Sunday, August 11, 2013

"Wheat fields . . . wide as the ocean" -- Michigan, 1838

Winter wheat fields west of Buchanan, Berrien County, stretching to the horizon [photo, Micki Glueckert, July 14, 2013].

"At Portage Prairie,  . . . a continuous field of wheat and corn stretched away . . . scarce broken by even a tree or a house and seemingly as wide as the ocean. . . . We returned to town delighted and astonished by the beauty of our neighborhood."

Winter wheat harvest in 2013, with more trees perhaps than in 1838 [photo, Micki Glueckert, July 14, 2013].

The quote from the July 19, 1838 Niles, Michigan Intelligencer* describes land that just a few years earlier had been part of the great "Galien Woods" filled with walnut, oaks, and maples. In 2013, one hundred and seventy-five years later, much of the county has gone back to woodlands or been planted in orchards and vineyards. The fields that stretch along the country roads still grow corn, but much more soy than wheat fills the acres. At the end of July, 2013, My sister Micki, husband Jim and I set off along the same back roads to photograph the fields of wheat that had just been harvested.

                  Tri-L-Farms, southwest Berrien County, Michigan [Teri Carns photo, July 29, 2013].

The land doesn't rest for long. Micki pointed out that some of the winter wheat fields had been planted with soybeans, for a second crop during the season, as well as to replenish the nitrogen in the soil.

A wheat field that was harvested a few weeks ago has had soybeans planted in the rows for a second crop for this year. [Teri Carns photo, July 29, 2013]

Young soybean plant in harvested wheat field.  [Teri Carns photo, July 29, 2013].

Another sight along the small roads was the Mt. Zion cemetery. 

 Mt. Zion Cemetery, Berrien County, Michigan, with wheat field across the road.  [Teri Carns photo, July 29, 2013].

 Gravestone of Nancy Pooler, died August 2, 1819. That was very early for the area; it didn't start being really settled until about 1830. [Teri Carns photo, July 29, 2013].

Further down the road we found a field with cattle, and nursing calves. Much of the wheat grown in the area is used for feeding livestock. Micki says that wheat is too expensive for the poultry that they raise; the birds must settle for corn.

Cow and calf, both probably destined to be someone's dinner [Teri Carns photo, July 29, 2013].

For dinner that evening, we had homemade noodles, with flour from someone else's fields.

                          Sam White's fresh egg noodles  [Teri Carns photo, July 29, 2013]

                Sunset, from U.S. 12 near Portage Road [Teri Carns photo, July 29, 2013].

* The quote was taken from Walter Hawes, Story of Buchanan, re-published in the August 8, 2013 Berrien County Record.

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