The thumb. - Two Far 2018 - Trailing through the Rust Belt - CycleBlaze

The thumb.

We left the palm of Michigan and crossed over to the thumb today. Saginaw Bay separates the thumb from the rest of the hand. 

The Saginaw River gets wide as it flows into Saginaw Bay.
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A bike path zigzagging along the Saginaw River.
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A park near Saginaw Bay shows how little rain this area has had this summer. These Canada geese are convinced that the grass is greener somewhere else.
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On our way out of Midland, we passed Down Chemical, the major employer in town.

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Leaving Midland, we also left the wind protection of the Pere Marquette trail and hit the open roads. There was a vigorous wind from the south southeast. The forests are behind us, this area is flat and agricultural. There was a wide variety of crops, none of which helped to block the wind.

Some corn has tassels and ears, other corn that is just as tall does not. Maybe this is a dwarf or fast growing variety, or maybe it was just planted a little earlier.
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Some kind of squash?
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A lone oil donkey pump. We think it's in a sugar beet field.
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Oh dear, I thought beets were red.
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Bill ShaneyfeltYup, those are sugar beets! They grew a lot of them in Southern California, where I grew up. A number of years later, I saw lots of them when we were living in Germany back in the mid-'70s. The farmers in our village used them for livestock feed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_beet

----->Bill
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1 year ago
There were lots of wheat fields. All had been harvested. We startled this fawn and she made a panicked solo run across the field.
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Given that we are on our way to Canada, it's hard for a floridian like me to wrap my brain around a wind from the south being an impediment to progress. Through a quirk of geography, we have to go south to get to Canada. 

What happens to all of the wheat from the fields we passed today? We found out when we reached our destination in Frankenmuth, which is home to the Star of the West milling company.

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The Star of the West milling company takes it's name from the ship the Star of the West. When South Carolina seceded from the Union, the Star of the West was sent to Charleston harbor to bring supplies to Fort Sumpter. The ship was fired upon and hit, but not destroyed. These were the first shots fired in anger of the Civil War. Discretion is the better part of valor, the Star of the West sailed away without relieving the troops in Fort Sumpter.

This truck is being loaded with flour. The truck is next to the mill building. The building behind that is a packing building where flour goes into 50 lb. bags.
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Milled flour is moved around by blowing it. The mill has massive blowers used to fill trucks. The truck has a filter on top through which air escapes. The trucks have their own blowers which can be used to unload the flour at the destination.

The flour is blown into the truck. It takes about 2 hours to fill the truck. Note the scale the truck is parked on.
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Bran is being blown into this truck.
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Dave is the miller. He's been working at Star of the West since 1977. He was kind enough to explain the whole operation to us.
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Some of the flour from the mill is delivered in bulk by the blower trucks. Some of the flour is packed into bags and delivered by conventional trucks. A packing machine, made in Italy, can fill about 500 50 lb bags of flour per hour, or about 400 bags of bran.

We were there during the second shift. The mill is so automated that 1 Miller, 1 truck loader, and 1 packer were running the whole operation (along with truck drivers to receive the loads). Amazing. The mechanics who maintain the machines normally work during the first shift, but are on call if anything goes wrong.

The milling machinery is in the white building on the left. The doors on the upper floors are used when new equipment is delivered using a crane.
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Star of the West employs about 15 truck drivers and contracts additional drivers. They need them - the mill is running 24/7.
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Jacques CharronTrès intéressant!
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1 year ago