Wednesday, July 29, 1981

38. Hoxie, Kansas

Day 38:  Wednesday, July 29, 1981
Goodland to Hoxie:  70 miles

We awoke early.  We had camped right next to a state highway asphalt plant, and they started work at 5:30.  Jack took off at 7:15, after breakfast, but I waited for a bicycle shop to open, so I could pick up some more spokes, a spare tire, and brake and derailleur cables.  I also called the office and my house.  It was a bit of a shock to hear a strange voice answer the phone.  Kurt, who was staying at my place while I was on vacation, had gone on vacation too, and one of his friends was staying there.

The riding today was flat and would have been easy, if it were not for the persistent south wind.  Corn and wheat are in abundance here.  Most of the wheat has been harvested, but occasionally we see a dark brown field of overripe stalks.

Wheat ready for harvest
Wheat ready for harvest

At the laundromat in Hoxie this evening, I talked with the farmer who runs it about the heavy irrigation in the area.  He said a well can cost up to $30,000 to sink, and they have to go down 200' for water.  There are 400 irrigation wells in this county alone, each pumping from 600 to 2000 gallons per minute.  The water table is dropping about 5' per year because of the heavy reliance on irrigation.  He himself is a dry farmer, and claims to get almost as much yield as do those who irrigate.  Unless farmers get 180 bushels of corn per acre, it does not pay them to irrigate, so many are turning to milo, which is also a feed crop but requires much less water.  It probably won't be too long before the state or federal government imposes restrictions on agricultural irrigation in the Midwest.

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