Friday, July 9

4th of july, 2010

it's very green in iowa. lots of moisture, and very green. my dad was able to get his hay raked and round-baled on saturday before it came in and rained again sunday, but the ruts in the hayfield sure aren't pretty. this photo is looking north from my parents' farmyard.

there are a lot of old mercedes sitting around the place, and this is the one my family's had forever, she's known as sadie, and my dad let me drive her around a bit while i was home.

this is my recently-purchased mercedes, still in the shop where my dad, scott and i worked on the few rust spots. if you rub them off, spray them with rust inhibitor, then paint them again they take a whole lot longer to get worse, and it's one of my dad's favorite things to do. in this photo scott was having disagreements with lucy as to how long she was going to stay sitting there.

saturday morning scott and i woke up and headed over to one of the hog sites. it had recently been washed, and new pigs were coming in a few days, so we put it together, which includes tipping the feeders back and putting the pins back in the gates to hold them, lowering the brooder heaters, lowering the waters and putting the mats down. my dad hires someone to come in and wash. it's a least-favored job around the farm.

the baby pigs need to be kept at a temperature of 93 degrees when they first arrive, so even though it's summertime they need the extra heat. the trucks came from kansas to unload on tuesday, and i was sad that we missed it and scott didn't get to see the little ones. they're pretty cute when they first arrive. the other two hog sits are full of pigs almost ready to load out and head to market. it takes about five months to grow them out from weaning at an age of 21 days to market weight of around 240 pounds.

oh yeah, and scott looks green in the picture, because not long after it was taken he was struck with the stomach flu my sister brought to iowa.

here's the barn all put together and ready for the babies. the side curtains are down in this photo to help dry the barn out, but usually they're closed, creating what's known as tunnel ventilation. the end of the barn behind the camera also has curtains that raise and lower, according to the barn's inside temperature, and the wall of fans at the other end turns on and off according to temperature. the whole system is highly computerized, and should any part of it fail the control panel calls my dad's phone first to let him know he needs to go check on the pigs. in the wintertime especially, if some part of the ventilation fails to come on, the pigs will overheat and die, or suffocate, neither of which is a pretty thing. thankfully my family has never had that happen.

saturday evening, after a long nap, scott was feeling better so he and i headed to ames and stopped by campus for a quick tour. this is the iconic clock tower, known as the campanile, that guards central campus.

catt hall lies across central campus to the north of the campanile.

curtiss hall is an ag building, on the east end of central campus, and a building in which i had many classes. on the west end of campus is bearshear, which looks similar to curtiss, but i didn't get a photo from where we were standing, it was behind the many trees.

we'd already gone to the mall to get some proper iowa state attire for scott to bring back, and then we went to a favorite restaurant in town, hickory park.

then, after hickory park, we went just up the street and got chocolate shakes from b-bop's, the burger drive-in, and headed home. it was a short and sweet trip to ames, although i never even got to see cafe diem, my favorite coffee shop from college times. i usually go there with my laptop to do some newspaper work when i'm in iowa.

sunday morning my whole family as well as some extended family and cousins went to my parents' church, then enjoyed delicious pork chops for lunch, as well as all the trimmings, and the good iowa brats for dinner. this is my brother showing them off, before placing them on my dad's new grill. it's pretty fancy, but makes events like this really easy. all 30 pork chops can be grilled at once, with lots of room to spare.

dual gas tanks, and both sides open for easy access. the shelf panels are taken off for going down the road.

this is the east end of my parents' house, and the main entrance. the first part houses the mudroom and my mom's catering kitchen. the little yard is picket-fenced off to keep the dog out of the nice flowers.

looking north down the driveway. the hay field's been baled and the bales already picked up. note standing water in the low spot. that's my parents' farm dog, leisel.

scott and i drove my brother's 1970 buick convertible in monday morning's parade.

my brother had a dozen cars lined out for the parade, and many of his friends drove and rode the others, including the collection of several international scouts. my brother drove this car that was in front of us. thankfully it was cloudy, because it was so humid it would have been really hot with a sunny morning.

monday was the july 4th celebration in williams, which includes the annual cakewalk monopolized by hemkens so we're sure someone will get a cake. and we all stayed in there and went twice in a row. it's not rigged. no. 

cousins, aunts and uncles all join in the force.

my cousin amy won the first time, and my mom won the second.

that afternoon we stopped by to take some hog barn pictures with the pigs in the barns for scott. these pigs are several weeks from loading out.

each barn has two feed bins connected to feedlines that bring the feed into the barns' feeders on an automatic, as-needed basis. the 'boots' on the bins are clear so you can tell when the bin's empty, or when you need to pound on the 'cone' to shake more feed down to the auger, which happens often on hot, humid summer days. you can also tell when the bin's empty or hung up by the way the auger sounds.

each of our hog sites has its own incinerator for the deads. notice the tall iowa corn! each of the hog barn sites sits in an isolated corner of a field, as they have to be separated from each other a certain distance to control air-borne or bird-carried diseases. only a certain number of pigs is allowed on each site.

after the pig pictures we went over to the family's ruby farm, where we ate inside the new shed because of rain clouds outside. it was pretty wet inside the shed, too, because of the previous day's rain blowing in.

the walkway made from the shed's extra lumber. soon the yard will have a proper gravel driveway to avoid such troubles, it's just all so recent it hadn't happened yet.

my dad talking to other area farmers in the cold-storage area of the new building.

following dinner we all migrated to the north end of the farm yard to watch the fireworks, which are set off right across the road and over our farm, so the display is practically in our laps. sometimes we even get ashes and sparks falling.

the next morning scott and i packed up in the new silver car and headed out on our trip back to wyoming. this is the two of us, with my parents that morning.

we stopped by my friend holly's on the way out of the state to admire her house improvements, and also saw other common iowa scenery, like corn fields and this ethanol plant.

i'm glad scott was practicing driving with his eyes closed.

that hill in the distance just so happens to be the one i wrecked my pickup on a year and a half ago....

there's been a lot of rain in iowa this season, and this is what happens to the fields when it rains a lot.

lucy snoozin in the backseat.

she got very bored by the time we got home to wyoming. :-) on the way back scott and i stopped at the tack shop in valentine, neb. and again in chadron for dinner, arriving back in casper at about 10 p.m.

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