Fall is a season I enjoy, and September is the best month of all. Part of the reason why is because early fall brings with it many traditions. Three of the best ones are the cow shows at the Minnesota State Fair, Golden Gopher football and corn silage harvest.
Corn silage harvest is right around the corner for us, a tradition of early September. It is always an exciting time of the year to get the cows’ feed chopped, piled and tucked into the silage bunker. I can almost smell it now. The bunker is cleaned up and ready for the newly harvested silage, the corn head is on and greased, and the kernel processor is in place on the chopper. We are ready.
Due to dry weather, some dairies are already finished. Others will be heading out to their choppers sooner than later. In our area, rain was short, but the yield looks comparable to years past. It takes many people to get silage harvest accomplished, and this year will be no different.
Saturday Golden Gopher football games at the University of Minnesota have been a fun part of fall for our farm family over the years. These days, the games are watched or listened to while doing other tasks and sometimes while we struggle to stay awake in front of the TV if they are played at night.
In years past, Mike has season tickets to attend home games shared with a friend. He often took our kids and their cousins to games, which could be where their love of Gopher football started. In recent years, they have attended every home game they could with college friends and cousins from campus with photos in maroon and gold attire to prove their attendance. They miss a few games in September due to dairy judging practices, but no doubt the judges finish soon enough to watch the games wherever the practice session takes them.
When Rolf and I attended the University of Minnesota, we went to Saturday games in the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome. The thrill back then was to watch Rickey Foggie and his teammates achieve great things coached by Lou Holtz. It seems like a long time ago now. The games were fun, but the venue was a bit uncomfortable as I recall. Games against the Iowa Hawkeyes were memorable with a lot of loud fans, especially the one when we were enmeshed in an Iowa section.
Another tradition was listening to Sid Hartman and Dave Mona on WCCO radio discuss endlessly all of the game nuances every Sunday for many years. Without the tradition of “Sidisms,” our Sundays are missing something now.
The tradition of dairy cattle shows in the fall is especially enjoyable. Making it in person to actual shows at the Minnesota State Fair and at the World Dairy Expo is a goal of mine every year. I try to get to at least part of them, because I love to see the cattle looking their best, and friends who show cattle are fun to see and visit with.
This year, I was able to help with the 4-H Dairy Cattle Show at the Minnesota State Fair and to be present in the cattle barn for a day. It was fun to see everyone after the lack of the fair in 2020. Everyone I talked with seemed to feel extra joyful to be at the fair and to see friends in person at the shows.
A bonus was the state fair cattle barn celebrating its 100th year of existence this year. What traditions it holds for people who have paraded cattle through the center aisle to the Coliseum, worked in the Moo Booth, managed the milking parlor (or the milk room in the corner way back when), dumped a few manure carts, held cattle over between shows, slept in the dorms above the barn, and for those who come to watch the shows and be with friends.
A new tradition may have started in my household this year during the open class dairy show days of the state fair. It’s tough to find enough hours to attend the state fair in between chores most days, so I watched the dairy shows on the livestream on the laptop on my kitchen counter. The fun of watching beautiful cows parading around the ring helped with the mundane task of making salsa with garden produce.
Upholding the tradition of being there for at least one day was a great way to end the summer and begin the fall. The memories we make are called to mind as we go through the upcoming months of work and weather challenges which are no doubt on the way.
I hope you were able to revisit or make some of your own fall traditions with family and friends, and that what is left of your harvest is safe and productive.
Jean dairy farms with her husband, Rolf, and brother-in-law, Mike, and children Emily, Matthias and Leif. They farm near St. Peter, Minnesota, in Norseland, where she is still trying to fit in with the Norwegians and Swedes. They milk 200 cows and farm 650 acres. She can be reached at jeanannexstad@gmail.com.