Today: Left Hamilton County, passed through York County, and am presently in Seward County. Hamilton County didn't get done on the Info Maps York County (Allison Barrett) and Seward County (Megan MacKinnon) are both really good.
By the way, if you've been checking the Nebraska student web sites, you see that the background makes it hard to read the site. That's my fault, not the student's. I chose this 'water droplet' background for Nebraska since it was the first humid state, but I didn't realize how hard it would be to read.
In some ways the Edigers are the most typical Nebraska farm family you will find.
And yet...we didn't spend one minute talking Husker football!!! I know you're reeling at this revelation, and I hope I haven't gotten the Edigers in trouble for exposing it on these pages, but it is THE TRUTH.
Furthermore, Ivan was the goalkeeper of the 1966 Wheaton College NCAA regional SOCCER championship team. We spent some time in their farmhouse kitchen talking about the Women's World Cup. (They're REALLY gonna kill him at the next Grange meeting now.) The time's they are a'changin'.
But I mostly asked Ivan a ton of questions about farming and got a ton of answers. I asked him if he would be willing to be an email contact for my students when we stumble across that paragraph on 'Farming in 20th century America'.
Nancy, lunch was just great. Thanks a lot. It set me up for a hot afternoon on the road. I'm really appreciative of you both taking time out of your day.
Here are just two interesting things I learned about farming today from Ivan:
1. Center pivot is better. It does make sense, once explained. Ivan uses both systems; the old 'trough' system, where the water is pumped up and run down furrows a quarter mile long right next to the plants.
2. The European corn bore is a beetle that destroys corn. This can be tough on a corn farmer. About ten years ago, Monsanto developed a seed corn that contains a gene that kills the corn bore as it feeds on the corn.
Nice and neat, huh? Wait. All the companies bought the Monsanto patent and now offer the same seed corn. But if all the farmers planted only this kind of corn, it would kill all the corn bores EXCEPT the few that for whatever the reason were born with a resistance to it. Since these would be the only corn bores left, they would then mate and eventually produce millions of babies which would be totally oblivious to the gene that kills corn bores. SO... farmers have agreed that they will plant only certain fields with the new corn and other fields with the old corn so that the corn bore gene pool will remain susceptible to the seed corn that kills them.
And you thought farming was easy.
One last note on American culture: It occurred to me today for some unknown reason that you just don't see refrigerated water fountains any more. I have not seen a single one on the trip so far. I thought about this and came up with some possible reasons:
-Water really is getting scarce (in the economic sense), and law of supply and demand applies.
-Americans are greedier than they used to be; if we can get a buck for that bottle of water, why give it away?
-Americans have lost confidence in their public drinking water; even if it was available for free, we'd still buy it.
All three of these potential answers indicate a loss of something in our culture.
And a piece of sweet news by email today from my "long, lost cousin" Annabelle Secor in New York. In response to yesterday's journal posting and the picture of the tractor that I thought looked like my Grandpa Hall's, she wrote me today and said she knows where his tractor is. I assumed it had been sold off when his land was sold in 1963. That tractor is part of my history: I can remember riding on Grandpa's lap and steering. Then when I was older he let me drive it myself, the first 'vehicle' I'd ever driven, maybe 9 years old? It was a childhood thrill.
Phil Leswing wrote tonight and suggested a World Cup Finals party in the middle of Iowa en route. It could be cool. If you're interested, drop me an email(firstname.lastname@example.org) and we'll try to put something together tomorrow night.
I haven't mentioned the Game this week, but I've been thinking about it. I have a very strong feeling about this team. They have that above and beyond mentality. If you're betting, go ahead and put your money on favored China, but I'm telling you, these women will find a way to win that game. Then watch: they'll give all the credit to the fans. Whether I'm alone or with a crowd, I WILL be watching that game.
Answer: Coal, of course (see June 21 journal). I like seeing how things tie together.
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