By KATIE BORKOWSKI
LARCHWOOD – Messages with Catholic and patriotic themes have been written by Spike Bruggeman in his fields for the last several years.
The Bruggeman farm is as far northwest as you can go in Iowa and the Big Sioux River is about half a mile west of the farm. The state line boarders his land to the north.
“I try to have a positive theme,” said Bruggeman, a parishioner at St. Mary’s in Larchwood. “Pray for the USA. I usually have a Catholic slant to it. I am not much of an evangelist verbally, so this is how I spread a message.”
This year in one field is a message asking Our Lady of Fatima to “pray for us,” he said. The other field reads “Jesus the open heart surgeon, no appointment needed.” Bruggeman also drew a heart in the field with a crucifix in the center.
“Last year I had a Divine Mercy Jesus out there,” said the farmer. “Quite often there is a pro-life message as well. The year before that I had a Sirach verse. I like to keep them thinking.”
When creating some of the larger images, Bruggeman sketches them out on a crop insurance map to get the proportions correct. When he is writing words, he quipped, “I just wing it.”
He uses about 80 or 90 acres of the land where he will plant beans to write the messages. The length of time the messages are in the fields depends on the weather.
“It is usually just a couple weeks,” said Bruggeman. “This rain keeps it out there longer. There have been times it has only been one week.”
Bruggeman has been leaving messages in these fields for about eight or nine years. He started out simple and got the idea from his dad. About 30 years ago, his dad put the neighbor’s name in the field and he remembers seeing the Polaroid picture.
“We get helicopters from both (Sioux Falls) hospitals flying over quite frequently,” said Bruggeman. “I want to give them a little hope or something. They fly kind of low compared to the planes.”
He added there is a decent amount of airplane traffic flying east out of Sioux Falls that the messages would be visible for as well.
Bruggeman now receives requests or questions about what he is going to write. His messages and images have gotten a little more elaborate over the years.
Even though people ask, the farmer said he doesn’t usually know what he will write and if he did, “I wouldn’t tell.”
“It is fun to see on social media,” said Bruggeman. “I hope I am making a small difference somewhere.”