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The Waning Days of Fall in Siouxland, rural Monona and Woodbury Counties

15 Nov
Cattle graze in a field under colorful fall foliage outside Smithland, Iowa in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the first winter snow and possible snow to begin creeping into the area accompanied by high winds, I don’t expect many of the leaves and any fall color to be seen in a few days. Driving about Siouxland the last couple of weeks I have felt lucky to see find spots of changing fall foliage and the chance to take a few images. Like many folk, I enjoy fall and it was one of the reasons for returning to the Midwest after having worked and lived in other parts of the U.S. Winter will come, but it will also pass. One only hoped it passes sooner that later. Mild winters are nice, if temps remain in the 20’s and 30’s without below freezing wind gusts and sustained cold spells. Being out on days like that is not so enjoyable even if one likes winter.

An iron trestle bridge frames a gravel road as some fall color is seen in a yet to be harvested corn field in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Country backroads and changing autumnal colors in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about the backroads and country roads are a joy to me. Have always been. No matter where I lived I always seemed to find country roads to drive about on and a chance to get away from the noise that sometimes daily life brings. These days maybe a little more jazz than classical music on the car radio that gives my mind a chance to wander as I drive around and just look, not really knowing what to expect over the next hill or around the next bend. Small surprises and joy when an image pops up and I am there to record it. Most times, if ever, award winning, but satisfying none the less and pleasing to me. Sometimes simple joys are the best.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Trees with colorful foliage near a harvested soybean field in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Red in Siouxland, Badger Lake, rural Monona County

13 Nov
The sun rises over Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge in Monona County, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021, near Whiting, IA. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes one needs to make an effort to enjoy the day in Siouxland, like getting up early and staying motivated beyond a cup of coffee to see the sun rise. At least in the fall sunrise is closer to a “normal” hour that say 5 or 5:30 am. But still, the scene, the quiet, although I was disappointed in few critters around the lake, the morning was pleasant. Not cold, mild chilly and a nice way to start the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The sun rises behind some grasses at Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge in Monona County, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021, near Whiting, IA. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sunrise lights up plants surrounding Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge in Monona County, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021, near Whiting, IA. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Prepping for Halloween in Siouxland, Albaton

30 Oct
Two friendly Skeltons wave from a Halloween display set up at a crossroads at the former site of Albaton, Iowa, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life can somewhat be filled with surprises, even in Siouxland, finding unexpected treasures in unexpected places. While out driving about looking for some harvesting and previously having seen a roadside sign for a community called Albaton, I found it, at a crossroads in the countryside with a couple of homes nearby, along with a church.

A Halloween display set up at a crossroads at the former site of Albaton, Iowa, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A crossroad at the early settlement of Albaton, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking for information online didn’t produce an onslaught of information, but another person posting to a blog as well. From indications it may have been a regional hub for a local railroad line that faded away along with the railroad hopes of those settling around it. Now the area sits among farmland, recently, waiting for harvest. One can only imagine what early days were like. And it’s nice to see a sense of humor as someone decorates the corner with seasonal displays for the holidays. May have to make a trip out for Christmas to see if the engine is lit up and sparking with the “spirit” of the holiday, bringing a little light to the surrounding darkness in the countryside.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Halloween display set up at a crossroads at the former site of Albaton, Iowa, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Halloween display set up at a crossroads at the former site of Albaton, Iowa, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Awed by Nature in Siouxland, Badger Lake, Whiting

24 Oct
Migrating American white Pelicans herd fish to feed while others rest in a body of water near Badger Lake Wildlife Management Area in rural Monona County nearWhiting, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Some folk think migration periods might vary this year to changing climate temperatures in various regions where the birds winter and summer during the year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while out and about in Siouxland looking for and visiting new nature places one gets a pleasant surprise. I had seen a body of water along an interstate highway that runs through Siouxland and occasionally would see “white floating bodies” in the water and guessed they were pelicans. I first spied pelicans while visiting with a friend at Snyder’s Bend recreation area in Woodbury County a year or so ago. Watching them circling overhead as they began a migration run.

