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Rural Iowa’s Roots Run Deeper

By Doug Clough

Beyond my backyard sits a soybean field, terraces stretching upward and more beans to the west. Next year it will be a cornfield, gaining my approval to a greater extent. I am a child of former Governor Robert Ray’s “A Place to Grow,” and my feelings for our Tall Corn State have rotated with the crops.

I grew up in our capital city, which may as well have been The Big Apple when it comes to understanding agriculture. An English education graduate of the University of Iowa, I landed in Ida Grove almost a quarter century ago.

I taught high school students to write with purpose for nearly 10 years and then was drawn to a marine industry management position.

For the past two years I’ve also written feature articles for an agricultural weekly, although marrying a farmer’s daughter is as close as I’ve come to working the land.

As a teenager I pedaled across Iowa with my father, kindling my first strong emotion for our state, a romance if you will.

We rested under rural shade trees, drank from red-handled hydrants, and dodged storms in lofty wooden barns.

No longer simply a resident, I was growing to be a proud native of a distinctive place defined by rolling hills, humidity, and farmsteads.

In the early 1900s there were well over 100 farm families in Ida County. Traveling our western highways today, I observe the number of miles between Terry Redlin painted farmsteads increasing.

A local livestock trucker tells me his customer has gone from independent farmer to corporation during his 75 years in business.

Technology and machinery give us more livestock and harvest with fewer farmers.

Barns are becoming museums and their haylofts basketball courts. Singular green expanses are dotted by fewer red buildings.

(Read more Lost and Found)

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