Climbing west from the scenic valley of the Upper Mississippi River, I entered the western half of North America's Glacial Plain, which stretches from central Ohio to the eastern Dakotas and from Canada to southern Illinois. Once covered by a rich, tallgrass prairie, this province has given way to the vast American Corn Belt, broken only by wooded stream channels and pockets of human habitation.
After skimming along the southern border of Minnesota, I turned south through the heart of Iowa and soon became familiar with the typical Iowa farmstead. While each farm is likely thousands of acres in area, the farm buildings are clustered around the family residence. Old, beautiful farm houses sit amidst cattle barns, silos, pigsties and grain bins. Often within twenty feet of the house, these structures block views in all directions and one can only imagine the air quality in those homes on hot, summer afternoons; that apple pie on the window sill is but a hop, skip and a jump from a barn full of methane spewing cows.
As one who relishes open space, it is a mystery to me why these farm families crowd their homes with the structures that protect their grain, supplies and animals. They are surely fond of those possessions, which reflect the hard work of their daily lives, but, when one owns thousands of acres, would they not cherish a bit of space around their residence, even if only for a garden? Perhaps they want to maximize their corn production and reserve every possible fraction of an acre for that purpose. All of this is, of course, purely a personal observation and, admittedly, none of my business; one wonders, though, whether it is a visual depiction of the focused, provincial views of those who choose this way of life.