A Whole New World
Paige McFarland, Intern
As some of you know, I had the opportunity to take a road trip to Dodge City this past week for the 3i Farm Show. This was the first farm show booth I have worked and also the first time I’ve spent a lot of time in western Kansas. It was a trip to remember!
I came to a few realizations along the way:
1. Feedlots and Meat packing plants are A LOT bigger in Western Kansas
2. Irrigation makes a HUGE difference and,
3. The heat makes people do crazy things (myself included!)
As we were welcomed into Dodge City one of these first signs we saw read “Scenic Overlook.” In eastern Kansas you would see the Flint Hills and other sorts of attractions, but in Dodge City the Scenic overlook was of the feedlots. I couldn’t help but state the obvious: “Wow, that’s a lot of cows!” I have seen smaller feedlots but never one of this size. This cattle feedlot is said to be one of the largest operations in Southwest Kansas.
On our five-hour trek to Dodge City, I was shocked at the difference irrigation has made on the corn in southwest Kansas. Obviously, if the crop is getting water it will grow like it is supposed to but, SHEESH! I think I was starting to forget what a good corn crop looked like after having two consecutive dry years in our neck of the woods. I didn’t fully understand how the irrigation systems worked at first, mainly because I haven’t been around them much. Seeing them in action was a pretty neat experience. I also learned that even the irrigators are struggling against the hot, dry weather we are having. I also learned that irrigators spend a lot of time and money to keep those fields productive—especially this summer.
Last but certainly not least, the heat. It was pretty hot in Dodge City. I was told it is usually hotter and drier in western Kansas, but I couldn’t tell a lot of difference. The drought has baked out most of the humidity in eastern Kansas. Although it was not as hot as the week prior (for which, I am soooo thankful!) there were times I felt like I was melting.
On the drive out west we came across a few interesting sights as we stopped, including a 50+ year-old man at a gas station sporting an enormous red wig who proceeded to tell stories about his buddy, Buffalo Bill. If you were present at the 3i show late Saturday afternoon, you may have also seen a few corn staffers rolling around on a golf cart squirting water guns at random people. The water guns came from my new friends at the High Plains Journal (definitely the best giveaway at the 3i Show).
On a more serious note, I am most definitely glad I gained this experience. I had the pleasure of speaking to a few of our growers and board members during the show. I hear these names on a daily basis and read their Facebook updates but had never been able to put names to faces prior to the 3i Show. I talked to a variety of people who were visiting the show. Some of them showed interest in what we do and wanted to get a closer look at our ethanol powered Harley Davidson motorcycle. Some just wanted the freebies, but that was to be expected, it is a Farm Show after all.
Representing the Kansas Corn Commission was a rewarding experience for me. Not only was I helping the general public to understand what we do in agriculture, I was learning from them and I was learning from our growers. I truly enjoyed the experience but by Saturday night I was ready to “Get the Heck Outta Dodge!”