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Living History, or seeing it, in Siouxland, Wisecup Farm Museum

6 Aug

While visiting southern Siouxland this summer, I came upon another little slice of historical memorabilia. I find it surprising but also wonderful that there are so many museum’s of all stripes in western Iowa. Some in cities and small towns, but others created by people trying to preserve the past and help people understand what pioneers and early settlers lives were like prior to this 21st century. The Wisecup Farm Museum outside of Missouri Valley has a number of restored pieces of farming equipment as well as a one-room school house, a small chapel and homestead. A lot of stuff “stuffed” within the confines of a small space.

A variety of “antique” or former period farm machinery is found at the Wisecup Farm Museum in Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Antique Minneapolis Moline tractors form a line at the Wisecup Farm Museum in Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I appreciate the aged and no longer viable farm equipment I encounter because it was in use and the tech of the day while I was growing up on a farm. Farming today is as high tech as a number of other industries with satellite guided tractors and sensors to help farmers get the best yield from their tillable fields.

But it’s nice to know the what and how farmers got to this point. But it’s also nice that individuals find it important to share the past and help educate those of today. It’s been written that people are condemned to the past if they don’t know it. But that is another discussion for a better philosopher than myself.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland Historical Places, Grand Meadow Heritage Center

25 May

Wow scouting out some potential places in Siouxland to which I could take photo students I once again came across the Grand Meadow Heritage Center. I have visited it a couple of times previously. The site of a former school which houses a great deal of historical artifacts from the surrounding area. Three floors of the former school plus outlying buildings as well. Once a year generally in early autumn the center hosts an event. There is food, music, people portraying early settlers and a chance to go through the former school and see its contents. It really is worthwhile to get a sense of the area in another era and century.

But this day I was looking at what students in my class could see without getting inside any of the buildings. So it’s a challenge to visually see what might appeal and how they can put newly acquired skills to the test in capturing an image.

Shooting with a neutral density filter and slow shutter the windmill cranks it up at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center near Washta, Iowa Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When in school I always enjoyed history, but it is different outside of the academic setting and one is standing in a place the ages ago is so very different than what is see today in this 21st century. The old saying of knowing where you have been so you know where you are going is an apt saying, it just depends on whether anyone is listening at the moment. Places like Grand Meadow is a reminder. Harder times for certain, but in some ways, simpler, less chaotic and more centered.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland Farmers prepare for Spring Planting, Sioux County

17 Apr

While driving and checking out parts of Siouxland up by the Iowa Lakes Region and again returning home, I came across some farmers prepping for planting this spring. The two I saw appeared to be disking their fields, although these days I understand that farmers employ a no-till option and just plant directly without any prep work. It’s been a little wet with rain passing through Siouxland, but not all parts are getting rain. I must admit that when I smell newly turned soil in a field it brings back memories while growing up on a farm. Probably the same for people who grew up near a body of water like a lake or the ocean.

Although reminiscing now is easier than the part of growing up, I still have fond memories.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring Siouxland, Plymouth County

17 Mar

I have made a few ventures out into the countryside in recent weeks. Attempting those days when the temperature is not hovering around the 20’s with the wind blowing 25-30 mph gusts which makes it even chillier. And even though some of the images look like a nice day, trying to stand up straight and take a photograph proved challenging. Thank goodness for not using a 4X5 view camera on a tripod. The more “artistic” attempt with camera shake would probably stand out as the wind buffered one outside of one’s vehicle.

But the sunny skies just remind me that warmer days are again on their way, even with the errant snowfalls that might still occur. This Siouxlander is not California Dreamin’ but Spring dreamin’.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A grain bin in rural Plymouth County near Le Mars, Iowa Monday, March 6, 2017.

Standing sentry in a field in rural Plymouth County near Le Mars, Iowa Monday, March 6, 2017.

Standing Sentry in Siouxland, Rural Cherokee County

17 Feb

On a drive recently to Cherokee, Iowa I passed a field that contained a grain bin, a tractor and a hay rake. It struck as another winter storm system moves into the area that seeing these staples of a farm operation made me think they are standing sentry, waiting for temperature to climb, the sunshine warming the dirt in the fields as farmers to prepare another season of planting and harvesting. Ever cyclical anyone who lives in the Midwest knows that when farmers get closer to planting their fields that winter is over and spring is here.

But that won’t happen until after Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction has come and gone.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A tractor, hay rake and a grain bin stand as silent sentries until the next planting season in rural Cherokee County, Iowa Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A tractor, hay rake and a grain bin stand as silent sentries until the next planting season in rural Cherokee County, Iowa Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Changing Scenery in Siouxland, Alton

3 Jan

While shooting an assignment in Alton, Iowa recently I noticed a grain elevator being demolished. In all of the small towns in Siouxland I have visited one can always find grain elevators. It is part of the agricultural landscape of the area and usually an anchor to the downtown area. Farmers are dependent on the local grain elevators where they deliver their harvested crops which begins a food chain cycle. And a lot of beginnings start in Iowa, a mainstay of agriculture.

So to see a grain elevator come down seems out of place and gives me pause. Not knowing the history, or possibly the fact that another one may takes its place that is more modern I can not say. But because these instruments of business loom large over small towns local landscape, it is hard to miss.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The demolition of the Midwest Farmers Coop in Alton, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The demolition of the Midwest Farmers Coop in Alton, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Siouxland’s Summer Fairs, Woodbury County

24 Aug

Summer fairs continue with a celebration that is still somewhat grounded in honoring agriculture. Midways have been added with rides, talent show contests, but still the fairs are comprised in a large part by 4-H clubs exhibiting their animal and other projects. The Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa, is no different and it gives young people a chance to show skills and learned activities other than sports in school.

But mostly it is a time to celebrate another year and look forward to the next.

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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