Sugarbeet Season!!

☆ October 18, 2010


OK, your guesses were hilarious.  But that thing in the post below is not a petrified dinosaur tongue or a stalker’s soul.  It’s a sugarbeet!  There are many sugarbeet farms in this county and I love sugarbeet season.  Because I love foraging for sugarbeets.


When the fields are harvested, bright trucks are everywhere, driving from the fields to the sugar refinery, filled to overflowing with sugarbeets.  The big one shown in the post below was a beet I spotted on the side of the road (I always pull over for sugarbeets); when the trucks take corners, one or two beets inevitably roll off.


At the sugar refinery, they unload the big beets but the small, unworthy beets are refused and sent away with the truck.  Back at the field, the truck dumps the loose dirt and inadequate beets in neat, orderly piles, then goes out to get filled with another load.


Whenever I make trips to town during sugarbeet season, I stop at these dump piles and fill boxes with sugarbeets.  I check in with the truck drivers when they’re around but they never care – the piles are just left to decompose.

I bring the sugarbeets home and spoil my animals.  The horses love sugarbeets.  I chew on them myself – they taste like I imagine a raw potato dipped in sugar would taste, kind of earthy and sweet.  Beneath the peel they are white, and have rings inside like a red beet.

This year, I offered some to Daisy and she devours them.  The morning after I had first fed her sugarbeets, I took a sip of the warm, frothy milk as I was milking and just started laughing.  It was unreal.  Daisy’s sugarbeet milk is like drinking ice cream.



46 Responses to “Sugarbeet Season!!”

  1. Lesley
    October 18th, 2010 @ 11:10 pm

    Wow, I would never have guessed. That is one huge sugar beet you are holding.

    I wonder, can you use them in baking?

    I love the vivid colours in your photos today.

  2. Liana
    October 18th, 2010 @ 11:10 pm

    Sounds awesome! And I couldn’t agree more – there is nothing better than digging for various roots. We do this in Hawaii with sweet potato.
    And I want sugar beet milk!

  3. Maggie
    October 18th, 2010 @ 11:22 pm

    Daisy’s milk sounds so yummy!!!

  4. gabip
    October 18th, 2010 @ 11:44 pm

    I was way off, I thought it was a Yuka root. Sugar beets sound much nicer than Yuka. I bet they are natures version of candy for your farmily :o) I wonder if Daisy’s sugar beet milk could be turned into sweet creamery butter. Enjoy the sugar beet season, stock up for winter so the farmily can have little treats during the yucky months or should I say yuka months….booooooo.

  5. Assana
    October 18th, 2010 @ 11:51 pm

    So, here’s an ignorant question: is this one of the teeny rejects or one that would have been accepted?

  6. mlaiuppa
    October 18th, 2010 @ 11:53 pm

    How fabulous to naturally sweeten the milk that way. I’ll bet the cream is totally awesome.

    Is there anything you can do with sugar beets besides either feed them to the livestock or process them into sugar.

    Can any sort of culinary menu item be made from them?

  7. Keli
    October 18th, 2010 @ 11:54 pm

    What a coincidence – I had this song stuck in my head all weekend…

  8. Connie
    October 19th, 2010 @ 12:02 am

    That is so cool! I want sugar beet milk!
    (not a stalker, just jealous).

  9. dusty pines art
    October 19th, 2010 @ 12:45 am

    neat! i’ve always wondered what sugar beets looked like . . . kinda like diamonds in the rough, much better when processed a bit! i agree you should stock up – then whenever you want daisy-ice-cream-milk over the winter, you’ll have the means to hand… hmmm – can cows eat cocoa, too?!

  10. Adrienne
    October 19th, 2010 @ 2:13 am

    Oh wow! Can you package up some Sugar Beet Milk and send *it* out as prizes? Tell the boys they have to lay off Daisy for a while, your fans want a taste!

  11. Deborah
    October 19th, 2010 @ 5:03 am

    I LOVE your life!

  12. Maria
    October 19th, 2010 @ 5:24 am

    Shreve needs a new bumper sticker…”Warning: This car stops for sugar beets!”

