Monday, May 18, 2020

If You Could Change the Weather, Would You?


Don’t like the weather today? Then just change it. Well, it is not quite that easy but that is what weather modification is all about. The Finken Farm is spread across two counties here in North Central North Dakota, one of which is Ward county where there is a debate brewing on weather modification.

Weather modification occurs by “Cloud Seeding”. Aircraft fly into clouds and seed them with Silver Iodide which according to the Weather Modification Association say can increase precipitation by 5-15% and can suppress hail damage by 25-75%. 

Here in Ward County the county commission helps fund part of the program and that is where the debate is. Proponents say that it provides much needed rain and reduces hail damage. Those against it say it is fake science and it doesn’t work and if it does work you are stealing that much needed rain from other farmers. Besides the fact that you should not be messing with Mother Nature. 

Whatever side you stand on, it will be decided at the polls when they vote on whether or not to continue funding the project with public money. Personally, I am on the “Don’t mess with Mother Nature” side of the equation. 

This was our last week at the farm and as I write this we are somewhere in the middle of Montana underneath that big Montana sky.

We have been gone less than 24 hours and we already miss our farm family. That’s what the Finken/Sobieck crew has become to us, an extended family which means of course we will be expecting birthday cards and Christmas gifts from them!

We had one day of rain which kept us out of the fields that day and the day after. As much as they would have liked to keep going to get the field work done, it was a much needed two days of rest. It gave me a chance to get out and play with my camera a little. I had two goals; one was to see if I could master the art of taking pictures of flying waterfowl. The other was to find a pair of moose rumored to be in the area and see if I can get a couple pictures of them. Both proved to more difficult than anticipated. 

One the waterfowl front, I did not know what setting to put it on nor did I do any research so I just put it on AI and hoped for the best. It is a method I have prefected over the years called "The Point, Push and Pray Method". I am somewhat pleased with a couple of them. The others are a bit blurry and these were the best ones that actually made the cut!





With the moose. I had seen them several times early on in our stay but did not have a camera. I went out several times specifically to hunt them down but to no avail. Farmer Bob and I went out another time with no luck. Then one night we went out to dinner in Ryder. 
Bob said the Ryder Bar has the best burgers and we just had to go before we left! They call it the Ryder Bar because that is the only bar in Ryder. With a population of 34, it is pretty much the only thing in Ryder! 
When we were on our way back from dinner we saw two shadowy figures in a field….there they were! Sadly I did not have my camera and it was too dark anyway. The next morning Bob and I hit the roads just before 7:00 to see if they were still in that field. They were not. But we did find them about a mile northwest of there in a small wood lot! They did not fully cooperate by posing for the pictures but I got a few decent ones. It is still hard to believe there are moose up here in this vast open country!

I also got some shots of some wildlife on the ground that I thought were pretty cool. The hardest was the pheasants and they tend to run as soon as you see them. 


Pee Pee Le Pew!

Shovler
Blue-winged teal
Godwit

Yellow-headed blackbird
Nova and Dakota waiting for Dylan to throw the ball
There are still a lot of old telegraph poles, some of them even still have the wire and insulators. I wonder how old those are!
Telegraph polses along side the railroad tracks

These have their original wood supports and glass insulators
 The nice thing about the rain is that some of the early crops are really starting to show themselves! 
The wheat is already a couple of inches high!

Chris checking out the wheat field
We hit the road the morning of the 17th. But not before Bob and I had one last breakfast together in the office. What's for breakfast you ask? Apple Crisp of course! Barb made a pan the afternoon before we left and Bob and I could not think of a better way to spend our last morning together!
Apple Crisp and ice cream, the breakfast of champions!
The crops were not all in, they got down about 3,600 of their 5,000 or so acres. If the weather cooperates and the wettest of the fields dry up they could be done by the end of the week. 

So we said goodbyes and pulled out of the driveway pointing our camper to the west. We have a 23 hour drive ahead of us. We are going to take it slow and easy, it has been a while since we have had any leisure time on the road. Let the adventures begin!

43 comments:

  1. Great wildlife pictures. It's hard to get exactly what you want. It usually takes lots of patience and time. Moose butts ... kind of like the bear butts I always seem to get.
    Apple crisp and ice cream? My favorite breakfast food!!!
    Safe travels.

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    1. I have had better luck with bears than moose, hopefully we will be seeing lots of both this summer!

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  2. Safe travels on your next adventure. Stay healthy too.

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    1. Still holding out what little hope there is that we can still pass through your province this summer!

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  3. If your camera has a sport setting I use that for any shots that have movement including scenery shots while driving. Great wildlife shots! I never would have thought there would be moose there either. Glad you made it thru another season of farming with all your limbs and digits! 😉
    Stay safe and healthy...safe travels.

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    1. Good advice on the camera, I will have to try that! Don't even say that about my digits, that is a scary thought!

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  4. No to changing the weather. If they do that, they think they can manipulate virus'. Clone sheep and dinosaurs. Then the next thing you have is a zombie dinosaur apocalypse. Safe travels on your Sasquatch hunt.

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  5. I believe in weather modification and I've seen it happen several times 1976 the flood down the big Thompson in Colorado directly related to trying to change the weather on the Western slope for better use of barley the military uses it also if you ever get a chance to read the Phoenix project you will understand what I mean they cause hurricanes waterspouts whatever you want to call it in the Mekong Delta Delta okay that cost 10 more days of flooding in the delta so the troops could move. The other factor is the ionic sphere tester they have in Alaska using extreme low-level radiation to change cloud structures in certain areas and then of course the controversial issue these jet planes flying over certain cities creating clouds either cool the area or increase the activity for rain, the long-term issue is yet to be decided but like in Colorado it is change the weather patterns drastically in places they never expected.

