GARY, Minn. – Living just across the section from Corey Hanson was his neighbor, Jerry Chisholm. The farmers enjoyed conversations from time to time, and their time as neighbors was a long one.
So when Corey heard the news that Jerry had passed away on Dec. 5 as a result of a farm accident, he wanted to share something in his column this week.
A lot of the corn this year is too wet and difficult to work with. Jerry got caught in a grain bin where the corn had crusted.
Corey wants to remind everyone to think before getting into a corn bin. The wetter-than-normal corn can cause problems or look more solid than it really is. He asks that whenever anyone is working with corn in the bin, that they will think of “Jerry” and take precautions to stay safe.
“I’ve lost three different farmers in probably the last seven, eight years to late corn farm accidents, whether it's, you know, like a dryer fan flying off and killing you. Freakish type accidents, but farm accidents,” Corey said on Dec. 9.
“We need to think about these things when we’re moving these sub-quality crops that may not flow out of the bin like they should. They may not set up in the bin, they might be a little too damp.
“There’s crusting over and you don’t get that air movement,” he continued. “You start pulling grain out and they form pockets underneath, or they bridge up and down and you go in and try to poke them down and they collapse and suck you in.
“Just remember that farm safety doesn’t end when harvest ends.”
It’s a difficult year for farming.
Corey tried combining corn on Dec. 6-7 when he noticed other farmers having some success. There was apparently more snow between the corn stalks row than he anticipated.
Combining for only 20-25 minutes, he plugged up the header snouts and the sieves with dirty snow and corn material. It took two and a half hours to get the combine cleaned up. He took out all of the separating sieves and chaffer and pre-cleaning parts and put that in the shed to warm up. Then he took the air hose and blew down the combine.
Finally, he got everything back together.
“It was kind of a miserable trial and I learned a lot,” he said. “I forgot from last year that you don’t combine between 15-35 degrees. I wound up reminding myself real fast.”
The combine wasn’t put away yet. It was in the shed plugged in and ready to run if conditions allowed.
He figured that about 65-80 percent of the corn remained in the fields in his region.
The cows were sort of the bright spot in the operation in December. The livestock had grown heavy winter coats. With the combination of dry straw, thick hair coats and their internal furnaces also known as the rumen, the cows were very comfortable in temperatures around 0 degrees.
Temperatures did get very cold on Dec. 10 and were expected to remain at 15-25 below zero for a few days. That meant the cows would be getting extra groceries, but for some reason, their favorite feed this year is corn husks and most any part of the corn plant that isn’t pithy.
“We’re going to wean the calves, pour them and vaccinate them when I get some help lined up,” Corey said.
While cold temperatures weren’t ideal for working outside, it did mean the lakes were freezing up and ice fishing wasn’t far away. The bowling league was going again, and Corey and fellow members of the Lynn Christianson bowling team were preparing for another run at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships in the Classified Division. They earned fourth place in 2017 and first place in 2019, so they’ve done very well. The team’s success has brought a lot of joy to Norman County, the farm community and the bowling team.