I just returned from a week in Iowa on a photo assignment for Farm Industry News. It was an amazing trip. The sights and sounds of the miles and miles of green fields of corn and soy beans were peaceful and serene. I was in the far west near Le Mars. Out in the deep Iowa farm country, you can stand on a dirt road for 30 minutes and not see a soul. Just the wind through the corn and the songs of the Red-Winged Blackbirds to keep you company. Beautiful.
When I headed out last Monday for Iowa, I took the route of Highway 60 West from Fairbault to Worthington. I decided to mark the first leg of the trip with a self assignment of shooting something of interest every 25 miles. Every time the odometer would close in on the next 25 mile mark, I would sit up and start to scan the farm world around me. I would drive the full mile and then turn around to find my subject within that mile.
I met some very nice folks on a few stops to shoot the farm scenery. One gentlemen farmer, Stan Edwards, stopped by to see what I was doing photographing his land. We had a great conversation about the history of his farm. He was the fourth generation from the late 1880s. His family has been there since his great, great grandfather started it all. I asked Stan what the future of his farm holds for the family. He said he was not sure. In it’s over 100 year history there may not be a family member to turn it over to. His daughter is a lawyer and he does not have any sons. I could discern a small shake in his voice while he talked about what is next for his farms legacy. We exchanged information, shook hands and we both went on our way.
I made my last 25 mile stop at the Heron Lake Bio Energy Ethanol Plant. Walking into their corporate offices, I was greeted with a smile and was directed to Brodie McKeown the plant manager. After explaining what I was doing and giving him my card and several issues of FIN magazine, Brodie said he would be happy to give me a quick tour. So we hopped in his golf cart and off we went toward the plant. They produce 50 million gallons of ethanol and use 18 million bushels of corn annually. Shot N0. 6 is where all the action is. Every three minutes or so, semis of corn pull into the plant to unload. Three shifts, 24/7 all year. Lots O’corn.
Enjoy my little series of the Minnesota farmland. I sure did.