Rural Reflections: Blessed to have harvest wrapped up

Farm Forum

The first snow of the season really shouldn’t come as a surprise. When the first flakes fall, there are always things left to do. We were fortunate that our corn harvest was finished before the cold arrived and snow started piling up in the yard. But there’s the thought that maybe there’s something more that needs to be done.

Last week, the Carlson custom combining crew rolled into our yard on Sunday. They’d been in Canada and were glad to be closer to the end of the year’s run. The crew got started that afternoon and finished up at 3 a.m. Wednesday. It was much better than the year when they harvested in the snow and below zero temperatures at the end of December.

Thursday morning, with our three bins full, corn at the elevator and fields cleared, they loaded up equipment and headed off for their next job. Dale could rest a bit in the recliner. The combiners were keenly aware that weather events were predicted to soon blanket the fields with snow.

The warm October weather made a huge difference in the moisture in the corn in our area. Dale had combined some acres to test out the condition. Depending on the field, it swung from 15.5 to 22 percent. With near ideal conditions for harvest in the first week of November, grain that has been augured into the bins will need to have some air run through it. We’ll have to keep a close eye on the grain. Along with other producers, we hope that prices for the crop will rise.

The weekend brought two of our daughters and our grandsons to help with cleaning out the combine and putting equipment away for the year. Grandsons Nate and Donnie claimed three buckets of corn to take home to the squirrels in their backyard. They figured it would be a good use of the leftovers.

Some of the dried ears came into the house for a couple of projects. Kernels of corn were strewn all from room to room. The boys turned the corncobs into thought-provoking creations with a few additions from the craft box. While the efforts from cultivating the land give us economic security, there’s always a little extra that may be used to help others.

While our family makes plans for Thanksgiving, the bountiful harvest also brings to mind that there are many who aren’t able to enjoy what we have. Last year many ranchers West River suffered under the impact of Storm Atlas. Some grain producers are still struggling to get their crops out of the fields. Other states continue to deal with drought conditions. And there are many who won’t have enough to eat this week.

At this week’s Ag Appreciation Banquet in Aberdeen on Friday night, ag producers and those from the business community will mingle for an evening of relaxation. At the event, Matt Gassen with Feeding South Dakota will share information about those who aren’t able to enjoy many of the things we take for granted. Production agriculture and its value added industries generate 20 percent of our state’s economic activity. Our industry employs more than 122,000 South Dakotans. With 19 million acres of cropland and 23 million acres of pastureland, our farmers and ranchers are one of our economy’s key drivers.

While the ag sector is rich in resources, the state is home to four of the top 10 poorest counties in the U.S. More than 120,000 South Dakota residents live in poverty. Gassen’s remarks will share that Feeding South Dakota’s story is a story of hope. It is a story of undying optimism. And it is a story that will not end until hunger is eliminated in the state forever. And for those of us in agriculture, maybe there’s still a little more to be done.