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Photo by Josh Gackle

GACKLE: Harvest winds to a close in southeast North Dakota

KULM, N.D. — The calendar on the wall and on our phones is approaching mid-November and the 2016 harvest continues to move along in southeast North Dakota. But you wouldn't know it by the weather that we have been blessed with here in late autumn.

Most years when the harvest moves into November, we farmers start to get a bit anxious as the weather turns and the job becomes more difficult. The days get shorter, the temperature much colder. The combines don't start and the truck fuel gels up. A chain goes out on the corn head and you have to spend the next hour repairing in the cold and wind.

This year, on the other hand, our weather seems to have missed the calendar turning to November. Our recent high temperatures in the 60s have been a blessing, as this bountiful 2016 harvest continues.

Some farmers I talk to have wrapped up the harvest for 2016, and many will be nearing the end in the next week. For some — like us on Gackle Farms — that continue to grow wheat and barley, this harvest began in July, and it's safe to say we are ready for the end.

A lot has happened on our farms, and in our communities away from the farm, as well. From time to time, I'm going discuss the experiences and events that make rural, small-town North Dakota a place I call home.

In the past couple of weeks, we have experienced both tragedy and triumph in the communities of Ellendale, Edgeley and Kulm.

Recently, a farmer and rancher that called all three communities his home sadly lost his life in a farm accident. The news was a shock to all who knew him — many who had known him his whole life, who had graduated from high school with him, who had worked with him, played baseball with him, golfed, hunted and called him father, husband and friend. Family and friends from these small communities filled a memorial service to celebrate his life and support the family. This example of small communities coming together to support each other is no surprise to those who call this our home.

And our small communities come together to celebrate triumphs, as well. By the time you read this column, the local high school football team will have played in (and hopefully won) the state Class A championship game at the Fargodome. The Edgeley-Ellendale-Kulm Thunder have advanced through the playoffs and are playing their best football of the year. There is a proud tradition in the communities of Edgeley and Kulm that have won state championships in the past, and I'm sure those in Ellendale are looking forward to bringing a championship home, as well.

These communities have come together to support and celebrate the local team. Businesses up and down our main streets have painted their storefronts to rally the team. School kids are making signs and getting their team colors ready to attend the game. Players and coaches are preparing mentally and physically to bring home a trophy.

Whether the team wins or loses, we are proud of what they have accomplished and come together as three communities to celebrate a great season.

As you continue your harvest and the end is in sight, I hope you too have a chance to experience the support, excitement and friendship of our small towns.

Stay safe in the field!

Editor's note: Gackle is a third-generation farmer in Kulm, N.D., and former staffer for Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He can be reached at gacklej@yahoo.com

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