June 14, 2007


Trips to the countryside rate in my top ten of favorite things to do. One of the most beautiful places to travel is the Flint Hills and surrounding areas in Kansas. http://www.kansasflinthills.com/

The farmers in the area plant a variety of crops including corn, wheat, soybeans and milo in large tracts. When you look to the horizon the fields look like a patchwork quilt in different shades of green or gold depending on the time of year. I am guilty of taking produce for granted at the local markets and forget about the farmer's that make the convenience of shopping possible.

My favorite crop is wheat because if looks loke waves in a green or gold ocean as the breezes blow across the plains. When the wheat is dry and ready for harvest it makes the most wonderful rustling sound. At Kansas University, the Jayhawk fans "wave the wheat" after every victory. I didn't really comprehend the symbolism of this ritual until I saw firsthand the wheat waving in the fields. It is symbolic of the tradition of the University and their roots in farming and agriculture.

Kansas Wheat Artists from the area create some wonderful handcrafted items that would make the perfect gift or make a nice addition to your Fall Decor. Remember to support your local famers by purchasing local. http://www.kswheat.com/

Don't you love the shades of blue in this photo? This is the old Ford Tractor that my husband, Dan's grandfather used to plant his fields. It is ridiculously small by todays standards and what takes a day to plant with modern equipment used to take days and sometimes weeks with this little blue tractor. It has long since been retired to rest by the grain silo.

My favorite accessory is my camera! This shot was taken in the mirror of the little Ford tractor. I scrambled out of there shortly after this shot was snapped because "something" was making loud unhappy noises behind me by the silo. I once looked into the grain silo hatch out of curiousity and when I looked up a possum was hanging onto the ladder rails immediately above my head. I have stayed clear of the silo since! So, I know it wasn't a possum making that noise, but whatever it was didn't sound happy so I made a quick retreat back to the house. Dan thought this was pretty funny and laughed at me as I kept saying did you hear that?!

The families that live in the Marshall County area have been farming their land for generations. It's a hard life, but they are proud of farming and have a deep love of the land and the life they lead. Their lives seems to revolve around the land and the harvest. Wherever you go, the local grocery, gas station, or the local diner, you catch bits and pieces of conversations regarding this year's crops, the amount of rainfall, prices per bushel and upcoming harvest, etc.

The scorn of every farmer is the thistle which is considered a noxious weed and illegal to grow in agricultural areas in Kansas. I love them much to my husband's dismay. When he was a boy and visiting his grandparent's he used to go out into the fields with a corn knife and cut out the thistles by hand. Not one of his favorite memories of time spent with his grandparents due to the thorns and spines on the plant. So, he doesn't share my fascination. I am drawn to their shape, color, artichoke form and think they are beautiful.

This is the quaint little farm house where we stay while visiting the farm. The family put a new roof on the farm house last year. Red was the obvious choice as Dan's Grandfather always painted his wood shake shingles a cheery red each year.

Can you see the little bunnies in this nest we found while clearing the weeds around the lilac bushes. There were at least five little bunnies tucked into this nest for the evening.

As the sun goes down, I can't resist playing with the shadows against the farm house. Dan is always amused by my antics and will often join in the fun.

During this visit to the farm a small plane did a low fly over - twice. A mockingbird serenaded us from the highest treetop for hours. When the serenade was over a quail took his cue and began his "Bob White" song as we sipped wine and watched the blaze of orange as the sun sank below the horizon.

The various Pishnys visit the farm as often as they can and make an effort to do a repair or improvement during their stay. Sometimes its a new window installation, a basement repair, roof repairs, new blinds, cushions for the rockers, etc. A log is kept of the visit letting the next group know where the project was left or what was completed. Sometimes, there are notes like "everything was in good shape" or "no evidence of snakes" or the status of crops that were planted in the fields that year.

For those of you who haven't experienced the treasures of the Midwest. I encourage you to take a roadtrip thru Kansas. It is a remarkably beautiful state. Be sure to drive thru Marshall County and experience firsthand the "waving of the wheat". You will never forget the sight and sound of the rolling waves of wheat across the vast fields.

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