Afternoon proved to be educational

Last week, I was invited by Dan Rose to tour a great deal of the area west of Markdale, Ont.
Dan, as many of you will know, was the ag rep for our district in the late 1960s, but he and his wife continue to have ties to the area with a cabin on Clearwater, which they spend summers at almost every year.
After leaving Rainy River District, the Rose family spent time in Ghana, Africa before eventually settling in Markdale, which sits in Grey County. Dan has deep roots in that region and beginning in 1982 he began working the old family farm near Kincardine.
Lots of families in Rainy River District had left the Grey-Bruce area to take up farming here. As we drove along, Dan would point to a house and give its connection to a family now in the Rainy River District. There were many connections.
Last Thursday afternoon, he took me through all the back county roads to check on the harvesting of his soybean crop. On this piece of acreage, Madoc bean was being taken off.
As we drove along, Dan would point out from the road various different crops differentiating between various varieties of beans. There were a lot of combines in the fields that we passed and although not the size one might see on the Prairies, they were getting the crops off.
We skirted around Walkerton and Hanover, and checked out the shores of Lake Huron, before we finally arrived at his field. Ninety-nine acres had been planted and it was expected the soy would be off in just less than 10 hours.
The field was averaging 40 bushels to the acre, which was average for the area but a great deal less than the bumper crop from last year.
Dan farms 300 acres in total, and this year 100 was put into winter wheat while 200 acres produced soybean. He used to alternate three crops with equal amounts devoted to corn, soy, and winter wheat.
Grey-Bruce used to send lots of buyers to the cattle sale in Stratton every fall, but today only a few large feedlots continue to exist in the area. There were several broiler farms in the area.
Most of the land is now turned to growing corn, soybeans, and winter wheat.
Only a few independents still continue to raise cattle in the area, and most of that is done on land that’s deemed marginal—a change that began in the early 1980s. Lots of white windmills dot the landscape of the region as the area is producing lots of “green” energy.
At the Rose farm, I was offered a ride in the cab of the combine. Riding high above the ground was fascinating as the brown soybean stocks were cut off close to the ground, the beans separated, and the bin filled while the chaff of the stocks was thrown out of the back of the combine.
After each pass up and down the field, the hopper was unloaded into a waiting bin that would be towed a couple of miles up the road to the elevators operated by Snobelen Farms. From there, these food source beans would be heading for Japan.
And after watching the harvest underway, I was surprised to learn that the next day, Dan already made arrangements to plant the land with winter wheat. The land was not resting.
It was an afternoon of education for me, and one I will not soon forget. Thanks, Dan.

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