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    1. Did not realize that it was that extensive, I will have to check it out!

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  6. The subject line of this blog post sent my mind off on so many tangents before I could even unglue my eyeballs to move on down the screen. What an interesting question to ponder. As a "Farmer's Daughter," I got so lost in trying to figure out what my deceased Dad would have answered to this question that I soon found tears running down my eyes. (Yesterday would have been his 99th birthday.)

    As for me, well, I would love to be able to change the weather here in Central Texas right about now, when it's 90 degrees inside the Winnie and rising. I would love to change it to be more comfortable when I need to be here with Mom. Otherwise, as for the rest of the world, I am with you 100%. "Don't mess with Mother Nature."

    Nice shots...

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    1. He would probably say what most of the farmers from that era would say; "Weathers gonna be what its gonna be, no way to change it".

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  7. Nice to read that everything went well at the farm.
    I remember those Montana Big Skies well.
    Wishing you the best on your northern trek.
    Be Safe and Enjoy the adventure.

    It's about time.

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  8. Glad you enjoyed your time on the farm. I am sure they are thrilled you return each year to help. Nice fowl photos. That pheasant head is spectacular. Love, love finding moose anywhere especially since they are so hard to locate. Safe travels and safely away from others.

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    1. They stick out like a sore thumb when there are not crops for them to hide in!

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  9. Shelby Montana park in the Cost Go parking lot and you can hear trains changing cars etc. all, all, all night long. On one trip to Ak. that's where we headed north into Canada. Your old house is being remodeled again. Black shingles, black garage doors and trim. New siding. Nice people Daren and Heidi ???
    We are getting to know our neighbors on Dueholm Dr. one pandemic at a time
    Bob

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    1. Heard about that. Now I am thinking about all those hours I spent putting that stone up!

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  10. Pretty good pics. Heading to AK?

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    1. Today was a 4 state day; MT, ID, WA and OR. Going to hang out here for a month and see if the border opens.

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  11. You guys have many talents...house building, photography and baking...keep on keeping on, we love following your posts!

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  12. I remember hearing about a plan to introduce a non-native ladybug that had a voracious appetite for purple loostrife, an invasive plant that takes over native cattails. All well and good, but what else would those ladybugs eat? Best let Ma Nature be. If North Dakota gets the rain, then Minnesota is left high and dry. It also might rot out those cool old telegraph poles!

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    1. The other thing about those ladybugs is that they were not supposed to survive the harsh winters up north. Look how that worked out for us!

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  13. I would have to agree with you on the Mother Nature side of the question. Loved all the pictures of the wildlife! I'm sure you do miss your "family" already. Love your last breakfast there. He has my kitchen table :) Good for you guys traveling on...I'm jealous but will be following your adventures! Life is too short to not enjoy and you both certainly do that!!

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    1. Thanks, we are going to take our time on this next leg so we can get a little rest before we get to our sons and start some more projects!

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  14. Too much has been done already to "help" Mother Nature, I'm all for letting her be. Corns coming up here in IL, saw the soy beans emerging yesterday on our ride around the lake. Safe travels!!

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    1. That corn will be coming up so fast in the next month you will almost be able to see it grow!

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  15. I also think we should leave Mother Nature alone - no way to know what the long-term issues could be. We are already messing with it unintentionally and see what is happening? Glaciers melting too fast, other areas flooding more often, etc. Love the animal pics!

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    1. Glad you liked the pics! Taking wildlife pictures is really what I enjoy, I am going to try and get out and do more of it on this adventure.

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  16. Now that's my kind of breakfast … yum! When shooting birds (with a camera 😉) I always use shutter priority and have the camera set on burst with a center focal point. For ducks you need at least 1200-1600 shutter speed and I always leave the ISO set on auto so it can adjust to accommodate the high shutter. Have fun on your travels. We'll be leaving Phx and heading to WI soon.

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    1. Thanks for the tips, there is a refuge in Klamath Falls that I can practice at.

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  17. Great nature photos. I vote to not mess with the weather. Safe travels and enjoy the new vistas.

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  18. I've seen enough summer blockbuster movies to know that statements like "we're gonna change this one thing to fix nature" never ends well for humanity. Next thing you know, you need a bunch of guys in capes to come in and fix everything and there are lots of explosions and it's just a mess. So, that's a "no" from me on the question of messing with the weather.

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    1. If it all goes bad Superman could fly really fast around the world backwards and set it all right again!

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  19. Unintended consequences is a term used when we mess with mother nature.
    Looks like the border is closed until at least June 21

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    1. We saw that. We are not scheduled to cross until late June so we will hang around the coast here until we hear what they are going to do after the 21st.

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  20. Yeah put me in the "leave it be" category. Isn't that part of farming? The anxiety of being a victim of the weather. Great pics of the birds in flight so far and now you have some new tips to try. Have fun in Oregon/Washington. Beautiful area.

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    1. Forrest and I are going to get out in the next few days and try out some of those camera tips, stay tuned!

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  21. You are becoming a great artist Jim. What with painting the fields and awesome wildlife shots in your repertoire you have a great future!
    Great shot of the pheasant.
    Stay safe. Hope you are able to get to Alaska. Lots of artistic opportunity up there.

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    1. Thanks, we are going to stay here until mid-June and see what they decide with the border.

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