eye from developing properly.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy.
  • Hip dysplasia.
  • Hypothyroidism.
  • Allergic reactions to flea bites.
  • Multi-drug resistance, which can cause life-threatening reactions to some tranquilizers and heartworm medication.

Epilepsy has been seen in a few dogs, as has osteochondritis dissecans, a painful joint condition in which cartilage and bone die and crack.

Never breed two merle dogs together. The resulting puppies may be born white, blind, and deaf.

Note that the Border Collie is a serious workaholic. He will not stop working just because he is too hot or tired, so owners must be alert to prevent heatstrokes.



  • Availability.
  • Unparalleled ability to learn.
  • Adaptability to most climates.
  • Longevity.
  • Versatility.
  • Work ethic.
  • Incredible herding instinct.
  • Agility.
  • Stamina.


Border CollieCons

  • Need for constant companionship.
  • Tendency to chase cars and small children.
  • Susceptibility to phobias and compulsive behavior.
  • Need for consistent training.
  • Need for a challenging job.


Complete Series

Dog BreedsDog Breeds


The Kansas Gold Rush

The Kansas Gold RushPike’s Peak and the Colorado Gold Rush—topics that are familiar to many. But did you know that Colorado Gold Rush is something of a misnomer?

At the time, the gold rush was simply called the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, also a misnomer since the gold fields were about 85 miles north of the famous mountain. However, Pike’s Peak was an important landmark on the trail, a sort of beacon that could be used to guide travelers over the broad and mostly markless plains. This whole territory, across the plains all the way up to the summit of the Rocky Mountains, had been organized in 1854 under the Kansas-Nebraska Act as Kansas Territory.

Rumors of gold in the region had existed for decades, as trappers had previously found small quantities of the precious metal. Some Cherokees traveling to California in 1848 stumbled across more gold along the way. Miners headed to the west coast in 1849 and 1850 had also found the precious metal while passing through the area. They did not stop to search for more, however, since they were hoping for greater discoveries in California.

But one California miner returned. William “Green” Russell learned about the 1848 gold discoveries from his Cherokee wife and her relatives, and after several years in California he decided to investigate the stories. In July 1858, Russell found the first significant gold deposit in the Rocky Mountain region.

On the way back home, Russell happened to meet up with William Larimer Jr., a land speculator living in Kansas Territory. When Larimer heard Russell’s story, he spread the news, then promptly set out for the gold region—but not to dig. Larimer knew which occupations paid the best during a gold rush, so he staked a claim and organized a town of which he was the first resident. He named his new town Denver in honor of Kansas Territorial Governor James W. Denver.

The rush began as soon as the news reached civilization, the words “Gold in Kansas Territory!!” blazoned across the pages of the Kansas City [Missouri] Daily Western Journal of Commerce that August. Some historians believe that as many as 100,000 prospectors responded by flooding the region beginning in 1859. Larimer sold tracts of land as fast as prospectors arrived. Mining camps sprang up overnight.

The Kansas Gold Rush

Most prospectors reached the gold fields by way of the Smoky Hill Trail along the river of that same name. Others used portions of the Oregon Trail and the Santa Fe Trail. No matter their route, their slogan was the same: “Pike’s Peak or Bust!”

It was not until Kansas achieved statehood that the borders were changed. While debating the Wyandotte Constitution, Kansans determined that it was best to cast off the far western portions of the territory. At that time, Kansas was already an unwieldy conglomeration of separate interests, not to mention mostly uninhabited except at the two extreme ends. Kansas was admitted to the Union on January 29, 1861, with its present borders.

Colorado Territory was organized about a month later under Larimer’s supervision, its borders corresponding to the boundaries of the present-day state of Colorado. Thanks also to Larimer, Denver became the capital of the new territory. It is probable that Larimer had entertained hopes of being made governor of Colorado Territory, but it was not to be. President Abraham Lincoln gave the position to William Gilpin of Missouri, possibly to foster loyalty in that somewhat disaffected state. After fighting in the Civil War, Larimer went home to Kansas to become a state senator.

By that time, however, the gold rush was already just about over. The deposits of free gold were exhausted by 1863. Gold was still present, but it was found in combination with other substances. The rush gave way to the industrialized system of gold mining still important in Colorado today.

Nevertheless, the change of boundaries changed the way history has viewed the 1859 excitement. It has been known as the Colorado Gold Rush ever since.


