Disclaimer: The Franklin County Harvest Bloggers Tour was sponsored by the The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce & Franklin County Farm Bureau who provided our lodging, meals and activities. All opinions and thoughts are totally my own.
I have already started my readers on the journey of the bloggers who participated in the Franklin County Harvest Bloggers Tour and this will be the second post in my series. If you missed the first one you can click here to read all about our lodging for the weekend at Country Heritage Bed and Breakfast in Hampton. Now it is time to fill you in our some of our Friday night activities.
We were chauffeured around in style in the bus provided by ABCM Corporation by driver Larry Odem who provided a lot of commentary to the sometimes unruly bunch. He took it all in stride and made sure we got to our destination on time. Big shout out to Larry for his service to us over the entire weekend.
After check in we were taken to the Reeve Electric Association Plant (now known as the REA Power Plant Museum)–the first farmer owned power plant in the United States. The funny thing was that the week prior to this trip, Jeni from Jeni Eats, and I had taken a little Farm tour and passed this place. I had exclaimed how cool that was to see a power plant museum out in the middle of nowhere. Obviously “someone” had not read the itinerary for the upcoming weekend very well because I was shocked to see that that was actually on our tour.
Our tour guide for the evening was Darwin Meyer—an amazing man with a lot of knowledge of the history of Franklin County. He was happy to share all that he could about this piece of American history and my husband, Chris, was especially interested in this stop on the trip with his background in electrical engineering. To this day I can spy a 765 KV power line simply because I attended an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) function with him in college. 3 bundles of 4 is ingrained in my head and let me tell you—I can be a bit obnoxious and exuberant when I spy them. Hard to imagine that I could be obnoxious, I know.
The power plant was an important step for the farmers in the 1930’s because in the early 1930’s only 10% of the farms in the United States used electricity for home and farm purposes. The remaining 90% did it the hard and labor intensive way. Construction on the plant began in September 1937 and continued throughout the harsh Iowa winter until completion in March 1938. To imagine what an undertaking this was at that time is mind boggling. The plant went “on line” initially on March 23, 1938 and provided power to farm homes in six north central Iowa counties. The concept is an interesting and foreign idea to me—I had no idea that this rural cooperation existed but it certainly made life a lot easier for the farmers who were able to be a part of it. If you want to read more about this interesting place please click here to go to read more history from their website.
They had everything on display from windmills to big old motors to things that were used on the lines. This place has a lot packed into it. Add to that some pretty cool historical displays of farm related items, household goods from that era and all sorts of interesting corners to poke in. We even found some colored eggs—must have been those green and yellow chickens that laid those, right?
From the museum we headed to Beeds Lake State Park where we went to the picturesque spillway. Val of Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids told us it is a favorite place to take pictures for any occasion. It had gotten pretty chilly with the Iowa wind whipping all around the place but we all trekked from the van to go take a few pictures. The kids enjoyed jumping around and climbing up and down the stairs as you can see below.
From there we traveled to Carlson Tree Farm in Hampton. I had visited here the week before as part of the Franklin County Farm Crawl. This lovely place is owned by Dennis and Cathy Carlson and not only does it boast a pretty impressive tree farm it also has a fabulous lodge which they open up to groups to use for various events like ours. They were the perfect hosts and we were able to meet with a lot of local folks who came out to welcome us to Franklin County. It was really wonderful to meet so many who are so excited about what their county has to offer and after chowing down on some fabulous appetizers and taste testing some equally wonderful wine provided by TownsEnd Winery of Hansel we felt like we had had a full day in just a few hours. What hospitality! Seriously—these people know how to put out the welcome mat.
Did I mention the meal worms? As part of the entire experience Dennis Carlson felt we needed to taste mealworms. Now I don’t think that they are Franklin County natives and I am not quite sure how they fit into the whole Franklin County Harvest thing (maybe because they were harvested someplace???) but he felt that we all needed to taste them. There were stickers involved and that was the incentive. I am an overachiever at times and I had to have that sticker. So we “toasted” each other with our mealworms and down they went. They really did not taste like much of anything to me—-just a little crunch and it was gone.
We all had such a great night and it was so great to be able to meet so many genuine people who truly love where they live and who are passionate about helping others understand what they do and why they love what they do so much. Their enthusiasm for farming and for agriculture is contagious and I left the evening feeling excited about the entire weekend.
Other bloggers that participated in this weekend that you definitely need to check out include: