Monday, July 03, 2017

USA 2017 / South Dakota Part 4

The ladies had taken off on a 3 day quilt retreat on the SD/IA border at Canton, so I took the opportunity, one day, of doing a small road trip to my favourite clothing store, Cabelas, in Mitchell.
Instead of taking the Interstates (I90 and I35), I zig zagged west along as many sealed minor roads as I could find.
It was beautiful country. Rolling prairie land with soy bean and corn fields just shooting, interspersed with cattle farms with rich green pastures, healthy looking stock (black Angus seemed popular) and isolated communities, some with very small populations.














I hardly saw another car until I headed south on a state highway to my destination.
Mitchell is home to the Corn Palace.
The Corn Palace is decorated with murals inside and out, made from 13 different colors of corn ( red, brown, black, blue, white, orange, calico, yellow and now green!), each framed with native grasses, straw, milo, and sourdock. A local farmer grows all the corn for the Palace, a local artist designs the murals, and a team of approximately 20 workers change out the murals every year beginning in late-May and working into October. They had already started on the outside the day I was there.
A different theme is chosen each year and murals are designed to reflect that theme. 
The Palace is never un-decorated, as the murals are not taken down until it is time to replace them in the late summer, when the work is a gradual process.













The building is more than a point of interest for tourists however. It is a practical structure adaptable to many purposes which include industrial exhibits, dances, stage shows, meetings, banquets, proms, graduations as well as district, regional and state basketball tournaments. This day the floor (basket ball court) was a market place.
video
Unfortunately Cabelas didn't have many bargains (too early for summer stock on sale and too late for winter remnants) but I managed to get a few pairs of jeans at a reasonable price that will tide me over until next visit.
Then after lunch at Culvers (senior's discount!), I made my way back east also along roads less travelled.
A really enjoyable day and not too stressful driving alone on "the other side of the road".
Next day, Mark, Jim, the kids and I went to a dairy farm open day at a facility 30 minutes down the road.
What an absolute eye opener!
3600 cows reside in 4 huge, very long free stall barns. Their bedding is sand which is cleaned every day and recycled.
video
They are free choice fed with a formulated mixture hay, various corn residues and special ingredients sourced from a huge storage and mixing area on site. We had a interesting discussion with the nutritionists and were able to see the variety of feed components.














The cows are milked 3 times a day, a 100 cows at a time.
video
The facility has 38 employees and is in round the clock production 365 days a year.
12 calves a day are born there.
Three tanker loads of milk a day are sent to the Land o' Lakes facility in Sioux Falls
We got a great tour and free toasted cheese sandwiches, chips, milk and ice cream at the conclusion.
A very interesting morning.
The two bachelors survived their desertion on home bbq'd steak and beer one night and a Cubby's burger and beer the next.
But soon it was time for me to head for Canton, pick up the co driver, and start our mini Iowa adventure.

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