From the Fields: The Madden family

From left: Clyde, Shaun and Derald Madden.

There is light at the end of the tunnel for Derald Madden. When The Land caught up with Madden on Nov. 8, he was getting ready for the home stretch of harvest.

The farm located outside of Lynd in Lyon County has seen its fair share of harvest headaches. Beet harvest finished on Oct. 24. As for how it went, Madden replied “well, it’s done.” The first part of the harvest was difficult but thankfully the last couple days of beet harvest went better.

The day after they finished beets Madden and son Shaun started on the corn. While it wasn’t an ideal start, now “moisture is starting to drop,” he said. “It was wet when we started but it has been slowly drying down.”

They are seeing 160 to 200 bushels per acre and “for this year I think it’s really good,” Madden said. He sees that there were pockets of corn that were dry and pockets that were wetter.

While they still have some corn to harvest, Madden is grateful that bean harvest went fast for them. They finished combining beans on Sept. 27; he was “lucky enough to get done early.” He knows that for many across the state bean harvest is just wrapping up. His neck of the woods “is a little ahead of the norm. ... Most of the neighbors are now done with beans and banging away on the corn.”

With the last few days windy and dry, the corn has dried out more in the field. That’s not to say the dryers at the farm haven’t been running all day and night. Derald, Shaun and a hired man have been taking shifts around the clock to check on the dryers and light them every to 2 1/2 to 3 hours. This is more drying than Madden is used to. Usually the corn runs between 21 and 22 percent moisture, but it is currently running 26 to 28 percent. “It has been a struggle since it (corn harvest) started,” he said. “When we put the combine away we will still be drying for two extra days.”

There was even more excitement out in the field. Madden said a stalk chopper bearing got hot and started on fire, then the tractor started on fire, but it “wasn’t too bad.” The tractor was saved and was quickly back out in the field.

For the corn harvest Madden hired a few more people to keep the tillage going right behind the combine. He did this to ensure they get completed before winter arrives. “Hopefully we have Indian summer for a couple more weeks.”

He recalls harvests when they were combining corn in the snow and finishing up harvest on Christmas. “Every year is different.”

Madden is concerned about the stress this harvest has put on equipment and he suspects the damage may not be known until next year when the equipment is rolled out again.

Looking at next year, Madden will be keeping his beet acres about the same. “Can’t look at this fall and say I am not going to plant that much beets due to the mud.” He may switch around bean and corn acres; that will be dictated by price.

“I remember three years that we hardly had to turn on the dryer,” Madden said. With only 16 percent moisture, he just used fans until Christmas. This year is different, he said, noting that they are “definitely going through a lot of propane.”

Madden’s goal is to finish corn harvest by Nov. 12. What’s next for Derald and Shaun? Shaun will be heading to Montana to help at a snowmobile dealership for a couple of weeks. Derald calls it a working vacation as Shaun will get a chance to snowmobile around the area that is near Yellowstone.

Madden and his hired man “will go out to Morris to help some friends finish up” harvest. He calls helping out with other peoples’ harvest “a lot of fun.” He jokes that with his stress all done, he enjoys watching others pull their hair out.

As for a vacation, Madden is hoping to get away to somewhere warm, but “probably won’t get out of here until Christmas.” One thing that Madden is looking forward to when harvest is over is sleep. “I don’t really get good sleep until the harvest is over.” With the end in sight, a good night’s rest isn’t too far away.