A few weeks back we introduced you all to some of the local vocabulary at harvest time. I realize that there are a fair number of Minot AFB personnel that have grown up on a farm the Midwest, but then there are a lot of new Airmen and families, and I just want to make sure that they are introduced to a bit of our local farming culture.
If you were here last year you know that it was an unusually dry summer. The dreaded “D” word, (drought) was common to describe farming conditions in North Dakota, and well for pretty much of the Midwest. On our family farm there was talk of not “firing up” the combine at all. Thousands of dollars in input expenses (what you pay to plant your crop) wasted on what appeared to be one of those lost crops. As it turned out, late rains made a substantial difference on some of the fields of soybeans, and even later planted wheat, but it would certainly be fair to say that the crop of 2021 was a disappointment.
What a difference a year can make. Well really there are two factors that affected this year’s crop. Rain and rain. Rain that came late last fall assured farmers that there would be moisture during spring seeding. And then there was the late snow in April and finally the continued above average moisture through the early growing season. Drought, although it lingered well into summer because of the extreme dry conditions, was no longer the buzz word. Instead we heard about above average topsoil moisture (where seeds get planted) and adequate subsoil moisture. A wave of optimism began to creep back into the farming communities. Another benefactor in what could be described as a very wet spring was the pastures and hay lands. More grass for cattle, more hay for keeping those cattle longer. The evidence was the unusual amount of bales that dotted the landscape.
So turn the page to another chapter, harvest. My Dad used to be a telephone man in the middle of North Dakota. He used to tell me that “if the crops look good from the road, that means a full combine.” Hey folks, the crops did look good from the road. And although it is very dry right now, it is almost perfect harvest weather. Turn back the clock a bit to the summer months when there wasn’t a lot of those nasty summer storms that dump hail, referred to on the Northern plains as the “Great White Combine”.
And now another of those words used in our farming communities, it’s a bumper crop. Yeah, one of those better than average crops that fills the bins and puts smiles on everyone from the farmer to the local merchants downtown who know that there will be extra spending money this winter. We certainly appreciate each and every one of the dollars that the Minot AFB pump into our communities, but the ag economy still drives North Dakota, and unlike the boom and bust of the energy sector economy, the farming community does not have quite the high “highs” and low “lows” that go along with the global oil economy.
Finally, I had a conversation with my classmate and best friend from high school yesterday. When I asked about the harvest he said “best I can remember”. Some wheat fields yielding 70 plus bushels to the acre. Folks, that is a bumper, bumper crop. And in his words, prices are decent, and the quality of the grain is above average, even though we didn’t have much rain towards the end of the growing season. All in all, a great year, so far, in the farming communities of North Dakota. Something to put in your Christmas cards when you write home this holiday season.
Best Kept Secrets
Those reduced rate Norsk Hostfest promotions are better than the best deal you’ll find anywhere for entertainment and fun. Hope you can find the time and the resources to attend, well no, experience is probably a better word…experience Norsk Hostfest!
This Week’s Humor
Father to his daughter…
Father: You wanna watch the baseball game with me?
Teen daughter: No. I don’t like baseball.
Father: I didn’t like Little Mermaid, but I watched it 1,387 times. Now, go get your hat and jersey on.