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Pausing in Siouxland and Enjoying the Moment, Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek

1 Nov

A couple watch a farmer harvest a crop in a field below a bluff that is part of the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. The couple said they met 40 some years ago on a grade school outing at this very site overlooking the area below which is approximately 30 miles north of Omaha, NE where they now live. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days it’s not a bad thing to take a pause, and slow down, ponder and just enjoy the moment in Siouxland. I found a couple doing just that recently at the Hitchcock Nature Center which overlooks farmland from a bluff region and part of the Loess Hills that is found in western Iowa.

The couple said they visit fairly often, and met while in school decades ago during a class trip to the preserve, and always enjoy coming out and enjoying the moment. Until a talkative photographer interrupts the reverie.

But pausing, watching and enjoying is always a good thing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing Wood and Stone in Siouxland, Iowa Lakes Laboratory, Milford

24 Sep

A look inside a lab building at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Milford, Iowa Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many times I like revisiting places I have been to previously in Siouxland. Something is always different whether it’s the time of year, the lighting, etc. And sometimes I see the same subject matter but it also strikes me differently upon another visit. The Iowa Lakes Laboratory is a research facility and classroom in the lakes region of Iowa. Near Okoboji and Arnolds Park, where the amusement park is located.

This visit the sun was pretty strong, yet diffused, no doubt because of the wildfires happening out west. But it made for better images in my humble opinion when shooting in B&W, which I don’t often do, but probably should do more, of course depending on the subject matter.

One of the research buildings at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Milford, Iowa Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An entrance to a building at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Milford, Iowa Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The buildings were constructed during the 1930’s during the CCC (Civilin Conservation Corps) when many out of work Americans during the depression years were put to work constructing buildings throughout various areas of the United States. A number of state parks in Iowa have such buildings constructed during that era. A wikipedia account states: “….a major construction program took place in the mid 1930s, when the Civilian Conservation Corps built five stone laboratories, four student cabins, a bathhouse, and other amenities.”

I always believe that revisiting places and trying to see them differently is always a good challenge and helps keep one active photographically speaking. Not relying on what was previously photographed, to if so, how might a different approach affect the look of an image.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Milford, Iowa Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating 25 years in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve North Sioux City, SD

12 Sep

Working with quill ink pens is not as easy as it looks seen at the one-room school house during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently a local park in Siouxland celebrated 25 years as a park, or nature preserve, and previously was a working farm. The park consists of roughly 1,500 acres and was donated by the granddaughters of the original homesteader, Stephen Adams. Mary and Maude Adams donated the land in 1984 for people to have a place to go for inner renewal. Part of the park is located along the Missouri River and contains a cottonwood grove and other forested areas as well as prairie meadows both of which are teeming with nature and critters.

A threshing bee demonstration during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Threshing demonstration during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Meeting some of the farm animals during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The park has certainly evolved over this quarter of a century from the homestead , farming and “wild” acreage to a more managed park-like area that still fits the original idea of the granddaughters, but makes it more manageable for park personnel and those that enjoy their time there.

There are now many more manicured walking trails and prairie areas that have been added for the enjoyment of those who venture beyond the homestead. Many bicyclists and runners do, as do some hardy hikers.

Two deer cautiously watch a walker during early morning hours at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Turkeys on parade at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

What might be a chipping sparrow sits on a log in water looking for insects at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of people attended the day’s celebration to support the park and enjoy a nice day. Although predicted to be hot and muggy, clouds moved in and the humidity tamped down making it a more pleasant day. One sometimes can’t ask for more than that.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Hayrack rides during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Kid crafts during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Kids learn candle making during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mom helps out during a kid’s craft session during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A rope making demonstration during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Park manager Jody Moats and Dave Blaeser during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring Siouxland, rural Monona County

7 Jul

A winding country road beckons one to explore in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I sometimes feel like I haven’t been exploring Siouxland as much as I have in the past. Other concerns and work tends to keep one busy, as well as higher gas prices. But slowly driving about back country roads is always a joy because one never knows what to expect or what one might see. Sometimes nothing and then again.

A wood barn still stands seen off a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting an outbuilding off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular area I have driven many times but recently found out about a wildlife management area I have never hiked and it has some amazing views. So I drove out this direction a couple of times before a prairie seminar was to take place so I could actually find it and attend. Nothing worse than going somewhere and never arriving because one couldn’t find it.

A farmer makes his way to his next field for spring planting preparation on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cattle graze in a field just off a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And on a coolish evening as the sun begins to set, the light doesn’t magical things to the surrounding countryside and all within it. A better way to end an evening that some I have had in the past. Just wandering, listening to music and enjoying the moment.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting an outbuilding off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Thinking of Spring in Siouxland, Dakota Farm Show, Vermillion, SD

3 Feb
DAVID BERNDT, of White, South Dakota, looks over at another vendor’s booth during the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. Berndt said he “borrowed” his granddaughter’s carriage while she was eating lunch to carry items he picked up at the show. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Each year in January a regional farm show is held in Siouxland at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD. Various businesses and others associated with agriculture provide a look at new methods or tools that area farmers can check out and see if it’s a fit for their current method of farming or business.

