Saturday, February 28, 2009

More Nebraska Landscapes

I don't know how it is in the rest of the state, but here along route 20 across the top of Nebraska, each town is announced miles ahead by these big, tall grain elevators. This one is in Gordon, and is shadowed by an even more immense one across the street. Though the prairie is mostly bare or snow-patched right now, we can see evidence of corn and wheat fields, miles and miles of them, interspersed with herds of black or red cows with, at this time of year, their little wobbly new-born calves. A few stately bulls seem to be keeping watch.

A morning drive took us about 25 miles south of the small town of Rushville, population 1000, also dominated by huge grain elevators. This lake, Smith Lake, was once part of a large ranch and is now open to the public (few and far between!) for picnicking and boating. It was mostly frozen over but a few hardy Canada geese were honking nearby. We welcomed this break from the usual miles of prairie and gently rolling hills. I'm amazed at how far apart each ranch house and accompanying out-buildings with their piles of farm machinery are from the next ranch and buildings and machinery. One fellow we met the other day said he managed a 7000 acre ranch! And his house is in the middle of all that land! It would be a lonely existence for some. It makes me think of all those very early homesteaders who came on the Oregon Trail; in fact, many of the ranchers around here are descendants of those pioneers and still farm the same land. Though we were initially bored with the sameness of this vast land, we have since begun to see beauty all around us, noticing things we didn't see before. We are thankful for our time here!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Brilliant sunset, friendly cats

A brilliant sunset out on the Nebraska prairie!

In this photo you can see our friends' cats beginning to get acquainted with our cat, Poquita, the black and white one. It's quite fun to watch them pretending to ignore each other, but all the while slowly inching closer! Too close, though, produces a hiss from Poquita. She says, 'This is my house. You'd better keep your distance!' (Click to enlarge the photo to see Poquita's expression.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Silly Boredom Photos

Sometimes I'm just plain bored, so today I took my camera outside to see what I could see. Four black cats came out from under our 5th wheel to greet me. We have a heater under there and hay bales around the trailer, so it's a warm place for these cats.

Prints in the snow are fascinating to me. These are obviously cat prints from our basement guests.

This is real boredom—a photo of icicles under the gooseneck of our 5th wheel!

And last but not least! Are cats potty-trainable? Our RV kitty Poquita likes to sit here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wounded Knee

A morning drive took us up to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. We'd been there a couple of times before, but had not gone as far as the Wounded Knee Memorial. Forgive the gory picture, but this was in our minds as we approached the scene of the historic event. We could see the very place where, in December 1890, someone took this picture of the aftermath of the massacre.

I've read a lot about that tragic event, and watched a couple of movies about it, so it was enlightening to see the actual location. It's not tourist season, so I can't judge what it looks like then, but on this occasion we noticed how shabby everything looked. The sign telling about the massacre has grafiti and bullet holes all over it, and we could hardly read the story. Sad. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you may be able to read a few words and see the bullet holes.

This is the memorial. For those who don't know the story, the massacre at Wounded Knee was the last battle fought by white soldiers and Native Americans, the Lakota. You can read the details on the wikipedia site.

This hill is now a burial ground, and right between the stone pillars is a plot of ground where they buried the Lakotas who died in the battle. There are other graves on the hill as well.

We get a different perspective when we live near or in "Indian Territory", such as in the Black Hills. We can see how much they lost and we can understand the bitterness they suffer. Our prayer is that forgiveness and healing will eventually take place with whomever it needs to, and the Native Americans will be able to move on and become all they can be. They are wonderful people and many are working towards that healing and the true peace that will come with that.

Come, Boss!

Hey, or, Hay! There's not much to look at out on this vast Nebraska prairie, so I take my pleasure in these small opportunities! We haven't often seen cattle out our back window in this particular field, but this morning I noticed a few big reds moving at a fast pace, then I saw the tractor up on the rise. Aha! Soon there were many cattle all coming in a hurry. My title, "Come, Boss", is not appropriate because these seemed mostly to be bulls, or steers, which means they are destined for hamburger. (When I was a kid, my father always called our lone milk cows "Boss", or "Bossy").

Here they are, chowing down, with a few late arrivals still on their way. The rancher is heading back to his next chore. I suppose this feeding line only happens when there is snow on the ground. I am pleased to have been given this photo occasion, just as pleased as these critters have been to line up for their hay!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Nebraska Landscapes

Nebraska is a state I did not ever think of visiting. We did come through a couple of years ago on our way from New Mexico back to South Dakota, and I was excited to see Chimney Rock off in the distance. I love reading about the Oregon Trail and the hardy pioneers who came west. We are here temporarily, out on the prairie, and since I believe in 'stopping to smell the roses' wherever we are, I've snapped some photos of scenes I've enjoyed here so far.

Growing up and spending most of my life in Washington, I saw lots of wildlife, but I never saw a turkey in the wild. It's been fun to see "rafters" of turkeys all over the Black Hills and here in the Nebraska panhandle as well. In the photo above there are a large number of turkeys who probably shelter in the bushes nearby. This is near Chadron.

I love this apparently abandoned homestead with one of the windmills we've seen scattered across the prairie. The backdrop is a sky threatening more snow with the remainder of the last snowfall in the foreground. It's a haunting scene, the abandonment made more poignant by the cold of winter.

This scene I snapped out the window of my 5th wheel. One benefit of being out on the prairie is that nothing gets in the way of a beautiful sunrise or sunset! There are no cows in this picture but the lonely watering trough tells me there will be when the weather warms up.