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Reaching for Heaven in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

22 Oct
A goose takes flight and aims for the heavens during the migratory season this fall seen at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. 27, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes one wants to aim high and take a chance of achieving new heights, even in Siouxland. Not much needs to be said aside from admiring a person or creature who wants to try. It is always nice to achieve a goal or dream, but sometimes it is just as important to just make the attempt in getting there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. 27, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (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©)

Taunting Nature in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

12 Oct
A Red-Headed woodpecker, its scientific name “erythroephalus” means red-head in Greek, watches a visitor using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when out walking about Siouxland, especially in nature areas like the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve I catch fleeting glimpses of song birds flitting about the trees. Hearing them call, sing, and basically, taunting me because I never seem to be fast enough to get a photograph of them.

Occasionally they do relent and will stay put for me to get a picture. One area in particular at the preserve whenever I enter it and leave it, there is always a red-headed woodpecker there to greet me and send me off. It never varies and and amazes me like the birds are just waiting to see folk they know out for another “constitutional” or walk about the area.

A Blue Jay, part of the corvid family which includes the magpie, crow and raven, cautiously watches a visitor use a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An Eastern Kingbird, known for fearlessly attacking intruders that invades its space, watches a visitor using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And when I am finished with walking and make my way back to the visitors’ center I sometimes sit to watch the birds at the feeders nearby. A variety of birds, mostly cooperating as they all swoop in to sample the goods and then take off again. And hopefully to swoop in again. Occupied with eating, it’s a little easier taking a photograph here, but then again, they are a bit distracted. Enjoying the morsels set out for them to come and “entertain” the guests.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A House Sparrow, House Finch and American Goldfinch feed at a feeder at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A House Finch looks for seeds on the ground at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 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©)

Up, Up and Away in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

30 Sep
A turkey vulture eyes movement on the ground at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have gotten a better appreciation for nature in the Siouxland area since the pandemic created the necessity to isolate or distance from others and enjoy the walks I have been taking at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve. I must admit though it is a bit eery to be walking along a nature trail and then to find a few turkey vultures flying overhead, circling, and wondering if my movement might be an attraction. But watching the graceful birds soar on the thermals they ride is fascinating as they rise up, drop down and rise up again. So it was with interest to watch one of the creatures leave his perch high in a tree and again take a look around to see what might catch its eye.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

After eyeing movement on the ground a turkey vulture lifts off and soars over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After eyeing movement on the ground a turkey vulture lifts off and soars over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After eyeing movement on the ground a turkey vulture soars over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After eyeing movement on the ground a turkey vulture soars over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After eyeing movement on the ground a turkey vulture soars over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Family Outing in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

24 Sep
A family of turkeys enjoy a morning out together at the playground at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes we humans take for granted some of the amenities available to us, even here in Siouxland. The amenities are certainly nice and I was pleasantly surprised to find a passel of turkeys enjoying a playground area early one morning before the humans showed up. Although not house trained, the turkeys can leave a trail behind and are not known for picking up after themselves.

A turkey preens itself on a bench at the playground area at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As “residents” of the park, I am sure the turkeys appreciate the area as much as their human counterparts. And early in the morning they have it all to themselves to wander and enjoy. Although wary of passing trail walkers also out early. It’s just a nice way to start the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

“Fawning” over Nature in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

18 Sep
A fawns rests in the shade of a thicket at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like pleasant unexpected surprises when out photographing in Siouxland. In the last year I have taken many walks at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve and I can’t say I have ever been disappointed with opportunities to photograph wildlife there. I am not a hardcore wildlife or nature photographer. Never rising before the sun does to get in position to take photos but happy when serendipity intervenes and gives me a chance to test my reflexes while walking about.

A fawn checks out a visitor at close quarters at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Attending an event at Adams recently I took a walk away from the activities down a short trail and was pleasantly surprised to find two young deer hanging out in the shade and munching a bit of grass in the immediate area. I generally can not get with a football field’s distance of these skittish creatures and these two didn’t seem to mind as I was not in a hurry to scurry down a trail, but stopped and watched and was able to take a few frames of them until they tired of my presence and left. I am looking forward to fall arriving at some point in anticipation of maybe photographing wildlife with fall color. But then that might be asking too much of a serendipitous encounter.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A fawn checks out a visitor while snacking in the shade of a thicket at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having a snack but also wary of a passer-by at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With its fawn not far away, a white-tailed deer watches a visitor using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Morning out in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

