Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Bringing in the (sugar) beets

By Carol Stender

Date Modified: 11/21/2012 1:20 PM

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BARNEY, N.D. — Jay Stadinger of Dodge Center, Minn, takes a nine-day vacation from his real job to farm.

Some might question whether it's actually a vacation.

Jay; his brother Mike, Burt Weekes and Jamie Mussell of Plainview; John Schouweiler of Dodge Center; and Jeremy Zabel of Byron travel from southeastern Minnesota to haul sugar beets from the RCMJV Farm to Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative in Wahpeton, N.D.

For the Stadingers, the trip is a personal one. Their uncle, Russ Mauch owns the farm with his farming partner and brother-in-law, Rick Bladow. The brothers' parents, Dan and Cheryl, also help with the harvest. Dan fuels the farm machines and Cheryl helps Russ' wife, Mary, prepare and serve the meals.

The southeastern Minnesota crew works a 16-hour day starting at 9 a.m. by hauling corn to Cargill's corn processing plant in Wahpeton, N.D. or taking care of fall tillage.

At noon, they all sit at the Mauch's dining table for a meal. Following the table prayer, they dig into a meal that Mary and Cheryl have prepared with care. It could be roast beef with gravy, vegetables and a salad or turkey dinner with all the trimmings or chili.

Once everyone has finished, with time for seconds, Russ brings out a container filled with candy bars for a special dessert treat.

Besides the noon meal, the two women prepare sandwiches for the crew's 12-hour sugar beet hauling shift. After the guys' shift ends at 1 a.m., they'll dine again on a meal in the farm's shop.

"The meals are really really good," Jay said. "The first few years I started hauling beets, I was gaining weight. I had to watch how much I ate."

Mary also takes vacation from her job as an insurance agent to help with the farm's two weeks of full sugar beet harvest.

The southeastern Minnesota crew makes up one of two shifts hauling beets to be processed into sugar. The other shift, working from 1 a.m. to 1 p.m., is made up of RCMJV's employees.

They each haul six to seven semi loads of beets, making a 70-mile round trip, during their shift.

Despite the long hours, the guys like their seasonal job.

"I don't do it for the money," Jay said. "This is something different. It's a time to be with my friends and, even more, it's a way to help our uncle."