Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Destiny of Corn

May 22

June 3

June 4

June 9

July 1

July 9

August 22

Corn transforms a little calf into this handsome bull.

Every year I enjoy watching the transformation of my neighbors' land as they plant and harvest their crops. My daily commute to the cube farm gives me a ringside seat. Nothing man-made is quite as beautiful in the landscape as the geometric perfection of the corn rows. Nothing seems to sprout out of the ground and shoot skyward as quickly as corn stalks.

I had the intention of photographing one of the fields every day to chronicle the amazing rate of growth. Of course, that did not happen. I either forgot the camera, was running late, or could not afford the stupendous amount of energy to pull my car over, press the window "down" button, then click the camera. I did manage to record the life cycle of this particular crop. As usual, my photography does not do the scenery justice.

The weather was unusual this year, very wet and often cloudy. Two ferocious storms tried to flatten the corn as it stood in the field. The last episode nearly succeeded. I believe all of this corn was harvested and chopped into silage to feed to the big cattle herd maintained by these neighbors. Silage can be considered as "sauerkraut" for cattle. The entire corn stalk, ears, leaves and all, is coarsely chopped then stored in pits in the ground. It heats up and ferments, giving off a sharp, pungent aroma. The smell of silage does not bother me. I grew up with it. It reminds me of my father and grandfather and the icy breath of winter, when they fed the white-faced Herefords my grandfather proudly raised. (The red silo in these photos is where silage was once stored.)

This last photo is of the fields just up the valley a bit also owned by the same family. It was taken last July in the early morning. It is a glimpse of the beautiful valley during the height of summer.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


I encourage you to explore the other website links published here under the entirely original heading "Other Cool Sites". They will lead you to spectacular Kansas photographs of the caliber I wish I were capable of taking. They capture the true beauty and emotional impact of the landscape in this amazing state I call home.

There are links to some friends' web pages - intra- and extra-Kansas. There are other far more sophisticated and interesting blogs than mine, with links to even more amazing stuff. The internet is a genuine wonder we take for granted. Photos and philosophy and science and politics and art and outer space and humor and horror and pornography and war and everything good and bad under the sun - all existing electronically - tiny sparks of light we can access from just about any spot on the earth.

I sometimes enter any word I can think of into Google. I try to find a word that stumps Google. I have not been able to enter a word (out of my own mind) that returns 0 for many years. Common words return billions of websites in less than a fraction of a second. The word Ireland returns "about 1,030,000,000 results (0.54 seconds)". It would take multiple lifetimes to read everything on the internet about Ireland. The thing that strikes me the most about the internet is the proof that all humans are far more alike than we are different.

Take a spin through the other sites linked here, and then head out to explore the entire knowledge of the human race in text and photos at your fingertips!

(What am I, a Google employee?!)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Too Late to Take Shelter

Friday night I checked the Doppler weather radar website to see what my chances were of being sucked up into Nebraska or blown into Oklahoma while I slept. There was an ugly storm in Northwest Kansas but it appeared to be tracking north, missing Wabaunsee County - if it made it this far east. I went to bed and slept like a baby - if we are talking about a grumpy, cussing baby with aches and pains in every joint and muscle in her body.

Eventually I fell asleep only to become conscious sometime later of a howling wind raging outside. It has to be loud for me to hear it inside my snug little house. I could see the trees thrashing violently in the constant lighting. The tones in the wind were frightening.

I got up to look west out the front door, the expected direction of most tornadoes. The wind was driving the rain into a blinding white maelstrom. It was too late to take shelter in the basement in the north end of the old garage, a football field away from the front door.

I was not afraid (yet) but the thought did cross my mind of a headline: Old Kansas Woman Dead in Tornado - What Are The Odds?

I paced from window to door while the storm raged, listening to things slam against the side of the house. I turned the computer on but just as the Doppler radar page was about to open, the electricity went out. I went back to bed and listened to the angry winds escalate until the worst was over. When I got up Saturday morning and looked out, the world certainly had a bedraggled look to it. Jake was safe, and I could see the horses were alright. I could hear the last little hen clucking in her pen. We all made it safely through the night  but I could hear my neighbor's dog mournfully howling and that worried me.

It was too early to call, in case they were perfectly fine and still asleep, so I thought to simply drive past their house, just in case. There were two large uprooted trees blocking the road between my house and theirs, so I had to go out to the interstate then take Snokomo Road, a trip of about 13 miles. When I got to their house my neighbor was already in the yard. A very large tree was down across their driveway to the west, too. They were trapped in their own yard, but their house was fine, my neighbor was fine and so was his dog.

It was not long before the farmers were out with their big tractors and heavy equipment clearing the downed trees. The rural electric employees were already on the scene. They came to my house to make sure my lines were up, and shortly afterward the electricity came on. A bit after that another neighbor stopped by to make sure I was okay.

It made me feel good to know that if a tornado had blown me over into Missouri, someone would have eventually been looking for my dumbass.

Evidence of the roaring winds

Big healthy trees were broken

This tree was uprooted and blocking Vera Road

Over 3" of rain in a short time turns a ravine into a roaring "creek".  You can see from the downed grass how deep the water had been just a few hours earlier.

The rushing water scoured a wide patch out of Vera Road

Another uprooted tree blocking my neighbors from leaving their home