Tag Archives: Farming

Enjoying History in Siouxland, Without Knowing it, rural South Dakota, Beresford

20 May

Older barns in disrepair seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I traverse various parts of Siouxland while driving about I find that I see fewer and fewer older wooden barn. The rustic look, even in disrepair, hail to an era that has for the most part passed. Farmers or those farming ( industrial operations) no longer erect the wooden structures that at one time housed animals, harvested crops and machinery. As the bigger is better mantra continues to envelope America and it’s ideal of business the small farmer also has disappeared and the structures now that house equipment is metal or fiberglass. More cost effective, less maintenance and all of those things that attribute to the bottom line.

But I miss seeing the structures. And most times I happen upon them at the wrong time of day while out driving around. Maybe seeing them in passing. Sometimes stopping, sometimes not, depending on if I am time constrained to arrive someplace.

Two older barns seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The rustic nature appeals to my visual sense, but the use and disuse and decay speaks to another passing of an era where form and factor are no longer valued. That thought could be addressed to a lot of areas and state of affairs these days. When at a small time museum a few years ago a docent was showing school children and older wall phone which had the spin knob to wind it up and get a connection along with the ear piece held to one’s head and the extended speaker you had to lean into to speak with the operator, as well as the desk top model with the rotary dial.

The children had no idea what the two items were, and were quite astonished when they learned that what they carried in their pockets and took for granted was large, non moveable and didn’t have a screen. Advances in technology is marvelous with many wonderful inventions, but sometimes I wonder at what loss does this occur without the accompanying history that brought the state of humanity to this next level of achievement and the effort to get there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An older barn in disrepair seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Thinking of Spring in Siouxland, Dakota Farm Show, Vermillion, SD

3 Feb
DAVID BERNDT, of White, South Dakota, looks over at another vendor’s booth during the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. Berndt said he “borrowed” his granddaughter’s carriage while she was eating lunch to carry items he picked up at the show. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Each year in January a regional farm show is held in Siouxland at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD. Various businesses and others associated with agriculture provide a look at new methods or tools that area farmers can check out and see if it’s a fit for their current method of farming or business.

Attendees at the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The floor was filled with vendors for the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A year ago when the cover virus was raging through regions of the U.S. and prior to vaccines being available, an attendee to this year’s event told me both vendors and attendees were scarce. And for good reason. At this event, I can only recall seeing a handful of people on the first day wearing a mask. But it’s South Dakota, open for business according to its governor who is very mindful of optics as she plots a course for higher visibility within particular groups of people.

Like in other parts of the U.S. COVID cases have recently spiked in South Dakota, bew people wore masks at the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A salesperson answers questions for attendees about DeWalt equipment at the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But important on most people’s mind this day was the coming spring and planting season and whether any new gizmos might be appropriate to purchase, and the at least check out. Because of supply chain issues and the ills that are affecting other businesses, the ag world in not immune. Used farm equipment is hitting all time highs and farmers, already under financial pressure because of tariff problems created by a former administration and loss of markets in which to sell corn and soybeans are understandably being tight-fisted.

Parts of Iowa last year were in a severe drought region and so far little snow this winter has helped alleviate what could be an ongoing issue. Last year a winter season that extended into spring and early summer pushed planting late and then the dry growing season caused more headaches. Timely rains helped out most farmers with a bountiful harvest, the threat is still there. It’s never too early to plan or worry about what’s coming.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

TYLER KOELE, left, and daughter SKYLAR, look at a new Ford pickup truck during the first day of the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One vendor flies an American Flag from the handle of a mop at the 38th annual Dakota Farm Show in the Dakotadome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, January 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Sunday Afternoon in Siouxland, rural Plymouth County

9 May
A local makes haste down a gravel road in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are days I enjoy driving out into the countryside in Siouxland and just wandering backroads. There may not be anything special about a destination or photographically appealing as the sun in high overhead and the light reflecting the time of year. As spring moves toward summer one must continually awake earlier in the day, and go to bed later in the evening to catch “the beautiful light”. Much photographic sensors, my wake time dynamic range is only so large and I enjoy my sleep.

