Harvesting wheat and wind
Okay, one more. I’ve caught combine action for a few days now, but couldn’t pass up this one. I was driving east out of Wilton when I spotted this combine working next to the wind farm. The juxtaposition of the combine and the wind turbine tell a big part of North Dakota’s story, harvesting wheat and wind for people across the Midwest, even the world.
Again, as you may notice, it’s the Golden Hour of sunset and the skies and air have that reddish glow that I’ve mentioned the last couple of days.
I think this image would make a good postcard, or a good image to represent North Dakota.
Combine in the dust
The sun is about to go down, it’s just at the top of the image and in the right place to create a ghost-like effect on the working combine. Harvest dust throws a red cast on the horizon this time of year and creates red sunsets, too.
The red glow of the golden hour
If you back off from the work, you’ll find a more realistic view of the working combine, but again, notice the reddish cast to the image. It’s called “The Golden Hour” but it’s more copper than gold to me, or perhaps more “peach.”
Harvest provides opportunity for dramatic coloring of photos, and a level of high expectancy in town. Out in the field it also provides a meal or two for scavenging cats looking for a field mouse. Overhead, hawks circle looking for the same meal, and yet this season, I hope to photography one or two of the birds.
a load of gold
There on the truck is what will be eaten in not very long. You might even be the one to eat it. Or it might go to a relief effort in South America, Africa or elsewhere. This farmer has just unloaded a hopper of grain in to his truck. Before he can unload more, someone will have to take that truck in to unload, maybe at his farm or in town at the grain elevator. He probably won’t stop combining though, and will keep adding the nation’s stores of grain.
Lined up at Wilton Grain Elevator
It’s that time of year when farmers haul their grain to market. But unlike in years past when a tractor and flair-box wagon hauled the grain, farmers today use semi-trucks to get their crop to town.
Unrolling the tarp
Drivers pull their trucks up under the sampling auger. They unroll the covering tarp so several samples can be taken. From that, the grain is evaluated and given a grade to determine the purchase price. Then the pull in to the line to wait their turn to dump the grain from the belly of the trailer in to the elevator hopper where it is stored until sent to a mill elsewhere in the U.S.
Today, I had to weave my way through the trucks along the road, but I don’t mind. I like the sensation of harvest. The mammoth combines in the field to the large trucks at the elevator it’s a massive job, much different from the days when I grew up on the farm with a tractor pulling the combine and a tractor hauling the wagons to town. It’s one more step in the process of feeding the world, a job that North Dakota farmers do with superior results.
This time of the year my eyes itch and my nose runs. I sneeze uncontrollably, but I don’t mind. It’s an exciting time of the year when the crop comes in.
It’s a dusty job, but someone has to do it.
The dust from the combines in the Northern Plains keeps a kind of rosy haze in the sky and makes for stellar sunsets of which I’ve done an entire album in previous years and have sold several of the prints of those red sunsets over combines
This year, I captured several of the behemoth machines in the fields doing their job collecting the grains we eat in our breads and pastas. This Allis Chalmers Gleaner combine was south of Washburn and easily photographed with bright blue skies, puffy white clouds — and dust. Geez, my nose is running even as I write this.
C da B? Of course you see the bee.
North Dakota leads the nation in sunflower production, up to 1.5 million acres. Working hand in hand with sunflower production is honey production. Again, North Dakota is at the top of that production list, alternating with California. You can see why when you look at the vast resources bees have to make honey. See them hovering over the field?
Even the smaller volunteer sunflowers add to the mix of resources for bees doing the only thing they know to do — make honey.
When I was out and about in McLean County, I was overwhelmed by the sunflower fields, but it wasn’t until I stopped to get out of my truck that I could see there is more to the passing view. The macro zoom lens on my camera came in handy as I looked for something to shoot.
It wasn’t until I got home that I saw the bees even better than I did in real life. The yellow pollen all over this bee tells me exactly what it takes to pollinate the fields AND make honey. What a cooperative effort for both crops, sunflowers and honey.
Which is your pleasure? Are you more inclined to enjoy the products of the field, or of the worker? The sunflower oil and seed, or the honey from the bee?
There's a million of 'em
This time of year, there are millions, billions, trillions or more of blooming sunflowers in the fields of North Dakota. It’s easy to see them all as identical “clones” of each other. But if you look closely, they’re each different.
I suppose if I were in the greeting card business, I would get busy with Photoshop and do something like this with a field of sunflowers:
Hey! Your tail light is broken!
A late-afternoon drive out of town provides a variety of welcoming opportunities that just kept getting better. On this drive, as I was leaving town, I was the welcome wagon for this mini-chopper coming in to town. A rope-start on the engine, a flywheel and belt pulley and a dangling tail light added character to the black flamed paint job on this orange chopper, complete with full size mirrors.
I continued my drive east of Wilton and welcomed a new birth as I headed east — a bale was born.
Yep, I welcomed this baby bale in to the world with um, well, “maternity” photos of the baler giving birth to the round bale.
My trip continued eastward, only to welcome a parade of harvest equipment as it rolled down Highway 36. The combine leading the pack because it travels the slowest, followed by the support crew including the grain wagon.Harvest is a bit slow to start this year because of the late spring and heavy rains that dampened not only the unseeded fields, but then the rains that came right as harvest commenced. So, these farmers are actually some of the first to get rolling in the neighborhood.
And speaking of neighborhood, the neighborhood welcoming committee was on hand when I drove in to Regan. These guys were a friendly bunch and mobbed me with wagging tails and airborne, all four paws in the air, exuberant dancing right on Main Street Regan.
Regan Welcoming Committee
Regan, like many small towns allows the resident’s dogs run “at-large.” I don’t mind. Do you? I suppose if the town is much larger than Regan, population 43, that too many at-large dogs could be a problem. What do you think of letting dogs run loose in town?
North Dakota's rolling prairies
Today’s blog entry has two purposes. One is to once again demonstrate that North Dakota isn’t as flat and feature-less as some believe. It’s not as barren and colorless as some would believe. The green, even in the end of July is omnipresent.
Toward dusk on this July afternoon/evening I headed north of Wilton toward McLean County. Only about 3 miles north of town, the landscape drops down below and a panorama of the green fields and pastures unfolds.
Next to the road, the contrast of two fields, one a small grain field, the other a pasture/hay field demonstrate some of the colors of North Dakota.
I mentioned at the top that there were two purposes to this blog. The second is to set up for your view similar images that I fooled with in a playful artistic moment, using filters, plug-ins and of course trusty reliable Photoshop CS 3, I gave these images a bit of a different look.
Which do you prefer?
Field of endless barley
I asked a friend of mine to pose for me at sunset. She’s from California and hasn’t had that “first hand” experience with North Dakota’s small grain crop. This barley field is one of many acres that makes North Dakota the lead state in the nation for barley production.
Okay, that’s enough hard news. Now for the soft news: The evening colors of the “golden hour” provide the right contrast for the field surrounded by windbreaks or shelterbelts. I love the way the soft heads of the small grain crop feather out the landscape. My model walked through the field with the palms of her hands turned down to feel their light stroke on her flesh.
For a photographer, the Golden Hour provides the relief from the blinding mid-day sun that overexposes photographs. It provides a color and softness that I find inviting.
The wide open vastness of North Dakota’s landscape give a wonderful balance between the isolation and independence of a sole figure against the seemingly endless fields of small grain.
I’m grateful to this model who expressed the childlike wonder of the soft small grains and the vast wide open spaces.