It was mid-summer 2018 when locals in southern Charles Mix County wondered if Lake Andes was getting a little too low. The shallow lake that spreads over a large area just to the west and northwest of the town with the same name was shrinking. Then, as the weather often does in South Dakota does, changed. The rains came and came and came.

September 1, 2018, through the first week or so of October 2018 saw 11 inches of rainfall in that area of South Central South Dakota. Things were incredibly saturated. It will go down as one of the most miserable fall harvests for producers in years. A miserable cold winter came and went. Then in early March 2019, a three-inch rain came while culverts were still full and frozen. Scads of culverts washed out. Suddenly a trip to town that should have taken minutes was taking close to an hour.

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It was so tough, that on a gravel road, you could be driving, or riding in a four-wheel-drive pickup, in 4 wheel drive 5 to 10 miles per hour and slide in the ditch. I know, because I was a passenger in Dan's pick-up that day.

Dan Soulek and his Dad Rich along with his brother Dennis, and sons Brady and Jared would just shake their heads when telling you about out. It was a 2 year period for the ages. Back to the Lake.  Lake Andes. Try as it would, it couldn't hold back all that water looking to get to the Missouri River. So, it expanded its banks. And expanded!

JD Collins via Sprint Sioux Falls

Fast forward to July 4th, 2019. Dan and I got up early and took the jet-ski out for a ride on Lake Andes. Now, a few of the locals do some boating or jet skiing on Lake Andes, but most just make the short-haul to the Pickstown to put in. We thought we would take a look at the water.

JD Collins via Sprint Sioux Falls

So, how does this story circle back to farming? On the Fourth of July 2019, we took a jet ski ride north. We made it to within a quarter-mile of the Geddes Oil. IF we would have gone later that fall, we could have made it to the oil road. As we continued west, we glided past a deer stand that was attached to a tree, and 'just visible out of the water. At its farthest point Lake Andes shoreline was just short of a mile west of Highway 281. We know. We road the jet-ski, across what had been a bean field the previous fall. If we would have had a ski along, we might have thought about skiing.

Photo by Dan Soulek. Used with permission.

As you can tell by the photo Dan messaged me this morning, the water is down. He was prepping the ground so Jared could plant. As I type this, Jered is probably going back and forth, happy that things have drained and dried. Dan said, that the black or dark water line on the tree was about 6 feet up the tree. A few months later we jet-skied past this tree.

It's a different year. Hopefully a better year. To all our farmer and rancher friends, we wish safe and EASY spring planting to you all. Here's to better conditions, better prices, and hopefully a long time before we talk wet like we talked wet in 2018 and 2019.

Be safe, and thank you for sharing this story with your Facebook and Twitter friends.

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