  13. Beth
    October 19th, 2010 @ 6:05 am

    i always wondered what beet pulp looks like whole!

  14. Birdcage
    October 19th, 2010 @ 6:34 am

    I’m kinda glad I didn’t post my guess. I thought I had it figured out …. needless to say, I was waaaaay off base.

  15. Sheryl
    October 19th, 2010 @ 6:36 am

    I remember the smell of the sugar beet processors in Worland!

  16. Jenn
    October 19th, 2010 @ 6:45 am

    I have never heard of Sugar Beets but am glad you shared this post with us!
    That is amazing that not only the horses love them as a special treat but Daisy too!

  17. Wind River Marcia
    October 19th, 2010 @ 7:10 am

    Many years ago, I used to drive a beet truck for a farmer in the Worland area – great times – until the back dump gate didn’t hold and I lost part of my load – right on main street. We plant mangles – fodder beets – for our Molly cow and calves and pigs – they love them.

  18. hello haha narf
    October 19th, 2010 @ 7:21 am

    i really DO learn something new every day! never would i have ever thought about a truck taking a corner and losing part of the load that would make a horse or cow very, very happy.
    incredible about daisy’s milk. mom told me she had a glass of wine with dinner once and it went straight to her milk, making me drunk and happy for quite some time. guess i am not surprised the sweetness went to daisy’s milk. wonder if the “babies” like the difference as much as you do…

  19. shreve
    October 19th, 2010 @ 7:38 am

    Keli ~ That video is awesome!!! That’s totally the process, from beet to sugar! Now the song is stuck in my head, too!

    Assana ~ That was a desirable beet! That one rolled off the truck and would have been kept by the sugar factory if it had made it there. The dump pile beets are about 1/4 the size of that big mutha!

  20. Sara
    October 19th, 2010 @ 7:42 am

    That would be amazing to go out and milk a cow only to get a milk shake! Feed her some strawberries too!

  21. Carol
    October 19th, 2010 @ 7:47 am

    Just make sure they don’t choke on ’em, Shreve. They’ll lose a calf or two in the fields over there, once they’re turned in. Those throat sized ones are the culprits… but your sweeties probably don’t wolf ’em down! Just FYI.

  22. shreve
    October 19th, 2010 @ 7:51 am

    Thanks Carol! But you know how I dote on my animals, I’m out with a pocket knife cutting the beets into bite size pieces!! :)

  23. ihermit
    October 19th, 2010 @ 8:20 am

    Why not try canning a few sugar beets(sliced of course). I can 3 types of beet, a Red, white, and a pink. I love pickled beets and Harvard beets.
    One year I canned some pickled beets and added clove to the jar, I thought it would be a nice addition… I got a surprise, the clove turned my red beets GREEN!They still tasted great. I used some of my red beets with the green for Christmas dinner. Boy did I get some surprised looks!

  24. Karen Lyon
    October 19th, 2010 @ 8:25 am

    Thanks for the great story Shreve. It’s good to have a gentle reminder that there’s an agrarian world out there that makes the lives of us city dwellers so very convenient. Thank goodness for our farmers!

  25. Jenny C
    October 19th, 2010 @ 9:45 am

    …And just when I thought Daisy couldn’t get any sweeter!

  26. E
    October 19th, 2010 @ 10:56 am

    Do the boys seem to notice Daisy’s “special” milk too?

  27. Dani
    October 19th, 2010 @ 11:06 am

    Do you use the sugar beets for anything other than to spoil the farmily?

  28. Another Two-Legger
    October 19th, 2010 @ 11:28 am

    That sounds fabulous!

    I’ve heard that horses really like pumpkins, too. (Not that that’s on topic, haha.) I’m not sure I’ve seen sugar beets around WI–maybe I’m just oblivious. (It has happened before, after all.) If I come across any, I’m definitely going to give one to my big gelding. He’s going to get his very first pumpkin this year, too, with any luck. Spoiled horse!

