Tag Archives: Farming

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

 

Farm equipment continues to grow in Siouxland, Woodbury County Fair

2 Aug

While visiting the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa, this past week, I checked out the antique farming tractors and walked around some of the newer pieces of machinery on display. As corporate farming takes hold, and smaller farmers are forced to buy more land to compete, the equipment needed to cover so much ground continues to grow. In fact some of the tractors and wagons are just monstrously huge. If you fell from one of them to ground, you would be seriously hurt. But the contrast in size is just unbelievable.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux CIty, Iowa

Siouxland County Fair Time, Moville

1 Aug

Growing up in Illinois, in a rural area, I remember the summertime visits to the local county fair. It was at a time when there were many more small farm operations throughout the region. Probably at that time a large farm contained at most a thousand acres. I talk about the number of farms because I believe they directly impacted the success of such organizations as 4-H clubs and the Future Farmers of America. At that time, more kids involved in 4-H were from farm families than from town.

I visited the Woodbury County Fair this week in Moville, Iowa, and saw some animal judging and walked through some exhibit halls as well as the animal barns. I talked with one young Siouxland lady who was “resting” on her market beef animal and asked about the number of clubs participating from the area. This was her fourth year involved in 4-H. I participated for eight years as many people do. She thought there were maybe 5-6 4-H clubs participating at the fair. When I was in 4-H, there were maybe 15-20 4-H clubs with anywhere from 20-30 members, each showing one or more animals at the fair, as well as crafts and it was huge. The dairy animals were always shown a couple weeks prior to the county fair with maybe 100-150 animals involved. During fair time, the beef animals ruled, with three full barns, with additional barns for hogs. There were maybe 200-300 4-H members involved.

But times have changed, less small farms, such 4-H members now live on small acreages their parents or grandparents own and they raise the hogs, beef, or sheep there. But the one thing that still pervades these young people’s involvement is their pride in their animals and their exhibition of them. I came across two club members cleaning the comb of a chicken and its talons so they would be clean for the animal judge. There was one barn that featured the work of the 4-H club members that included crafts, photography, food and other categories. It is fun to walk through these and see what has changed, and what has remained the same. For me it’s a nostalgic walk but also it supports those still involved with this part of Americana. History based in agriculture, which is still a big deal. Or should be. No food, no life.

jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Siouxland Harvest, Sioux County

24 Oct

Last week I ventured north of Sioux City into Sioux County, a more rural, agricultural part of Siouxland. The soybean harvest was done, and I had heard from others it had been completed for a while, as the beans had matured and been ready for picking earlier than normal. But then again, with the last few years of wacky weather, what is normal? A number of farmers were out with their combines harvesting their corn crop. It has been wet then dry then wet again this fall, so most times farmers must wait until noon or after for the corn to be at a dry enough level for picking. And it has already rained this week, so their harvest schedule may again be off, or the moisture content of their corn high, which would bring a lower price at market.

My dad never said this while farming, but this occupation is not for the faint of heart. There are so many forces and variables outside of a farmer’s control, that faith and optimism are a must, otherwise you might find yourself living in a perpetual state of gloom.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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