Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Visit to USA 2015 / Part 3

The October weather in South Dakota for our three weeks stay was mostly acceptable. Apart from the aforementioned wind storm, a torrential extended downpour that made highway driving quite hazardous and a slight blizzard that lasted for a few hours, we had sunshine and warm temperatures.

Mark was finishing up harvesting at his father's farm just over the border in Lake Wilson, MN. I got to ride the combine as well as take a truckload of corn into the elevators (silos) at Hadley.

This was an interesting day seeing the practical side of broad acre farming in the mid west.
As normal with farming, things didn't quite go to plan. Initially the combine 'threw' a belt resulting in a blockage. Both problems took some time and manpower to fix. But from then it was plain sailing.

The farm grows both corn and soya beans. This year has produced record yields for both crops but prices were down because of this.
Corn is ideally harvested at around 15% moisture content. A higher content results in the corn being dried at the storage facility the cost of which is passed onto the farmer. There were huge 'mountains' of corn ready for distribution at most of the storage facilities we passed.

The major uses for corn in the USA are the manufacture of ethanol and its co-product (Distillers' Dried Grains with Solubles) accounting for 37% (27% + 10%) and the production of high fructose corn syrup, sweeteners, starch, beverage alcohol and cereals (11%).
I managed to get to the local Casino a few times. Ended up not losing (or winning much) overall. I always enjoy a few hours here. It's a small friendly place and the machines seem to pay out well enough. The bacon/cheese burgers at the cafe are good too!
One of my gambling partners did really well one night, the other, not so good. The big news here was that the Casino would be offering legal marijuana at the end of the year.
Halloween was fast approaching and although we would be in Houston for the 31st there was plenty of preparation going on in the local area. Lots of pumpkins for sale, some pretty awful pumpkin food and drink items on offer and many decorations being put up. One house a few miles from us is renowned for its OTT decorations.

While we were away the Rugby World Cup continued. Australia kept on winning (sometimes by the skin of its teeth) and eventually made the final against the New Zealand All Blacks.
It was very difficult finding a telecast of the games in the USA although one web site was offering streaming at an exorbitant cost. We were content with following an on line blog with a minute to minute updates.
The co driver was wearing her Wallabies jersey and had her toe nails painted green and gold for the occasion.
Would we, against all odds, win the cup? We would have to wait until we were in Houston to find out.

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