Category Archives: Agriculture

High Plains Traveler

Welcome to Dalhart, Texas.

In 2014, a friend and I drove to Santa Fe, New Mexico from Kansas City, traveling on two-lane highways in April. We took a different two-lane highway route on our return, including Route 66 and the Santa Fe Trail.

I’ve lived in the eastern half of Kansas most of my life, have traveled throughout the world, but there were many areas within a day’s drive or two of my house that I’d never seen.  It was a very enjoyable and fascinating trip. Although our primary destination was Santa Fe, I found the stark beauty of the High Plains on our route to be an unexpected pleasure.

In book club we recently read Timothy Egan’s  “The Worst Hard Time” about the Dust Bowl in the 1930s in southwestern Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, northeastern New Mexico and southeastern Colorado. which prompted me to revisit my photographs from that trip, which was a journey through that region. Although the area experienced a very harsh time, there is plenty to see of beauty and history to see there now.  We didn’t stay long, unfortunately, so I’d like to return and see more of the area, including the museum in Clayton, New Mexico. Perhaps, I could book a room in the historic Eklund Hotel, where my friend and I ate a delicious lunch in the beautifully decorated 19th century dining room. Another museum to visit would be the XIT Ranch Museum in Dalhart, Texas.

Click here to see photos of beautiful Hotel Eklund.

For more about the XIT Ranch Museum, click here.

Clayton, New Mexico, Grain Mill and Elevator Poster

Clayton, New Mexico, Grain Mill and Elevator

Oklahoma Panhandle Barber Shop Poster

Oklahoma Panhandle Barber Shop.

You’ll probably wait a long time for a haircut at this Oklahoma Panhandle Barber Shop, which seems to be permanently closed. In the background is a grain elevator. The stand alone building looks desolate, but next door is a thriving full service gasoline station next door that serves a busy highway.

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Filed under Agriculture, Kansas, Photography, Travel

That’s a Lot of Bull

Three cowboys round up bulls after their purchase at an auction in Texas.

Cow looking for relationship:  Loves sunset strolls in the pasture, adores hay breakfasts at dawn, enjoys afternoon naps in the shade of an oak tree, likes hanging out with my friends around the water tank.

Finding the right bull for a cattle herd isn’t quite as romantic as that.  Sale brochures list the bull’s assets, which include parentage, size of various body parts, weight and statistics on various aspects of parenting success.  Looks do count, too.

Livestock trailers are lined up at a cattle auction in Texas.

I recently went to a cattle auction at a ranch in northeast Texas, where about 80 bulls and 80 cows were auctioned.  Buyers can read the details about each bull and cow online, in addition to a large, informative brochure.  Each animal has its own video, which is displayed on several screens in the sale barn when the animal comes up for auction. The auction is a labor intensive endeavor, including the auctioneer staff, the barbecue lunch crew for the meal beforehand, people who create the extensive marketing materials, crew to care for the animals and cowboys to round up and load the animals.  Buyers come from hundreds of miles away.

Four auctioneers take bids at a cattle auction in Texas.

Bulls for sale at an auction in Texas.

 

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Filed under Agriculture, Photography, Travel

Dining Under the Bridge

Tables are beautifully set under the historic 12th Street Bridge for the Food Now Fund-raiser in Kansas City, Missouri, on August 27, 2011.

My multi-talented friend Chris B. invited me and several others to the second annual foodNow local food experience under the 12th Street Bridge in the West Bottoms of Kansas City, Missouri, on August 27, 2011. I had no idea what foodNow was, but who wouldn’t want to eat an elegant dinner under an old bridge in one of Kansas City’s most historic areas?  Chefs from many Kansas City restaurants prepared a three-course dinner from produce from the area. The event was a fund-raiser for Beans and Greens –  Nourishing Neighborhoods with Local Produce ,  Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition  and Get Growing KC.

"Haunted Houses" attract thrill-seekers in the fall near the 12th Street Bridge.

The tables were set on the original cobblestone street where farmers brought their produce for sale.  I’m glad I was wearing flat shoes. Some women wearing more fashionable footwear were a little wobbly on the cobblestones.  Nearby the bridge are old warehouses, which now have a new life hosting “haunted houses” that attract thrill-seekers every fall.  Also in the area is Kemper Arena and the site of the American Royal.   Each table had a different menu.  Chef Michael Turner of the Classic Cup prepared the delicious dinner for my table.  There was a silent and a live auction. Unfortunately, my table was far from the auctioneer.  An old bridge may be charming, but the acoustics were not that great.  I could hear my table-mates, though, and that made for a very fascinating evening.