Helpful Resource

Historical Atlas of KansasHistorical Atlas of Kansas
Includes a map showing the limits of Kansas Territory. Also provides some additional information on the boundary debates. Read our full review.

10 Handy Weather Resources

10 Handy Weather ResourcesDo you want to get better acquainted with the weather? Perhaps you just need to know the average precipitation for your area or when to expect the last frost of the season. Or maybe you’re a little more ambitious—you would like to be able to predict the weather over the next 24 hours or so.

Whatever your level of interest, you may find these 10 weather resources helpful for digging in deeper:

  1. Zone and Frost Maps
    Perfect for you gardeners out there, this post includes links to freeze maps and USDA plant hardiness zone maps.
  2. 30-Year Normals
    Want to know what to expect in the way of temperature and precipitation in your area? Find the answers here.
  3. What Type of Climate Does Kansas Have?
    If you have lived in Kansas for any length of time, you know the answer to the climate question is not simple. Here is our in-depth discussion, complete with maps.
  4. United States Drought Monitor
    While some years flooding is more of a problem than drought, if you need information on drought and its impacts in your area, the U.S. Drought Monitor is the definitive source. Drought forecasts are included.
  5. Kansas State University Weather Data Library
    For the serious weather enthusiast, this site offers a wealth of information on climate, records, recent weather events, agronomy, and more.
  6. The Weather Wizard's Cloud BookThe Weather Wizard’s Cloud Book
    This is a helpful, well-illustrated way to get to know the clouds with an eye to forecasting the weather. Read our full review.
  7. The Book of Clouds
    Want to improve your ability to identify clouds? The lavish photography in this book can really help. Also makes a great book for the coffee table. Read our full review.
  8. Weather Folklore
    Our own series on weather folklore. Find out which sayings are fact and which are fiction.
  9. The Old Farmer's Almanac Weather NotebookThe Old Farmer’s Almanac Weather Notebook
    If you really want to familiarize yourself with the weather in your area, you should consider keeping your own weather records. This beautiful full-color notebook makes it easy.
  10. A Field Guide to the Atmosphere
    Do you ever wonder how clouds form? What causes different types of precipitation? Why unusual optical effects sometimes appear in the sky? Find out in this clear but thorough book. Read our full review.


BeagleThe Beagle is a breed old enough to have its origins shrouded in mystery. We know for certain that, when the Romans arrived in the British Isles soon after the birth of Christ, they found small hounds already employed in hunting. About a thousand years later, William the Conqueror and his Norman soldiers brought along hounds of their own that probably influenced the Beagle. Thus, most researchers are not entirely certain whether the word Beagle comes from the Celtic word for “small” or the French word for “open mouth.”

In any case, after the Norman conquest, all-day hunts became a popular pastime among the landed aristocracy. The Beagle was a tiny dog in those days—perfect for hunting hares and rabbits in a group, since its little legs worked at a pace that ladies and elderly men could follow on foot.

Foxhunting became the rage among the upper classes during the 1700s, however. Both the Beagle and the pursuit of rabbits were handed over to those of more humble birth. One man is recognized as having shaped the breed from this point forward, and that is Parson Honeywood of Essex. He collected a fine pack of hounds in the 1830s, including not only the old type of Beagle, but also a long-eared, heavy-bodied British dog called the Southern Hound. He probably also had a few Harriers in his pack. His dogs were hunters to be reckoned with, so it is little wonder that most packs in subsequent years were descended from the parson’s hounds.

Beagles existed in America early in our nation’s history, at least since Colonial times. They were particularly popular in the South. These, however, were the variable hounds that existed before Parson Honeywood’s day. After the Civil War, General Richard Rowett of Illinois began to import some of the new, more uniform Beagles descended from Honeywood’s pack. Other breeders followed suit into the 1890s, firmly fixing the type of the Beagle in America.

The Beagle was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885. Two years later, the breed was considered sufficiently distinctive to have its own written standard.

Beagles were largely kept for hunting and field trial competitions in the late 1800s. It was not until after the World Wars that they became popular pets. In 1953, the Beagle reached the top of AKC registration statistics, a position it held for six years. Even today, the Beagle is still the 5th most popular dog in America.



There are two types of Beagle: the show dog and the working dog.

