High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest


Steph: Harvester’s hangout
Steph Osowski

Pine Bluffs, Wyo. – Anderson Harvesting is at its first standstill of the harvest 2017 season. Farmer Lance, with his 25 bushel average/62 pound test weight crop, is all cut up and now the real question arises; where do we go from here? John’s ear and his phone have been inseparable for the past few days and the decision is still up in the air. But, as Papa T said, “you go where the wheat is ripe.” Western ND is looking like the best bet!

So, since I’m running low on harvest action, I’m going to try something a little different. I’ve decided to call this little segment the “harvester’s hangout”.  What this will be is me telling three harvester tales of yesteryear. Imagine a room full of harvesters with their scuffed up boots and ball caps in a cafe, exchanging laughs and stories with one another for hours and hours; that’s the feel I’m going for. So, grab a nice cup of coffee and have a comfortable seat because that’s how the best tales are received.

  1. Back in the days when my family hired a crew to go on the harvest run, my mom would clean their trailer AND our family’s (bless her heart). She was changing the sheets on one of the beds and found a list of reasons why they disliked my dad. The number one reason? He is a, “window washing freak”. It must be genetic because I would call myself the same thing.
  2. One year, we had a hired hand that we nicknamed “bug boy”. He was the grain cart operator. However, whenever you would call for him over the radio, you would look over and see the door of the tractor wide open and him running through the field. Turns out, he was chasing bugs around. He would also put those bugs in my brothers bed. For his reward, he got a one-way ticket bus ride back home a few weeks into harvest.
  3. Since I brought up “bug boy”, I might as well tell another about him. That first rainy day, we loaded up the crew and took them to Wal-Mart. This guy could not spend his money fast enough. He bought a PlayStation gaming system, countless DVDs, clothes and even a laser tag set. That evening, my brother and I, “bug boy” and a one other hired hand (these were grown men, by the way) ran around the campground having an intense laser-war.

There are many, many stories but these are the first few that popped into my head. Maybe another segment to come in the future?

Enjoy and happy harvest!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. You can contact Steph at stephanie@allaboardharvest.com.
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Laura: Fire Danger
Laura Haffner

Hardin, Montana: Things can get pretty dry in Montana in the summer. That doesn’t sound like that unusual because a lot of places get dry. However, it takes on a different meaning when you’re dealing with some of the desolate areas that make up the state. There aren’t always the square north/south or east/west roads every mile or so like you find in some parts of the plains. If lightning strikes, and a fire starts, it’s not always very easy to fight because of the very remote, and often rough terrain. Same can be true for a fire started by harvest equipment. The fields in the part of the world can be very large, I’m talking 1000+ acres. If a fire starts and blows through a field, the consequences can be devastating and extremely difficult to fight. Crews are often driven from the field for rain, but at this stop, the crews have been asked to shut down when the fire risk seems especially high, which is completely understandable.  There are disastrous fires currently burning in the state.

Our crew recently moved to a different farm. The wheat is very good. They been averaging around 80 bushels per acre so far.  They’ve seen lows in the sixties and highs around 100 bushels per acre.  

High Plains Harvesting James
Another sunset. (Photo Submitted By: James)
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Odendaal)
View from the cab. (Photo Submitted By: Odendaal)

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Odendaal)
A long stretch of cutting. (Photo Submitted By: Odendaal)

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Mark)
Dusty cutting. (Photo Submitted By: Mark)
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Mark)
Nearing sunset. (Photo Submitted By: Mark)

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Mark)
Beautiful, golden wheat. (Photo Submitted By: Mark)
 
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Mark)
Rolling hills in the background. (Photo Submitted By: Mark)
 
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Mark)
James normally drives truck for us, but it looks like Odendaal shared the combine with him this evening. (Photo Submitted By: Mark)
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Mark)
Popping up over the hill. (Photo Submitted By: Mark)

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Mark)
Such a variety of landscapes. (Photo Submitted By: Mark)

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Mark)
Sun down, lights on. (Photo Submitted By: Mark)
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Mark)
Wow, what a view! (Photo Submitted By: Mark)
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Willem)
Blue header getting it done. (Photo Submitted By: Willem)
 