The 12th Street Bridge was built in 1915 and is now undergoing a major rehabilitation. The West Bottoms (official name Central Industrial District) is an industrial area immediately to the west of downtown Kansas City, Missouri at the confluence of the Missouri River and the Kansas River. The area is one of the oldest areas of the city and is home to Kansas City’s early agricultural markets.

Originally called the “French Bottoms,” French trappers and Kansas Indians traded here centuries ago. French Bottoms sounds a lot more appealing, doesn’t it?  Steamships traveling upstream on the Missouri river offloaded their goods at the Bottoms to provision those immigrating west and for trade with Mexico over the Santa Fe Trail. The advent of the railroad increased the importance of the area.   Major floods have engulfed the area (1903, 1951 and 1993), which have diminished the area’s commercial and residential importance.  You could say river affluence has lessened the area’s influence.

Les Dames d'Escoffier International (Heart of America Chapter) sponsored the silent and live auction of cooking and food-related items.

Tiny lights illuminate the tables under the 12th Street Bridge in the West Bottoms of Kansas City for the foodNow dinner.

Check out these links:
foodNow.
About the West Bottoms. Official West Bottoms Site.

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Filed under Agriculture, Commerce, Food, Kansas City

Third Annual Strawberry Photograph

 
 
 
 
 

One of my favorite meals of all time -- Cereal with strawberries from my garden!

 

This is one of my favorite times of year.  Every day for two weeks, I pick strawberries from my strawberry patch, more than enough for a daily bowl of cereal.  This year we had so much rain that the strawberry ripening was delayed for several days. Oh, the waiting was agony!  But now the bliss!  The mint is moving in on the strawberry plants, so the little berries sometimes have a tang of mint. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a bowl of strawberries and cereal awaiting me.

Read more in my post, Second Annual Strawberry Photograph. From there, you can click on the link to the first year’s photograph.

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Filed under Agriculture, Food, Gardening, Humor, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Nature, Photography

Ode to a McIntosh Apple

 
I love apples.  These McIntosh apples are my favorites.

I love apples, the tasty member of the rose family. These McIntosh apples are my favorites.

 I grasp your smooth curves eagerly between my trembling fingers.  Your skin is so brilliantly green, blushed with bright red.

You minx, how you tease me with your beauty, with the promise of your juicy sweetness.  Are you ripe? I hold you to my lips.  My teeth bite into your firm white flesh. I taste tartness, yet sugar melts into my mouth.  On my tongue I feel you crisp and firm, yet yielding, a dribble of juice on my lips. Piquant perfectly describes how you stimulate my taste buds.

So clearly, I remember the day we first met.  It was a warm early autumn day, a little overcast in a New York orchard. Everywhere, the leaves were brilliant, although yours, I must confess, were a little spotty. Leafy Autumn fire is not your glory.  No matter.  Your abundance overwhelmed me.  The pleasure of your flesh enraptured me.  I am yours forever. (Catherine L. Sherman)

An ancient apple tree holds a tree house in its stout limbs, which no longer bear fruit.

An ancient apple tree at Anita's old house holds a tree house in its stout limbs, which no longer bear fruit.

The McIntosh apple will always hold a place in my heart and in my fruit bin, when in season… My dear long-time friend Anita, her daughters and their friends took me apple picking in an orchard near her home in Binghamton.  Actually, the only picking we did was in the orchard store, but it was fun, anyway.  Children laughed on a small ferris wheel.  A tang of smoke hung in the cool air.  We inhaled the earthy fragrance of wet leaves as we shuffled through the rapidly growing leafy drifts.   Pumpkins were piled outside the store.  We chose some of those, too.  It was early October 1994.  I wasn’t there quite at the peak of the brilliant fall colors, but the forest was still a beautiful sight. 

Anita and her family lived in an historic white clapboard house near Binghamton, surrounded by massive sugar maples that were tapped every year to make maple syrup.  At the back of the yard, an ancient gnarled apple tree embraced a tree house.