  29. Sue in California
    October 19th, 2010 @ 11:39 am

    Don’t ever let her eat garlic……been there, done that!

  30. Rhonda
    October 19th, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

    I’ve never seen the inside of a sugar beet. Can you cut one open and show us city folks what it looks like?

  31. Jenny C
    October 19th, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

    Sue in CA (#29) – hahagaghaha!

    Another Two-Legger (#28) I love it that you spoil your horse. How wonderful that all it takes to spoil him is a sugar beet and a pumpkin! When anyone says I spoil my cat, I say “Thank you!”

  32. Sarah
    October 19th, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

    I wonder if they have the same effect on goats’ milk..Will have to experiment!

  33. Karen
    October 19th, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

    What a sweet post!

  34. Renee
    October 19th, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

    Wow. I’ve never seen a sugarbeet! Where I’m from, we grow sugar cane!

  35. Kelly
    October 19th, 2010 @ 7:01 pm

    Reading about all those beets going to waste like that is so sad- do they at least use the compost to fertilize the next crop?

  36. Chris
    October 19th, 2010 @ 8:22 pm

    Good grief, what an unpromising appearance for one of the best sources of sugar! Thanks for the ongoing education :)

  37. Maranda
    October 19th, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

    Oh man, what I’d give to drink some sugarbeetmilk! Those are three beautiful words. Sugar. Beet. Milk. MMMMMM.

  38. Becky
    October 19th, 2010 @ 9:44 pm

    When I was a child growing up in northern Wyoming we would stop to pick up sugar beets that had fallen off the trucks. What a treat they were. Thanks for bringing those good memories back.

  39. montanarose
    October 19th, 2010 @ 9:51 pm

    I am sooooo embarrassed that I didn’t recognize it! The Montana town I grew up in was home to a sugarbeet factory, and my family lived only a couple of blocks from the railroad tracks leading to the factory. Falls were filled with the pungent, acrid smell of sugarbeets being refined — this was in the days before air pollution control equipment — and the tracks were littered with spilled beets.

    One of the most coveted summer jobs for high school kids was harvesting sugarbeets: hard work, good money, and the kids that got those jobs had the best sun tans — this was also in the days before melanoma awareness and sunscreen mania (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

  40. andrea
    October 20th, 2010 @ 6:18 am

    THAT’s a sugar beet?? I wonder how anyone actually found out that they are edible.. hey lets take a bite out of this weird muddy rock thing and see what happens? lol (:

  41. Shannon
    October 20th, 2010 @ 9:48 am

    We had a neighborhood shin-dig, invited a neighbor and he declined saying it was sugar beet season which tickled us. That would not have ever been a reason when we lived in Denver.

    Now, I will have to go in search of sugar beets for the dairy goats and see what magic happens in their udders after they finish eating them! Yum!

  42. Kelly
    October 20th, 2010 @ 11:02 am

    I wonder what ice-cream would taste like made from that milk? Certainly you wouldn’t need to add much if any sugar.

  43. The Equestrian Vagabond
    October 20th, 2010 @ 7:10 pm

    But don’t drive too close behind the trucks! those things make dents…

  44. Another Two-Legger
    October 20th, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

    Jenny C: Oh, he’s definitely spoiled! Carrots everyday, excellent food, ladies to flirt with, massages every week (hey, *I* don’t get any!); plus I make him horsie cake for any special occasions, and he’s allowed to mosey around the barn while I brush him, which means standing in the tack aisle with his nose in my box trying to open the container of treats. One of those days he’s going to get it open, too…

  45. heather em
    October 20th, 2010 @ 11:06 pm

    best. story. ever.

    glad you’re livin’ the sweet life, Shreve! :)

  46. Warren
    November 15th, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

    Thanks for the Info…I want to drive for the sugar beet season! I just though I’d let you know about the last tomatoe season in California. I really liked to see all the roads coverd in dust for about a weeks worth of insane work. I would then go pick up some sort of freeze dried powder zx the trucks dropped trailers which were lined up with the fresh plucked stuff and I would get the boxed up stuff that eventually ends up at Dennys.

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