Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hot, gusting to 30

Monday morning I woke up to this view: Kansas prairie.  Elevation around 2000 feet. 
I walked Daisy on the Russell, Kansas flatland that morning.   Without scenery to distract me, I was free to wonder why the street names were Amy, Bruce, Barbara, Cecil, Edward.  Not quite alphabetical. Does that bother you too?

The temp was a bit warmish, but the 20-30 mph wind gusts kept me from feeling it.  Little House on the Prairie settlers, I take my hat off to you.  What an environment.  As a security guard at the Eisenhower Memorial said.  "Bright, hot and windy, that's Kansas summer".

You might be wondering how, with that climate,  Kansas attracted any people?  The railroad.

Abilene was the first of many Kansas cities to come into being as a railroad cowtown.  Just after the Civil War one of the early residents  promoted Abilene as a destination for cattle driven from Texas on the Chisolm Trail.  Cows were shipped east for food and west to start new herds in Wyoming and Montana. Abilene and then other towns on the railroad boomed.  In 1871 the largest cattle drive in the history of Abilene recorded 600,000 cattle driven up from Texas. I have a personal connection to this slice of history.  My great great grandfather is enshrined in the Texas Trail Drivers Hall of Fame in San Antonio.   I probably parked the RV overnight where he would have grazed the herds on the prairies south of Abilene before driving on to the auction and the train.  Wonder how he got any sleep with that wind blowing all night?

Winter wheat came to the area in the late 1800's by way of German Russian Mennonites.  Winter wheat is sowed in the fall and sprouts before the freeze.  Then it goes dormant until spring and is harvested the following summer.  The crop 's success pitted cowboys against sodbusters and changed Kansas from Cowtown into the breadbasket of the nation.

Think about that when you look at your sandwich at lunch today.  You might be eating Kansas Hard Winter Wheat.

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