Bounty and drought

On a coast to coast trip through America during the month of September, especially one taking the rural routes, you would expect to see lots of what was happening at harvest time. We certainly did.

We visited farms and had many chances to see and taste the rewards of work in the fields. Several places were having unusual seasons (is the climate changing?) and in Nova Scotia the great weather led to bumper crops of blueberries and apples that were amazing. Vicky’s basil was pretty spectacular as well! Farmer’s roadside stands and markets like the one in Wolfville NS were lush.

As we moved on we saw that Prince Edward Island and many of the fields from there to Pennsylvania were in great shape. But then in parts of Pennsylvania we noticed a mixture – a field of healthy corn would be right beside a field full of dried-out corn. We asked and were told that corn planted late did better than the early plantings. And as we reached the middle of America, there were no green fields anymore and we saw the impact of a full, dreadful corn drought. It was tragic to see stalks of dead dry corn all the way to the horizon. In diners people would talk about the problem and it was obviously severe.

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We also heard that beef farmers were suffering from not having enough food for the cattle and were sending cattle for processing earlier than usual. When we hit Dalhart Texas, a town that exists predominantly for the processing of meat, and saw thousands upon thousands of animals waiting for slaughter, we had to wonder if what we saw was typical — it seemed to be an impossible number. The smell was unbearable and I didn’t take any pictures because you’d need an arial shot to convey the masses of cattle in yards. As far as the eye could see – cows almost shoulder to shoulder. A see of black and brown for miles. Samuel has always laughed at my vegetarianism, but he was pretty quiet that day.

I googled to see if I could determine how many animals were there, and found somebody’s video of the place from several years ago. Looks like they didn’t want to get out of their car either…. It’s pretty much what we saw so I guess the quantity wasn’t just because of the drought:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XoVP53wTDtU

It was certainly part of the learning experience for all of us. I do know I’d love to go back to most of the places I saw but the feedlot town was not one of them.

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