Hanging out in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

16 Oct
A red-tailed hawk looks for a meal while perching on a wooden hi-line pole as the sun begins to set Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County looking about before flying off to possibly find a better hunting opportunity.

Out driving about some gravel backroads a week or so ago in Siouxland I enjoyed the sun dipping lower in a fall sky. I had decided to call it a day after driving a couple of hours looking for images when I saw this red-tailed hawk land on a hi-line pole. It was overlooking a corn field and I am certain the feathered creature was contemplating was delicious morsel might be available for a snack as it also watched the sun setting in the western sky. Eventually it decided to try another location, but it was enjoyable watching this bird look, preen and look some more, as though it wanted to be presentable for whatever occasion might arise.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A red-tailed hawk scratches its head as the sun begins to set while perching on a wooden hi-line pole looking for a meal Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County looking about before flying off to possibly find a better hunting opportunity. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hometown Journalism in Siouxland, The Storm Lake Times, Sioux City

14 Oct
Storm Lake Times Editor Art Cullen speaks to the audience, attending the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues, prior to the introduction of a few Democratic candidates campaigning in Iowa for the office of President, at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently attending the Sioux City International Film Festival in Siouxland where a variety of short films: animation, documentary, comedy, etc., are shown, the feature film was a documentary about small town journalism, and the place it occupies in a community and the real threat of what is loss when that voice disappears.

The Cullen family, Delores, left, Tom, center and Art, right, share a laugh while answering questions from the audience at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Art Cullen answering questions from the audience along with his wife, Delores and son Tom, not seen, at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having worked for a number of small daily newspapers over the last couple of decades it was a story I am all too familiar with, and saddened, that these kinds of newspapers are struggling to just stay in existence, as are many of the locally owned “mom and pop” stores that support them. Some might say at times a love/hate kind of relationship, but something all mutually benefit from.

The “star” of the film is the writer/editor Art Cullen, who won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing that takes on the “more powerful, well heeled and moneyed folk than the common Joe.

A screen grab at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Storm Lake Times is a family produced publication where most all report, write and produce the twice weekly paper. All play a role, large and small, because for small town publications it truly takes a village to survive and no job is too small that needs to be done. And the large ones are there for tackling and making a difference.

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ones hopes that this paper survives and the few remaining ones throughout the country, much like mom and pop stores, they serve a needed value to the local community. And in many cases today as yesterday, connecting neighbors and telling local stories that local folk are interested in that concerns their neighbors and other residents in surrounding communities. During the last “caucus season” when so many Democrats were running a number of them made it to the Heartland Forum in Storm Lake where they got to meet to Cullen and answer questions about rural life and agriculture, no small issues for many in Iowa. And maybe hoping rubbing elbows with a known local would help them down the road.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen listens as Democratic candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) ) speaks during the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Democratic candidate Sen. AMY KLOBUCHAR (MN) speaks to Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen during the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen listens to Democratic candidate and former secretary of HUD JULIAN CASTRO speaks during the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen, on the right of the grouping, talks with audience members before a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Cullen family, Delores, left, Tom, center and Art, right, answering questions from the audience at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taunting Nature in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

12 Oct
A Red-Headed woodpecker, its scientific name “erythroephalus” means red-head in Greek, watches a visitor using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when out walking about Siouxland, especially in nature areas like the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve I catch fleeting glimpses of song birds flitting about the trees. Hearing them call, sing, and basically, taunting me because I never seem to be fast enough to get a photograph of them.

Occasionally they do relent and will stay put for me to get a picture. One area in particular at the preserve whenever I enter it and leave it, there is always a red-headed woodpecker there to greet me and send me off. It never varies and and amazes me like the birds are just waiting to see folk they know out for another “constitutional” or walk about the area.

A Blue Jay, part of the corvid family which includes the magpie, crow and raven, cautiously watches a visitor use a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An Eastern Kingbird, known for fearlessly attacking intruders that invades its space, watches a visitor using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And when I am finished with walking and make my way back to the visitors’ center I sometimes sit to watch the birds at the feeders nearby. A variety of birds, mostly cooperating as they all swoop in to sample the goods and then take off again. And hopefully to swoop in again. Occupied with eating, it’s a little easier taking a photograph here, but then again, they are a bit distracted. Enjoying the morsels set out for them to come and “entertain” the guests.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A House Sparrow, House Finch and American Goldfinch feed at a feeder at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A House Finch looks for seeds on the ground at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall Coming to Siouxland, rural Northwest Iowa and Elsewhere

10 Oct
The look of fall in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like many others, here in Siouxland and elsewhere, fall is a favorite time of year for me. The cooler temps, the colors, the expectation of not having to get up really early or stay up really late to shoot sunrises and sunsets. On a cool crisp morning, coffee even seems to taste better.

