SEARCH BLOG: ENVIRONMENT
Six of us took a little day trip to Michigan's "thumb"... the area about 100-150 miles directly north of Detroit. Unlike the Detroit area, the "thumb" appears to be doing fairly well economically. Of course, this is primarily farming area so the population is sparse in comparison.
Part of the trip was to Frankenmuth, a town settled by Germans in the mid-1800s and making a living as a faux-Bavarian village. Lots of "family style" restaurants and chocolate shops. Very clean; very touristy.
Then it was on to the Deckerville area. This area received notoriety several years ago when the Nichols brothers dominated national news related to the Oklahoma federal building bombing. There was no lingering remnant of that anywhere. Instead, one found large, well-managed farms with thousands of acres of corn and soybeans spread across land that is so flat you don't need a level to build something.
One of these farms belongs to my sister-in-law's parents. This farm has been around for well over a century and three generations work on it with a fourth beginning their lives there.The most obvious task occurring during our visit was announced by the pungent odor of manure... everywhere.
It's not an easy life. Work starts well before dawn when over 100 cows have to be milked. Then there are countless jobs around the farm during the day which change depending on the time of year. It's corn harvesting time now.
It used to be that when farmers cleaned out the barn, they would stack up the manure and then spread it around the field for fertilizer every so often. They can't do that anymore.I suppose that is for the environmental best... but somehow turning a few square miles into the aroma of an outhouse doesn't seem that beneficial.
Now the manure has to be stored in deep, clay-lined pits. When the pit is full, the farmer calls in the pumper who has an enormous tanker truck with tractor-like tires. The slurry is pumped out of the pit and the tanker heads for the fields where it is sprayed over the ground [these are empty fields... not those with standing crops].
It's what the farmers used to do in smaller batches, but the government forces them to do in large doses... and pay someone else to do it.
We spent our time visiting indoors and moved quickly to our vehicles when we left. This wasn't quite what we had in mind when we planned our little autumn tour of the "thumb."
Today, we'll try a cider mill. We know that has a different aroma.