But it doesn’t mean that one doesn’t find subjects or situations that piques one’s interest. A person might need to look a little harder and parse what could be of interest. Even if only in a documentary sort of way.

A cat eyes a visitor from afar in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Spotting something of more interest a cat leaps off its window ledge perch to explore in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And so I wander country roads looking for those moments. Sometimes starting earlier in the day and sometimes on the spur of the moment. Wondering what I might find, listening to music and with luck driving in warmer weather so I can open my car windows and enjoy the day. No expectations, no need for something spectacular, just a day to wander, contemplate and enjoy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A gravel road disappears around a bend and beyond some tree limbs in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making Friends in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

5 May
A horse looks toward a visitor in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021, possible hoping for a little snack. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always look forward to meeting new “folk” when driving about Siouxland. One particular day I felt bad that I didn’t pack a carrot lunch with me to snack on as a couple of locals would surely have enjoyed me sharing that I met while driving some backroads.

It was a nice day and they seemed to be enjoying themselves on a hillside on a pleasant, finally, spring day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two horses eye a visitor in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hanging Out in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

29 Apr
An immature Red Tailed Hawk navigates a landing on a high perch in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While cruising about Siouxland on a weekend with somewhat warmer temps and winds, I noticed I wasn’t alone in just enjoying a day in the country. Animals seem to do that as well sometimes. I noticed a young Red Tailed hawk riding some thermals over a gravel road in rural Plymouth County. Soaring, diving, soaring again and occasionally coming to a rest.

An immature Red Tailed hawk flies by a possible high perch in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An immature Red Tailed Hawk takes in its surroundings from a high perch in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a break and watching for its next snack possibly or watching the ever so casual visitor drive by underneath its high perch. Some days should just be enjoyed for the moment, warmer weather, sunshine and a lazy day feeling. However, for this young bird and others I somehow think most days are not lazy. But it was fun watching it seemingly enjoy its time in the air.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An immature Red Tailed hawk enjoys some thermal winds in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Cold January in Siouxland, rural Monona County

24 Jan

The month of January is only halfway though and winter has reminded Siouxland residents that it still has a lot to offer its residents. Cold, below freezing and zero cold. More snow. And the chance to daydream about those coming summer months with heat, humidity and warm summer nights.

Cruising in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always begin thinking about driving the backroads when winter in Siouxland gets its second wind and sends real chills down the back while one is out navigating snowy and slushy roadways and sidewalks. The days may be sunny, but at zero or below temperatures one knows winter is still here. Growing up on a farm I enjoy these days driving about the countryside and “smelling” the freshly tilled soil or crops once they have begun growing. Yes, there is definitely a particular smell emitted by the soil and plants. Much like someone city-born could identify certain aromas from a neighborhood they grew up in whether it is from a restaurant or seaside community. Childhood smells remain with us as we get older and maybe more discriminating in the aromas we want to partake in.

Planted crops on a summer’s day in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I try to put out of mind the thought of too much humidity on a hot summer’s day. That thought will come eventually, but for now, looking out a a white landscape, it seems very enticing and comforting. It’s always nice to have something to look forward too.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Planted crops on a summer’s day in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Siouxland Man’s Passion, Lloyd Baker in Ashton

31 Aug

Resident Lloyd Baker drives three of his restored tractors in the parade at the Ashton, Iowa Town and Country Festival Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always interesting to find someone passionate about a hobby. And hobbies can encompass almost anything. Siouxland resident Lloyd Baker’s hobby is a little large, and not something that easily fits into a desk drawer, like say a stamp or coin collection. Mr. Baker likes to restore early era farm tractors. Formerly working at an farm implement dealer in Sheldon, after retiring Baker couldn’t stop. During the recent Ashton Town and Country Fair I came upon his wife and she said her husband loves his John Deere tractors and spends many hours getting them running and restoring some of them.

