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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©)

A Frosty Winter’s Day in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

26 Feb
Cattle graze in a corn field harvested in the fall of 2020 on a frosty winter’s day in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Tuesday, February 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A warmer day in Siouxland and a chance to take a short drive around the countryside, enjoying some of Nature’s winters work. A recent frosting of trees and buildings adds a little beauty to an otherwise normal winter’s day a chance to leave the house without freezing extremities and perchance to dream of “greener pastures”as the calendar marches ahead one day at a time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Trying to Beat Mother Nature in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

16 Nov
Ho Chunk Farms, a subsidiary of Ho Chunk Inc., a Native American company, harvests a corn field northeast of Winnebago, NE on tribal land near the Missouri River Friday, Nov. 36, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Farmers throughout the Siouxland area and elsewhere worked feverishly getting their crops harvested before another blast of winter hits the area like it did a couple weeks earlier. Most soybean crops have been combined, but a number of cornfields were still standing waiting to be picked.

Ho Chunk Farms, a subsidiary of Ho Chunk Inc., a Native American company, harvests a corn field northeast of Winnebago, NE on tribal land near the Missouri River Friday, Nov. 36, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Ho Chunk Farms, a subsidiary of Ho Chunk Inc., a Native American company, harvests a corn field northeast of Winnebago, NE on tribal land near the Missouri River Friday, Nov. 36, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ho Chunk Farms, a subsidiary of Ho Chunk Inc, a corporation of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska was working hard to complete its harvest on its tribal land. As a child I can remember my father harvesting late into the evening trying to pick as much of his crop as possible before the dew sets in and adds moisture to the corn which can become costly if the crop is harvested when too wet. Although the same is true if it’s too dry. Grain elevator operators like their “porridge” just right.

Ho Chunk Farms, a subsidiary of Ho Chunk Inc., a Native American company, harvests a corn field northeast of Winnebago, NE on tribal land near the Missouri River Friday, Nov. 36, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And the employees timed their harvest just right as Mother Nature delivered another early freezing rain and snow storm recently which surely would affect area farmers just trying to finish a year with debilitating tariff wars and summer storms and ill-tempered politicians who believe people’s lives are their own personal footballs to do with as they please.

As I know from watching my dad, farming is a hard job that while rewarding has sunny days and not so sunny days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Snow covers an unharvested corn field near Sioux City, Iowa Sunday Oct. 25, 2020 as local weather prognosticators said Siouxland, or western Iowa, eastern Nebraska and southeastern South Dakota could expect anywhere from 2 inches up to 7 inches depending on location. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sunshine in Siouxland, but still Snowy, rural Monana County

28 Jan

A winter scene near Winnebago, NE Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The sun has finally peeked out from behind grey, flat skies with weather prognosticators promising more for a couple days here in Siouxland. But the white stuff still covers the ground, along with a coating of ice from rain that fell before the last snowfall. So again I sit and ponder, wishing, dreaming and waiting. No, time doesn’t go any faster, but sometimes makes me feel better.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shadow play in a field in the Loess Hills of northwest Iowa near Moorhead, Iowa Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A rolling field seen nestled in the Loess Hills of northwest Iowa near Moorhead, Iowa Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Cold January in Siouxland, rural Monona County

24 Jan

The month of January is only halfway though and winter has reminded Siouxland residents that it still has a lot to offer its residents. Cold, below freezing and zero cold. More snow. And the chance to daydream about those coming summer months with heat, humidity and warm summer nights.

Cruising in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always begin thinking about driving the backroads when winter in Siouxland gets its second wind and sends real chills down the back while one is out navigating snowy and slushy roadways and sidewalks. The days may be sunny, but at zero or below temperatures one knows winter is still here. Growing up on a farm I enjoy these days driving about the countryside and “smelling” the freshly tilled soil or crops once they have begun growing. Yes, there is definitely a particular smell emitted by the soil and plants. Much like someone city-born could identify certain aromas from a neighborhood they grew up in whether it is from a restaurant or seaside community. Childhood smells remain with us as we get older and maybe more discriminating in the aromas we want to partake in.

Planted crops on a summer’s day in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I try to put out of mind the thought of too much humidity on a hot summer’s day. That thought will come eventually, but for now, looking out a a white landscape, it seems very enticing and comforting. It’s always nice to have something to look forward too.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Planted crops on a summer’s day in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographing the Details during a Siouxland Outing

17 Nov

A dilapidated wagon sits in a field in the Loess Hills of northwest Iowa near Moorhead, Iowa Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. T(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When out and about driving around the Siouxland region, I enjoy the broad brushstrokes of landscapes and scenes. But sometimes one must look at the details of such a scene to also enjoy what is there and record. Seeing what is front of oneself is sometimes an acquired skill. To isolate visually in one’s mind then translate that into a visual image takes patience and practice. I have had lots of practice and am still practicing.

A detail image of wagon wheels during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But that’s the joy of wandering about and challenging oneself to really see what is in front of yourself. Sometimes one gets lucky. Other times, maybe not. But what’s a better way to spend a day that out taking photographs.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

looking for designs and details during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying a nice evening in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

4 Dec

Sometimes serendipity is a nice thing. While visiting with some friends over the Thanksgiving holiday I was greeted with a glorious site as I headed home. Anymore I don’t carry long lenses with me as I seldom use or need them for the kind of photography I do these days. But this was a time I wish I had one so I could photograph a scene a bit tighter. But still, I was glad I could stop on a backroad, get out, and enjoy what I saw while still making a couple of photographs to remind me that nature is surprising sometimes. Although probably not to those who follow the moon phases. But, I happen not to be one of those folk and just like the surprise as I crested a small hill and saw the scene unfold in front of me.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The moonrise in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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