I took a road trip last week to visit my father who was turning 91. He’s doing OK for his age.
I left on Friday, April 26. It was going to be a trip of 380 miles through farm country. One of the things I was interested in seeing was what was going on in the farm fields south and east of us.
The answer to that could be summed up in two words - not much.
From St. James I hit I-90 east at Fairmont. There were still good size drifts of snow in the ditches from the freak storm we endured earlier in the week.
I hit the off ramp for MN HWY 22 and drove through Kiester into northern Iowa and through Lake Mills, IA. There was no field work being done on Friday morning in any field nf a Minnesota farm.
It might seem kind of like an odd route, but it’s a series of back roads I drove decades ago when it was a short cut to and from Mankato State. It’s not a short cut any more, but just a detour down my memory lane.
I was headed to western Illinois where my dad lives. I was only southbound on I-35 for a short period. I turned off on a county road that took me east toward Green, Iowa. I saw my first tractor in a field just west of Green. That’s about 170 miles SE of us.
Between Green and the Waterloo, IA area I spotted another tractor in the field. That’s all I saw on my way down. Two tractors doing field work.
At Iowa City I hit I-80 east and took that the rest of the way. In this long drive through farm country I saw no other field work being done.
In eastern Iowa and western Illinois, the recent heavy rains combined with the cold, wet spring put the kibosh on field work.
One thing I noticed was the drought last year killed a lot of pine trees - especially cedar trees. They were brown and dead in the wind rows of farms. The late winter rains came much too late to help these trees.
On the way back Sunday afternoon, the fields had dried out and warmed up a little more. There were approximately 15 tractors in the fields, though no one was planting. There were a couple around Kiester and one farmer was spreading fertilizer in Watonwan County south of St. James.
By Sunday the land was just about ready for field work to begin and the farmers were more than ready to do it.