My Vietnamese son (he calls me ‘Mom’), Tuan, knew we were going on vacation, meeting our two youngest grandchildren, Zach (13 next week) and Ely (say ‘Ellie’ 11) in Albuquerque, and then doing the Rocky Mountains. He said, “have great time. and let me know about your travel stories.” So, Tuan, this blog is for you!!
We are in Albuquerque, New Mexico now – look it up, son. We drove, taking 2 days to cover 20 hours of traveling, generally at a speed of 65 to 70 mph. That includes stopping for meals and gasoline. Made it to Lamesa, Texas last night, if you want to find that on a map of west Texas.
Doug is familiar with that part of the country. When he used to work for a consortium of colleges in west Texas, he drove out here a lot, and said it was referred to as “The Big Empty.” There are miles and miles of empty land, some of which is not irrigatable, but used by cattle ranchers. We saw some pronghorn antelope, too. Some of it is rolling hills, but much of it is flat. Very, very flat.
Here’s a road we were on today. Not a super highway, though it has 2 lanes in both directions and very generous shoulders, typical Texas-style. Notice there are 3 vehicles coming at us. They are going about 70 mph, the speed the road was built for. The furthest car away is in front of trees which are about the height of a 4 or 5 story building. See how flat it is? And Doug across the road taking a picture of this house.
(As always, be sure to click on each photo - that way you will see a much larger version of the picture.)
It’s pretty hot out here in the summer. And the wind blows all the time. The house and
farm buildings are surrounded by trees for the shade, and to break the wind. Planted when the house was built, they are the only trees around. Trees you might see in the distance are surrounding another farm.
Where there is water available from underground wells or from nearby streams, farming is done through the use of center pivot irrigation. Here’s a picture – one unit close up from the end, and one stretched out in the background. They roll in a circle from a central place where the water enters one end, and create large green patches in the middle of brown weeds – pretty impressive from an airplane.
Where there is no water readily available in quantities needed for farming, cattle ranches exist. In the southwestern US, where water is not abundant, it takes a lot of land to feed free-roaming cattle, which is different from other parts of the country which are generally green except in winter. Cattle on the range are an investment. When it is near time to sell them, they are taken to a custom feedlot so they will fatten up for market. There are a lot of these feedlots in west Texas. Sometimes you can smell them before you can see ‘em! Whew! Here’s the best picture I could get – and the best thing I can say about it is that it’s in focus. Doug didn’t even get out of the car. As I mentioned, phew, stinky!!
Texas has been the number 1 cattle state in the US for a long time, and number 1 in cattle feed since 1981.
The feedlot was just outside of Muleshoe, Texas, home of the Mules, the name given to the Muleshoe High School sports teams. Near the center of town were the silos for storing wheat grown locally in the winter.
The silos are the tallest things around. This article tells all about the grain elevators and silos of Muleshoe, Texas.
Even in west Texas where there are gently rolling hills the wind blows all the time. And these giants (328 feet) are here to catch it. Texas is the leading wind energy state in the US, having 26% of the wind turbines.
A still picture of these quiet harvesters doesn’t do them justice.
The Big Empty. Flat. The wind never stops.