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Cultural History in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

28 Nov

Even living in the Siouxland area there is always something new to learn. Recently I did an assignment for a client that showed the continuing tradition of a traditional Indian corn harvest in Winnebago, NE where the Ho-Chunk tribe of Nebraska reside.

HoChunk Farms manager Aaron La Pointe checks an ear to see if it’s ready for harvest during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ag Business Operator for HoChunk Farms Jason Hulit starts a fire to boil harvested corn during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The tribe is intent on keeping alive the traditions of its culture and sharing those traditions with others as well. And I enjoy history and learning about people, especially since many things I run across these days I do not remember seeing in a history book while in school, or a totally different tale told by those who authored the books. Depending on the author sometimes history is skewed in its telling.

hoChunk Farms manager Aaron LaPointe, center left, and harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, center right, shuck ears of corn as a fire begins water to boiling for a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

HoChunk Farms manager Aaron la Pointe, left, and harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, center, begin adding corn ears to boiling water as ag business operator Jason Hulit, left, watches the fire so as to keep the heat up during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

HoChunk Farms harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, left, and farm manager Aaron LaPointe, back center, remove ears of corn after they boiled a few minutes during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

There is a particular process which the harvest goes through and the ears of corn are boiled then the kernels removed by hand, dried and stored until later a community soup is made and served among its residents. It’s a tradition that the Winnebago Tribe is hoping to once again instill in younger members and get more community involvement.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spoons and dishes were used to celan corn kernels from the cobs so the kernels could dry in the sun during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

HoChunk Farms harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, left, volunteer Jeremiah Walker, center, and farm manager Aaron LaPointe, right, secure and wrap of dried Indian corn kernels during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Indian corn kernels dry on netting as volunteer Jeremiah Walker, left, HoChunk Farms harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, center, and farm manager Aaron LaPointe, right, take a moment to relax before cleaning up after a day of traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

Fall Season ending in Siouxland, rural Sac County

16 Nov

A cornfield in Sac County near Lytton, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The recent few days have been bringing more rain and now the possibility of snow in Siouxland.  The possibility of seeing harvest ready fields is dwindling, as may be the opportunity to drive around and look at them. When winter begins settling in I drive less on the secondary gravel roads as I decline to put to use my learned skills in getting unstuck in snow, drifts or mud and other misadventures from growing up on a farm and living in rural settings my formative years. As much as I like the fall season, I know it must end and I muster up the fortitude to set out and brave the stiff prairie winds that will be greeting this region soon and to not become the couch potato that I sometimes think is a pleasant alternative to the coming cold.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Summer in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

29 Aug

A summer’s day in rural Plymouth County, IowaThursday, Aug.9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving around Siouxland it is hard not to see a bucolic scene along the highways and byways. Part of the charm of “flyover” country is that it appears peaceful and unhurried. That is not always the case as evidenced by news stories. And for those who are on a pell-mell journey to arrive at their next destination before they left their current place, forever is a word that pops up often on the trip.

But that is the allure of such a place. Quiet, slow, peaceful and calm. And enjoying the moment that is presented here and now.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Threshing Bee in Siouxland, Granite

15 Aug

I attended a threshing bee festival in the small community of Granite this summer. As a child I remembered going to one or two with my parents in the 1960’s. It brought back memories of looking at what I thought then was old equipment, which today is even older.

Visitors fill a grandstand to watch a tractor parade of various makes, models and vintages at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A variety of older and antique tractors were on display at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The event was kind of an ode to tractors with various makes and models on display as well as participating in a parade. But the people attending enjoyed it, much like people attending a stock car race o other event.

Visitors mill about and visit small museum like homes plus lunch stands at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors enjoy the tractor parade that mostly featured antique and older working tractors at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am certain the event brought memories to some older farmers attending who actually used these tractors and other implements in their own farming when they were younger and farms were then smaller and more diverse. In the 1960’s and ’70’s farms were generally 200-300 acres and the farmers also either raised beef cattle or milked dairy, had pigs and chickens and also varied their crops between corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa plus some grazing acres for their livestock, Today farms are really nothing more than large tracts of land which either produces corn or soybeans. That is a topic that could be discussed for years.

But I like the nostalgia of the event and was glad in seeing people enjoy this historical look back at an earlier era when times were tougher and more physical, but in which people derived a lot of self satisfaction.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visitors checked out a variety of antique and older working tractors at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors enjoy seeing a variety of older working and antique tractors at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Gene Anderson of Harrisburg, SD sits in his refurbished Model A at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Looking for the latest about the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A tractor parade of various models and age was the highlight of the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors enjoy the shade as they watch a tractor parade of various makes, models and vintages at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Entire families show off their antique tractors during a parade at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Standing Icons in Siouxland, Rural Iowa

5 Aug

Driving around Siouxland I have come a great number of barns still standing after decades of service, some in better repair than others. Having grown up on a farm I just enjoy their look, the purpose served and their iconic tradition for American history and agriculture. These days economically it’s all steel sheds and bins. I will miss these silent sentries that have witnessed a changing landscape over so many years and will lament when driving about the countryside not finding them standing tall, silent and reflecting an integral part of American history.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A barn sits idle in a wooded grassy area in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of the rural life sits within the city limits of the small community of Washta, Iowa, Saturday July 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer in Siouxland, Rural Cherokee County

3 Aug

During most of the summer in Siouxland the weather like in other places is swinging widely between normal and extreme. Early spring was very cold, then wet, then extremely hot for June and cool again with temperatures pushing somewhat back to normal, which for later summer is normally hot and humid. But the weather extremes can make compelling images, or at least interesting. As I have gotten older my desire to get out into the extremes grows less intense and so during the winter, I will have my second cup of coffee and remark how cold it is out. During summer during a heat, I am glad for the technology of air conditioning. But after attending a Fourth of July Festival parade in Storm Lake, I saw some weather on my way back home and thought, why not.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Storm clouds overhead in rural Cherokee County, Iowa Wednesday July 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Just Enjoying a Day in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

15 Jun

Sometimes I can drive miles and not see anything that catches my eye or interest. And I try to stay observant while listening to some jazz cd’s traversing some back roads in Siouxland. When driving the gravel roads I am not in a hurry. Dust is flying and I generally keep my windows open, so going fast just creates more dust in the car.

But it’s the slow driving that allowed me to see something in the distance. And while I was not fast enough, I was able to catch a late morning deer having breakfast, or maybe brunch, in a field. Until he spotted me and decided it was time to leave.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A lone deer runs through a newly planted field beginning to grow in the Loess Hills region of rural Monona County in northwest Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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