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Enjoy the harvest rideEnjoy the harvest ride

Prairie Post: Get there safely, even if it takes a little longer.

Kevin Schulz

October 11, 2023

3 Min Read
Rear view of farm equipment on road
GIVE SPACE AND TIME: We all need to slow down when following farm equipment; give slow vehicles the time and space to get to where you’re — and they’re — going.Kevin Schulz

As we age, time seems to speed right by you. And this year seems to be no different. Wasn’t it just yesterday that farmers were hitting their fields to get the crops in, and now here we are getting the crop out?

Some things that do not speed by are farm equipment. They can work at a fevered pitch to get the crops harvested, but once they hit the roads to travel from field to field or field to home, it can seem like they crawl along.

I know this, you know this — but our non-farm friends do not realize this — or they have forgotten this from the spring. They get impatient when caught behind an agriculture convoy.

Though I understand the speed at which rural traffic travels, I do not have the same patience when I am driving or walking in more crowded areas. My family or others riding with me may argue with me, but I don’t believe that I border on road rage, I just wish that everyone else drove with the same attention and consideration for their fellow drivers as I do.

But when I get back on the country roads, I can feel my blood pressure fall. When I do get behind slow-moving farm equipment, even if I’m en route to what I feel is an important event, meeting or appointment, I try to take a deep breath and enjoy the slower pace for a bit.

Our world is flying by way too fast. It does the body good to occasionally slow to a combine’s pace.

I wish our non-farm friends who travel rural roads in the spring and fall, and who get behind farm machinery, would also slow down and take the time to appreciate their surroundings.

Think about it

They may get angered at the farm equipment: “Can’t you go any faster?” No, they can’t.

“Why don’t you pull over?” Most farmers are conscientious and will pull to the side when they can. Farm equipment is big, and some rural roads are not very wide and shoulders are narrow or nonexistent.

For example, the county road I live on was newly paved this spring, so it is nice and smooth. Sadly, however, the shoulder (where there is some) is not very wide.

For a county road, this is fairly well-traveled, a connector between a U.S. highway and a state highway. My wife and I like to walk, and we used to like walking this road. We used to — until this road project completion, that is.

Safety paramount

As traffic approaches, we would move to the shoulder. But now when there is little to no shoulder, or where there is shoulder it easily falls away even from the weight of two walkers, it is dangerous to step off. Yes, falling into the ditch is safer than being hit by oncoming motorists, but it’s just not safe.

Now imagine if I’m driving a combine or a tractor pulling a grain cart or a manure tanker. I see a motorist at my rear, wanting to get around me. There is no way that I am going to pull over and risk losing control of my combine, which weighs over 50,000 pounds. That motorist is at risk of more than being a little late for an “important” engagement.

Slowing down is a good reminder for farmers as well, even in a hectic time such as harvest. Yes, winter is coming, and you want to get the crop in the bins before snow flies, but getting the harvest completed with your health and sanity intact is what’s more important.

Before you enjoy having the crop in the bin, enjoy the ride.

Comments? Send email to [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

[email protected]

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