Yesterday I posted a blog titled, Gray Christmas, which focused on the windblown dirt particles that were deposited after the big blizzard. Many of my friends responded with photographs of their own from all over the West Central area of the Minnesota Prairie. From the roadsides to their places in towns. Some wrote to say they’ve never witnessed a worse snirt storm … that combination of snow and dirt … in their memory.
We each have our individual experiences, and I can date back to being so fed up with such poor care of precious farm land back in 2014 that I made a series of photographs that became my “Art of Erosion” series that was exhibited at numerous venues and was part of a traveling Smithsonian water exhibit.
Not much has changed since, and every winter since I could have replicated the photographs from six winters ago. Then on Christmas day Mary and I took the dogs for a stroll through our prairie, then later the woodlot, and there was hardly a square meter of clean snow. It was gray from wind blown soil from somewhere. This led to my blog on Gray Christmas, and since readers from all over the prairie had sent pictures they’ve taken. So far we have images from Big Stone, Chippewa, Stevens, Kandiyohi, Pope, Renville, Lac qui Parle, Yellow Medicine and Lyon Counties. Photos were taken along roadsides as well as in towns, and includes what was previously a white kitten!
Although I’ve included some of the original photos, here is a more complete gallery:
There are many more, but perhaps the point is made. Poor farming practices throughout the prairie region leave soils susceptible to being blown … land that is laid bare by tillage practices in late October and November, and left bare until spring planting some seven to nine months later. What’s to go wrong?
As one of the correspondents, Tom Kalahar, a retired technician for the Soil and Water Conservation Service, wrote, “So much for a white Christmas in corn country. $50 billion the last few years in farm subsidies should buy us a better environment. Hard to support an industry that seems not to care enough to protect our soil and water.”
That about sums it up.