27 August 2012

And the Winner Is...

Thank you to everyone that left a comment for Katrina about her interview.  I too believe her work is amazing and I was lucky she agreed to be spotlighted.

The winner of the giveaway was randomly selected by using random.org.  Katrina's beautiful stationary goes to...

It was really cool to see the actual process! I love the feeling of embossed paper - it is the same as the wonderful feeling of opening a blank notebook. Newness, crispness and possibility!

Congratulations, Lina.  Please contact me with your address so we can get your stationary in the mail.

Don't forget Katrina for all your letterpress needs!

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24 August 2012

Flora Friday


Don't forget to check out the interview with Katrina from Ma Joie.  Get inspired and win a lovely gift. Today is the deadline to enter.

23 August 2012

Road Trip || Alaska

"I can't believe she is your grandmother."  That is all I heard the entire trip.  She is not your typical 80 year old woman.  I had to keep up with her.  She's feisty, and so when she said she wanted to take a cruise to Alaska I told her I would go with her.  When she finally realized I was serious, we booked it.  

I've never been on a cruise, and that was fastest and easiest way to see Alaska.  If I had to do it over again I wouldn't get on a boat, but I loved sharing this experience with her. 

We flew into Seattle to get on board.  We were lucky enough to have lots of sunshine in Seattle and I was hoping that was a good indication of the days ahead.  Of course they were having record highs, but I loved it. While in port, just beyond the shipping yards, you could see Mt. Rainier in the distance. 

Then we sailed for two days.  I didn't think the boat was ever going to stop rocking.  It didn't make me sick, but it left me feeling out of control of my body.  You know when you've had a few drinks and all of a sudden you can't quite control your dexterity?  It felt like that but without the buzz.  I'd be walking and then all of sudden take a side step when the boat shifted.  

When we finally passed through Canadian waters, our first stop was in Tracy Arm.  This was my first experience with icebergs.  Plenty of Titanic jokes heard under breath, but I did have a slight freak out moment.  They really are larger under the water than they appear on top.  I did not want to put our new life boat skills into practice.

Tracy Arm is a long channel and the Captain navigated this large boat around the icebergs like a ping pong ball and we were successfully able to see the Sawyer glacier.  

As we motored along I started to understand why Alaska has so few inhabitants.  The wilderness is vast and expansive and there seems to be no way to go but up. 

Upon closer inspection of the glacier, the most beautiful shade of blue I have ever seen was glowing. Glacier blue has a whole new meaning, but no matter how many photos I took, I couldn't seem to get the color to translate.  It looked as if someone dropped a bunch of cotton candy right in between the mountains.  It appeared fluffy and light when in reality it's jagged, and solid.

After leaving Tracy Arm we headed to Juneau, the state capital.  This was my favorite destination, although I didn't know it would become so then.  The Seattle weather was not an indication of our trip.  The two days at sea were spent in heavy fog, but we were lucky it lifted slightly when we drifted into Juneau.     

The city reminds me a lot San Fransisco.  There is only so much space to build here though and so the landscape is tight.  Straight up behind the buildings were wooded mountains beaming towards the sky.  Water falls were gushing down into ravines and clouds lingered low. 

When you got passed the tourist trinket shops, the truly local businesses were charming and friendly.  Unfortunately, we didn't get to explore the streets long because we had a couple of excursions planned.

First stop was river rafting on the Mendenhall.  This lake and river are glacier melt and the temp is around 35 degrees.  We donned our rain gear and life jackets and sat in the front of the boat.

We got up close to an iceberg that drifted off the Mendenhall glacier.  We were able to break off a piece for closer inspection.  It's full of sediments.  I knew it would be, I just like to see science applied to life.

While on the river the clouds came in close and it started to rain, but since we had waterproof gear on it didn't really matter.  We shot the rapids, and since we were sitting in the front of the raft we got hit with all the water.  We stayed dry but we didn't stay warm. 

While out on the river we saw salmon swimming upstream for the spawning process, bald eagles in trees and on the shore.  Even though we were cold, we were able to see a lot of life we wouldn't have seen on the street.  

After we shot the Mendenhall we got on a boat to see a few whales.  It's one of the best times of year for viewing whales in Alaska because they are busy eating in order to get ready to migrate back to Tijuana.

We did spot several humpback whales.  They don't always travel in groups, but when they are feeding they will team up to maximize the feeding process.  Plumes of water were everywhere in sight. 

