Ye shall reap what you sow

Farm field fire

This field near Grady is the subject of a controlled fire to rid of all vestiges of the crops just harvested from its soils. Despite the catastrophic appearance, the fire is under control. Such fires are an agricultural management procedure.

Ye shall reap what you sew
(With any kind of luck)

Tractor setting fire to field

Click on the tractor to see a field fire starting.

With the practice of planting winter crops as soon as the spring and summer crops are harvested comes the problems of the detritus left by the former crop. In some cases, farm operators will plow and/or disk the remnants of last crop.  If time is of essence; they often will burn the fields which gives the best cleanup as Mother Nature intended.

When a field burns, in most cases it gives the appearance of the inferno that Sodom and Gomorrah experienced. Since the preferred burning time is in the absence of wind, the smoke tends to pillar which exacerbates the Biblical vision. The truth is, fields don’t have much fuel to to sustain a fire for a long time, so the wicked look is short lived and the fires die out quickly.

See a field burn-off up close and personal on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com, as in: see how one farm gets the blaze underway.

Harvest time in LA (lower Arkansas) is a frenzy of combines, tractors, trucks, and still to some extent cotton pickers, all of which, if a farmer wants to reap what he sows, need to come together at the right time, Mother Nature permitting.

Combine harvesting soybeans

This farmer is harvesting soybeans eight rows at a time. It is easy to spot a harvest from a distance since harvest machinery creates a substantial plume of dust from the soil and crops.

A week or so ago, all of the stars came together at the right time and harvest in our environs got under way in a big way. The ground was dry enough to support harvesting machinery and the crops were sufficiently dry to avoid financial penalties due to excessive moisture.

Combine emptying freshly harvested soy beans from a combine to a grain cart

The farmer above is emptying the bean-laden hopper in his combine into a grain cart. After another hopper full or so, the contents of the cart will be transferred to an 18 wheeler which will take the crop to temporary storage. This guy was good. While the beans were unloaded he maneuvered the huge combine to make sure the beans were evenly distributed in grain cart.

Corn ready for harvest near Grady Arkansas

I fought the grass and the grass won. After corn has done its job and produced the next generation the plant withers and dies. Not so for the grass and weeds that attempt to take over crop lands. This corn will soon fall to the combine.

Harvested corn dropped in field by a combined

When then corn is harvested the machinery, in its mangling process. will occasionally jettison some crop materials that should have gone to the hopper. It’s an expected function of machine harvesting. Critters and Mother Earth appreciate the largess of the machine.

Cotton bolls in a field near Grady Arkansas

There’s very little cotton grown now here in the plethora of fields that were formerly populated by King Cotton. Here’s a glance at some of the 2016 crop that’s not far from picking. It will be hit with a defoliant and as soon as the leaves drop, the cotton picker swoops in and strips the plants of their lint.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


A time to reap

Combine harvesting corn

Though it does not look big, this huge combine, about the size of a small house, is dwarfed in a large field of corn. The combine cuts the corn stalks, separates the ears of corn from the stalk, shucks and separates the corn from the cob, saves the corn, and spits the detritus from the process out the back.

Two trucks

Click on the trucks to see what happened.

It’s harvest time in LA now. The former shimmering green fields are now for the most part brown, shriveled, and loaded with the largess of Mother Nature’s time-proven process. Now it’s a matter of separating the fruit from the vine and moving it into the mainstream of commerce. In these environs, the main crops are rice, corn, soybeans, miscellaneous small grains and a smattering of cotton, listed in order of harvest. We are mainly in the corn and rice harvesting modes now. See even more harvest scenes on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com

Tractor and combine

The combine disgorges its harvested cargo to carts. The tractor driver then moves the cart and dumps its contents into a 18-wheeler trailer. Repeat if necessary until the field is done.

Combine harvesting

In the Delta, it is not unusual to have a cultivated field as your side, back, or front yard.

Tindall Drier

Tindall Drier, near Stuttgart, Arkansas, long since outmoded and inactive. still stands as a reminder of farm operations years ago. It is a great historic monument, right up there with old barns.

Power poles and wires

I’m guessing these Christmas-tree-ornament-like-doodads are to warn off agri-aircraft or discourage birds from perching. Shot near Stuttgart, Arkansas. I’m also betting that a reader will set me straight on the real intentions of these installations.

Memorial at road junction

All too often in rural areas, one sees a sign designating a t-bone road junction alongside a home-made memorial.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Duck luck reload

Northern Shoveler Ducks

Click on the ducks to see our original Jan. 15, 2015 post and see even more ducks

Last January, I took a long-shot trip to our local urban impoundment, Saracen Lake. To my delight our lake had welcomed a plethora of Northern Shoveler Ducks, an interesting lot to say the least. They share some markings with their cousin Mallards, to wit green headed males and dashes of color on their wings.

Their bills are huge.  They submerse those huge beaks and plow through the water sucking up aquatic groceries one presumes. At least that’s the way it looks to me.

Northern Shoveler Ducks

Click on these ducks to see still yet even more ducks

Take a look at our January 15, 2015 post and see these pretty ducks at work. While you are there, you’ll see a pelican, an egret and another duck or two.

Then if you like those ducks, you can see a bunch more of them on the January 15 Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind



Flight of the Bull Dogs

RV aircraft of the Bull Dog filght fly by

The Bull Dogs, in tight formation do a roaring high-speed fly-by much to the delight of the Grider Field air show spectators.

Curtis Wright B-14

See more of the air show including this fully operational 1932 Curtis Wright B14 on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dotd-com.

The Bull Dogs, a precision flying group led by Gerald Lloyd of Dumas, Arkansas, headlined a recent air show on Grider Field at the Pine Bluff Regional Airport. In fine southern and LA tradition, the show included a BBQ Chicken dinner prepared by Tyson Foods. Sales of the meals benefited the new and developing Grider Field Museum, a entity which will feature aviation memorabilia, in particular, the history of Grider Field, a major pilot basic training facility in World War II.

Speaking of airplanes, be sure and check out the pristine Curtis-Wright B-14 also at the air show. See it on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

The Bull Dogs fly RV kit aircraft and for the most part, participating pilots have built their own aircraft. Once they are built, and yearly, they are subject to the same FAA scrutiny as commercially manufactured planes.

The Bull Dogs in formation

The Bull Dogs fly by in one of their precision formations. The pilots are all volunteers and have other day-jobs or economic pursuits. They put in long hours of practice for the love of aviation and flying. Most of them have thousands of flying hours.

Bull Dog airplane team in formation

The Bull Dogs make a second fly-by in another permutation of the first formation.

Two Bull Dog pilots flying over under

Two of the Bull Dogs do an over-under fly by. The dude on the bottom has to remember his stick directions are reversed. So far, so good.

Two Bull Dog Flight aircraft

Our over-under guys take an aerial bow.

RV aircraft cockpit

Size does not matter in the seriousness of aircraft. RV airplanes though small in size are serious airplanes as one can easily judge by glancing at the cockpit.

Aerobatics follow

The following pictures are of aerobatics in the show. Being poorly qualified to comment on the goings-on, we will let the pictures speak for themselves. However, I suppose it is safe to say that this is not the dude’s first rodeo.








Thanks for looking.

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind








Seeing sunflowers again


Click on the sunflower and bees to see our original June, 2014 post. You’re gonna like it.

In June of 2014, while wandering down a gravel road in Desha County, Arkansas, I stumbled across the remnants of what I presume was a former Sunflower crop.

There were several nice pods of plants along the road and I’m guessing they were “volunteer” plants that sprang up from random seeds after a former harvest.

I grabbed some half-way decent shots of the sunflowers and some rouge corn, that like myself, towered over my peers during youth. Click here to see  these in our original June, 2014 post. As I recall, most folks liked the pix, so you will too.


Click the old farmhouse for more and bigger views.

At the civilized end of the road, near Pickens, Arkansas, I saw a reasonably well preserved, tar-paper covered, dirt-under-the-fingernails,. former farm residence standing tall.

It had the requisite corrugated metal, aka “roof’n arn,” roof and a nice front porch. It was shootable and easily accessed, so I did – and posted the pictures on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. There are several views of the old structure there for your viewing information and pleasure.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Something smells fishy here

Father and son fishing in the 2016 Felsenthal Breamfest tournament

The father flicks a fresh cricket toward an unsuspecting bream as his son watches his bobber looking for the telltale signs of ‘bite’ as they fish in the 2016 Felsenthal Breamfest fishing tournament.

One of the rites of spring in LA is bream fishing, aka perch in some parts of the county, but down here it’s mostly bream. You’ll also hear “bluegill,” “red-ear,” and from some Alabama transplants, “shell-crackers.” Whatever the moniker, the scrappy little critter thwacks out one of the best fight-per-ounce ratios in all of fishing. If one gets up close to a pound, it’s close to a record. They also come out of the frying pan with a fine taste.

