Archive for August, 2010

Harvest — Already?

This seems unbelievable, but it’s true:  The harvest has begun.  I drove by a field east of Ankeny today and combines were picking the corn.  In all the years I have lived in Iowa, this is the earliest I have ever seen a harvest — it’s still August, for heaven’s sake.  The field I saw didn’t appear to be one that was damaged by water.

It was one of the earliest planting seasons ever, so I guess it makes sense the corn would be done early too.  Plus, after record rains all summer, the past couple weeks have been dry.  I’m sure farmers are anxious to get the corn picked in case the rains return.

Normally, the harvest begins in mid September or so and continues throughout October.

This picture was taken on August 28, 2010.

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State Fair

I was out at the Iowa State Fair last week.  Coincidentally, the day that I went was designated as “Iowa Corn Day.”  (Actually, I always thought that EVERY day at the fair was corn day.)  Had I known there were special corn things going on, I would have taken my camera — these are pictures from my not-so-great cell phone.  There were many corn exhibits, corn contests (such as guessing which consumer products contained the most corn), ethanol displays, and more.  And of course in the food exhibit hall, there were a number of cookies, cakes and other things that were made to look like corn.  It made me so hungry I had to eat a few corn dogs while there.

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Fire Up

As the corn approaches maturity, it begins turning brown from the ground up.  I don’t know the official name of this, but I’ve always called it “firing.”  It’s one of the first visible signs that the growing season is coming to an end.

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Dog Days

The corn grows so fast in May…June…July.  Each time you look across a field, it’s different from the time before.

And then there’s August.  While changes are still taking place inside the husk as the grain matures, from the outside, the corn doesn’t seem much different.  August 23 looks just like August 13, which looks just like August 3.  Sure, the stalks might slowly turn brown near the ground, and the tassels perhaps take on a slightly darker gold color, but these are subtle nuances unlike the dramatic changes of the previous months.

The sun shines a little further south in the sky.  Shadows grow longer.  Darkness sets in earlier each night, and daylight arrives about 3 minutes later each morning.  Summer winds that used to make tassels dance in the breeze are calmer now.  The air is still thick with humidity, but there’s are different sounds wafting through it….instead of blackbirds, it’s locusts and crickets.

There’s just a distinct feeling of late summer that’s hard to describe, but live here long enough and you’ll notice it — that is if you are attune to your surroundings.

These, truly, are Dog Days.

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From my Daughters, With Love

This picture hangs in the state capitol in Des Moines.

My daughters, ages 12 and 16, make a lot of good-natured (I think it’s good natured…) fun of my love of corn.  They’re great kids, but they roll their eyes whenever I grab the camera and head out for some pictures, or when I share my latest corn fact or news.

In short, they hate this stuff.  Or so they say.

That makes it all the more special when they, of their own accord, give me something corn related.  My younger daughter visited the Iowa state capitol this afternoon, and snapped the above picture with her cell phone.  I don’t know anything about the painting, just that it’s a pile of corn.  I love it.

My older daughter was traveling through central New York state earlier this summer, and took the picture below out the window along Interstate 90.  She swears it’s a picture of corn, although it’s hard to tell if you ask me.  But it’s the thought that counts!  I call this one NYC (New York Corn).

Supposedly this is corn in New York...

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Greetings from Iowa

This is for my brother-in-law, Pat, who is visiting from Seattle this week.  He mentioned that his co-workers back home said no one comes to Iowa for a vacation.   Ah, but they do.

California or Florida it isn’t, but here are some stats from Iowa office of tourism:  Tourism here results in $6.4 billion in spending, brings in $300+ million in sales tax, and provides jobs for 64,000 people.  163,000 people requested tourist information last year, with 8 percent of those requests coming from Illinois (which by the way is the #2 corn producing state in the nation).  I guess when those people in Chicago need to get away for a weekend, they come to where the corn is beautiful!

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Crop Dusting

There’s a yellow crop dusting plane that flies around here a lot, I hear it out buzzing fields several mornings a week.  I didn’t think they dusted cornfields that much anymore, especially now that the corn is 8-10 feet tall.  It seems like much of the spray would dissipate before it settles into the crop.  I have no idea what they spray for.

If you look closely you can see power lines; look how close the plane seems to fly to them.

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