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Mow Those Ditches Early—The Pheasants Are Fine! Says Governor

Another advantage of printing veggie steaks is that when a drought hits, we don’t have to decimate pheasant habitat to feed our cattle. But wildlife expert Kristi Noem assures us her executive order allowing early mowing of the ditches won’t imperil the pheasant population she’s elsewhere keenly interested in protecting:

“Growing up on the family ranch, I know how difficult it can be to feed cattle during dry times,” Gov. Kristi Noem said. “This increased flexibility will allow producers to immediately gain access to hay for their livestock. With a mild winter and early spring, most of the pheasant hatch is well behind us, and we do not expect this move to affect pheasant numbers. Reports from the field look fantastic for the upcoming pheasant hunting season” [Marissa Lute, “Gov. Noem Declares State of Emergency Due to Drought Conditions, Allowing Ditch Mowing,” KELO-TV, 2021.06.29].

Let’s remember:

  1. Kristi Noem’s adult farm work has consisted mostly of cashing farm subsidy checks. She hasn’t done a lick of real farm work in years.
  2. We have no real pheasant numbers. The Noem Administration stopped counting pheasants in 2020, because the actual science made us look bad. Her “reports from the field” are undocumented anecdotes serving as fodder for confirmation bias. Absent real science, the Governor can believe and promulgate whatever stories she wants to justify whatever business-first policies she wants, ecology be jiggered.

Mow all the grass you like now, but if my lawn is any indication, if this weather persists, that’s the only crop you’re going to get from the ditches, and the cattle will be hungry again soon. Maybe we should call Novameat about setting up that print shop in Highmore….


  1. sx123 2021-07-02 07:45

    Pheasants and other wildlife are in trouble. With crops drying up, and I believe CRP open to haying, not many places to hide, at least here in north central SD.

  2. John Dale 2021-07-02 08:47

    If we survived Atlas, we’ll survive this .. the price of beef right now doesn’t seem in-line.

    My uncle used to mow the ditches in Belle to feed the family milk cow.

    Good times.

  3. sx123 2021-07-02 09:49

    They can mow ditches all they want, but there isn’t much grass in them. My bromegrass started heading out at about a foot tall…

    “Reports from the field look fantastic for the upcoming pheasant hunting season”
    Yes, lots of pheasants earlier this year, but without rain anywhere in site, those numbers are sure to drop.

  4. mike from iowa 2021-07-02 10:27

    Without rain there should be an abundance of crickets and grasshoppers for forage for the birds. There are several small weedy/brushy places here for nesting cover. Plenty of evergreen trees for protection from freezing rain and bitterly cold wintertime temps. Plus, we do not hunt pheasants and do not allow anyone else to on this quarter section.

  5. Mark Anderson 2021-07-02 16:39

    You know Cory, Highmore would welcome that industry. I imagine the late night bar fights between the workers and ranch boys, every Saturday. A little excitement for the old town would be good. I’ll be there next Old Settlers Day. I’m thinking about a Trump float with him in jail, how would that go folks? As an aside, there are really good people in that little town.

  6. Porter Lansing 2021-07-02 20:09

    Noem’s family farm became a family ranch?
    – Why?
    -Because she labels farmers as hicks and ranchers as bronco busters.
    -Maybe Gut Punch Rhoden is her new boyfriend?

  7. Arlo Blundt 2021-07-02 21:24

    Well, As I understand it, Chinese Ringnecks were introduced into South Dakota by the Redfield Rotary Club at about the time of WWI. They wanted an attraction for Fisher Grove State Park. They adapted and spread throughout the James Valley and then the state. They are indeed hardy and have survived all kinds of diversity. I don’t know how they will do when cross bred now with all these English looking Pheasants that are pen raised and have a much different DNA. They are a great resource for South Dakota and should not be taken for granted.

  8. Arlo Blundt 2021-07-02 21:37

    Should be “survived all kinds of adversity” but the computer decided it was diversity…sorry about that

  9. William Rosin 2021-07-03 08:20

    Mike, you can’t stockpile small game, especially those with sexual dimorphism, like pheasants. You only need 1 rooster for 10 hens for successful nesting. No hunting is not doing future populations a favor.

  10. Arlo Blundt 2021-07-03 12:58

    well..William is correct. 80% of the Pheasants shot in any year are 1 year old.

  11. mike from iowa 2021-07-03 14:15

    If only it was all left up to the pheasants to nest successfully.

  12. mike from iowa 2021-07-04 11:09

    Can’t be a year old unless they get shot the following spring/summer. Most legitimate pheasant hunting seasons occur in Fall.

    As for not shooting them here, there are/will be a couple hundred head of cattle in feedlots here in the Fall and the pheasants tend to hang around the building site/cattle facilities and windbreaks adjacent to cattle facilities.

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