Having open conversations about food and farming with South Dakotans and the farmers who grow it is what we do. In fact, that’s what Hungry for Truth is all about. We had an exciting opportunity to connect South Dakota native, Lauren Lavin of Bakologie with Jeff Thompson from Colton, South Dakota to chat about farming, what the off-season looks like, and other hobbies Jeff likes to work on when he’s not in the field. They got to spend a gorgeous, fall afternoon together and below, Lauren is sharing her perspective of her recent South Dakota farm visit.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting farmer Jeff Thompson, from Colton, South Dakota. Honestly, it was the most perfect way to spend the last nice fall day. During the visit, I got to tour his farm, see what he does in the off-season, discuss important farming topics, and even drive a tractor!
Jeff has a picture-perfect farm off of a gravel road and right away I was greeted by his sweet golden retriever, Josie. Jeff’s dad started the farm in 1949 and it has been in the family ever since and Jeff still lives in a portion of the original house, which they have since added on to and renovated. In addition to the house, there are a few machine sheds, a woodshop, and even an older chicken coop (sans chickens). There is just something about fresh fall air that is even better out in the country!
The harvesting season has just ended for Jeff, which meant he was finished putting his corn and soybeans into their grain bins for the winter. The crops are stored in the bins until it’s time to sell. Seems easy enough right?? But here’s the catch, they have to decide when to sell the crops based on the market’s daily price. Crop prices fluctuate every day, even hourly, just like the stock market, so the farmer’s goal is to sell when the price is high. That makes me nervous just thinking about it because inevitably I would decide to sell and then the price would rocket up the next day! Jeff laughed when I said that and noted that it’s just a part of the job. He said that by June of next year everything should be sold out of his bins.
Now that the harvesting is done, Jeff told me he could spend more time on maintenance and hobbies. During the winter, he works on repairing machinery and some old cars in one of his sheds. He is also a great woodworker! He has done woodwork for years, specifically making cabinets. Up until a few years ago, he made custom cabinetry for houses during the winter to stay busy. He showed me some of his past projects and I was amazed at the versatility in his styles of woodworking. He also casually mentioned that he got the equipment to start welding. I don’t know about you, but welding hot metal seems like a far cry from a casual hobby to me! Jeff also stays busy with being involved on various boards and councils, one of which is the South Dakota Soybean Association. These positions require meetings and some travel. A few years back he even got to go to Japan! During the winter it is also time to order seeds for next spring and there were so many kinds he had to choose from! The seeds varied in drought resistance, size of the stock, and yield. It kind of reminded me of picking out what flour or sugar I am going to use when I am making a new recipe. Jeff takes advice from his seed dealer and neighbors to pick what he thinks will be the best crop for his fields next year. Fingers crossed!
Earlier that morning, Jeff had been tilling up one of his fields to prepare it for being fertilized. He had to get rid of all that harvest trash, aka corn stocks! So we took the tractor out to put in some more work on the field. Side note: Jeff keeps his machinery in pristine condition (like eating a meal off the tractor kind of clean). Tractors, and farming equipment in general, have so much more technology than many of us might realize. Many of the newer machines even have self-driving capabilities and can plant seeds down to the inch. Farming is definitely not the low-tech industry that many of us bring to mind when it is mentioned.
Overall, the visit opened my eyes to the world of a crop farmer in South Dakota. There is always something to be done on a farm, so farmers work day in and day out to provide for not only their surrounding community or our country but the entire world. Crops from South Dakota could be shipped anywhere! Farmers put in the work so that we can have food on the table and so people like me can have the type of job that I do. Even though there is little thanks for the work that they do, farmers are passionate about the land and animals they steward. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. And next time you see a farmer be sure to say THANK YOU!
Lauren runs her business, Bakologie, where she bakes all the sweet treats for any special occasion you might have. To learn more about Lauren and her business, or if you want to view all her tasty treats connect with her via: