Letter to Dave October 2005
Viking, Minnesota

Rural Reflections Radio

Dear Dave,


I’d talk about the weather but let’s put it in a nutshell; Winter is the visitor that doesn’t call before he stops by-all you can do is hide inside the house and wait for him to leave.

The sugar beet harvest began this week but ended before I could even hit stride. We started the “campaign” this past Monday in dry conditions that allowed us to harvest the fields most likely to get slick then watched them get slick. R and R Farms uses a John Deere 9400 tractor that we call “the Chicken Hawk” to pull trucks but even the ‘Hawk with it’s “Safety Pull” (long steel tow bar) couldn’t save us from a rain shutdown. I didn’t even have the opportunity to listen to the “beet beat” on KROX radio out of Crookston, Minnesota The Beet Beat is a radio program who’s mission statement must contain the word “inappropriate” several times. It’s an odd mix of bad jokes and worse music that is highly entertaining, at least when the only other entertainment is the constant stream of hallucinations brought on by lack of sleep during the harvest. I started the season right when my semi broke down and I had to drive our back-up truck which has been nicknamed “the Rabbit.” This Freightliner features an air ride suspension that gives you a sensation of the road uniquely similar to riding a waterbed perched on top of a pogo stick. If you hit a bump in the field the front end will start to hop which is how it gained the name “Rabbit.” The only way to halt this queasy motion is to hold the accelerator down until the hopping ceases or you get a different truck.

I know you had snow around your home in Carrington, North Dakota. I hope harvest is more complete out there than it is around home. We still have some sunflowers, many acres of beets and some corn left here although it’s mostly chisel plowing and paperwork for the bean and grain farmers from now until Spring. I’ve heard that farmers haven’t been applying a lot of fall fertilizer around here which could mean financial trouble but maybe there just wasn’t enough time. We’re harvesting lots of sugar beets around Warren, Minnesota but farms closer to the Canadian boarder and in the southern valley may have received too much rain. It almost causes me physical pain to see rain on a few acres of fresh-cut alfalfa so I can’t imagine how it feels to see a whole section of crops under water. I guess conditions could be worse, it could be a foot of snow instead of a few inches of rain like out in Dickinson.

Well, I said I wasn’t going to talk about the weather but I did, it’s a real conversational trap. The weather is rich subject matter here in Minnesota as we’re known as the Theatre of Seasons. You just never know what the next feature is going to be and unfortunately you can never walk out on the movie. Tell all hello.

Your bro’