This little guy put on a show for us and breached a few times. 

We were also very lucky to see Orcas.  Even the locals were excited about this.  This is a rare sight around here and I'm happy we got to see three of them together. 

Of course no experience to Alaska can go without a bear sighting.  They are so prevalent.  After leaving Juneau we traveled on to Sitka which is on an island and then to Ketchikan.  While in Sitka I learned that on this very small island there are 1.4 bears per mile.  Your chances of running into one is high.  Since I have a thing with bears it was only natural that I spotted one. 

But alas, it was in captivity and not in the wild.  We viewed a bear sanctuary for orphaned cubs.  This guy is just a baby.  I'm afraid he will be huge when he is an adult and I really wouldn't want to run into him in nature. 

There was so much to see and I'm afraid I'm going to have a plan another trip.  Traveling around the state is tricky though because there are not a lot of roads.  Most travel is done through boats and small planes.

We made one last stop after leaving Alaska and that was to Victoria, British Columbia in Canada.  We were having issues with one of our propellers so we arrived in town really late and didn't have time to see much.  We opted for a pedi-cab ride to give us a little history around the city.  It was a beautiful city and I know I'll be spending time there in the future.

Our trip was beautiful and an event I will never forget.  I'm a big advocate of traveling, but I have a new perspective on getting out there and spending time with those you love.  I have the best grandmother, even at 80!

To see more photos from the trip you can jump over to my flickr page. 

21 August 2012

Irrigation Education

Corn is big business in Nebraska.  In fact companies like Monsanto, my nemesis, have set up shop in the state to test plots for new genetically modified seed.  They call it progress, I call it destruction.  But, that political point is not for this post.

I love corn.  I grew up running through the corn fields.  Every weekend I spent with my grandparents during the summer, irrigating the corn was on our list of chores to help with.  Although, grandpa let me run around more than work.  Grandma recently told me that was because I wasn't fast enough!

So while I was back in Nebraska last month I was feeling a little nostalgic and I decided to follow my brother to his "office" and took a few shots to show you what he does during summer vacation.

I've introduced my brother before.  He's a pretty special guy, and father to my two favorite boys.  His office is whatever field he happens to be working in that day.  He has a true farmers tan.  

There are two typical ways to grow crops.  Dry land or irrigated.  Of course dry land means throw out some seeds, pray for rain, and hope you get a crop.  My part of Texas is predominately dry land.  If you've got a small piece of land, or you're not depending on the crop to make money (crop rotation year or food for animals) then dry land is the way to go.  

On the other hand, you have irrigated crops or crops that you have to water.  There are several ways to irrigate, but the most popular is with a pivot or through pipes laid along the edge of the fields.  Since pivots are expensive and a farmer can have several hundred acres to irrigate, there are usually more than just pivots being used in an operation. 

Where the water comes from is bit tricky and I won't go into too much detail, but if you watch national news at all you will eventually hear about the farmers fighting for their water rights.  If water is not pumped from the ground via a well then it has to come from a public water source and is called surface water.  Most of the water in Nebraska comes from snow melt in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  Farmers have water rights and the best way to explain that is like stock shares.  You have so many "shares" for your irrigated acres.  If Colorado uses your shares before it gets to you, there are issues.  So you can see where problems might arise. 

So back to the fun part. My brother took us to a quadrant of fields that are flood irrigated through pipes via a well.  No water right to argue over there, the water is pumped straight out of the Ogallala Aquifer from a private well.  

This particular well feeds water to all four fields.  Each field is flooded every twelve hours.  A farmer doesn't have a summer.  You hope to get rain to fill in the other hours or to pump less out of the ground, but otherwise you are out in the fields at least every twelve hours, all summer if all goes well.

The first step is driving to the middle of the quadrant down a long, bumpy road.  No A/C even in 100 plus days.  It's not good for the body or the truck that can sit idle sometimes.  

First you have to have unhook the pipe from the last field you irrigated and then hook up the pipe to field you need the water in now.  This is all done through a riser.  A lot of technical jargon with the use of the riser so just think of it as a junction to help send the water in the right direction.  You want the water to travel as little as possible because once it's pumped out of the ground it depends on gravity to move it.  The farther it has to travel the less pressure it has and that means it won't saturate an entire row. If you don't get this right you have a bunch of corn at the end of your field that doesn't get watered. 

Once all the pipes are in place you head back to the well, check the oil, the pressure, yadda, yadda and then start the pump for the allotted time.  

It's very important to check that your well is pumping the accurate amount of water and no alarms are going off.  The pump is a machine and since you depend on it to pull water out of the ground for your crops, it's important to maintain.  Too much water or too little water can ruin your entire crop. 

Once all is good to go it's time to open the gates on the pipes.  It's important to carry a shovel with you when walking through the middle of a cornfield.  Not for irrigating, but for killing rattle snakes.  Mice love corn, snakes love mice, you do the math...

Although you can't see it in a photo, there is a small opening that runs between each row of corn.  It's covered with a sliding door.  When the well is pumping the water to this pipe the pressure is starting to build with all of the gates closed and it's filling the pipe that travels to the end of the field.  Once that happens you start on the far end and begin to open all the gates, one by one, as you walk back towards the well.  The water gushes out of the pipe and runs down the row.

You can see the water traveling down the row and delivering water to the corn on both sides.  It is almost like a science to get the water equation just right.  If anything goes wrong it can make or break your salary for the year.  Talk about pressure.

This in a nutshell is flood irrigation via a well.  When September comes, it will be time to pick up all the pipe and store it for winter and then harvesting begins.  His job is never boring.  I wish I could spend more time with him out there.

Would you do this all summer in 100 degree weather?

20 August 2012

Artist Spotlight || Ma Joie Press

I have always been a fan of paper goods.  I hoard stationary just to look at it and I believe that a handwritten letter is one of the best gifts a person can receive.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I am introducing Katrina from Ma Joie Press to you today.  She is a local (to me) artist that has developed her craft and her dream into a full time business.  She has mastered the art of beautiful, handmade letterpress that makes me want to have a party just to send out her invitations.

Katrina has taken the time to answer a few questions about her art.  She is very inspiring and what I find unique about Katrina is her method.  She still prints on vintage presses.  An art that is truly almost gone.  Please welcome Katrina and be sure to read all the way through.  There is a surprise waiting for you at the end. 

Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm Katrina, I make home and stationery from a little house in Plano, Texas.  I love art and history, and letterpress is such a perfect marriage of the two. I spend my days chasing, playing and teaching my adorable baby, and my nights drawing, printing and emailing clients all around the world.  My husband and I live in our little creative home, and pride ourselves on green practices.  I love baking, biking, and decorating.

Why Ma Joie? What was the inspiration behind the name?
My middle name is Joy, and as a kid, my father called me "kate-my-joy."  In a less obvious way, it's in honor of my father and family.  They have always been my biggest supporters.  I think "Ma Joie" captures what this whole operation means to me.  It is a joy to have the opportunity to draw and print and be creative.  To be able to share that with so many people during their special occasions makes me feel like what I do makes a difference.  In a sense, my joy becomes theirs', and that makes all the difficulties involved with working with antique equipment more than worth it.

Your husband Tyler is also connected to Ma Joie.  How does he influence your work?  
Tyler helps in every way you can imagine.  In the beginning, he helped me create my business plans, and traveled with me to find the right equipment.  These days he acts as a great taste-tester, if you will, helping me focus my work to fit within my aesthetic and target market.  He is my co-blogger, head of IT, and he has taught me so much about photography.  I'm lucky to have such a fun and creative husband.  He keeps me hip!

You mention your daughter Magnolia is your purest inspiration.  Tell us more about that.  
Nolie is the most amazing, gorgeous, sweet, smiling baby in the whole world.  I look down and see my husband in her face, and I am so proud to know she is mine!  I want to provide for her.  I want to make her happy!  She changed me in ways I never knew needed change.  With her arrival, I had to learn to balance all of these different aspects of my life.  Honestly, I think I had to grow up a lot, and I am sure there is plenty still to learn.  Now, there is no time to procrastinate.  If I actually want to grow my business, I have to do it in the 2 or 3 hours I have to work while she is napping or playing with my husband.  She inadvertently streamlined my process, and I am a lot more efficient and focused.  She is beautiful and fun, and I really think my primary role in life was becoming her mother.  I want her to believe in herself, and I think the best way to teach this lesson is leading by example.

