A corny story


corn grainery

Corn is steadily stacking up at this grain storage facility in south Arkansas. It was August 6, 2011, hot, dry, and perfect for harvesting corn, discounting the comfort level concurrent with 100-degree plus temperatures and high humidity.

Six finger falls

Click on the picture to see Six Finger Falls Corndancer dot.com

Archive post featured this week.

There is not a new post this week, but we have updated a very popular previous post, “Only in the Ozarks, these falls, this store” with pictures we shot on the same trip in July of 2009, but have not published. These images are seeing the light of day for the first time.

In that post, we take a look at some cool water falls, an old store, and other scenes you find in the Ozarks. This now updated post is one of the most visited on the site.

Corn de-thrones cotton

Corn reigns here where cotton was once king in LA (lower Arkansas). In mid-20th century years about the only corn you saw was in a garden patch bound to become “ros’nears.” (For the uninitiated to the southern mother tongue, “ros’near” is a contraction of “roasting ear,” which refers to an ear of corn ready to cook and eat.) As in, “Momma, Cletus gimme a mess of ros’nears. “Well idn that nice Bubba. I’ll fix ‘em for supper tonight if yew’ll shuckem.” “Aw-ight, yes ma’am.”

praying leaves

Click on the leaves to see how this story started

I’m guessing at one time folks roasted corn, but in my family, it was boiled in butter and salt. If you are somewhat adventurous, you add a bit of Zataran’s Crab Boil to the water. Gives a distinct taste and a little zinger of pepper.

A week later, LA was drenched by a series of long-awaited rain storms.  We talk about the long dry spell on the Photo of the Week page on Corndancer dot-com. Click on the link and get in on the drought and the relief proffered from on-high.

See more pictures of rain-soaked greenery and
the corn harvest in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

Giant grain bins

Take a look at the man in the bottom of the picture and you get an idea of the enormity of the gigantic grain bins. Orville Redenbachers dream scene.

See more pictures of rain-soaked greenery and
the corn harvest in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

When cotton was king, the harvest came much later and for the most part, that was that. No more crops until next spring when it was time to plant cotton again. Now most farmers raise two crops a year from the same field. Corn and winter wheat are a good rotation. Some rotate soy beans and winter wheat. These fields were cultivated by men and mules in our lifetime. (At least some of our lifetimes). They are now cultivated by men in tractors as big as a small cabin, guided by a GPS.

fire plug reflection in puddle

Sometimes, particularly after a prolonged period of parching, a puddle is a positive premonition that the environment is pushing to parity.

 A week later we finally were subjected to a downpour of sorts. I’d give it about a 5.5 on a scale of ten. Despite a mediocre rain, the grass and yard plants recovered in record time. Their resilience is amazing. When the weather has been as dry as it has been here, a fire plug reflecting in a puddle becomes a welcome site. Perhaps even an art form. Life goes on.

rain drop on leaf

Click on the water drop for more pictures

SEE MORE CORN HARVEST and
GREENERY pictures
In our Weekly Grist Gallery

See larger pictures of what you’ve seen here plus more pictures from the same shooting sessions. Twelve in all: Hot and dry, wet and green.

Thanks,
Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Thrill rides, beneficial bugs, and a rubber duck


Highway 63 and Lovelace Road

This junction, Highway 63 and Lovelace Road, northeast of Pine Bluff, Arkansas has possibilities as a movie location. You can almost hear the chopper blades whopping on the far side of the highway. And perhaps some Jaws music.

After seeing hair-raising rides and finding some minuscule Lady Bugs in a thousand acre plus field,  my expectations for the balance of the day did not include anymore “Kodak moments.”  However, I should have known better.

To access the field where I found the bugs, I had to exit and descend from elevated highway. On the way back, all that goes down, must go up — and lo and behold, there was a road with a sky background — the thing of movie sets. One could envision the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the cavalry, an Apache chopper with guns blazing, or a tank topping the rise with any of the above headed straight at you while you listen to something akin to the Ride of the Valkyries.

carnival ride passengers

See more pictures at Corndancer dot-com.

Before we go much further with this epistle, may I suggest you digress momentarily and go to the Photo of the Week Page at Corn Dancer dot Com where this story got its start. You’ll see a four-story swing at the Star Daze Festival at Star City AR, some people riding it, and a bigger that life Lady Bug.

We’ll stand by here, patiently waiting your return, while you peruse this entertaining and informative page.

On faith that something would turn up, which it usually does, I headed toward the Arkansas River Bridge over Emmett Sanders Lock and Dam northeast of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. On past trips over the bridge and the elevated highway one travels after crossing the bridge, I noticed a road crossing under the elevated highway. I figured it was time to check it out.

