Tractors on the back roads: Drive carefully


Last night, I traveled across Kandiyohi, Meeker, and McLeod Counties after dark, roads that were less dark for the rush of harvest, as farmers used a break in the recent wet weather to get at their crops. Mainly beans, these days.

Ever since I was a small child, combine lights across a field have always been a comforting sight, a symbol of peace and prosperity, though that impression doesn’t hold in the light of day. The farmers harvest their field regardless of war or peace, or whether they’ll get a fair price for their season’s work.

Bluestem Prairie is a hip (but not cynical) rural magazine for those who prefer take their corn with a progressive chaser and tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Perhaps they’re better seen as warning lights for those of us who love unwinding on those rural roads. Slow down, they signal, and that is true.

Blue Earth County’s former extension agent Kent Thiesse writes in Corn and Soybean Digest:

The non-farm public also needs to pay extra attention when driving on rural roads during harvest season, especially before and after work or school. Farm vehicles are larger and move much slower than cars, and the autumn sun is usually in a bad position during the times of heaviest traffic in the morning and late afternoon on rural roads throughout the fall season. The best advice is to slow down, pay attention and stay off the cell phones while driving.

I’ve sometimes encountered ag behemoths that take up all of the road; at night, one might not be visible in it’s in a dip in the road. It’s time to slow down, and those of you who follow other cars and trucks closely should either pass or get off the other driver’s tail. She may need to brake quickly for working farmers.

The other road hazard beginning to get out in force are the state’s white-tailed deer. Some are being flushed out of fields by farmers, but with the freeze, they’re going into rut. Last Thursday afternoon, two six-point bucks jumped in front of me on Wright County 30 near Hartkopf’s elk farm. one presumably seeking to avoid a fight with the fine fellow at his hooves.

It’s always a wonder how the creatures that are so wily during hunting season get so twitterpated during rut. White-tails are even more clueless about crossing roads this time of year KSTP offers some advice from the DNR here.

Image: Though a genius of sorts, Walt Disney wasn’t much of a biologist. The real Bambi and Faline get busy in the fall.