You are self taught.  What has been the hardest challenge?  
Finding equipment!  It is hard to come by letterpresses that are in condition to be used.  I didn't really have the resources or the knowledge to fix one up, so I was lucky to find some that were still being used in print shops.  Learning the craft was definitely tough.  I mostly relied on information I could find on the internet, and a whole lot of trial and error.  My craft seemed to get better with each project, and that encouraged me to try another.  Eventually, I had my system down pat, and I haven't looked back!

You use vintage Kluge and Chandler & Price presses for your business.  What draws you to the older technology versus modern equipment?
There is so much that I have grown to love about my presses.  I love the sounds they make, and being able to get my hands dirty.  In these digital times, beautifully printed paper can make such an impact on people. The thick, supple paper, and the deep crisp impression isn't something we see daily.  The whole effect is more valuable because of the time and love and care put into each individual piece.  Much like a painting in comparison to a digitally printed representation, there is just more soul in the original work.

In college your interest in art was sparked.  How did that come about?
It is kind of funny, but I did not ever consider art as a career option until college.  I had no idea I could even draw!  I sort of happened into an Intro to Interiors course to fill a core credit requirement, and I was hooked.  The Interior Design program required many drawing and design classes, so I gave it a shot, and ended up surprising everyone.  Now, I can't imagine myself doing anything else!

When you start a new project where do you gather inspiration?
I am inspired by people mostly, and I love solving problems.  Every project and every client is an opportunity to give someone something they love, and I truly want to do so.  I love everything about giving gifts.  Often times, my best ideas start with the thought that someone might like to have this or that.  I am hugely nostalgic, and unbelievably emotional.  I also find a lot of inspiration in supplies.  Craft stores are very dangerous for me!  I walk in, and my head starts spinning with ideas!

What has been your most interesting or challenging project?
A few years ago, I was fortunate to be a part of a project with a band named Da Di Da.  We printed their album cover and track list on these fantastic recycled paper sleeves.  I was so in love with the project, I actually did it for free.  Tyler had fun too, he actually ended up playing organ on a song for the album.  It was a great experience, and I always hope for more artist collaborations in the future.

When working with a new client, how do you get to know them?
All of my projects begin with an email conversation.  Truthfully, most brides have a pretty good idea of what they want, or at least a mood they want to convey.  They send me pictures they have saved, and personal photos, even fabric samples.  I think this is the best part of my job.  It is fun to meet people from all around the world, and really challenging and rewarding to translate their ephemera into a wedding suite.  I think it makes the process more meaningful than picking something out of a book that a thousand other people have.  Some people love being a part of the project, and I love being a part of their wedding memories.

You followed your dreams and started a business.  Do you have a motto or advice for other artists just starting out?
Try not to delay when you have an idea!  If you don't act fast, you might lose the driving inspiration, or someone else might think of and do the same thing!  Life is busy, but you will be so happy when you work hard for something and find success!

Do you offer a retail collection as well as custom work?
Most of my time in the studio is devoted to custom wedding suites.  There are not that many letterpress printers who do fully bespoke wedding orders, so it has kept me very busy in the past.  Recently, I have been working to create a line of designs that I can offer for everyday use.  I learned a lot when I first started my Etsy shop, but my efforts were a bit scatterbrained.  I am so close to having a cohesive collection to represent my brand!

What are you working on now?
I currently have an À la carte wedding collection, some mixed media art prints, and some all occasion stationery for my Etsy shop in the works.  I took a long hiatus while I was pregnant, then a good while to learn to balance a newborn and a business.  During this time, it seems like I was hoarding ideas and inspiration, so I am eager to relaunch my shop with fresh products.

Twitter  ||  Facebook

Katrina has offered one lucky reader a chance to win a set of her beautiful handmade stationary.

TO ENTER || Simply leave a comment below stating what you enjoyed about the interview with Katrina.  To enter twice, in addition to leaving a comment, tweet about the giveaway by linking to this post and include Katrina and I in your tweet (@abbyb26 & @katemajoie).

All comments will close at midnight CST on Friday, August 24th. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on Monday, August 27.  To receive notice in your inbox sign up for updates in the top right tool bar.  

Thank you, Katrina, for sharing your inspiration with us today and for the lovely gift! 

15 August 2012

DIY Natural Bug Repellent for Your Yard

It is just as important to protect your yard from pests as it is to protect your body.  Upon first evaluation of your yard, be sure to eliminate your exposure by following the tips I listed in the August 4(for) Green Acres challenge.

