October 7 Cuttin’ corn

Binder down the dusty road

I could smell it when I drove the back roads looking for a photo of the day.  Somewhere some place, someone was cutting corn silage.  It’s an unmistakable sweet, wet/sweet smell.  Growing up in the Tall Corn State of Iowa, I grew up with the smell, knew it well.

Then I saw the silage truck headed back out to the field to get another load.

Dumping silage in to a truck

Silage cutting

There he went, down the road out in to a field where a silage cutter was taking care of the corn field, getting it cut and chopped to feed cattle all winter.  The trucks drove out in to the field to get a load dumped in to the box from the wagon pulled behind the tractor and silage cutter.

There musta been a half-dozen trucks keeping up with the tractor and cutter, hauling to a silage pile about 3 or 4 miles down the road.

I learned this was a neighborhood cutting bee. The owner’s wife was gravely ill and he was spending his time and money on her and her medical treatment.  So, the neighbors got together and  did the farmer’s work for him.

That’s the way it is out here.  We may not agree on everything, and sometimes downright disagree, but doggone it, when someone needs help, we’re there.  That’s what these neighbors did…they were there for the farm family. Not only did they supply material relief and help, their involvement in their neighbor’s plight musta been an encouragement to the farm family.

Would you agree? Sometimes it’s not what you do for someone, but just the fact you did something that really counts?

September 20

Red Tail Hawk

There’s a reason they’re called “Red Tail Hawks.”   See the tail?  And getting a photo of one is quite a challenge for me.  They move fast, they stay away from humans and their movements are unpredictable.  So for me personally, I take it as a challenge to get better at photographing hawks.

Equally challenging are deer.  A few dumb ones are known to stand by the side of the road with that “huh” look on their face. Most of the time you catch glimpses of them on the move.  On this date,  in Burleigh County, I caught two sets of deer moving to new feeding ground. But alas! I got only one set even reasonably clean and in focus.

Autumn in North Dakota abounds with life.  Farmers are harvesting grain and that kicks off the wildlife movement in to the valleys and protected cover.  While I bad-mouth autumn for its identity as a bridge between summer and winter, I do like the colors and the contrasts that present themselves for photography.

August 13 Bee-zee Sunflowers


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?

July 7

Soft green wheat field

North Dakota’s evening beauty is nothing if it is not soft, even after a passing storm.  What starts as a rugged black field sprouts green in the spring and then as the small grains develop their head, the field softens.

Cows graze storm passes

In this case, the soft small grain field is marked by the tire tracks of a sprayer that had gone through the field a few days earlier.  Off in the distance the evening glow of cumulus clouds signify that someone is about to get some rain.

Meanwhile several miles south of the wheat field, cows graze as another storm passes.  The softness of the pastoral hillside and the cotton ball clouds create a sense of peace that is typical of North Dakota: calmness even as the storms pass.  The calm pastoral beauty of North Dakota is best seen in the evening, the “golden hour” when the harsh light of the mid-day sun has passed and now the indirect light of the western setting sun adds contrast to the countryside.

February 16

It used to be "home"

North Dakota is dotted with history, the old days of farming when farming was much more labor intensive and so farms were smaller.  Smaller farms meant more farmers in the great state.  Everywhere you find what once was someone’s home, including this one, not far from Glen Ullin.  In the summer, it is surrounded by sunflowers or small grain crops.  In the winter, it is a snow catcher.

Just a few yards from what some family called home, decades ago is the remnant of what it took to make a life on the prairie — water.  My guess is it was very salty, alkaline water, but it is what gave life to the prairie family.  The water remains, though the family is gone.

Pump and water tank