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Today, I wanted to show how corn makes its way from the field to town. cornwhereSome farmers have their own grain bins (called on-farm storage), but we do not have very much on-farm storage. The majority of our harvested crops go to town to the local cooperative.

A cooperative is a member-owned business organization. Years ago, the farmers in this area (and all over the Midwest) joined together, formed cooperatives, and built grain storage and marketing facilities.

The local cooperative is the core business in many farming communities like ours. Have you heard the saying, the tallest building in town is the most important? Well, our coop is by far the tallest in town!

How the corn gets to the local cooperative:

The corn starts in the field. It is harvested by a combine. The combine is shown on the right. When the combine’s “grain tank” becomes full, the long, funny looking arm, called an auger, swings out. Then, the auger unloads the grain into the grain cart, on left. DSCN7412

After the grain cart is full, it unloads (with another auger) into a truck or semi.DSCN7399

Then, the truck goes to town to the cooperative. Before unloading, the truck is weighed. Then, the corn is dumped from the bottom of the trailer into this…DSCN7440If the corn is “wet” – meaning above a certain percentage moisture – it needs to be dried. The tall, column shaped structure below drys the “wet” corn. Just like sticking a wet towel into the dirty laundry, putting wet corn into a grain bin would result in some stinky, spoilage if it sat there too long.

To prevent spoilage, the corn must be dried. In some years, the corn “dries down” naturally in the fields. However, this year ours did not get quite dry. Winter is coming, so we can’t wait around for it to dry.DSCN7443 DSCN7445

After the corn is dried, it is moved (through a very impressive series of channels) to a large, open-air storage pile. The photo below shows the grain falling into the pile. DSCN7446

In our town, there are two piles for soybeans and one HUGE pile of corn. In the photo below, the pile in the foreground is soybeans. The pile in the background is corn. There is one more  pile of soybeans at a different location, near the high school football field. DSCN7441 DSCN7442

These piles are not covered throughout the winter. Some cooperatives do cover their grain piles, others do not. Growing up in Missouri, area farmers never, ever, ever stored grain in a pile like this. To them, this grain-on-the-ground concept seems insane! During the winter in Missouri, there is too much moisture and humidity. This would cause the grain to spoil. Here in South Dakota, it is colder and less humid. These piles will form a crust and the grain inside will remain unharmed.

Can you tell which buildings are the tallest in our town? Duhhh…its the grain bins!DSCN7462From this view, it almost looks like they are pouring the grain right into the lake. Fear not, this is just a photo playing tricks on you!DSCN7471

So – that’s how grain gets to town! Have a great weekend!



  1. Barb

    Excellent job of explaining!

  2. Eva

    Had no clue Sierra…very interesting.

    • Sierra Shea

      Thank you Eva, good to see you the other day!

  3. Derina

    Loved reading this I am so glad you get to see the crop farmers view. This really hit home with me. The trips to town for me growing up meant money in the savings account to be used later in life. Which for me was buying a car. So just a food for thought for the family in the future. 🙂

  4. Jane

    I have seen corn stored in open piles of grain here in central Illinois. I never see any birds around the corn. I would expect crows or other birds to be attracted to open piles of grain. Is there a reason the birds don’t bother with these huge piles of corn?


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Hey, I’m Sierra Shea! I am so glad you are here. 

Where do I start with writing to introduce this blog? At the beginning, I suppose: I’ve been writing on various platforms online since 2013. I started blogging shortly after moving to South Dakota.

I am a mother and a maker at heart. I’m so grateful to be married to John and mother of three: Joslyn, J.D. and Jesse.

I am a self-taught decorator and designer. I am a brand new shepherdess and a Spiritual Director.

I love living in South Dakota, even though the winters & the wind can be a near-daily struggle.

Blogging is a grounding force in my life and it helps get me out of my head, unstuck and moving in the directions I always hoped I’d be going!