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A million chicks are dead and three million more are on the way out due to a conflict between a Russian farmer and the Russian government. Farm owner Alexander Chetverikov says his chickens are dying of malnutrition because the government is trying to force him into bankruptcy. 

This is one of the most read stories on the L.A. Times site. 

•This has nothing to do with rural, exactly. It’s just interesting.

Google and Harvard have been counting the words used in books written since 1800. They’ve found that the word “God” has been used less and less since the 1830s. “Harvard” is being used more. 

The data set includes 4 percent of the world’s books. And Google is making it available to the public. Want to see how often “corn” has been used in books? You’ll be able to plug in the word and the system will do a year by year count. 

By the way, “wicked” is way down since 1800.

• There are tons (and I mean that in a nice way) of small town Santas out there. Kyle Munson at the Des Moines Register tells the story of one, Bill Twohey of Maxwell. (Above.) 

• Pro Publica has a story about “rampant fraud” and “self-dealing” in the Alaska Native Corporation. http://www.propublica.org/article/rampant-fraud-self-dealing-alleged-in-alaska-native-corporation The investigation looks at how minority contractor set asides may have been abused. 

• Urban Lehner at DTN tells the heart-warming story of two thirty-somethings who have bought a 3,480 acre Nebraska ranch from the Nature Conservancy. 

Shane and Kristi Daniels came to the deal with nothing but hard work and a willingness to take a risk. They had worked through a “beginning-rancher” program set up by the Nature Conservancy and the Sandhills Task Force. And they had worked the land on lease for the past five years.

Now they have the financing to buy and ranch. “We will have to make sure we watch our pennies,” Kristi said. Great story.

Brownfield has the list of the 16 new Republican members of the House Agriculture Committee. 

• Here is Texas, we know that it is dry, dry, dry. We just got out of a drought and now we’re right back into another

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