The road runs at the edge of a giant wheat field. After running the length of the road and finding some nice riverside residences,  I turned around to head back. I stopped in the way out to shoot some wheat, cleverly figuring that the caption would say something to the effect of  — “coming soon to a biscuit near you.”

Lady bugs on wheat

The odds of finding a couple of Lady Bugs in a wheat field bigger than a lot of towns are tall. These critters are stretching to hit 1/4" long.

I set up to shoot the wheat. After a few frames, I saw the first Lady Bug, and then the second. Not wanting to pass up this chance, I put my person on the ground at Lady Bug level to record these critters. Some contortion required.  The bugs cooperated completely showing no fear of the monster and his equipment pointed in their direction. But then that is their nature. They are beneficial bugs. For all of their innocent appearance, they are predators. And their prey is the pest bugs that damage crops and flowering plants. You just go girls!

And finally, it’s never too late!

rubber duck in the tub

There are some things one can continue to enjoy, regardless of age. One of those things, I must confess, is a rubber duck in your bathtub. Why not?

Certainly, it’s not rubber. Probably some sort of polyetheleynebi-nomialplasticenedi-something or other, but you get the drift. Do something nice for yourself today.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

gallery thumbnails

See more thrilled riders, festival, ladybugs, and more at our Weekly Grist Gallery. Click on the the thumbnails above. Bigger high resolution pictures.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/

http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Down. On the farm.


old gin at Ladd, Arkansas

This old gin at Ladd, Arkansas was built in the late 1800s. The gin machinery was powered by steam. In the 1920s it was removed from service as a gin and has been used for storage since by a plethora of owners. Apparently it was built with the "right stuff."

Most of us enjoy looking at old barns and houses which, despite the ravages of time have managed to remain standing. These structures are monuments to the societal and economic fabric which helped make us what we are, for better or worse. In agricultural communities, there are other remnants of days gone by, to wit: abandoned farm equipment, another part of the living museum one observes in the hinterlands. Before we go much further, may I suggest that you click here and see another view of this old gin and a lilac-covered combine where this epistle started on the Corndancer Photo of the Week page. We’ll wait here.

abandoned tractor and combine

This old tractor and combine, long since abandoned are part and parcel of a farm I found which appeared to have come to a definitive and abrupt stop.

While old rejected tractors and combines don’t have the emotional appeal of old barns and cabins, they still have a story to tell. In March of 2009, I was cruising the roads of northern Lincoln County, Arkansas and happened upon a respectably sized farm through which was scattered a number of farm implements which appeared to have been abandoned in place. From the looks of things, someone said, “OK that’s it,” and everyone dismounted and left. Perhaps it was not quite that dramatic, but the appearance is there.

abandoned combine and grain auger

This abandoned combine and grain auger, are parked in the field where they were probably last used. The opening in the combine behind the cab shows evidence of someone harvesting some parts from the harvester.

Walking off from equipment of this type is no small thing. The combine you see above cost more than most people’s homes. Tractors are not far behind in the pecking order of cost. So while the equipment as it sits now is little more than junk, at one time, it represented a major league investment. We do not know the complete story here, but odds-on, it did not have a happy ending.

Cannabilized tractor

The cultivated fields of the farm were interspersed with patches of pine woods. This old tractor sat near some of those trees. It is older than some of the other equipment I saw. Probably it was cannibalized for parts to keep a similar unit operational.

Lest I give the impression that agriculture in this neck of the woods is all but sunk, hear me say that nothing could be further from the truth. While agriculture is feeling the same economic pinch all of us are experiencing, as an industry it is alive and well. At least in these parts. The face of the industry is different. Like all successful modern pursuits, agriculture takes advantage of cutting edge technology.  Agriculture, however, has one advantage that never changes. To change products, you do not have to rebuild the factory, you plant different seeds.

Combine harvesting soybeans

With the appearance of a horned apparition materializing from a a foreboding fog, this late model combine is harvesting soybeans off Townsend Road near Moscow, Arkansas.

As big as a house and as high-tech as an aircraft, the combine above does its job with great efficiency. However, most combine owners still complain that it is a machine which begins to shake itself apart as soon as you crank it up. But it cuts bean bushes, separates the beans from stalks and hulls and spits the latter out the back while storing the former in its innards. All so you can have margarine, cooking oil, and the gazillion other things that come from soybeans.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.

Each week we put all of our Corndancer and Weekly Grist pictures along with the ones we did not publish anywhere else in a special pictures only gallery. Click here to go there and see for yourself.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

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