The show type is the ultimate house pet, thanks to its small size, easy-care coat, and friendly demeanor. It is also a useful watchdog and a superb therapy dog. Its presence and strutting gait make it a perennial winner at dog shows.

The hunting type, on the other hand, is not content to sit back and accept admiration. It was born to work. It can hunt rabbits and hares, alone or in a pack, for sport or for competition.

Beagles are also a traditional choice for patrolling airports. The USDA’s Beagle Brigade searches for agricultural contraband, but these little hounds can also detect drugs and weapons.



Merry is probably the word most often used to describe the Beagle. He is a sweet, outgoing, curious dog that loves nothing better than playing with children and other dogs—unless it is sniffing out something to eat. This is a breed that thrives on companionship. He cannot be left alone for long periods of time unless in the company of other dogs. Lonely Beagles tend to be noisy.

Even though Beagles are loving and smart, they are also determined and somewhat stubborn. They are skilled at finding new ways to get out of work. It takes a patient person to train and housebreak a Beagle. The good news is that this breed will do just about anything for food.

Owners should always remember that a Beagle’s nose rules his mind. This means that food left out unsupervised will inevitably be discovered and devoured; trash cans will be tipped over and searched thoroughly; anything smelly will be investigated and probably rolled in. Furthermore, interesting scents outdoors are irresistible attractions. A Beagle must always be kept on a leash or within the safety of a physical fence—an underground fence is not sufficient. Once a Beagle gets on the trail, he cannot be recalled.

At work, the Beagle’s happy spirit and pure determination really shine. He prefers to work with his nose to the ground and his tail up like a flag. He bays to alert the hunter to a promising scent and then pursues the game relentlessly.

Note the differences in temperament within the Beagle breed. Show bloodlines make the best pets, since they are laid-back and family-oriented. Working bloodlines have boundless energy, perfect for a day in the field. They are happiest when living with a pack of other Beagles. Also note that the Beagle’s popularity has made it a favorite with puppy mills. Puppy-mill Beagles are usually found at pet stores, and they are unfortunately known for nervousness and psychotic behavior.



Some of the most common health problems in Beagles involve their prodigious appetites. Prevent poisoning and gastrointestinal injury by keeping trash cans and other sources of human food safely locked away. Also, never leave your Beagle unattended. If you are not at home, your Beagle needs to be safe in his crate.

Beagles can put on the pounds very easily. Don’t let those soft, sad eyes trick you into thinking your pet needs just a little more food. Keep him on a strict diet, and keep him active.

Other health problems that appear to be common in the Beagle breed include:

  • Cataracts.
  • Glaucoma.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy.
  • Cherry eye (prolapse of the third eyelid).
  • Ear infections (can be avoided by regular ear cleaning).
  • Deafness (not to be confused with selective hearing, also common in this breed).
  • Cleft palate.
  • Hip dysplasia.
  • Luxating patellas (slipped kneecaps).
  • Intervertebral disc disease.
  • Mange.
  • Allergies.
  • Hypothyroidism.
  • Diabetes.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Hemophilia.
  • Umbilical hernia.

Also beware of dwarfism. Dwarfs sometimes appear in otherwise normal litters. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous breeders then pawn them off as “rare pocket Beagles.” These dogs are not throwbacks to old-time hunting dogs that could be carried in pockets; they are actually genetically defective. They usually suffer from numerous deformities that can cause arthritis and other discomfort throughout their lives.



  • Small size.
  • Excellent disposition (if obtained from a reputable source).
  • Suitability for families with children.
  • Low grooming requirements.
  • Modest exercise needs.
  • Adaptability to most climates.
  • Longevity.
  • Keen nose.
  • Determination when on the scent.
  • Stamina.



  • Baying.
  • Need for companionship.
  • Difficulty in training and housebreaking.
  • Untrustworthy behavior when unsupervised.
  • Doggy odor.
  • Moderate shedding.
  • Tendency toward obesity.
  • Numerous health problems.


Complete Series

Dog BreedsDog Breeds


What is a Landrace Breed?

What is a Landrace Breed?
Florida Cracker cattle

A landrace is a group of genetically related animals unique to a given geographical area. Landraces come about over time as animals within the area interbreed for many generations with relatively little outside influence. The fact that all of the animals within the population descend from the same set of ancestors, whether those ancestors came from one source or many, creates a certain level of genetic uniformity. This makes it possible for an observer to distinguish each landrace from other breeds and landraces.

