Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Out in the Country

By Bobbi

The Midwest, The Heartland, America’s Breadbasket, and The Great Plains, our country’s midsection is referred to by all of these names.

In my previous blog, “News & Weather Reports”, I mentioned being able to see for miles across fields. This is also true of pasture land where the eye can roam free until it rests against the crest of a gently rolling hill.

I have lived in or traveled through most of these states including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa. I’ll never forget riding down the highway in central Illinois, watching out of the car window as we drove past miles of dark brown, almost black, rich soil ready for planting.

Driving through the back roads of Indiana during late summer when the corn stalks are so tall you can’t see anything but them on either side is an interesting experience. It’s a well-known fact to anyone from the area that the farmers want their corn to be “knee-high by July”. Drivers get killed in accidents out there because they’ve been known to get careless about stopping at intersections. I suppose they assume because they’re out in the country, nobody else is around so they can just blow through stop signs.

Traveling through Nebraska was fun! This part of the Great Plains is very hilly so driving over each one was an adventure. We heard the engine strain as the car traveled the highway, pulling up each long, steep hill. Our stomachs felt like they had jumped into our throats as we flew over the top of a hill and started down the other side. We looked ahead in anticipation as each successive hill loomed in front of us.

Another part of the Great Plains is South Dakota. It’s hilly there, too, but they’re the gently rolling type rather than the long and steep ones of Nebraska. I felt we were out in the middle of nowhere and it was easy to imagine how a person could get lost with the hills all looking the same. I could also sense we were climbing the whole way. By that, I mean I could tell we were way above sea level which is where we started out on that particular trip, in Florida.

“Out in the country” here can mean many different things, as well. You don’t see crop land like in the Midwest but rather, produce farms, as I’ve already mentioned, such as strawberry fields, potato and pine tree farms. Keep in mind you can also see orange tree (and other citrus) groves, which tourists love to visit.

Now, I mentioned Midwestern pasture land earlier in this blog. Generally speaking, cattle graze in pastures of thick, tall grass while pigs are usually kept in muddy, fenced-in spaces known as pens, hence the name pig pens. (By the way, pigs roll around in mud to keep cool due to the fact they don’t sweat, not because they like to get dirty.) Those herds are usually huge and consist of meat or dairy cattle. Here in Florida, some herds are much smaller and the grass is short and scrubby. I was shocked one day when we traveled out in the country and saw a single pig behind a chain link fence next to a house that was situated in the middle of a pine tree forest. The pig was being kept in an area no bigger than the size of a small back yard. I have also seen cattle being raised this way, too. The animals looked fine and didn’t seem mistreated at all.

The way people live out in the country here can be different, too. There are the typical nice single-story ranch houses, of course, but then you can run across broken-down trailers with people actually living in them. I’ll never forget hearing a woman talking about her dream house. She wanted to be able to buy a double-wide trailer and put it on 20 acres of land.

What’s your idea of the American dream?

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