"An inherently riveting read from cover to cover, The Northeast Quarter clearly demonstrates author S. M. Harris as a truly gifted storyteller, and his many layered, deftly crafted novel certain to be a highly popular addition to personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections."
-Midwest Book Review

About Northeast Quarter

The Northeast Quarter is an epic story of the power of family, the complexity of human greed, and the pursuit of justice during the early 1920's in an America defined by the aftermath of war and the onset of The Great Depression.

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Thistles Among The Corn Stalks

While writing my installment on the raising of monarda in Northern Iowa, I was curious about what types weeds could be found in the fields along with this new type of crop. One offender (among many) is the Canadian Thistle.
What are farmers doing about this? They’ve been fighting weeds for years, but now the government has gotten into the act to help them out. I came across an article in AGinfoday by Bob Hartzler. The title is Biggest Problem For Iowa Farmers Missing From Noxious Weed Law. Hartzler is referring to Iowa Code 317 which defines the law. It sounds like common sense – except for one thing. A question of timing.
With their legislation it is the bureaucrat who are defining which weeds are harmful (“noxious” in the document) and which ones are not. So far so good. However, Hartlzer mentions that the category of what is noxious

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Weed Fields In The Corn Fields

I was reading through Iowa Farmer Today and came across a couple of articles which caught my attention. They concern Monarda, a flower which is being grown in Northern Iowa in place of a crop.
What is Monarda? According to Gene Lucht’s article, their full name is Monarda Fistulosa. Although the name makes the plant sound like a wayward prize fighter from a small town in Italy, they are actually a species of mint. Monarda looks like a purple wildflower and a field full of them definitely offers a pleasant change of scenery among the corn fields.
Why then are some farmers raising them in place of a crop such as corn or soybean? A biotech company called Prairie Pharms LLC has discovered that an extract from Monarda contains thymoquinone (or TQ) which is used in the manufacturing of certain cosmetics. Up until the closest ingredient to TQ was found

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How Do You Lease Air?

The other morning I saw a photo of a wind turbine out in California. Part of the wind energy business. It got me to thinking how that endeavor is doing in Iowa. I came across an article “Wind Energy Production: Legal Issues And Related Liability Concerns For Landowners In Iowa And Across The Nation” by Roger A. McEowen. It was in the Iowa State University CALT (Center For Agricultural Law And Taxation) newsletter. Although dated June 20th 2011, the article is as pertinent today as it was five years ago.

Windmills have always been part of the our landscape. In the old days they pumped water for the traditional American farm. For me there was always something soothing about them. It meant people lived there, the crops were irrigated. They belonged on the farm on which they were located. It didn’t bother the people on the next plot of land

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Hot Times In The Heartland

I was having breakfast a local diner a few days ago when I happened to overhear part of the conversation in the booth behind me. The people were going to visit relatives in Des Moines the next day and they were checking the local weather. “Holy Polar,” one person exclaimed. “Says it’s 72 right now but feels like 90.” “What’s the full prediction?” asked another. “Holy Polar,” he said again. “Says it’ll be high 92 but feel like 111.” I could identify because right now we were going through a heat wave of our own here in New York – caused as much by humidity as high temperatures. Even so, it got me to thinking. Were there ever times in the heartland where the temperature got as high as 111? Turns out there were. I looked up in Infoplease and discovered that the highest Iowa temperature ever was in Keokuk

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Fireworks In The Heartland

It is July 2nd and I was reading through some of the articles on the Des Moines Register website. Came across an article by William Petroski and Brianne Pfannenstiel which caught my eye. It was examining some of the issues likely to spark debate this year in the Iowa State Legislature. Among them was a debate over holiday fireworks. I have always felt that denying fireworks on New Years Eve or July 4th is like telling a mud slide to turn around an go home. People are going to have fireworks. Last year both house passed a bill which legalize fireworks in Iowa and this year there is a movement which would permit the sale of such retail fireworks items as roman candles. Didn’t realize this – but up until now roman candles have been banned in Iowa for seventy years. Why the push now? One thing the article mentioned

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Computers In The Corn Field

I was reading through some of the articles in WIRED.com and I came across an article by Kyle Wiens which caught my eye. The title was New High Tech Farm Equipment Is A Nightmare For Farmers. He describes cases where farmers are working with new high-tech tractors or combines. The equipment is top of the line and while it is working, everything is fine. But what happens if something breaks down? Mr Wiens cites an example where a minor hydraulic sensor blew in a farmer’s tractor. Consequently , the onboard computer shut down the tractor engine and the farmer in question had to wait for two days beside his shut-off machinery and unplowed field until a replacement part arrived. How computer-savvy does a farmer have to become? In this day and age, it would seem quite alot.

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