Since bugs can be repelled with scents, the next step is to plant as many herbs and flowers as possible in and around your garden and yard that ward off pests.  Potted plants on the porch full of mint or lavender also work well.

You can also protect your yard by making a spray you can keep on hand for times when you will outdoors.  Before activity simply spray your plants and grass.


  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • Mineral oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups of water
spray bottle

  1. Mince a few garlic cloves and cover them in mineral oil.  Let it sit for 24 hours or more.  
  2. Take a teaspoon of the oil/garlic mixture and mix it with two cups of water and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
  3. Strain out the garlic with cheesecloth or a very fine strainer and funnel the liquid into a spray bottle.
  4. Spray on plants and grass around areas of activity.  Shake before each use.

13 August 2012

BYG: Beat the Heat with Mint Tea

{image source}
I've never been a fan of mint.  I love the smell, I love the color, but I don't love the taste.  I found a reason to get over it when I took a homesteading class.  I was standing in the middle of a sweltering herb class when we were offered a glass of mint tea.  Minding my manners like my mother taught me, I took the glass of tea and drank it despite my dislike for mint.  Five minutes later the air felt as if the temperature had dropped ten degrees.  My body felt cool.  I could breath deeper.  I asked our instructor what was in the tea and her answer was simply peppermint leaves.
She said during the heat months our bodies, especially the digestive system actually heat up, and not because of the season.  It's important to cool our systems during this cycle because excessive heat in the system can burn out the adrenal glands and trigger inflammation.  All culprits that make us irritable.  Herbs have healing properties and mint in particular has a calming effect on our system as well as cooling agents.

She went on to tell us that peppermint tea was the best drink in the summer because it will actually cool us from the inside out.  After having experienced what she was saying, I prefer mint tea that is slightly chilled on a hot day to a glass of ice water.

Mint is making its way up my list of favorites (i.e. vinegar, honey, baking soda, etc).  As a bonus, growing mint to harvest for tea also has an impact in your yard.  It's a great insect repellent. 


Yield: 2 cups

1 handful of fresh mint (any variety)
2 cups of boiling water

First, wash the mint leaves in a little white vinegar and water to clean them. Roughly cut or tear the mint leaves and add to a pot of boiling water and cover or use a coffee press. Allow to steep for about 3-7 minutes, depending on how strong you want your tea.  There really is no particular recipe, and adding honey or other herbs adds a nice touch. 
Enjoy and stay cool. 

08 August 2012

DIY Natural Bug Repellents for Your Body

You stink!  That's what you want a bug to think of you.  It's a strange concept to think about, but bugs are either attracted or unattracted by scent.  As mentioned in the August 4(for) Green Acres challenge, mosquitoes carry the highest amount of the west nile virus in August and September.  It's important to arm our bodies so we can continue to enjoy the outdoors, and it's as easy as applying the right scent.

Lavender and mint are two herbs that mosquitoes are especially repelled by.  You will find in the recipes below that one or both of these herbs are found in the ingredient list.  While I'm mostly dealing with mosquitoes because of the serious health risk, you can also combat other pests at the same time. Here is a list of herbs and what insects they help repel.  Essential oils can be found for all of them.

As you begin to mix and use your sprays or gel keep these important tips in mind.

1.  Use the purest ingredients you can find.  Ingredients that you don't grow yourself or you don't have on hand purchase in a health food store or at a farmers market.  Read the list of ingredients to make sure they don't have a lot of additives.  We are fighting nature with nature so stick as close to it as you can.

2.  Remember to be diligent with reapplying.  Our homemade versions are not waterproof or sweat proof.  Nor do they have agents that will stay on your skin for quite some time.  By adding a conditioning agent like an oil they will be able to stay on your skin longer.

3.  Essential oils are very potent and should never be applied directly to your skin.  They could burn.  They must be diluted with water or witch hazel prior to application.

4.  These repellents do not have a long shelf life.  Over time the scent starts to diminish and scent is the key ingredient in making these work.  If you find you're losing scent you can add a few drops of essential oil to the bottle or gel and shake or mix well.