Migrating American white Pelicans herd fish to feed while others rest in a body of water near Badger Lake Wildlife Management Area in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Some folk think migration periods might vary this year to changing climate temperatures in various regions where the birds winter and summer during the year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Migrating American white Pelicans herd fish to feed while others rest in a body of water near Badger Lake Wildlife Management Area in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Some folk think migration periods might vary this year to changing climate temperatures in various regions where the birds winter and summer during the year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I drove out on a county highway I often used then started driving some back country roads along the stretch of the interstate hoping I might get lucky. I didn’t know the place I was looking for was called Badger Lake at the time. And a week or prior I had driven some other backroads further north of this area looking for same body of water, but to no avail.

But on this drive meandering through various roads that also run parallel to the Missouri River I got lucky. And I couldn’t believe that I was witnessing possibly 200-300 American White pelicans in the body of water some resting and preening while others worked as a group in a circle to “herd” fish so they could then enjoy a meal.

Migrating American white Pelicans herd fish to feed while others rest in a body of water near Badger Lake Wildlife Management Area in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Some folk think migration periods might vary this year to changing climate temperatures in various regions where the birds winter and summer during the year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Migrating American white Pelicans herd fish to feed while others rest in a body of water near Badger Lake Wildlife Management Area in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Some folk think migration periods might vary this year to changing climate temperatures in various regions where the birds winter and summer during the year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature can always amaze one. A novice when it comes to birding and really spending time to understand critters in the wild, I do enjoy the quiet and no distraction of “white noise” while watching and occasionally photographing any and all creatures that allow me to get close enough to do so without disturbing them. But I have need more practice and look forward to those opportunities.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Migrating American white Pelicans herd fish to feed while others rest in a body of water near Badger Lake Wildlife Management Area in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Some folk think migration periods might vary this year to changing climate temperatures in various regions where the birds winter and summer during the year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Migrating American white Pelicans herd fish to feed while others rest in a body of water near Badger Lake Wildlife Management Area in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Some folk think migration periods might vary this year to changing climate temperatures in various regions where the birds winter and summer during the year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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©)

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©)

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©)

Learning History in Siouxland, Kirchner Home at the Peterson Heritage Park, Peterson

14 Sep
The home of J.A. Kirchner, an early settler in the Peterson, Iowa area see at the now Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy learning a bit more history about the Siouxland area. Most of the region was first explored and somewhat settled in the early 1800’s with more folk following during midcentury and the latter portion beginning in the 1850’s. Peterson, Iowa was first settled around 1856 with a small fort being build in 1862 because of the Dakota Indian War. One of the first people to build a frame house was J.A. Kirchner who settled in the area was a farmer. Local historian and farmer Michael Hyde gives tours of the home and history about Kirchner and other early settlers who called Clay County home. The home had many of the “modern day” conveniences for its time period and more luxurious than living in a lean-to or sod house.

Local historian Michael Hyde talks about the J.A. Kirchner home that is now a museum and its owner who was an early settler in the area. The home is in what is now the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Local historian Michael Hyde talks about the J.A. Kirchner home that is now a museum and its owner who was an early settler in the area. The home is in what is now the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it fascinating and interesting to see what modern appliances and other items were available in another century. People living in comfort that today some folk might shake their heads at and not understand. But life is what you make of it and some people fare better than others which is sad. But one can learn to appreciate what is available now as compared to 100 years or more ago and what seems like hardship now may not have been then.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A comfortable bed at the time seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rope was used in place of bed springs two centerues ago for early settlers seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bedroom and its furnishings seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The dining room of the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A kitchen with modern appliances for the time seen at the J.A. Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Churning creme to make butter while seated at a kitchen windown seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Entertainment of an earlier century found at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children of early settlers seen in the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Early settlers in Peterson, Iowa seen at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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