On a recent visit to the new Working for Farmers Success (WFS) grain handling facility at Delavan, it didn't take long for me to feel a bit dwarfed. And that had nothing to do with my short stature.
The place is huge.
Sure, driving past it all the time and watching its construction progress, it was easy to see that the place was going to be big. After the two largest bins went up, it was apparent the place was going to be very big.
But, it is not until a person actually tours the whole facility that the sense of the overall size really comes in to play.
I repeat. The place is huge.
A person feels dwarfed around the size of the bins that will each hold over a million bushels of grain. And when you take a peek inside the cavern, then you can see just how large it really is something hard to realize just driving by.
Everything is big. The grain dryer towers over the people below, resembling something like a NASA space rocket on a staging platform at Cape Kennedy.
But, probably the coolest thing is how this massive operation can be controlled at one desk or even by an off-site iPad.
Everything is computerized, monitored and remote-controlled.
A farmer can be in and out in minutes, and never leave the cab of his truck or tractor. Trains that can be 110 cars long can be loaded fast as well.
Big and fast. Sounds like the description of an NFL defensive lineman.
My sense of being dwarfed didn't only come from the size of the place.
On Tuesday a group of grain buyers from Taiwan were touring the new WFS complex.
While they were not there to specifically purchase corn and beans from the new elevator or from WFS, they are big buyers of soybeans from the Midwest in general and southern Minnesota in particular.
But, they also purchase soybeans from around the world, from not only the U.S., but from places in South America, too.
Half of the U.S. soybean production heads overseas. I was told.
These grain buyers from Taiwan were only one of the many groups that have been visiting our area lately, says Veronica Bruckhoff of the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. Her organization had hosted groups from Japan earlier, and were scheduled to have Chinese visitors this week.
(We note a lot of Japanese buyers visiting the Seneca production plant in Blue Earth during the summer as well.)
It is a world market for farmers, Brockhoff says. And, she is right.
In fact, it is a global economy for all of us.
We ship things overseas and then import items back here. Just look at how many items you buy that say 'Made in China' or 'Made in Japan' on the label.
Or even 'Made in Taiwan.'
And, let's not even start on importing foreign oil and the price of gas.
The size of the world is shrinking.
One of the Taiwanese visitors on Tuesday was sporting a Minnesota Twins shirt.
I figured he just liked the color and style of the shirt, and didn't really know about the Twins.
I was wrong.
He knew all about them and was a big fan. He knew they were not doing well this season, knew all about Joe Mauer (his favorite player) and wondered why the Twins ever traded away Santana.
I told him I often wondered the same thing.
The world is still a rather large place, and we are just a small, tiny piece of it.
But, sometimes you realize that no matter how big it is, there are things that can tie all of us who inhabit this planet together with each other.
Like soybeans and the Twins.