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Yonder readers will want to check out Mountain Peeks, a printed and now online magazine coming out of southwestern Virginia. What’s in Mountain Peeks? The editor’s description: “Featuring old photos and stories of mountain life along with current events, interests, and whatever else strikes our fancy.” Sounds good to us. 

Issue #2 has articles on elk returning to Virginia’s coalfields (photo above), “Why Living in Appalachia Ain’t So Bad,” and a remembrance of “Two Mountain Boys Go to War.” Check it out. 

• Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson has a piece today promoting shale gas as the “hope for our energy future.” Shale gas is a mixed blessing (isn’t everything?) in rural communities — good for jobs and less good for the environmental effects of “fracing,” the technique used to liberate the gas from the shale. Samuelson says the environmental charges against shale gas are “overblown…There are environmental issues, especially the safe disposal of “fracing fluids.” But onshore drilling, including “fracing,” has proceeded for decades without polluting water supplies. In shale gas, thousands of feet typically separate shale deposits from water tables.” 

• The Boston Globe finds that after “decades of decline, farming is resurging across the state.” D. C. Denison writes, “New farmers are graduates fresh out of college, immigrants with farming backgrounds, or former professionals starting second careers. Many begin as part-timers while hanging on to day jobs to supplement their incomes.”

From 2002 to 2007, there was a 27% increase in the number of farms in Massachusetts. But, the average farm in the state is getting smaller down to 67 acres in 2007 from 85 acres in 2002. 

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