Friday, August 30, 2013

Still Walking on Purington Bricks

Around the Midwest, it is possible to spot remnant brick pavement like this sidewalk located at Wilton, Iowa's train depot. Purington Brick (sometimes the word Pavers is used) was produced in nearby at East Galesburg, Illinois through 1949. Wilton's small train station, now a museum was built in 1898 and this brick walkway is presumably from that era - making the red colored rectangles a staggering 115 years old! Purington bricks are cherished for their aged look and durability. These reclaimed bricks are often used for restoration projects and new construction. Perhaps Wilton's bricks will look this good for another 115 years.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rite of Passage in the Corn Belt

Everyone in Iowa should know what this vehicle does. It is a detasseling carrier where people (usually young teenagers) work for a few weeks in the summer removing tassels of certain rows of corn plants in order to produce seed corn. Crews generally work for contractors or directly for seed companies like Pioneer and Syngenta.

Some people call detasseling a rite of passage for young teens living in the corn belt. Detasseling provides work for teens, usually with their friends where they can earn a good wage for just a few weeks worth of effort. Note the taller corn row with tassels close to the carrier. That row will be the pollen source for the chopped and detassled smaller plants located in the foreground. Looks odd but it works out here in corn country.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Reuse of Building Material

This collection of bricks stand stacked and sorted by color. They await repurposing by a local business owner on her property. No extra charge for old-time moss. But beware. Organic growth on porous material degrade surface integrity by wearing down the material's inherent strength.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ford Tractor Sign Helps Define Anamosa's Main Street

What visual tour of downtown Anamosa, Iowa would be complete without the sighting of this iconic sign with its busted neon tubes and rust stains? Last weekend I photographed this historic red Ford Tractor sign which hangs over Main Street, something I wanted to do for some time.

Ford sold its Tractor division 20 years ago yet this sign remains in place and has become an important visual element of Anamosa. Who knows when the red post will be sold and removed from its longtime perch? I figured it is best to get a record of how this display looked for many years in its original element before any change of ownership (and removal) or severe weather elements damage the relic of the past.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Iowa's Giant Hereford From Another Era

Travel west of Cedar Rapids, Iowa these days and you will see (actually can't miss) a giant hereford. Situated along Highway 30 (the old Lincoln Highway) near Keystone, Iowa is this seasonal advertising piece positioned in a former bean field. My resident farmer's daughter says the mobile hereford must be old since the modern, real life body style is quite different from the roadside eye stopper.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Eastern Iowa Corn Crop Growing Status

Earlier this year (May 2013) the Iowa corn crop struggled in many places due to wet and cold conditions. We experienced snow the first week of May (which is not typical) but by the end of the month we received non-stop buckets of rain. The top portion of photos are from May 26 and shows young corn emerging in wet conditions. The bottom row is from last week of that same location. I tried to match the tree line in both photos for comparison. Many farmers say everything looks good and have turned their attention to potential early frost concerns for September.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Trout Will Show the Way

Weather vanes are available in many designs. Around the farm fields of eastern Iowa you can generally see vanes with farm motifs - farm animals, machinery and plain pointed arrows. But at the Manchester Trout Hatchery a fish theme vane is present on the DNR workshop building. The hatchery is in a micro-environment of steep hills, a spring fed stream and shade trees - about the farthest scene one would conjure for a farming state.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Summer Visit to Manchester's Trout Hatchery

My third visit to the Manchester Trout Hatchery located just southeast of Manchester, Iowa occurred in early August. Previously, snow has been on the ground during the other trips. What a difference warmer months make. The facility is open to tour several concrete pools that hold growing trout segregated by species or size.

A big draw for kids of all ages is to feed the fish by throwing them tiny pellet sized trout food, probably something like Purina Trout-Chow. Hover above the long pools, extend your arm and drop the food into the water. Trout race to find the pellet feast. Even without food, the act of pretending to have some food for the fish, makes them ripple the water's surface in anticipation.

Most trout are eventually released into streams in throughout NE Iowa like this one which runs through the hatchery property.

Seems strange but anglers can try their luck catching trout that probably originated feet from this stream. There is a 14 inch minimum length limit in addition to having a fishing license and a trout stamp to catch these beauties.