Tractors and wagons and combines, oh my!

I love to go for drives in the country this time of year. The ready-to-harvest soybeans have a golden glow in the sunlight, the corn stalks have dried and long since lost that sweet summer smell and the trees, well, the trees are absolutely gorgeous.

My drive through the countryside today actually began shortly after noon as I left my first session of the U-Lead Advisory Academy and headed south out of St. Cloud. The colors up there were magnificent – at peak, according to their local news channel. Certainly, St. Cloud is home to a greater number of maples than Worthington. They even have some birch up there – a clear sign I was in the midst of Lake Country!

During the drive up to St. Cloud on Thursday I think I encountered more combines, tractors and wagons on the road than I saw in the fields, but that wasn’t the case on the return trip today.

I lost count of the number of farmers combining soybeans as I drove through Kandiyohi, Renville and Redwood counties late this afternoon and evening. The dust was flying and the wagons and semi trailers were quickly being filled to the brim.

I had intended to take a short detour route through my old stomping grounds of Wabasso, then follow the county roads through Lamberton, Storden and Heron Lake. Mostly, I wanted to see how the water levels were looking at Lamberton since I’d heard they experienced a lot of flooding a week ago.

The little campground on the north side of town still had some standing water, but the nearby dam was still overflowing from the swollen Cottonwood River. In fact, the shelter house right nearby was still flooded, and a picnic table was hung up on one of the corner beams.

Though it was starting to get dark by then, I could see the neighboring corn and soybean fields have begun to turn black – what a sad sight after such a promising growing season and high expectations for a bumper crop.

The detour was extended when I pulled up to the stop sign on Highway 14 and saw that the road was closed up ahead. I ended up driving nearly to Walnut Grove and then taking the back roads through Westbrook, passed the Talcott dam and Dundee and finally hitting up with Highway 60 again at Brewster.

Taking the road less traveled was rather enjoyable – even though it was in the dark. I only had to slow down for a few sets of deer eyes in the headlights. All of the combines were still chugging away in the fields.

This time of the year, it’s always a good reminder for people to take precautions while driving in the countryside. Farm implements these days can be rather massive – taking up an entire lane and shoulder as they head down the road.

They are slow moving vehicles and it’s often difficult to see around them. Just be patient if you’re wanting to pass. In fact, perhaps you should slow down, stay behind them for a little while and enjoy the fall colors that surround you. They won’t be around for long!

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