It was a sunny but crisp morning in north central Iowa and Day 2 of Harvest Tour 2012 was about to get underway. The first order of business for Lucia and me? Visit the goats.Then Donnis and the ladies of Country Heritage B&B fixed a delicious breakfast for us, a hearty egg, cheese, and sausage bake – the kind of meal that sticks to your ribs and keeps you warm while out in the field (as we were later that day).
Before I go any further, I have to rave about Country Heritage. The property is beautiful and the home quite comfortable. But the highlight of our stay was Donnis and her staff. They are the sweetest ladies and they treated us like family. When we arrived on Friday, Donnis asked me what Lucia likes to eat for breakfast. I mentioned a few things, including pancakes and Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal. Wouldn’t you know that on Saturday morning, both items were available for Lucia? Donnis had made a special trip to the store just to buy pancake batter and Lucia’s favorite cereal. It truly warmed my heart. Because of such an act of kindness, I will not think twice about staying again at Country Heritage Bed and Breakfast.
Back to Day 2… our first stop was Franklin County Historical Society Museum, where we got a glimpse of early 20th century farm life. There were all types of antique farming equipment and then, THIS:
Looks like a torture device, doesn’t it? It’s a hair curler, the contraption that pre-dates “perms” by a couple of decades. I was a bit disturbed by the look of it so I went back to checking out farm equipment. Lucia even got to climb up on an old John Deere tractor!
We left the museum and headed into town – downtown Hampton, that is. We checked out the shops and bakeries/cafes to sample local goodies. My favorite spot in town was Orange Possum, an eclectic boutique selling one-of-a-kind items. I picked up a few pieces of funky jewelry and was pleasantly surprised by the affordable prices (I’m from Chicago where not much is affordable).
Next up on the itinerary turned out to be the one segment where I learned the most: Latham Hi-Tech Seeds. We were joined there by Annette Sweeney, chair of the Iowa House Agricultural Committee, and part of our visit included a presentation by Ag In The Classroom, a non-profit program that brings agricultural education to elementary school students. I knew that corn and soybean products are ingredients in many food items, but I was blown away to learn that corn can be used to make plastic! I also learned how businesses like Latham Seeds – a rural, family-run and family-owned company – are using, and finding success with, social media.
Next stop on Harvest Tour 2012: Arends Farm. We listened to a brief, yet very informative, presentation by Roy Arends. Of all the things he told us about his family farm and farming in general, the statement that really stuck with me was that this year’s crop will exceed crops from both 2011 and 2010, despite this year’s “so-called drought”. I learned later that the soil in that part of Iowa has tremendous water-holding capabilities, thanks to the area’s highly glaciated landscape and to glacial deposits from thousands of years ago. This city girl was completely fascinated. And then… and then, we met… the BEHEMOTH. I had never been so close to such a massive piece of machinery in all of my life. Not only is it massive, but its amazing technology has revolutionized farming. What used to take days now is accomplished within minutes thanks to this monster. What I’m referring to is the combine. Lucia and I were lucky enough to be taken for a ride in the combine where we had front-row seats to corn harvesting in progress. The neat freak in me was in love with the way the machine moved in a completely straight line across the rows of corn. What’s even more amazing is that the “driver” of the combine need not even steer! It’s all controlled by a computer, like being on auto pilot.
After all the excitement of riding in the combine and standing in the cold, windy, open field, it was back to the B&B for some much-needed down time and dinner. On the agenda for the evening was a vaudeville show – my first ever! – at the historic Windsor Theater in downtown Hampton. The “opening act” was a 1917 Charlie Chaplin silent film with live orchestra accompaniment. What a treat! The vaudeville show featured a variety of acts, from comedy skits to an opera singer, all performed by local folks. It’s amazing to think there is such a large amount of talent contained in a small town like Hampton.
That brought the official Day 2 agenda to a close. It was back to the B&B where a few of the other bloggers and I hung out for a bit and shared a bottle of wine or three before calling it a night.
My family’s trip to Harvest Tour 2012 in Franklin County, Iowa – including our stay at Country Heritage B&B – was sponsored by Franklin County Farm Bureau, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, and Franklin County Tourism. All words, thoughts, and opinions, as always, are my own.