  • Essential oils: rosemary, tea tree, eucalyptus, cedar, lavender, catnip, citronella, mint, etc.
  • Witch Hazel, rubbing alcohol, or vodka (whatever you have on hand)
  • Water that has been boiled or distilled water
  • Olive Oil (optional)*  

small spray bottle


  1. Fill the spray bottle half way with water.
  2. Add the witch hazel to fill almost to the top.
  3. If using olive oil add 1/2 tsp.
  4. Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent.  The more you use the stronger the scent will be.  Mix and match the oils for a customized scent.
  5. Store in the refrigerator to keep it fresh longer.
  6. Spray on exposed skin and clothing* 

*Be sure to test the spray on a discrete place on your clothing to ensure it does not stain or damage.


  • Fresh or Dried herbs: mint, citronella, lavender, catnip, eucalyptus, etc.
  • Witch Hazel, rubbing alcohol, or vodka
  • Water for boiling

small spray bottle


  1. Boil 1 cup of water and add 3-4 TBSP of any combination of dried herbs.  If using fresh herbs add more.  Fresh is less potent than dried.  If you feel your mix is too strong you can always dilute it later.  
  2. Take off the heat, mix well, and cover to cool.  Be sure to keep the lid on so the oils (scent) don't evaporate.
  3. When cooled, strain the herbs out and mix 1 cup of witch hazel, rubbing alcohol or vodka and funnel the mixture into a spray bottle.
  4. Store in the refrigerator to keep it fresh longer.
  5. Spray on exposed skin and clothing*  
*Be sure to test the spray on a discrete place on your clothing to ensure it does not stain or damage.


  • 2 cups of clear aloe vera gel (not dyed green)
  • 2 tsp tea tree oil
  • 2 tsp citronella oil
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary oil
  • 1/2 tsp local honey (optional) - honey has antibacterial components and also adds moisture to the gel.  It will not make the gel sticky. 
Note: The oils above can be exchanged for other oils depending on what insects you are trying to repel.  I would trade out peppermint or lavender for tea tree oil to work better on mosquitoes.  

Small jelly jar or baby food jar


  1. Pour the aloe vera into a bowl. 
  2. Add the essential oils and honey if you are using it and mix well.  The gel may look slightly creamy.
  3. Spoon into a jar and cover with a lid. 
  4. Store in the refrigerator to keep it fresh longer.
  5. Slather on exposed skin.

  • Rub vanilla extract (not imitation) on your skin with a cotton ball on the hot parts of your body: behind your ears, underarms, the crease of your elbow, behind your knees, etc.  You can also add vanilla to any of the receipts above.
  • Rub the leaves and flowers from fresh herbs all over the skin, especially anything in the mint family.

06 August 2012

Windy City

There is a new windmill emerging on the horizon.  It's not the run of the mill variety I'm used to seeing in the hills of Nebraska, but rather a money making variety that is convincing farmers and ranchers to turn over acres and acres of land for the production of electricity.  

I've heard about these monstrosities.  I see the turbines flying down the interstate on semi trucks one by one.  I hear the woes of those in west Texas alone that can't stand the sight of them looming in the distance.  Visual pollution.  So are they really giving us more energy efficiency and if so, at what price?  

This post is not going to answer those questions.  I know that's what you were expecting, but it's one of those mysteries that I haven't quite figured out yet.  Wind farms are a new phenom to me.  Until I figure it out, I'm going to marvel at their size.  From a distance their size is relative to the landscape. Up close, however their presence overwhelms you.   

To give you an idea, I happened to spot this windmill, the water pump windmill, next to a wind turbine. We pulled off the road to take a closer look.  I was stunned.  It completely dwarfs the small windmill.

Just to prove the small windmill is there I took a closer shot.  ONE of the turbines fits on a semi trailer, barely, but close enough.  So image three semi trucks flapping in the wind.  Now multiple that by 50 or 100.  The wind farms we spotted from the road had this many or more.  That is a lot of power.  

While we're on the subject of wind, I will share with you a tidbit I learned about them, and might explain their size a little better.  A water pump windmill actually needs the wind in order to operate. Windmills were invented to pump water from wells in the ground when there wasn't electricity available.  The drawback being, if there was no wind, there was no water.  

On the other hand, the wind turbines, in a simple explanation, create wind in order to move the molecules in the air fast enough to create energy that is then captured and converted to electricity.  They don't rely on wind to work, they create it, which is a common misconception (even on my part).  In a sense it's like hydroelectric power and the wind is like the water.  It gets pushed around enough to create energy. Thus the reason the turbines need a wide, open space to make this work, and why we saw so many of them covering the plains.   

Do you think their size is amazing?