Attendees at the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The floor was filled with vendors for the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A year ago when the cover virus was raging through regions of the U.S. and prior to vaccines being available, an attendee to this year’s event told me both vendors and attendees were scarce. And for good reason. At this event, I can only recall seeing a handful of people on the first day wearing a mask. But it’s South Dakota, open for business according to its governor who is very mindful of optics as she plots a course for higher visibility within particular groups of people.

Like in other parts of the U.S. COVID cases have recently spiked in South Dakota, bew people wore masks at the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A salesperson answers questions for attendees about DeWalt equipment at the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But important on most people’s mind this day was the coming spring and planting season and whether any new gizmos might be appropriate to purchase, and the at least check out. Because of supply chain issues and the ills that are affecting other businesses, the ag world in not immune. Used farm equipment is hitting all time highs and farmers, already under financial pressure because of tariff problems created by a former administration and loss of markets in which to sell corn and soybeans are understandably being tight-fisted.

Parts of Iowa last year were in a severe drought region and so far little snow this winter has helped alleviate what could be an ongoing issue. Last year a winter season that extended into spring and early summer pushed planting late and then the dry growing season caused more headaches. Timely rains helped out most farmers with a bountiful harvest, the threat is still there. It’s never too early to plan or worry about what’s coming.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

TYLER KOELE, left, and daughter SKYLAR, look at a new Ford pickup truck during the first day of the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One vendor flies an American Flag from the handle of a mop at the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Chipping in, in Siouxland, Fall Festival Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

18 Oct
A family poses with cow chips at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In recent weeks the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in Siouxland celebrated its 24th anniversary as a state preserve. And the park, as it does every year, hosted a fall festival. One of the activities that always draws a crowd is the cow pie chip throwing contest. Having grown up on a farm and done my fair share of “tossing” cow chips with a shovel while cleaning out a barn I am always amazed at folk wanting to participate.

One participant tries her luck at the cow ship throwing contest at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People line up to participate and watch the cow chip throwing contest at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Not to be outdone by the Olympics, volunteers with the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve measure the distance cow chips were thrown at the fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A cow chip “lady” retrieves previously thrown chips so more folk can participate during the cow chip throwing contest at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I noticed throughout the contest that there was no personal hand sanitizer available for participants and those volunteers who were retrieving the chips for other throwers. The nice thing about chips though is that the odor normally associated with cow pies was not noticeable. Small blessings.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Giving it a fling, brings smiles to some folk watching the cow chip throwing contest at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve fall festival day in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (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©)

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©)

An Oddity in Siouxland, rural South Dakota

26 Mar
A tree grows out of a silo near a barn off of Highway 4 in South Dakota not far from Akron, Iowa Tuesday, February 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun when driving around Siouxland to come across what one might think of as an oddity of nature. When driving in rural South Dakota just over the Iowa border coming across a tree growing out of a silo made me think of a very large potted plant.

A tree grows out of a silo near a barn off of Highway 4 in South Dakota not far from Akron, Iowa Tuesday, February 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Somehow I am doubtful that a farmer planted this tree in the silo and possibly was as surprised as his/her neighbors when it finally topped the structure. I had to admit it did put a bit of a smile on my face when I saw it from a distance and then decided to drive a bit closer to see if it was real or not. Somehow I think it would make a great decorated Christmas ornament, but won’t hold my breath to see if the owner thinks that as well. But it does make a great country scene.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A barn off of a gravel road near Highway 4 in South Dakota not far from Akron, Iowa Tuesday, February 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A tree grows out of a silo near a barn off of Highway 4 in South Dakota not far from Akron, Iowa Tuesday, February 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter Weather at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center, Washta

24 Mar
Snow covers the ground at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center near Washta, Iowa Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Out driving around Siouxland one cold February day I stopped at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center which is now a museum of sorts giving a nod to America’s and Iowa’s agricultural roots located in rural Cherokee County.

I had never stopped there during winter, and this winter has been different with recent bone chilling temperatures and more snow, or so it seems so late in the season. And what I found is a far cry to the festivals I have attended there in the past during the month of August.

A visitor walks through the basement of the former elementary and high school building that was built in 1921that contains an assortment of historical farming equipment collected over the years seen at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A gentleman uses his smart tablet to film a demonstration of corn shelling at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Snow covers the ground at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center near Washta, Iowa Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Snow covers the ground at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center near Washta, Iowa Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking at one scene with the windmill and barn and cabin made me pause, its reminiscent look of what the plains in the late 1850’s might have looked like during a tough winter then, located in the middle of nowhere that someone might have homesteaded, beginning a new life and working the land.

The museum/former school is full of historical memorabilia and antique farming equipment that was much more labor intensive by today’s standards. Technology may have improved people’s lives in a lot ways, but Mother Nature still calls the shots somedays with weather being something that was probably fierce when the state was first settled and still is today.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Snow covers the ground at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center near Washta, Iowa Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An “old timer” feeds corn into the auger of a shelling machine at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A room in the former elementary and high school building that was built in 1921 is set up like a General Store that existed in many small communities in Iowa is see at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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