10 Sep
American wild turkeys and their young forage for food in morning light at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like many in Siouxland enjoy a nice morning walk when the weather’s nice and the sun is just coming up. That activity is not exclusive to humans but also wildlife when it might be a bit safer to take the family out for a stroll and morning brunch. I consider myself lucky when I happen upon such a “family” and I don’t spook them too much and be patient while they make their way to whatever destination they choose. Have the fun is just watching their behavior and seeing nature up close and somewhat personal, each being on it way to start a new day and to see what awaits.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A young wild American Turkey chick stretches its wing while out walking with its parent at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

American wild turkeys and their young forage for food in morning light at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Speeding through Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

4 Sep
A turkey chick cranes its neck to look for a possible predator after flying into the branches of a nearby tree near a trail along with several siblings at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I used to run nearly everyday when I was younger, pushing myself on the various routes I would chart on trails, streets, tracks, various places always trying to change up the scenery and impact different surfaces had on my body. Until that is my doctor told me my knees would no longer sustain that kind of activity. These days in Siouxland I chart various places to walk, but mostly contain myself to nature preserves and other places where I might see song birds, deer, other critters and where I can walk at ease and not feel in a hurry and enjoy myself “on the journey” as opposed to the journey’s end as I did when I finished my 4-5 mile (nearly) daily run as I did in the past.

Taking a run at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A turkey flies into a brushy area looking to avoid a passerby at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a morning bike ride at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve I envy those I see out for a run. I just truly enjoyed the exertion and the movement, especially when I found myself in that runner’s “groove”. These days I think of the missed opportunities some of these folk miss when speeding down a trail or path getting in their daily exercise. Making a noise before reaching a point along the trail that might spook critters getting a morning snack or heading to a spot they will bed down for an afternoon nap during the heat of the day.

A white-tailed deer watches a visitor using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A deer and turkey spy a passer-by in a meadow area and then take off in different directions after seeing a passerby at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

My slower pace has led me to other discoveries and enjoying nature in a different way. And I am not saying folk out running or biking are not enjoying nature. A friend rides a bike all the time and and is able to photograph some pretty amazing scenes while out and about. Although he is scanning the area he is in as an avid birder, and looking to document what he sees. I try to walk softly when on the trails since I am actively looking for critters to photograph and much more moving along than sitting in a blind waiting for creatures to come my way. Although recently I acquired a blind and will see how that works out and whether my patience and ability to sit still for more than 15 minutes will help me.

A Western Meadowlark sings from its perch along an open woodland as it watches a visitor using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cooling down after a run at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a walk at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And maybe my adjustment to my enjoyment of nature has changed since I can no longer run and must confine myself to footfalls as I traverse various trails and places. And I was never a really big biking enthusiast, even less so after some close encounters with drivers who probably aren’t good drivers even without traffic on the roadways. And I am content with that, enjoying the morning, learning animal behavior and seeing if my photographic reflexes will allow me the chance to capture a critter in motion or in its habitat as I quietly and slowly move into a better photographic shooting position without alarming or stressing the animals.

Regardless of one’s reason being outdoors and in nature, it’s good for a person to put down the electronics and just enjoy those moments of quiet and scenes that don’t include buildings, vehicles or other “manmade” items other than bird blinds. Solitude and space has its rewards and I hope to enjoy more of them down the road.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A doe and its fawn make their way down a mowed walking trail at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting Spotted in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

19 Aug
Native to North America a wild turkey peers above a plant as it cautiously watches a visitor walk by using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting up early for some morning walks at a local nature preserve, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, has been rewarding, getting to hear silence and birds before too many people hit the trails running, walking, riding bikes. Some folk I come across are surprised to see animals species so close to the trails. But then again, I try walking quietly, not talking to anyone and listening to music and moving but in a hurried fashion.

Native to North America a wild turkey and its chicks feed in the grass along a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021before seeing a visitor using the same walking trail. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Native to North America a wild turkey and its chick crosses a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But everyone has their own purpose in using the trails. I used to run a lot, but not so much anymore. And in slowing down I have seen so much more than previously on my visits and I have to admit I enjoy these visits that much more. Although I do miss running. Sometimes one just doesn’t know what might be around that next bend if you are mindful and watch. These are the surprises I enjoy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Native to North America a wild turkey and its chick cautiously watch a visitor approach using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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