The Planted Row: Good weather and record crop inspire hope

Farm Forum

The weather was just about perfect in the Aberdeen area last week. It was warm and dry – perfect weather to dry down corn and soybeans and perfect weather for being outside. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more beautiful weekend in South Dakota.

After his soccer game on Saturday, my son wanted to do something — just the two of us. We had just enough time to drive over to the Living History Fall Festival at the Granary Rural Cultural Center near Groton. By the time we got there, the festival was wrapping up. There were plenty of people still in period costume, but folks were shutting down their booths. I was sad we didn’t get to hear any of the music, but my son and I took time to explore the displays and statues on the grounds.

It was our first trip to the center, and I was very impressed. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and well-maintained. The statues are excellent, and so are all the informative displays. The more I learn about the early settlers of this territory, the more I am amazed by their fortitude. I’m beginning to understand where the people in this area get their excellent work ethic. If you’re traveling anywhere near Aberdeen, I suggest you make time to stop at the Granary and take a few minutes to learn about the history of our area.

After we left the center, we took the backroads over to Groton, and my son had fun trying to guess how soon it would be before each field was harvested. We came out on Highway 37 north of Groton and actually spotted farmers in the field, combining soybeans. I took the opportunity to explain how a combine worked, and my son enjoyed watching the driver empty his load into the grain cart while continuing to cut beans.

Commodity prices are terrible right now, and some experts think they could stay that way for a while. Lately, I have been a little down in the dumps about that situation, wondering what farmers will do to keep their operations in the black. However, on Saturday, I learned a little bit about the hardships the early pioneers had to endure. As I watched the farmer harvest his beans, I wondered what those early farmers would say about our current situation. I think they would tell us it’s not every year that we have nearly perfect weather and a record-breaking crop in the field. With the harvest beginning, I think they would remind us to be thankful for the things that are working in our favor and tell us to work hard and remain hopeful for the future.

Whatever it takes

Those of you who read my column regularly know that the availability of financing and land for beginning farmers is an issue that I care I about. The Huffington Post reports that two women in Tallahassee, Florida, are trying an unorthodox solution this problem.

When their landowner decided to stop renting them the land for their farm and put houses on it instead, these farm ladies needed to find a way to raise money to buy some land of their own. So, they decided to publish a calendar featuring nude photos of female farmers with their produce to raise the money they need to keep putting plants in the ground. They’re calling it “The Farmer Tans Calendar.”

Now, I’ve heard of giving it your all, but I never knew that included your clothes. If this plan works for them, I salute their efforts, but let’s hope we can find a better way to make sure the next generation of American farmers has access to land and financing. No offense to any producers, but I prefer not to know too many details about your farmer tans.

Spoiler alert

Pay special attention to the article on pages 18-19G about Marji Guyler-Alaniz, who takes photos of female farmers hard at work. You’re going to be seeing more of her excellent work.