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Sounds like fall

Erica Louder for Progressive Forage Published on 03 October 2018
dead end dirt road

I live on a dirt road that comes to a dead end at our house. It’s about a third of a mile off the highway. Directly to the west of where our road and the highway junction meet is a sugar beet dump operated by the regional sugar beet cooperative.

If you don’t know (I didn’t before moving here), a beet dump is the in-between residence of the sugar beets. It’s where the beets are stored until the factory is ready for them. Once they are harvested, they are trucked to the dump and unloaded into large piles. When they are needed, they are loaded into semitrucks and trucked to one of the factories operated by the co-op.

At the time I am writing this (Sept. 30), the early beet harvest has just finished. The normal harvest will begin in a week or so. For the past two weeks, every day when I met the school bus at the end of our road, the puttering whine of those 10-wheeler engines greeted me. Those old trucks turned into the beet dump, drivers waving as they line up to unload their product. The noise of those trucks, the crunch of tire on gravel and the puttering engines sound just like fall.

Early in the evening at the beet dump, loaders will begin dropping buckets of sugar beets into the empty beds of aluminum semitrailers. When the trailer is full, they will haul the beets to the factory. The booming noise of the beets hitting the trailer sounds like thunder. You can hear it, clear and loud, from our front porch. If you didn’t know better, you would think a storm was approaching. That thunder-like noise continues most of the night, and it sounds just like fall.

One of my neighbors was recently remarried. His new wife, while not exactly a city girl, was definitely unaccustomed to the sounds of a farm. On a Saturday evening, about a month ago, we weaned our calves. The next morning at church, she very innocently and sincerely asked what we did to our cows. “Do you need help feeding them? They seemed so sad; I heard them all night long. I couldn’t imagine what was wrong.” In reply, we smiled. No, we don’t need help feeding, and yes, they were sad. It was funny; their noise had hardly registered in our ears. To us, the beller of momma cows and their bawling calves is background noise. But when you do take the chance to notice, it sounds just like fall.

I have always loved this time of year. The frenzy of a busy harvest is reminiscent of an older way of life – a time when what could be gathered in the fall would determine much through a cold and harsh winter. Some of the sounds of fall are credited to modern agriculture, but some have always been there. Take a few minutes this season and pay attention. What does your fall sound like?  end mark

Erica Louder is a freelance writer based in Idaho. Email Erica Louder.

PHOTO: Trucks roll along to the sugar beet dump, crunching gravel as they go. Photo by Erica Louder.