Farmer Diary: Expectations fall short with harvest, celebrations

Farm Forum

Editor’s note: Farm Forum contributor John Papendick is spending his fall helping on the family farm in Faulk County. He is writing about his adventures in a series of columns.

The day after harvest had ended on our Faulk County farm brought just another day of work.

I was surprised.

There was equipment to be cleaned, fixed and put away; parts to be ordered; planning to be done; fields to be prepared; and fertilizer to be spread. There were many things on the “had to be done right now” list that had been put on hold during the weeks of harvest.

Just when you think you have caught up on the farm, you realize you’ve actually fallen behind.

The harvesters at our Faulk County farm hit the finish line at dark on a Sunday and then had an early Monday morning wakeup call.

Another day of work for them after weeks of late nights and early mornings.

When I arrived at mid-morning Monday, I was expecting a parade in progress. But no champagne, no streamers, no trips to Hawaii.


I bet the Chicago Cubs and their fans still are celebrating the World Series title they won Nov. 2.

It seemed like most churches, select businesses and many towns used to have fall harvest celebrations. There are still some, but not how I remember it in the farming communities of the 1960s.

In the archives of the American News, one can find details about Aberdeen’s former annual fall harvest celebration with a parade and bands, entertainment throughout the day and, of course, food.

These days, many people continue to be interested in the fall harvest on the farm. But taking time to celebrate it?

Not so much.

It seems to me:

• Today’s world is more complicated.

• People have more things to do.

• There is more of a disconnect today. At one time, it seemed like almost everyone in South Dakota had connections to a farm. Those seem to be missing today.

• We as a society feel more rushed. One job completed (no matter how big the job), on to the next one.

I get it.

Plus, this year’s harvest left many farmers in our area with little reason to celebrate. To an outsider like me, the harvest seemed to be miserable in some fields, not that great in others, and OK in a few fields.

When you are not seeing your labor bearing financial fruit, it is hard to get yourself to jump up and down.

Instead, I’ve heard testimony of faith in a better next year. I’ve seen farmers invest in the future.

I’ve felt hope, and I’ve smelled perseverance.

Although I didn’t get to sip champagne, my taste for the farm remains very satisfying.

Longtime South Dakota journalist John Papendick is a freelance writer, public speaker and seeker of new life experiences. Email