Amber Airplane told me her grandparents' house was in the middle of nowhere. She wasn't lying! The good news is. I was expecting to be on a farm, with no one else in sight. Instead they live in a quaint little town in the middle of nowhere, and their farm is several miles away. Winner, South Dakota has a population of about 3,100. It's so small that everyone knows your business (so don't get in trouble).
Her grandmother and grandfather grew up in Winner. We had a surprise visit from someone else who grew up there, too: Amber Airplane's father surprised everyone and flew in from San Diego for a few days. We had a great time hanging out, eating home- cooked food and checking out their farms. Her grandpa is a big farmer, with thousands of acres of farmland. They grow mostly wheat, soy, and corn. Did you know that just one stalk of corn grows only one edible piece of corn. Corn is harvested in the fall, but it is not hand-picked. This machine not only picks up the ears; it also shucks the kernels off! The cob and other waste goes out the back end. As you can see we had a great time learning about life on the farm, and playing with their toys. We rode through the cornfields on the 4x4 and tractor and checked out the cattle.
The machine in this picture is called a combine and cost about $350,000. This is what they use to harvest, and as it's massive. So here's another tip: When you see a combine driving down the road, don't even thinking about passing unless you can see for miles - yes, miles. Farmers are known for speeding, and as Amber Airplane's father says, head-on collisions are not pleasant. BTW: Her father is an ex-Navy commander who also taught me that South Dakota's well water is the second cleanest water in the world. The first? (I asked him that too.) According to Mike, it's water on the newer Navy ships. They treat the water right on board.
Another FYI: The mosquitoes weren't as bad as I thought they would be, but I did get stung a few times by a little bee I had never seen before. To avoid mosquitoes or bees, I highly recommend bug-repellent wipes.
The only time we ate out in Winner was when we went for dinner with Amber's uncles (her mom's brothers). They live near town so we had a good inexpensive meal with them, then checked out their thousands of farm acres the following day. They have more horses and cattle than anyone I know. However, they also have rattlesnakes in their yard, so you know I was doing the Deion Sanders high-step from the car to the house every time. The Outwest Bar and Grill, 865 West 2nd, Winner, SD, tel.: 605-842-2324.