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Cell Phone Towers and Manure Piles

Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
8:33 pm

How do you measure progress? “By counting cell phone towers and manure piles,” my Dad suggested.

A little background is in order …

I grew up on a small dairy farm in southern Idaho. The largest herd we every had was about 75 cows, which seemed like a big bunch of black and white Holsteins to me – especially when I had to milk them all.

Back in those days, we hadn’t even heard of cell phones. Our telephone was a black dial phone that hung on the kitchen wall. Each local call was limited to only 7 minutes, much to the chagrin of my sisters. Long distance calls were far too expensive to use except in dire emergencies.

But in the last 20 years, some interesting changes have come to the Snake River area of southern Idaho. Many enterprising dairy farmers sold their operations in the Los Angeles area to land developers, reaping huge profits. Swimming in newly-found money, many of these folks relocated to Idaho, building large, modern dairy operations and nice homes near Jerome, Idaho, where my parents still live.

These big dairies, with thousands of milk cows, dwarf the little dairy operation Dad ran when I was a kid. This influx of money and cows has brought a new level of prosperity to Jerome. Huge milk processing plants have been constructed to make cheese and other products from all the milk produced by those Holstein cows. Big trucking operations have emerged to transport both the raw milk and finished products. Lot’s of folks (mostly Spanish speaking for some reason) are employed to milk the cows.

But alas, with all the milk and prosperity came the inevitable manure piles. Huge, smelly manure piles. It seems that all the hay the cows eat is not converted completely to milk.

During this same period, all dairymen (and everyone else) began using cell phones, with all the great benefits we enjoy. But, just like milk cows produce manure, the telecommuncations industry produces cell phone towers – an absolutely necessary, but somewhat unsightly byproduct of progress. My Dad once remarked that southern Idaho had as many cell towers as manure piles – and the numbers of both were growing rapidly!

Well, Dad has a tendency toward the superlative, but he has a point. Southern Idaho got both the benefit of the growing dairly industry (more cows, more milk, better economy) but also picked up the challenge of dealing with all that manure.

With mobile phones, we get the convenience of personal communications, but have to put up with cell phone towers.

As a mentor once told me, “When you pick up one end of the stick, you always pick up the other end as well.” Consequences, like manure, just happen.

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One Response to “Cell Phone Towers and Manure Piles”

    Love the article!! Cell towers and manure piles — perfect together. Could be the new slogan for the State of NJ where I live.

    Comment by Steve Kazella on August 10, 2009 at 1:20 pm

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