Tuesday, July 22, 2008


How We Live

I asked Tyler what his favorite thing was about the farm this year. He replied that he liked visiting the wind farm, which we did this past Sunday as our "day of rest" activity.

The turbines are enormous and it's difficult to appreciate their full scale just from these photos; the land itself is so flat and vast that anything tends to get swallowed up by distance. This video of a man jumping off of a blade should give you some sense of the size and height of these behemoths in the plains.

Land out here is not just used for grain and wind, but for oil as well. I like this photo of an oil well, with the wind farms off in the distance.

Our day in the country included a visit to this vista where Tyler snuck up on me and took another of his secret portraits. I think he learned to do this from his father who has the disconcerting ability to capture private and contemplative moments.

We were all hoping to find arrowheads here, but the best we could do were some fossils. The white line you see in this photo is a road stretching all the way to the horizon. When I see a road like this, I just want to drive it.

It became apparent that it might rain back at the bins, and so the men climbed up the ladders to put the lids on the steel storage units.

I did not go all the way to the very top.

Fortunately Tyler took a photo of the view for me.

I've been trying to explain to people what my life is like out here. The environment is so different, that I think some of my city friends can't begin to imagine what I am referring to when I mention the "bunkhouse" or the "quonset." Here, then, is a photo of two of our steel bins (off to the left) and our quonset (off to the right). The latter is a semi-circular storage building which used to house grain and equipment. Now it mostly holds equipment and a small bunkhouse built against a wall.

The inside of the bunkhouse has 3 rooms connected by a hallway. In New York, we would consider this a railroad apartment. We have an office, a bathroom and kitchen/sleeping area. I, however, have been sleeping outside in a trailer.

As rustic as all this seems, we do have a wireless connection, thanks to my cousin Paul. With wireless, we do not miss television at all, and certainly the kids (and the truck-drivers dumping wheat just outside) are able to keep themselves completely occupied with computers. I wonder sometimes what we ever did before the internet. Now it is possible to constantly watch for storms, monitor the price of wheat, look up a plumber and driving directions without picking up the phone or suffering through television commercials.

Kids all learn to drive early out here.

Very early.

Our quonset, as I've mentioned, comes equipped with a kitchen. Every night so far we have eaten some combination of meat and potatoes. Here is a photo of my dinner: a patty melt, specially assembled by my cousin Paul, Tyler's hash browns, and a salad. I probably made the salad. Vegetables seem to be my contribution. Next year I plan to arrive with some corn-starch and soy sauce.

Sunsets anywhere in the world are beautiful. I've always been partial to the sun setting on the water, of course.

I think the sun setting over the prairie with a wind farm in the background is quite pretty too, and fairly exotic, depending on your point of view.

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