Saturday, August 17, 2013

Wide open spaces and more farms - South Dakota

The Rayburn Clan in Hurley
After a short drive north from Nebraska, Jeremiah and I rolled into the tiny town of Hurley. Friend Carol Rayburn, one of my motorhome-living mentors, met me and I followed her to the many-generation family farm just outside of town. Jeremiah parked easily near a large shed – this would be my 'campsite' for the next five nights. 
Jeremiah at Rayburn Farm
The “clan” consists of Betty (aka Mom) Rayburn, three grown sons (Dick, Don, Steve), their families, and Carol. It was Turner County Fair week and I was fortunate to be there for the fair activities. It was the 133rd year for this fair, making it the oldest one in the state. If you want to “see America” this is the place to go: a super people-watching venue – men, women, and children of all ages, short and tall, slender and extremely fat, able-bodied and lame – what a variety. With no daily entrance fees, families come from all around – even other counties. The weather was cooler than usual for which I'm sure the animals appreciated.

The Four Best Days of Summer” fair starts with a free dinner for all comers; this year it was a ham dinner complete with free ice cream from the South Dakota State University dairy department. Yum! This was followed by four days of the usual fair events – midway rides, commercial exhibits, farm animals of all kinds shown by 4-H kids. Homemaking and craft projects were submitted and judged, and the evenings featured races and such in the grandstand. Oh, and all the tasty fair food! We had lunch and dinner each day at the fair.
$300,000 combine
My favorite critter
Just call me "Dot"
Demolition Derby
Demolition Derby

Pig Milk
Mom Rayburn has moved to a nursing home nearby. Carol R and I visited her every day. She's had lots of visitors and many bouquets of flowers to enjoy and I'm sure that helps pass the days. Carol and her brothers have a huge job disbursing furniture and items from the old family home so it can be sold.

The morning I left the farm, Don picked 10 ears of sweet corn for me to enjoy throughout the trip. This morning I “cleaned” them, cut the kernels off and packaged them for my freezer. In case you didn't get the email that circulated last summer, the best way to clean them is: Leaving the husks on, cut off the butt end just above where you think the bottom row of kernels are. Put an ear, husks and silk still on, in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Grasp the ear of corn by the top – husk and silk – and shake until the clean ear comes out the bottom. No mess, usually no silk attached, and hot enough to melt butter and enjoy.

I left Hurley on Friday morning, driving the short distance to Mitchell, SD. I've been here two days and will leave in the morning (Sunday)

The folk art wonder on the prairie - the Corn Palace
This was a ”must see” on my South Dakota stops. I found a super RV park just a couple of miles from the Corn Palace – and that was my destination, via foot, today. Photos just don't do it justice!

The first Corn Palace was built in 1892 as a way for early settlers to display the state's agricultural bounty, to prove the fertility of the soil and to attract immigrant farmers to settle here. At that time, the town of Mitchell was just 12 ears old. Each fall, they had a festival to celebrate. Brochures say it is a folk art wonder; the interior is an arena for concerts, basketball games, stage shows, trade shows and countless other events.

corn motif on street lights
Each year, a new decorating theme is chosen and the outside of the Corn Palace is stripped and redecorated with new corn and grains. The work is done by hand and is a delicate and detailed process. More than 3,000 bushels of rye, oat heads and sour dock are tied in bundles and attached. Twelve shades of colored corn are planted in separate fields to maintain color purity and the very best ears are hand-picked by our local grower for use on the Corn Palace. When the corn crop is ready about 275,000 ears of corn are sawed in half lengthwise and nailed to the building following patterns created by local artists. This year's theme is “We Celebrate”. (Double-click photos to enlarge them to see details.)

Tomorrow I'm again on the road, this time to a South Dakota State Park along the Missouri River. In a few days I'll scoot through southwest North Dakota (my original route goes through the oil/gas boom area in the northwest). Then I'll be in Montana four about a week while I drove east to west mostly on Hwy 2.

It's a super trip! And I'm so blessed to be making it. Jeremiah Junior continues to perform beautifully and trouble-free! And, the weather man says things will be warming up again.

I love this quote by Rver Kay Peterson:

When your ship of life sinks, will you go down smiling because life was a wonderful adventure to the very end?