The grass is getting greener, trees are budding, and as farmers make their way to the fields, they want to remind Wisconsin drivers that heavy equipment is back on the roads.
Shane Goplin, a grain farmer with HV Acres LLC., located outside Osseo, has many stories about close calls with drivers as he brings equipment to and from his fields. “A car was coming around the corner, and he was part on my side of the road. I ended up taking the ditch, and it ended up taking the wrecker to get me out,” Goplin said. "We had another incident on the highway where a guy was turning left with his blinker on, and the car didn't recognize it, passed him on the left and side-swiped him."
Goplin brought out his sprayer on Thursday to show just how wide some of the machinery can be, blocking view of the other lane. He said spring is a peak time for farmers to be out on the roads, but they will keep working through Thanksgiving. With Wisconsin's rolling hills and curvy corners, he asks all drivers to be prepared to stop at any time for slow-moving machinery.
“I want to get home to see my family at night, but I also want to public to get home and see their family too,” Goplin said. “Around these blind corners, are you prepared if you are going to pass me on the left? Number one, it is illegal to pass a slow-moving vehicle on a double-yellow line. Number two, are you prepared to meet a car or a bicycle or a motorcycle? I can't live with that if something were to happen like that. That is probably my biggest fear in life is somebody passing me and getting into an accident.”
In the winter, Goplin said he makes sure his equipment is field and road ready with slow moving vehicle signs, blinker, brake lights and more. He even has cameras to show if there are cars behind him, but, he said with Wisconsin's narrow roads, he can't always pull over to let cars pass at a moment's notice.
"I want to have them go by me, but I want to have them go by me in a safe manner," Goplin said. "I am probably going to make you follow me for a while until it is safe to pass. I am going to wait for a town road where I can get my equipment off 100 percent so you can pass me safely.
He added some tractors on the road may be too old for blinkers, so it is important to always be prepared and aware of surroundings while driving.
Goplin said HV Acres, LLC runs more than 3,000 acres with two full-time employees and up to seven part-time employees. He also gets help from his wife and three children. Goplin said this wet spring has been difficult for getting in the fields. His family used to milk milk cows, but sold the dairy more than three years ago.