Missouri Roadtrip—the Missouri River Bottom


My mother grew up in Fortesque, Missouri, a once thriving town which now contains 32 inhabitants. Mom’s dad owned a farm right on the Missouri River near the Rulo, Nebraska bridge. Then eventually, it was my grandmother’s and then belonged to Mom and her two siblings. We went to visit and found the river really high.

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For years we crossed the Rulo, Nebraska, bridge and came to a restaurant at this site to eat catfish, carp, and all the trimmings.  A few years ago a really large flood destroyed it. This is the new building but obviously it is closed because of high water.

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Back on the Missouri side looking across the soybean fields.  Strange sight to see irrigation proceeding at the same time the river is high.  The Corp of Engineers is releasing  water upstream where the river is really high. The bluffs in the distance are across the river in Kansas.

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Several times in my life I have seen water at least 15 feet deep from bluff to bluff.  A few years back I knew people who lived inside a big levee and for nearly three months had to go to and from their house in a boat.  Needless to say, that year no one raised a crop of anything.

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Without levees, the river would be over all the fields now.

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I walked down the main levee and took this photo under the Rulo, Nebraska, bridge.

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While in the river bottom we decided to take the loop drive through the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge.  The last time I was here five years ago, there was more water and fewer lilies.  The smell of their blooms permeated the air.

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Apparently, this is bull frog heaven because they were certainly actively croaking. In October and November approximately 400,000 geese and ducks migrate through here.

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At the north end of the drive through the refugee this beautiful sight occurs.

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The tunnel between the trees continues for several miles.

Later when we drove back to St. Joseph, we drove down to the nature center and the river’s edge there.

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No swimming in the Missouri River.  They warn people every year, but alas, people still try and drown.  The river moves fast and the undertow will pull even strong swimmers under.

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I was not happy out here.  Ema, my daughter, insisted.  If a person fell in, there is no hope.  She, however, keep bouncing around and playing on it.

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Even though I grew up in this area, I am always amazed at just how green and wet it is there even when they have a dry spell like now.  Plus the humidity–not like here in the Panhandle of Texas–it does not cool off that much at night in Missouri.

 

 

 

 

Argentinian Adventure–The Road to Wine Country


Late on a Monday morning, Gaston’s parents and I headed toward Cafayate, a relatively small town at the edge of the sierra which grows some of the best wine grapes in the world.  It is a long drive through incredibly varied landscapes.

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One of the first towns we drive through is Jesus Maria.  As in many Argentianian cities, trees line many streets.  Here acequias provide water for the trees.

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Except where cleared for farming–giant soybean and corn fields, much of the land through which we drove looks like this.

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Taken as we sped along, this photo show soybeans in the distance.  Since it seemed relatively dry here, I asked if they were irrigated.  Gaston’s father told me no, that they had developed a type of soybeans that require much less water.

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When I first saw this out my window, I thought maybe water, but no, this was the beginning of miles and miles of salt.

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Another photo taken looking through my window.

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And then we speed into the cloud forest. I was astonished my whole time here.  I had to idea there was such a thing in Argentina.

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We climbed higher and higher and stopped at a visitor’s area where displays explained the flora and fauna which live here.

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This area is a subtropical jungle.

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Often we drove through clouds or along the side of rushing mountain rivers. And then as suddenly as we arrived in these mountains, we were on the other side where it was dry.  The selva–jungle–stopped almost as suddenly as it began.  One side of the mountains lush and green with ocelots, all sorts of other wildlife, and on the other semi-arid country, equally beautiful but so astonishingly different only a few miles away.

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Soybeans


 

SOYBEAN CHECKOFF

If you grow soybeans, there is this program–not sure what else to call it–named the Soybean Checkoff.  Basically, when you sell soybeans, you get docked a few cents per amount sold to advertise, etc. soybeans.  I received my latest issue of the Lonestar Soybeans recently.  For those of you reading from afar, Lonestar refers to Texas.  It is the Lonestar state and our flag has one lone star on it.  Back to soybeans.  First, there is a report on soybean production issues.  Research is to the point in terms of soybean physiology that they are about to zero in on optimal planting time, conditions, latitude, etc.  Here in this part of Texas, generally no one grows soybeans.  We grow irrigated corn and wheat, milo, sorghum, and crops that do not require as much water as soybeans.

EXPORTS AND ETHANOL

I grew up on a farm where we raised both soybeans and corn–I still do.  We raised some wheat also; tried milo, but it was too wet in Missouri.  Never thought a lot about where my soybeans went after I sold them so I learned something new today.  Compared to all other crops, we export more soybeans than anything else–to the tune of 20 billion dollars a year.  We also export a lot of wheat–about the same as soybeans, but soybeans trump wheat if you include soybean meal and oil.  Meanwhile corn exports have dropped steadily since 2007 or so.  Why?  Ethanol.

GMO

This report does not tell the reader some other notable facts.  While almost all corn grown commercially in the United States is GMO, such is not the case for soybeans.  The big market for soybeans is Asia and at least China will pay more for non-GMO soybeans.  60 per cent of all soybean exports go to China.  For those of you out there who are adamant about GMO, perhaps the solution is demand for non-GMO.  Currently, the only way I know to get non-GMO corn is to find a company that sells heirloom seeds and plant and harvest the corn yourself or find a small farmer who does this.