Angler fishing in the 20167 Felsenthal Bream Tournament

An angler and competitor in the 2016 Felsenthal Breamfest tournament is looking for just the right place to ‘put it on the plate’ for a his next, or perhaps first catch.

Link to corndancer dot com

Click the picture to see more breamfest pix at Corndancer dot com

The tiny town of Felsenthal, Arkansas, waaaay down in LA, not far from the Lousiana line is the site of the Felsenthal Breamfest, perhaps the only fishing tournament which targets the feisty little fish. See more of this tournament on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com, our sister web publication.

They love the protection of underwater “structure” so it is necessary to place one’s boat in and among the trees, stumps and weeds that make up the aquatic boondocks of a given body or water when seeking bream. As a result the catches of limbs, twigs, leaves and other peoples lines comes close to equaling the catch of fish. #%*!*#!

Angler fishing in brush in the Felsenthal Breamfest fishing tournament

The high water following a string of spring storms put boats in the upper level of shrubs which would under normal circumstances be high and dry.

Festivities unofficially start on a Friday afternoon and by launch time the next morning, the population of Felsenthal will have tripled. There’s a government campground nearby which accounts for most of the overflow. Launch time is at daylight or so and by noon, it’s all over but the weigh-in. By 1:00 p.m., the catch is headed for grease and happy eaters — because in addition to their scrappiness, they have a great taste. As the good ol’ boys say,  “Thim li’l boogers eat good!”

Woman landing a fish

This woman appears to be landing more fish than her husband, but the Alabama couple seems to be happy with fish in the boat with no concerns about score-keeping.

Anglers fishing in bream tournament

If there is ever an Olympic event for synchronized bream fishing, these guys would be a shoo-in.

Anglers at the 2016 Felsenthal Breamfest fishing tournament.

This couple is ‘sho-nuff’ fishing in the sticks. Notice the direction of the boat, they’re leaving the sticks.

Angler weighing in at the 2016 Felsenthal Breamfest.

A tournament competitor prepares to have his catch weighed. Though he was out of the money, he is happy because supper is going to be a ‘nice mess of bream’ with onions, slaw, hushpuppies, sweet tea — and if fortune smiles, peach cobbler for dessert.

There you have it. You’ve made a swing through a bream fishing tournament without burning a drop of gas. Of course, my pickup burned about a tank-an-a-half to get the shots. Such is the price of a higher calling to serve my fellow citizens of Mother Earth.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


Just in case you want to take closer look at Felsenthal, here it is:



New looks and second looks

53 Chevy fire truck converted to mobile BBQ pit

Highway 63, nee Highway 15, as it snakes southward in Bradley County, Arkansas, back in the day, went through downtown Warren right by the fire station. Not having been that route lately since there is now a by-pass, I missed the old ’53 Chevy fire truck turned mobile BBQ pit at the Warren Fire station which I caught on this trip. See another view of the truck on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

Old fire truck at Warren Arkansas

Click on the fire truck to see another view at Corndancer dot-com,

After completing the shoot of the fishing tournament of the Felsenthal Breamfest at Felsenthal, Arkansas I decided to take the roads not previously traveled where possible. In so doing, I happened across a location stored for shooting in the back corners of my gray-matter memory bank and found a couple of new ones. I looked at a couple of familiar but “under-shot” barns, the old fire truck and a nubbin of a tree delivering an almost spiritual message, some of which you will see here and the rest you can see on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

old pastime theater at Warren AR

While in Warren, I took the opportunity to shoot the old Pastime Theater building. Though the building and marquee have seen better days, they are still a valuable reminder of how we lived in past years. The marquee is a fine example of old theater art and conjures up memories of Saturday serials, Coke bottle days and steaming popcorn.

father and on fishing

While shooting the Felsenthal Breamfest, I grabbed this long lens shot of a father and son concentrating on the serious business of putting fish in the live well.

Ferns growing in oak tree

While shooting an old red barn (see it at Corndancer dot-com), I saw these ferns doing their best to make a home in the gnarly bark of a big oak tree. They are growing against the odds.

It is refreshing to be able to discover new scenes and looks from old territory. These discoveries are not on the scale of radium and a new planet, but at this level, they are satisfying. All is takes is a bit of misdirection.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind