Tag Archives: Farming

Siouxland History in Action, Grand Meadow Heritage Center

8 Apr

I always enjoy visiting small festival in local venues in Siouxland, like the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta. The people who run the festival revel in bringing history to life and sharing the past with current and future generations in the area. Today, some teenagers and youngsters probably have no idea how hard work could be one, to two, centuries ago. Reading about it is not exactly experiencing it.

A man runs a belt driven former steam powered wood saw at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Men work a belt driven former steam powered wood saw at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having grown up on a farm in the 1960’s and ’70’s with some automation, one could acquire a few blisters while doing chores and other farm activities. At the festival a crew runs a milling operation, cutting lumber from tree trunks and making boards. The saw being powered in the past by a steam operated tractor. This past year it was operated with a newer tractor and again was belt driven.

Men remove a cut piece of lumbar from a belt driven former steam powered wood saw at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most pieces of wood handled a few times before finding a resting spot with others, and then one more time transported somewhere else for use. And what I find as interesting and grateful for is that people still know how to operate this “ancient” machinery, a few years past the industrial revolution and the settling of a continent with growing populations and an expanding frontier.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Men take a break from working a belt driven former steam powered wood saw at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Two men demontrate using a chainsaw to trim down a tree trunk at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Characters in Siouxland, Grand Meadow Heritage Center

25 Mar

When attending some festivals in Siouxland there are sometimes characters performing roles that make attending more interesting. At the Grand Meadow Heritage Center Festival there are some fellows and gals that portray characters out of the “Old West” who are the Western Iowa Border Agents, a western action shooting group that dress in historical clothing and try to authentically reenact scenarios that would have occurred in an earlier century.

Two men dressed in western gear and members of the Western Iowa Border Agents who participate in western action shootouts leave a blacksmith demonstration at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the Western Iowa Border Agents western action shootout group relax before putting on their show at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

They provide interest in those attending and a contrast with how people are currently dressed, or have dressed since the 20th century began. Then are those who are very genuine and are who they are as individuals. People such as a person being a black smith, portraying the character yet also being an actual individual who does some smithy work in their “real” lives.

A blacksmithy checks out some recent work he did at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And others going about their lives, primarily living an outdoor life most likely associated with agriculture. My dad used to dress like a farmer 98.5% of the time. Clothes he was comfortable working in and in a way defined him as clothes also define others.

A vendor or volunteer giving out slices of watermelon at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A man sits and watches during the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It will be interesting to see down the road how Goth’s and hipsters and others are remembered and a shift of how people dress that will occur in the future. Trends change, recycle and change again. For me it’s simply people watching and enjoying seeing real individuals, as well as those who portray another era, reminding us at times where we have been before rejoining the modern day race.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying History in Siouxland, Grand Meadow Heritage Center, Washta

17 Mar

I like attending various festivals in the Siouxland region. Each has its own story to tell and many times there is a slice of life one can find out about the community hosting the festival. Or a former community like at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center Festival held each fall.

An older couple walk about enjoying seeing equipment that was not an antique when they were young during the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The one in particular revolves around its rich agricultural past. Many of the exhibits are set up that reflect the fact that Iowa in earlier days contained a great many small farms, as did a lot Midwestern states.

Local residents and retired farmers reminisce about the days they actually used the “antique farming equipment on display at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Older collectible Allis-Chalmers tractors on display during the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

At these festivals I find many older people looking over equipment they used as young folk when mechanization was first being introduced into farming, beyond the horse drawn plow and planter. THe Heritage Center pays tribute to that former glory when work was a little more physical.

An “old timer” oils a corn shelling machine at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (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 volunteer watches the corn flow into a container wagon at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An old truck hooked up to a wagon to collect the corn cobs after corn has been run through a shelling machine at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And then to watch people record the action with their modern device to share with others later makes me smile, both for the contrast of old and new but also that this way of life will not be forgotten.

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©)

Iowa is still very much an agricultural state deriving much of its revenue from ag related business. But the small farm is no longer part of that equation. In America, bigger is better and these days necessary it seems to compete with big ag and multi-national corporations. It makes me a bit wistful, but like with other areas of life, progress continues, most times for the better and then some times it gives one pause.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Fall harvest will begin soon in Siouxland

28 Sep

The month of September is almost over and I noticed in just the last couple of weeks that corn and soybean crops in Siouxland, northwest Iowa, have turned brown and soon the fall harvest for farmers will begin. Another annual event that is the lifeblood of this part of the Midwest. Agriculture is a big business in Iowa. And the crop harvest makes or breaks the area farmers that work hard to produce the results. So one hopes the weather holds, as the crops continue drying out and then the harvest begins.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Celebrating the 4th of July in Siouxland, Mapleton

6 Jul

Celebrating the 4th of July in a Siouxland small community is pretty much the same as in a large community. People get together, there may be a cookout, a parade and general relaxing on a national holiday. But small towns may do some things a little differently, as a friend told me it is just weird to have farm machinery in a parade.

I attended the 4th of July parade at the Siouxland community of Mapleton, Iowa. It has a population a little over 1,200 people. The parade included a number of entries that also included the farm equipment, antique tractors and other floats that my friend thought a little strange. But that is the beauty of small towns, this parade reflects the residents and its occupants and neighbors. Prior to the parade families were hanging out in the local park, eating food, most of which is homemade or cooked on the spot, and enjoying various entertainment that included karaoke, bouncey tents for kids and a small country combo.

It was a nice event, on a nice day and a chance to see how the sacrifices of those that came before us allows the rest of us to enjoy this solitude and holiday in even the smallest communities.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Ag Day in Siouxland, Sioux Center

26 Apr

A small Christian-based college in Siouxland is Dordt College located in Sioux Center, Iowa. The school offers a four year program in agriculture and every year has an Ag Day on campus, where students and visitors alike can see various aspects of agriculture, mostly in the form of farm animals, equipment and talking with those attending. Plus there is a little bit of humor involved with a bale roll contest, a tire throwing contest and dress up in “old farm clothes” for a photo. Plus this year there was a pulled pork lunch with chips and beans. Pretty down to earth lunch fare.

It is amazing, having grown up on a farm, to see the changes occurring in farm equipment. To see some of today’s tractors and other implements compared to the “antique” tractors on display that day on campus there is just no comparison. Today’s machinery is huge. A planter set up to move on the road, which is different from how it looks being used in field was enormous. At least one, if not two, city buses long. Everything is bigger and better, although that is not necessarily true. But that is another story for another day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland’s agricultural roots, Vermillion, SD

7 Jan

This week there is a 3-day agricultural event at the University of South Dakota’s DakotaDome in Vermillion, South Dakota, The Dakota Farm Show. The show packs in a few hundred exhibitors featuring all sorts of ag-related businesses and equipment, both large and small that farmers and ag producers in the Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota areas can attend and learn what is new and might be helpful in their production.

Like any event, I find it a fascinating place to people watch. Nothing slick, high brow or over the top, such your down to earth kind of folk who do the hard work that feeds this country and others.

One group of guys I met all live within 30 miles of one another in Nebraska and were hanging out and having a good time at the show as they wandered the aisles of stuff.

Dakota Farm Show

 

Most all farmers and others in ag production wear caps. My dad as a farmer always wore a cap, and sometimes was admonished by my mom to take it off at the dinner table. But given the recent cold temps, a couple of the guys were possibly showing off.

Dakota Farm Show Dakota Farm Show

The DakotaDome at USD is an arena where the school’s sports, football, volleyball, basketball, track, etc., are played. It is large, and there were booths set up everywhere imaginable for those attending to see what is currently available. In talking to one ag support business I told him that my dad would never let me drive the tractor doing certain things like plowing or planting because I could not drive a straight line. The straighter the lines the more crop seeds that can be squeezed into the area to produce more crops and the potential to make more money. This gentleman told me that now there are systems that can even run at night with satellite imagery overlayed onto a farmer’s field so once the computer program is started the farmer never touches the tractor wheel and is guided through the field by the satellite image and the computer program.

When I was leaving I briefly talked to another vendor and said in passing it was a nicer day, not as cold or below zero for the moment. He responded that being able to stay inside is what made it a nicer day, which gave me pause to reflect that there are very few days that farmers and other people involved in the day-to-day ag business actually stay inside. And with the current brutal polar vortex that has descended on the Siouxland area, I only wished these guys had a five-day event rather than just three.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

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