Old Farm, New Windmill

Old Farm, New Windmill

This scene made me think of my grandparent’s farm in western Nebraska.  Windmills were a common sight back then, but they were the type seen below: a lattice structure about twenty feet tall, and a tail or weather vane to catch the wind and rotate the large wheel so the wheel’s blades would catch the wind and spin the wheel.  The wheel was attached to a crank shaft and vertical rod (not shown in his picture) that went into the water well directly below.  When the wind blew, the wheel would spin, turning the crank shaft, which  would move the rod up and down to pump water to the surface.  The old windmills were a common site in rural America; they were found near the farm house, next to the barnyard that kept pigs, chickens and cows, and on every field where livestock grazed.

These modern 3-blade windmills (shown above) generate electricity, and are built to serve cities rather than individual households.  These majestic monsters rise over 200′ above the cropland where they are planted, and dwarf the 60′ tall silos that used to be the tallest structure at any farmstead.   Unlike the windmills at my grandparents farm, the windmills of today generally aren’t owned by the owner of the land on which they sit.  The modern windmills are owned and operated by a large electric utility company or municipally owned power company.  And the new windmills aren’t found at every farmstead; actually, they’re scattered rather randomly across the prairie, which makes the siting of one more dramatic than the ones seen everywhere during my grandparent’s day.   The new windmills, however, will never replace the warm feeling I got when we finally turned off the highway onto the lane that led to “grandma and grandpa’s”. 

Old Windmill, circa 1950

Thought for the dayMy reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.    Thomas Jefferson

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