Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Home to the Farm!

Saturday I took the kids home to the FARM, to visit my cousins and aunt and uncle... since I am not "technically" from the farm anymore. Thankfully, my family takes us in with wide open arms.
This post is part historical, part educational, part reflection...and ALL Andrea.

The Twinners and I got to my cousin Matt and Shylah's around 11:30. When we arrived, my Aunt Jan (Matt and Mike's mom) was hustling from one field to the next to feed the noon meal to the crew combining in one field, and the crew harvesting beets in another. Back in the day, my mom and Jan would cook all morning and coordinate who feed who. I estimate Jan fed 8 or more men that day??? Today, Jan and Shylah call ahead and pick up hot and hearty meals at cafe in town. In the past, like today, there is seasonal hired help to get the crops in. All those men are feed too. Back in the day, roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy was a sustaining menu item. Today, roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy remains a regular menu item!

Shylah kindly fed my brood and hers barbecues in her kitchen at the home farm. After, we headed down the shop and "shack". I would liken the "shack" to command central for the grain set up (the bins and leg system), which is used for the movement, drying and storage of corn and beans.

My uncle Sheldon was dumping the semi's at the grain set up as they came from the field loaded with corn. In my day on the farm, my mom would man the "shack" between feeding men and nightfall.

I tried to explain to Marly and Dean that this is how our uncle and cousin's make a living.

Next, Shylah drove us to meet my cousin Mike harvesting beets in a field a few miles east at Allen's. Sutton, Saxton, Marly and Dean piled in the back seat of the pick up, with Sawyer in the front with us girls.

Back in the day, my Dad and Uncle Sheldon operated 2 lifters when conditions were good.

Today, Mike is operating with one new and efficient piece of equipment.

Once the semi is full of beets, it will head to the Buffalo Lake sugar beet dump. Over the months ahead, the beets from those piles around the county will make their way to the farmer owned co-op processing plant in Renville...then onto the grocery store, where we buy refined sugar in 5 pound bags.Next we headed to Essers for a combine ride, while my cousin Matt harvested corn. Farms are all named so you know who is where. Usually the names reflect someone who owned them or lived there. My cousin farm spread spread across many many miles, mostly in Renville County.

Back in the day, my Dad and Uncle Sheldon operated two combines.
Today, Matt uses one very efficient, and very large machine. What do you all think that state-of-the art green piece of equipment costs??? The combine now also serves as the stock chopper, removing one step in the process to return the soil to a condition suitable for planting in the spring.

I love to show off the agricultural technology available today. This GPS computer system tracks yield and moisture by acre. I am sure it does a hell of that more than that... but are the details are all I can explain! Unfortunately, purple is the lowest yeild that can register.

While continuing to drive/harvest, Matt simultaneously empties the combine hopper into the grain cart, which pulls up along side of him. Back in the day, my Dad would pull the combine up to the sitting semi, stop, and unload. Matt estimates he shaves 30% of the time it takes to harvest a field by using the grain cart. My retired uncle Loren shuttles the cart from the combine to the semi. My cousin's now farm Loren and his brother Allen's land. Allen's is where Mike was harvesting beets. Allen also puts in some hours on the farm in the fall.

Part of the reason my relatives find success in farming is their love and stewardship of the land they own, and the land entrusted in them by their landlords (like my uncle Loren and aunt Carol, my Dad, Orlo, Don and Irene, and the late Mrs. Howard Tewes). I feel that same love and pride in the land, even though I am not involved in the food supply chain.

The old white farm house in the photo above is the place I lived from age 2 to 13. Now it is abandoned and ramshackle. Back in the day, my mom spent DAYS getting the entire yard mowed. We moved when I was in 8th grade and my parents built a new house. After we left, this person and that person lived their, including my cousin Michelle and her husband Chad, then my cousin Mike. Eventually, the 5 acre farm site was sold off. Our neighbor's across the road, Patty and Orlo, are forever remembered and honored too.

Dean needed to pick MORE corn to take home to suburbia (along with the sugar beets). Look at that blue sky. Look at that wide open space. Look at the country. This is home to me. This is where my heart lives.

Just as the kids were getting antsy in the combine, Shylah came to pick us up. In case you are curious, I ride along too. There is plenty of room in the combine and tractor, since both have a buddy seat. I make it no secret, I LOVE riding.

Honostly, it's a damn good thing the kids like going out, because they are my excuse to get to come out.After leaving Matt to a combine cab filled with just the two-way radio chatter (instead of MY chatter), we headed back to the home farm, where the kids got more time to play with their cousin's Sutton, Saxton, and Sawyer. Of course ALL kids love farm cats.

Look at all those pumpkins Shlyah grew! She kindly sent us home with car load for our autumn decor.

By now you must undestand that farming is in our blood. This past week, my oldest cousin Jared was home to the farm to help Matt and Mike. My oldest cousin is an engineer for Cummings. Cummings makes the motors for Case-IH farm equipment. Case is the leading compititor with John Deer. Jared used a WEEK of vacation and FLEW from Indiana to put in 14 hours days working on the farm. My cousins don't call Jared. Jared comes because he WANTS to.
It is my hope that bringing the kids out to the farm will instill this same love for the land in them, even if it is from a distance.

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