The feeling of fall has arrived. I’m typing this while enjoying a cup of coffee complete with pumpkin spice creamer. All I need is a cozy flannel shacket (shirt/jacket combo) and a crisp Minnesota apple to finish off the fall trifecta.
This time of year has been a favorite of mine since I was little. It meant a new beginning, back to school, new clothes, fresh school supplies, and of course football season. I’m not a huge fan of the actual sport, but I have enjoyed the atmosphere of being at the game since I was a little girl. My dad coached high school football; so when I was young that meant my mom, brother and I sat out on the cold bleachers bundled in a cozy blanket cheering on his team. It also meant I got a cup of that delicious hot cocoa from the concession stand. Staying up late, mesmerized watching the bats flying around the stadium lights, sipping cocoa on the cool fall nights … it didn’t get better than that.
For my husband, fall has always been about harvest and hunting. Days and nights in the field were spent listening to whatever he could find on the AM radio. Ideally, it would be North Dakota State University Bison football or the Minnesota Twins.
Speaking of being in the field, combines are starting to roll as soybeans are ready to harvest — weeks earlier than usual in most of the state. What started as hopefulness this spring, when conditions were ripe to get the crop in the ground on time (or even early in some cases), moved on to optimism that this was going to be a good growing season. The rain stayed away for planting; the fields weren’t saturated.
Once the crops were in the ground, it was time for rain to get the crops going. But many farms got nothing. Week after week I spoke with “From the Fields” producers. They were hanging on to that 10 to 20 percent chance of rain in the forecast. Nothing. They would watch in befuddlement as the radar showed rain heading their way — only to just skirt around their farms; or the moisture simply wouldn’t reach the ground.
Prices were high, but hopes were not.
As of the latest report from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, there are portions of eight counties which are still classified as in exceptional drought. At least a quarter of the state is in extreme drought. The rains in August have helped replenish a bit of the rivers, lakes and streams, but we have a long way to go. The soil is still in need of more moisture.
When will that come? Farmers I talk to hope the ground will be in better shape by next spring’s planting. We all can only wish that next year will be better for growing crops.
I feel like I always say, “next year will be better.” That phrase was used by me many, many times when our kids were little and we traveled as a family somewhere. The thinking that the next year had to be better when traveling with little kids. They wouldn’t need all the strollers, toys and pack-n-plays. And each year it did get better. We can now travel with our kids packing their own clothes (with some success). They can go through the TSA line smoothly and enjoy the plane ride better than me. (By the way, when did turbulence become such a norm on a plane? Every plane ride I seem to grip those armrests harder and harder as we navigate all the bumps and drops the pilot coolly calls “a bit of turbulence.”) Even in those challenging years of traveling with little kids, we embraced the chaos, knowing we were making memories that would last a lifetime.
This year wasn’t ideal for so many farmers, but they had to embrace the challenges and look ahead to what is hopefully a higher-yielding 2022. Can we also request that 2022 be without Covid, without division and with an abundance of more kindness all around?
Whether you’re heading out to a football game under the big lights on a Friday night or spending some quality time in the combine, here’s hoping that this fall goes smoothly and that next year is better. Don’t forget to add a dash of pumpkin spice creamer just to be sure and throw on your flannel shacket!
Kristin Kveno is the staff writer of The Land. She may be reached at kkveno@TheLandOnline.com.