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

On the way from Houston (Arkansas that is)


Old barn near Houston AR

In spring and summer months leaves from trees and shrubs will make this view virtually impossible. Another example of stuff you can see in the winter and no other time.

A backward glance

In late February (2010), Jon Phillipi and I, tooling west toward Houston, (Arkansas) on Arkansas Highway 113,  noticed an old house on the south side of the road. Long since abandoned, and basking well in late afternoon sun, the house appeared to be a good prospect for a Weekly Grist picture.

We passed it and I ventured one more backward glance and noticed a large barn south of the house. We duly noted the location as a prime prospect and continued west to Houston where we would shoot the former Houston Methodist Church, a popular target for photographers.

It isn’t a barn

old gin at ladd ar

It's not a old barn. It's an old gin.

Before we venture too much further, we need to tell you this barn story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com where we visited what we thought was an old barn at Ladd, Arkansas. Turns out, it is not an old barn, but an old gin. A last minute infusion of facts saved our bacon from the embarrassment of publishing a falsehood. Nothing like the facts to clear the air. Like the barn at Houston the gin has seen better days but still is very interesting. See the old gin at Ladd here, outside and inside.

Do it now

Back to Houston. With a sufficient amount of pixels “in the can” from the church at Houston, we headed back east toward the Delta, our home. By the time we saw the house and barn again, the late evening illumination was nearing perfection. Coming back to shoot the barn ceased to be an option. The light was right and the time was now.

I ventured to the nearest neighbor’s domicile and asked if the barn was on their property. A friendly young man informed me that it was not their property and belonged to unknown persons who “ … lived up north,“ meaning north of the Mason Dixon line.

Tall barn

The barn is one of the tallest we've seen. In all likelihood, with this large capacity loft to store hay, the barn was part of a large livestock operation.

Shoot with abandon

This of course is music to a trespassing photographer’s ear. The owner ain’t gonna show, so fire away with reckless abandon. That was the good news. The bad news is we know little about the old barn except for the fact that it looks really great in late afternoon February sun.

etched in concrete

There may be some clue as to when the barn was either built or was improved. Hieroglyphics we interpret to be 4-48 were carefully scratched into wet concrete at the west entrance to the barn.

Spring is well, springing

In the final throes of a winter somewhat colder than normal, the southeast Arkansas landscape still carries its winter mantle of gravy brown. Paying little attention to these environmental conditions, the flowers which announce spring will wait no longer.

white flowers

A flowering bush an/or stunted tree seems healthy enough on a bleak roadside. A bare field to the left and a construction project in the background lie in contrast to the rites of spring.

Jonquils, Bradford Pear trees and miscellaneous and sundry fruit-bearing trees now generously dot the landscape, portending quick relief for denizens of these whereabouts who have had all the winter they can abide. Friends to the north, take heed. We are sending these favorable conditions your way.

ugly sign, nice flowers

I've heard it said that it takes two uglies to make a uugly (pronounced "you-glee"). These signs are the manifestation of that rumor. These jonquils (or are they narcissus?) are providing a modicum of temporary relief. When they're gone, it's back to uugly.

More (and better) pictures

The blog picture processing procedure somewhat degrades pictures rather than being neutral or enhancing them, so to show you the best pictures, we make a weekly post to a higher resolution gallery. In this gallery, you’ll see all the pictures on Corndancer and Weekly Grist, plus those we closely considered, but did not publish. This week, there are 18 cool shots to see. Click here to go there.

Thanks for dropping by,

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

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