A local resident, Lloyd baker, finds and restores, for the most part, older tractors, especially John Deeres and has his “office” and repair shop in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A local resident, Lloyd Baker, finds and restores, for the most part, older tractors, especially John Deeres and has his “office” and repair shop in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And walking about his shop in Ashton Baker seems to have enough tractors to continue his fashion for many years to come. Enjoying something as he restores part of an American past which celebrates agriculture and farming and the changes that occurred in an industry that benefits so many.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A local resident , Lloyd Baker, finds and restores, for the most part, older tractors, especially John Deeres and has his “office” and repair shop in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A Threshing Bee in Siouxland, Granite

15 Aug

I attended a threshing bee festival in the small community of Granite this summer. As a child I remembered going to one or two with my parents in the 1960’s. It brought back memories of looking at what I thought then was old equipment, which today is even older.

Visitors fill a grandstand to watch a tractor parade of various makes, models and vintages at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A variety of older and antique tractors were on display at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The event was kind of an ode to tractors with various makes and models on display as well as participating in a parade. But the people attending enjoyed it, much like people attending a stock car race o other event.

Visitors mill about and visit small museum like homes plus lunch stands at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors enjoy the tractor parade that mostly featured antique and older working tractors at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am certain the event brought memories to some older farmers attending who actually used these tractors and other implements in their own farming when they were younger and farms were then smaller and more diverse. In the 1960’s and ’70’s farms were generally 200-300 acres and the farmers also either raised beef cattle or milked dairy, had pigs and chickens and also varied their crops between corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa plus some grazing acres for their livestock, Today farms are really nothing more than large tracts of land which either produces corn or soybeans. That is a topic that could be discussed for years.

But I like the nostalgia of the event and was glad in seeing people enjoy this historical look back at an earlier era when times were tougher and more physical, but in which people derived a lot of self satisfaction.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visitors checked out a variety of antique and older working tractors at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors enjoy seeing a variety of older working and antique tractors at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Gene Anderson of Harrisburg, SD sits in his refurbished Model A at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Looking for the latest about the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A tractor parade of various models and age was the highlight of the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors enjoy the shade as they watch a tractor parade of various makes, models and vintages at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Entire families show off their antique tractors during a parade at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Viewing History in Siouxland, Granite Threshing Bee

9 Aug

I recently visited the small community of Granite in Siouxland which has an annual threshing bee that celebrates an earlier century of American agriculture. While there I met a gentlman, Ed Monson, who collects old photographs that depict the railroad history throughout South Dakota and parts of Iowa.

Ed Monson of Sioux Falls, SD talks about his train and railroad photo collection in display at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Through his graciousness when visiting such historic get togethers he displays some of the photos he has collected over the years which paint an early picture of small towns in their beginnings, as most settlements grew when a railroad depot was created with the traffic it would generate, and then die as railroad companies moved their depot stops to other communities. I have traveled through many a small community in Siouxland and seen signs harkening back to a town’s beginnings, mostly based upon a railroad depot.

Ed Monson of Sioux Falls, SD displays his train and railroad photo collection at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s nice to be able to understand the history of a place and it helps when people provide an opportunity to showcase that history and share their knowledge of it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

People browse throughEd Monson’s, of Sioux Falls, SD, train and railroad photo collection on display at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Supporting Agriculture in Siouxland, Dordt College in Sioux Center

20 May

Every spring Dordt College in Sioux Center hosts an Ag Day, which coincides with part of its educational mission in helping sustain agriculture in Siouxland and in general. There are at times a variety of equipment parked on campus, new stuff and old stuff.

Some older tractors were on display during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A large 24 row planter pulled by an equally large tractor which contrasts with older equipment also on display during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

What caught my eye walking about this particular day was remnants of a recent spring snow and the ever remaining low temperatures that made winter reluctant to cede to the coming spring.

A pile of snow from a late snow storm is still melting during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular day I arrived early in the day as I had an appointment elsewhere and saw a large number of elementary students roaming campus, looking at a variety of exhibits, maybe sparking an interest in some form of agriculture or related field as they grow and sharing a love of a land that encompasses Siouxland.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Children check out goats during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A young boy shows off a pet goat during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Chiuldren “play” on older farm equipment on display during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

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