The environment is the major factor that shapes the landrace. If a given animal is not suited to local conditions, it probably will not thrive and produce offspring, eliminating its genes from the population. Instead, other animals that can thrive in those conditions will produce the next generation.

Examples of local conditions that landraces adapt to include:

  • Altitude.
  • Terrain.
  • Temperature.
  • Abundance or scarcity of water.
  • Natural food sources.
  • Parasites.
  • Predators.

The Role of Man in Shaping Landraces

Even though nature has the most say about the gene pool of a landrace population, humans also play a role. Indeed, this element of human intervention is part of what separates a landrace from a feral population.

People shape the genetics of a landrace both passively and actively. Passive selection occurs when humans alter the environment or its natural effect on animals through various management practices. These practices can include:

  • Providing shelter.
  • Providing feed or supplements.
  • Restricting animal movement to specific areas.
  • Doctoring sick animals.
  • Assisting with animal births.

We often consider these practices to be part of good stewardship of our animals, and rightly so. However, the fact remains that most management practices alter the course of nature and enhance the chances of survival and reproduction for animals that otherwise might have left little genetic legacy.

What some animal breeders overlook is that active selection has played a role in shaping many landraces, as well. The history of many landrace breeds show us that humans have specifically chosen certain animals to reproduce due to their desirable traits and have culled others due to their undesirable traits. Sometimes the entire landrace population is shaped in this way, while in other cases one family of breeders has simply established their own bloodline within the broader population.

Humans have actively selected some landraces for:

  • Production.
  • Working ability.
  • Versatility.
  • Specialized purpose.
  • Color.

Landraces Vs. Standardized Breeds

This brings up an important question: If landraces have been actively bred for appearance and production, then is there any difference between a landrace and a standardized breed?

The simple answer is yes.

Note the factors that most landraces have in common:

  • Concentration in a specific geographical area.
  • Limited numbers.
  • Genetic isolation primarily due to geographical isolation.
  • No written standard.

Compare and contrast this with the characteristics of a standardized breed:

  • Broad geographical distribution.
  • Numbers varying from extremely rare to extremely popular.
  • Genetic isolation primarily due to attention to pure breeding.
  • Written standard of desirable characteristics.

However, now that the Internet has made promoting breeding animals to distant buyers possible, the lines between landrace and standardized breed have become a little more blurred than advocates of either would perhaps prefer.

At present, there is still enough difference between a landrace and a standardized breed to say that the landrace is typically the more genetically diverse of the two. There are exceptions:

  • A landrace breed teetering on the brink of extinction may lose its genetic diversity through population depletion and subsequent inbreeding.
  • A standardized breed may have maintained its original genetic diversity through the preservation of several distinct bloodlines.

Examples of Landraces

Breeds that can still be classified as landraces include:

However, a landrace does not always have to stay a landrace. If a group of breeders decides to pursue more formal breeding methods, the landrace may become the basis of a standardized breed. Examples of landraces that have become standardized include:

Helpful Resource

An Introduction to Heritage BreedsAn Introduction to Heritage Breeds
Excellent book with basic information on landraces and how to preserve their genetics. Read our full review.

Choosing a Breed of CattleChoosing a Breed of Cattle
Are landrace cattle right for you? This book will walk you through the process of answering that question, and will introduce you to industrialized, standardized, composite, and feral breeds, as well. Learn more here.

Ephesians: A Devotional Commentary

Ephesians: A Devotional CommentaryEphesians: A Devotional Commentary by F.B. Meyer offers an interesting way to dig deeper into this brief epistle.

The commentary is centered around 15 key words, phrases, and concepts:

  • The Father.
  • The Father’s wealth.
  • In Him.
  • Created in Him.
  • The heavenly places.
  • Love on God’s side.
  • Love on our side.
  • The Holy Spirit.
  • Filled.
  • Power.
  • The church.
  • The reciprocal inheritance.
  • Man in Christ.
  • Our walk.
  • The Christian armed.

For every phrase or concept, Meyer searches through Ephesians verse by verse, listing and briefly expounding on each verse that treats of the subject at hand. The result is an enriched understanding of the key themes of this little book.

Even though Ephesians: A Devotional Commentary is now in the public domain, free digital copies seem to be hard to come by, probably since it was originally part of a larger work. However, it can be downloaded in the following formats: