Iowa Soybean Review Editor

(Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

Rural Route 2: A new season

September 27, 2022 | Bethany Baratta

It’s a new “season” for our family. Our son recently started kindergarten.

This meant back-to-school shopping — opening every folder to finally choose the simple blue one he grabbed initially. And choosing crayons and markers — but never the first box on the shelf because everyone opens those. It meant meeting the teacher, printing off the activity calendar so we’re spiffed up for picture day and circling the days on the calendar when he’ll bring his lunch (every day, apparently).

With his school bag packed and his name written on seemingly everything he owns, it was time. Not just 7 a.m., that time. The time for the dreaded goodbye.

With tear-filled eyes, I dropped him off on his first day. Much to my chagrin, he didn’t match my tears in response; he would have kissed me goodbye in the parking lot and been on his way if it were up to him. Maybe it’s because he went to preschool for two years, so he’s accustomed to the excitement that comes with the start of each school year. Or perhaps it was because he knew he would see some of his best friends at recess or in the school hallways.

Or maybe it’s because those two years of preschool and the after-dinner tradition of practicing our letters, shapes and numbers has made him a more confident student. Or was it the “going to kindergarten” books that prepared him?

His teacher matches his enthusiasm for learning, and I’m confident it will be a great year for our young student. While his happiness brings me joy, my heart is conflicted at the seemingly rapid pace of growth and change. I’m incredibly proud of him, but I don’t know where the summer went. Or the years. Having him start school is a whole new season to which I’m unaccustomed, and I know there isn’t a manual for this natural progression of life.

I’m curious, is this what it feels like going into harvest for you? Do “first-harvest farmers” feel a similar anxiousness and excitement of parents sending their children to kindergarten for the first day?

Do more seasoned farmers feel like middle or high school students, using your experience to determine how best to prepare for harvest?

Or is there a bit of cautious optimism as you make your way up to the driver’s seat of the combine, knowing the potential is there, but field edges don’t tell the full story of the crop?

I hope the look of pride that my son showed after his first day of school radiates across your face when you look at the yield monitor this season. Raising a crop certainly takes more than a box of 50-cent Crayolas, but there’s likely the same number of prayers and anxiousness that goes into it.

In this issue of the Iowa Soybean Review, you’ll meet (or become reacquainted with) some people who play a vital role in the soybean industry. First-harvest farmers might pick up some tips from a seasoned farmer on how to prepare for harvest and ease the feelings of trepidation with entering a new season.

No matter your “grade,” I hope your harvest is bountiful and your challenges are few this season. Be safe!