The following October my father died.  Anita mailed me a box of McIntosh apples and some jugs of maple syrup.  She couldn’t have chosen better.

Anita and I can't seem to stay away from apple orchards.  Maybe we are really daughters of eve.  Here's a small orchard we stopped by in Tasmania.  We only stopped becasue I wanted a photograph. We were really in the area to see a waterfall and buy some cheese.

Anita and I can't seem to stay away from apple orchards. Maybe we are really daughters of eve. Here's a small orchard we stopped by in Tasmania. We stopped because I wanted a photograph. We were really in the area to see a waterfall and buy some cheese.

For more about the apple family, click here:  Stalking the Placid Apple’s Untamed Kin. This story is about the United States Department of Agriculture’s Plant Genetic Resources Unit, in upstate New York, which is home to the world’s most extensive collection of apple varieties and relatives.  Closer to my home in Kansas City, Powell Gardens showcases Missouri’s finest apple varieties in its Apple Celebration Court.

 John Keats’ “Ode to an Nightingale” inspired me to write this ode, which technically is not an ode, but does praise and glorify a subject.  “Bright Star,” a movie about Keats, was very good. See it!

A scan of my photograph of an area near Binghamton, New York, when the trees are starting to turn.

A scan of my photograph of an area near Binghamton, New York, in October 1994, when the trees are starting to turn. (In the dark ages before digital cameras...)

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Filed under Agriculture, Food, Friendship, Gardening, History, Life, Nature, Personal, Travel

Saving Bees

These honey bees are finding nectar on wildflowers in a park.  Bess find fewer places to find food as more areas are developed and mowed.  These wildflowers were mowed a few days later, leaving no flowers for the bees.

These honey bees are foraging for nectar on wildflowers in a park. Bees are finding fewer flowers for food as more areas are developed and mowed. These wildflowers were mowed a few days later, leaving no flowers for the bees.

My garden is a hang-out for bees of all kinds — honey bees, native bees, carpenter bees.  I love watching them going about their business and am glad to help out keeping them fed.  Bees are important pollinators.  Pollination is essential for most of our food crops. 

The honey bee population has dropped dramatically in recent years, and scientists are trying to find the causes.   They’ve discovered a number of reasons.  Below is a link to a New York Times article with comments about the bee situation from entomologists and beekeepers.   (There haven’t been many butterflies this year in the Midwest, which I’ll write about later. )

Room for Debate: Saving Bees: What We Know Now. — Lessons from the battle against colony collapse disorder, which is still decimating hives. Also check out Monarch Watch and Pollinator Partnership in my blogroll.

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Filed under Agriculture, Biology, Entomology, Environment, Gardening, Insects, Life, Nature, Science

Kansas – The Nation’s Breadbasket

For years I've seen these signs along the highways in Kansas.  This sign is along Interstate 70.

For years I've seen these signs along the highways in Kansas. I convinced my husband to stop as we were speeding by the third one I'd seen, and I ran through the thick plant growth and took this photograph. This sign is along Interstate 70.

I was born in Virginia, but I’ve spent most of my life in Kansas.   Even though I’ve always lived in cities, I’ve never been far from fields of wheat, soybeans and corn. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture , Kansas is the top wheat producer in the United States.  (We’re number one!  We’re number one!)  This year, Kansas farmers harvested an estimated 360.8 million bushels, up from 356 million bushels last year.  Kansas farmers harvested 8.8. million acres this season, about 100,000 fewer acres than a year ago but achieving an average of one more bushel an acre in yield this year. 

Hurrah for the Kansas farmer and for Mother Nature for glorious weather!  Hurrah for farmers everywhere.

This wheat field  is in the city limits of Overland Park, Kansas, the largest city in Kansas, and part of the metropolitan Kansas City area.  It's surrounded by commercial development and is for sale, so eventually, you'll see cars here instead of crops. Too bad. I like seeing farm fields.  Last year, it was planted in soybeans.

This wheat field is in the city limits of Overland Park, Kansas, which is the second-most populous city in Kansas, and part of the metropolitan Kansas City area. It's surrounded by commercial development and is for sale, so eventually, you'll see cars here instead of crops. Too bad. I like seeing farm fields. Last year, it was planted in soybeans.


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Filed under Agriculture, Food, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Personal