Spring Snow Storm

Our biggest snow event of this winter arrived today — days after the calendar informed us that we had officially entered spring.  The weather service provided ample warning so we are well stocked and have no need to venture out on the as-yet-unplowed roads.  So I’m baking apple pies, cleaning house, watching basketball and taking photographs.  One could call this a perfect day.  The first two pictures below show a blue jay and a cardinal, each with a snow mustache.  The third shows a line of six birds waiting their turn at the feeder.  The other pictures show the snow.

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This entry was posted on March 24, 2018.

Loving Trees

Some people are dog lovers, some people are tree lovers. (Yes, you can be both a dog and tree lover, and a lover of lots of other things, too.) This is for the tree lovers, or for the potential, soon-to-be, tree lovers. I am a tree lover, possibly to an extreme. Gary and I bought a piece of property just because, and only because, it contained a majestic old cottonwood tree that we wanted to save.

Trees are beautiful and functional. Think of the splendor of Christmas trees in winter, the fragrant blossoms of apple trees in spring, the multitude of greens in leaves of summer, and the brilliance of fiery maple trees in fall. Trees are seasonal, which in and of itself makes them special. Then add in the functionality of trees, whether it be for providing shade, or for building houses, furniture, and camp fires. Trees really are one on God’s special miracles. I am sure you have a favorite tree, just for the loveliness of it.

One of our national parks is devoted to trees, so as tree lovers, Gary and I made a pilgrimage there. The feeling one gets in Sequoia National Park is that of supreme comfort – as though the trees in the park are wrapping their limbs around you and holding you tight. The park gives you an automatic feel-good experience. Below we share a few pictures from our journey.

The General Sherman Tree – the biggest tree on the planet:

Snow Hiking, Day 1:

Snow Hiking, Day 2:

This entry was posted on March 20, 2018.

Rurality

Rurality represents a condition associated with residence in a rural area. Because rural in contrast to urban is associated with the attributes of a place, agricultural economists measure relative rurality using four dimensions: population, population density, extent of urbanized area, and distance to the nearest metro area.[1] These dimensions help identify what a rural place is, but do not determine whether rurality is beneficial or detrimental in terms of quality of life, and what the real differences are in lifestyle between rurality and urbanity. Are rurality and urbanity characterized by different values or culture?

As a first step toward answering these questions, we turn to sociologists. Jollivet and Mendras noted that the structuring of rural society is different from urban society in that rural communities are characterized by mutual acquaintance and interdependence between individuals.[2] Rural life has allegedly changed over time given greater diversity of occupation and greater contact with urban environs through mobility and media. Yet has rural life changed that much?

I notice in Franklin County, where I live, that people take the time (make the time) to engage in casual conversation when they meet. People do not simply nod or acknowledge one another with a quick hello. Rather people stop to talk, at least for a few minutes. Frequently the talk is about the weather. Speaking briefly about the weather, whether it is good or bad, no matter the season, is almost obligatory, even in encounters with strangers.

In a city, this type of small talk occurs much less often. Does friendly conversation occur more frequently in rural settings because individuals are more likely to know the other people they encounter when doing routine errands, such as grocery shopping or dropping kids off at school? Do discussions of the weather arise in part from more time spent outside and in contact with land? Whatever the causes, the differences are apparent. We start this series of blog posts (and end this initial offering) with the following question: is urban anonymity preferable to rural interconnectedness? What are the benefits of one over the other?

[1] Waldorf, B. S., & Kim, A. (2015). Defining and Measuring Rurality in the US: From Typologies to Continuous Indices. Retrieved from sites.nationalacademies.org/cs/groups/dbassesite/documents/webpage/dbasse_168031.pdf

[2] Jollivet, Marcel et Henri Mendras eds. — 1971, Les collectivités rurales françaises. Tome 1 : Étude comparative du changement social. Paris, Armand Colin.

This entry was posted on January 23, 2018.

Corn Harvest

My goodness!  We have been busy with harvest!  On the farm, when it is harvest time, everything else gets put on hold.

This entry was posted on November 3, 2017.

Fall Pictures

The sun came out again after hiding behind clouds and rain for a few weeks so the harvest crew is back to work.  After transplanting hostas, seemed like a good time to take some pictures.

Welcome home!  

Trees beginning to turn

Kitty and Rover

Front Porch

Well House

This entry was posted on October 16, 2017.

Nine Women, One Dress

Nine Women One Dress by Jane L. Rosen was our book club selection for this month and I will recommend it to readers as a light, entertaining, and quick read. Let me simply say that it is more fun than much of what you see on television. The book is certainly more sophisticated than most television comedies. Reading it will get you away from a screen and give you pleasure. My only caveat is that two of the primary characters (two of the nine women) engage in some quite deceitful behavior, and the author neither condemns nor punishes them for that behavior. In fact, the characters are rewarded for their dishonesty. So, since the author of the book has not done so, I must go on record as condemning their behavior. Do you know the two characters to whom I am referring?

This entry was posted on October 11, 2017.