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Sept. 28, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A train passes through the area near the Missouri Valley Welcome Center outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like driving about the Loess Hills in Siouxland, western Iowa, and seeing the colors cascade over the hillsides and the turning of the corn crop to a golden brown. The light quality for photographs seems sharper with the sun’s light streaming across the landscape at a different angle than summer’s light. The shooting period seems shorter but the results richer. And it’s just nice to be out enjoying this season.

Checking out a trail at Preparation Canyon State Park north of Pisgah, Iowa Nov. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Leaves begin changing during a Photo Safari class outing in Ida Grove, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And as many people lament the fact that winter follows, I try not to dwell on that aspect of the changing seasons, preferring to just wait for it to happen and instead revel in the fall’s colors, hoping they last without a wind or rain storm, allowing one to traverse new places and those previously visited, always looking for on more photograph to capture a season and what it entails before its end.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

As the sun begins to set Canada geese blend into a recently harvested corn field looking for food Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County at Badger Lake near Whiting, Iowa as they begin their yearly migration south. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the sun begins to set Canada geese blend into a recently harvested corn field looking for food Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County at Badger Lake near Whiting, Iowa as they begin their yearly migration south. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Changing colors in the small community of Calumet, Iowa Tuesday, September 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall colors in and around Ho Chunk village in Winnebago, NE Friday Oct. 9 2020, and surrounding area. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing History Re-enacted in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

8 Oct
A volunteer tosses oats into a conveyor during a threshing demonstration at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall is arriving in Siouxland as it is in other places. The leaves on trees are beginning to change, slowly, although it is still unseasonably hot making one think that maybe the leaves will not be so colorful this year due to a drought, lack of rain, and changing temperature scheme that is needed to make the change.

But unlike the unpredictable weather, there are certain perennial activities that take place, like the Fall Festival at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve. One of the annual offerings is a look at how harvesting was done a couple centuries ago. Although not using horses for the demonstration, the use of an older threshing machine and seeing how it functions gives people an idea that technology has indeed advanced much further beyond this equipment.

A volunteer prepares for a threshing demonstration during the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making them shine before a threshing demonstration during the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A grandfather and grandson watch a threshing demonstration during the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Today large combines run through fields comprised of hundreds if not thousands of acres of planted crops. There is still manual labor involved but not as much as was needed in an earlier century. When farming operations consisted of maybe 200-300 acres along with some cows, pigs and chickens and horses that were used for earlier farming later replaced by tractors.

Science and technology has made farming easier and more precise, but like in a lot of things, it’s always good to know where one came from to understand how one got to the current place today and what might be expected in the future. Farming still depends on hard work and luck though, as weather conditions play an important part whether crops can be planted and then harvested without any devastating storms or conditions that can cost a small farmer a fortune because of no return on the investment for planting and harvesting, and who has little cushion unlike large conglomerate farming operations.

History can be a good teacher and give some insights into the past if one only takes the time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Possibly reliving thoughts of his own youth and participating in threshing bees that occurred during another century among farmers in the Midwest while watching a threshing demonstration during the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A volunteer monitors the tractor and the speed of the threshing machine during a demonstration at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Chaff exits a threshing machine separating the oats from the stems during a threshing demonstration during the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hanging out on a Summer’s Evening in Siouxland, Latham Park, Sioux City

6 Oct
A common sparrow greets a visitor at an entrance to Latham Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, August 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A quiet little park area in Sioux City attracts all sorts who on a quiet Sunday evening in Siouxland like to hang out and enjoy some of summer’s last or waning days. Meeting some friends for a bit of a picnic lunch before fall really revs up I got there early to find some other locals enjoying the park as well and a quiet summer’s eve.

A fountain area at Latham Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, August 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two common house sparrows looking for some water in the fountain at Latham Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, August 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There was plenty of bird song emanating from the surrounding bushes and trees that filled the air even as some of the little creatures had some problems finding a good spot from which to sing. But that happens to all of us at one time or another.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A house sparrow enjoys a quiet sunset at Latham Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, August 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Oops, some landings in the bush are more graceful than others and interrupts a quiet setting sun moment for another house sparrow at Latham Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, August 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Harvest Time in Siouxland, Rural Monona County, Whiting

4 Oct
A farmer continues to run his combine in a soybean filed while he unloads into a nearby wagon as the sun sets Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Woodbury County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Harvest time has arrived in Siouxland as elsewhere where agriculture plays a big part of a state’s economy. Farmers are working quickly and long hours to get their crops out after a year in the state of Iowa where drought has maintained a presence for quite a while. And recently rains are predicted for the area, which during harvest is not always welcomed even in drought situations as it adds unwanted water content to the soybeans delaying harvest and hurting farmer’s profits as the soybeans like corn must fall within a certain water content criteria for grain elevators to accept them without being “docked money per pounds. And these days, pennies count.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A farmer continues running his combine to harvest a soybean field as he unloads into a nearby wagon while the sun sets Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Woodbury County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Being a Contrarian in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

2 Oct
One starling looks back as a flock perch on a hi-line wire Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some would say there is always “one” in the crowd when a different point of view or opinion is expressed. Even in the country in Siouxland I happened upon a gathering where one individual was wondering what was going on. And why not be a little curious if there happens to be a disruption to the normal order of things, though not all disruptions should be considered improper or bad. But collectively, many don’t like it when the boats rocks, even a little.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

One starling looks back to see what the commotion is as a flock perch on a hi-line wire Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Up, Up and Away in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

30 Sep
A turkey vulture eyes movement on the ground at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have gotten a better appreciation for nature in the Siouxland area since the pandemic created the necessity to isolate or distance from others and enjoy the walks I have been taking at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve. I must admit though it is a bit eery to be walking along a nature trail and then to find a few turkey vultures flying overhead, circling, and wondering if my movement might be an attraction. But watching the graceful birds soar on the thermals they ride is fascinating as they rise up, drop down and rise up again. So it was with interest to watch one of the creatures leave his perch high in a tree and again take a look around to see what might catch its eye.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

After eyeing movement on the ground a turkey vulture lifts off and soars over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After eyeing movement on the ground a turkey vulture lifts off and soars over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After eyeing movement on the ground a turkey vulture soars over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After eyeing movement on the ground a turkey vulture soars over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After eyeing movement on the ground a turkey vulture soars over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Walk in Nature at the Lewis and Clark State Park, Onawa

28 Sep
A meadow seen from a nature trail at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have visited the Lewis and Clark State Park in Onawa a few times over the years, one of the many places in Siouxland named for or associated with the excursion that Lewis and Clark made a couple centuries ago when exploring America for President Thomas Jefferson and before the Louisiana Purchase. But I had never really explored some of the hiking trails. Generally there were other activities taking place at the park that drew my attention, although those have dwindled the last few years and of course greatly because of the current pandemic the country still endures.

A monarch butterfly looks for nectar from a plant in a meadow near a nature trail at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are some extensive meadow areas located near a nature trail at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The trails loop around the park away from a lake area and some camping sites for those that either “rough it” or camp in style in the self-contained units. I can imagine going back as the fall temperatures cool down even more with the hope of finding some nice autumn leaf change happening as I found nearer the visitor’s center at the park.

A bird dashes away as a visitor approaches on a nature trail at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A cut nature trail to follow at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The paths were easy to navigate and depending on the time of day that is more appropriate to find critters out and about foraging, one could wait for deer or song birds to appear. There were a couple of small corn fields planted for deer. There is a sign though that clearly states hunting is available on some of the Iowa’s DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources) land which the park falls under. Although I have to admit, I was a bit confused when I came upon the site about hunting, posted right next to another sign not 10 feet away which made me wonder exactly what directions people should follow.

Signs within proximity to one another can leave a person confused at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Benches as placed on some of the various trails for a person to sit and enjoy the nature around them at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Evidence of “empty nesters” in some brush along a nature trail at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While not extended hiking it was pleasant enough to walk about the trails. Along a creek feeding into the lake at the park I saw a lone little duck and kind of wondered what its story is and whether he got left behind as it looked a bit forlorn by itself without seeing any other similar creatures nearby. Hoping during the migratory season it will make some new friends to join in safe adventures or just stick to the wildlife refuge.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A lone duck rests on a log in a creekl at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A lone duck at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A lone duck at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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