Crowd Murder

It is difficult to comprehend what happened in Las Vegas on Sunday night.  How do we work through this in our own minds?  We might start by defining what happened, but I don’t think the English language has a term that fits.  The closest term that I could find is “mass murder,” but murder has never been executed by a single individual on the scale seen in Las Vegas.  When used previously, mass murder generally referred to smaller number of victims. [i]  Another word offered is “massacre,” but these generally are perpetrated by more than one individual.  The mafia, a gang, or a military unit might commit a massacre.  The word “terrorism” is reserved for actions with a political agenda.

Thus, what happened in Las Vegas was mass carnage on a scale so incommensurate that the label mass murder is inadequate.  What happened was more horrific than mass murder. Maybe we need a new term: “crowd murder.”

How can we process “crowd murder”?  Step one is to grieve for the victims and their families and friends and to offer condolences. We can all pray for the healing of those injured.  Step two is to feel sad and worried that our society can generate the kind of person who can premeditate, deliberately plan, and kill massive numbers of people in a crowd.  We must be very concerned that this kind thinking and such actions are part of our society.  Step three is to figure out what to do about it.  Much needs to be done.  No single answer will suffice.  Inaction is not an option.

How do we get to solutions to such atrocities as crowd murder?  We talk about it.  One question that needs to be answered is how the cycle of criminality from father to son can be broken?  For example, is it possible to provide better community support for the families of incarcerated persons?  Another question that needs to be answered is how can the building of vast arsenals of weapons and ammunition by solitary individuals be prevented?  Another question is how can the messages in the media that cause some people to think that killing is an option be changed?  Related to this is, what role can our educational system play in helping to reduce violence in our society?

This author does not yet know the answers to any questions posed in this essay, but she also cannot remain silent.  She believes we can find answers if we consciously and diligently work together to do so.

 

[i] The Federal Bureau of Investigation has struggled with defining what constitutes mass murder and they determined that four or more murders occurring during the same incident could be deemed “mass murder.” See https://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/serial-murder#two

This entry was posted on October 4, 2017.

Harvest 101 — What Happens During Harvest?

When the soybean crop is mature, as it is today, a combine is used to pick the soybeans from a field.

In this view from inside a combine, one can see the part of the field that has been picked and the part that has not been picked.

The combine fills with soybeans after going from one end of the field to another. When the combine is full, soybeans are unloaded into wagons, or a semi-trucks, waiting in the field.

Several wagons and trucks may wait in a field to be loaded. When all the soybeans are picked from one field, the combines, trucks, and wagons, move to another field.

When each wagon and truck is full, it is driven from a field to a bin site, and soybeans are unloaded into bins, where the soybeans are stored to be sold and delivered at a later date.

The window of opportunity for harvest is short. Harvest cannot begin until the crop is mature, but harvest should be completed before the snow falls. Lots of extra help is required to operate all the equipment and complete harvest quickly. We are very thankful to those who work with us during harvest.

This entry was posted on September 30, 2017.

Sunrise

Dear Reader, I wrote a poem for you. The name of the poem is:

 

Sunrise

Silver rays of early sunshine reflecting off fully ripe golden corn.

Slight, light fog lying over unkempt creek beds.

Pale blue sky, on the horizon almost white blue, and not a single cloud.

With the clearest, crispest air, one can see for miles over the rolling fields.

 

Orange maples and circular grain bins mark homesteads

With barbed wire fence lines as relics of roaming livestock:

A silent symphony played on God’s rich earth

Celebrating Iowa’s abundant harvest.

 

 

This entry was posted on September 29, 2017. 3 Comments

Social Justice and Racial Equality

All citizens of the United States should have equal access to opportunity and justice. This idea is enshrined in a founding document of our country. The Declaration of Independence says:

“… all men are created equal… they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights… among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”[i]

Our society, however, is marked by significant inequality between African Americans and White Americans.

To give just a few examples, U.S. census data reveal dramatic differences with regard to income:

In 2016, the median income of White households was $99,313, while that of Black households was $16,539 (Table 1).  In 2016, 22% of Blacks lived in poverty, while 11% percent of Whites lived in poverty (Table 3).[ii]

With regard to education, 34% of Whites had completed 4 years of college or more, while 23% of blacks had completed four years of college or more in 2016 (Table A-2).

These census figures demonstrate clearly that equality has not been achieved between White and Black Americans in their “right” to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.[iii]

 

According to the Bible, Proverbs 31: 9

“Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”

 

We have a moral responsibility to recognize (not ignore), express our concern publicly (“open thy mouth”), and work to address the basic needs of the poor.

There is never a wrong place or a wrong time to call for social justice and racial equality.

And this idea is enshrined in the Bill of Rights:

“Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”[iv]

By the way, none of the founding documents of our country (The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, or the Bill of Rights) makes reference to a “flag” or what a citizen’s duty is toward a “flag.”

The flag is an important symbol to many Americans, but the status of the flag is separate from our responsibility to advocate for those less fortunate and for equality of opportunity, and the status of the flag is irrelevant to our right to freedom of speech.

 

References:

[i] https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript

[ii] https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2017/demo/income-poverty/p60-259.html

[iii] https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2016/demo/education-attainment/cps-detailed-tables.html

[iv] https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/bill-of-rights-transcript

This entry was posted on September 28, 2017. 8 Comments