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Willem)
Nearing the end of the land. (Photo Submitted By: Willem)
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Willem)
Equipment in formation. (Photo Submitted By: Willem)
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Willem)
Willem’s cab view. (Photo Submitted By: Willem)
All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Laura can be reached at laura@allaboardharvest.com.
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Laura: Montana
Laura Haffner

Hardin, Montana: For those of you who have been waiting for the Montana pictures, well, you’re in luck. They’re starting to trickle in. Montana usually seems to be a highlight for the crew and readers probably because it so unique environmentally. They don’t call it “Big Sky Country” for nothing! The report from Mark and the crew up in Montana is that they’re cutting in absolutely beautiful country. They’ve seen lots of deer and other various forms of wildlife. The harvest has been respectable too. At the first farm, they’ve seen yields mainly in the 40-60 range with spikes all the way up to 100 bushels per acre. Below are some photos they’ve sent in.


High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Mark)
Montana sunset.  (Photo credit: Mark)

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Mark)
Hard to get all the machines in the frame when they fields are so long! (Photo credit: Mark)

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Mark)
There they all are! (Photo credit: Mark)

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (James)
James is driving truck so he was able to capture this neat perspective of the field.  (Photo credit: James)

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (James)
Down a long dusty dirt road… (Photo credit: James)

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Laura can be reached at laura@allaboardharvest.com.
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Laura: The middle of somewhere
Laura Haffner

Eastern Colorado – Due to a lack of urban centers, I’m guessing a lot of people would deem where we’re currently cutting the middle of nowhere. It is true we are miles and miles from the nearest village or town, but despite all that, “I” would say we’re in the middle of somewhere. That somewhere is beautiful. Brave little houses and farmsteads dot the landscape — those few still willing to take on the unpredictable windswept prairie. Signs of days gone by are here too. I see the abandoned one-room school house and the occasional forgotten skeleton of a house that was once a happy home. Who were these people that once inhabited these spots, and what became of them? Song birds flutter on the breeze. The swish-swish of wheat and grass can be heard, and in the words of Louis Lamar, “The wind, always the wind.” Cattle peacefully chew the grass. And the view… one can see for miles. 

It’s out here that there are few distractions. One can think out here, breathe out here, and just be. Sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky that I am to see these places that most rarely, if ever do. I have to think that a lot of the world’s problems could be overcome if we just took a little R&R on the prairie to clear the air in our souls and minds.  Continue Reading

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Tracy: This just doesn’t feel right
Z Crew

Chadron, Nebraska – The last time we were in Chadron for the wheat harvest was 20 years ago. Our kiddos were much younger. I was pregnant with Callie, and the job I had at that time had nothing to do with spending time in the field (except to haul meals) or the combine. My job was so much different back then. I was in charge of kids, activities, food, laundry and being the “go-fer.”  Little did I know that just four short years later, plans would change. Man… what I wouldn’t give to be able to step back in time and relive one of those days. Those days seemed they would never end because of the needs of the kids, the husband and the hired man. When I see familiar sights in this town, I think back to those days. One of my favorite memories is attending the circus held under the big tent on the east side of town. We went with those same harvest friends (Krumbach Harvesting), whom shared their acres with us this year. They also have four children very close to the same age as our girls. I remember how excited they all were when the elephants made their grand entrance, and I’m certain there was cotton candy involved. Continue Reading
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Janel: What’s it going to be?
Janel Schemper

Pierre, South Dakota – We made the big trip from Western Nebraska up to the Pierre, South Dakota area, and there is definitely a big ole drought going on. I was told that there really hasn’t been any rain at home in Nebraska since May, and South Dakota looks to be the same way. I could see the drought results as I traveled across Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota last week. Kansas looked alright, but as soon as I was in Nebraska I could see it. And it became worse as I traveled into South Dakota.

On the way up here we ran into road construction at Mission, South Dakota. There was a sign at Valentine, Nebraska that said road construction and width restriction 31 miles ahead. We asked around in Valentine; and everyone said they had seen lots of combines going north, and we could get through there. We got up to Mission, and there it was. There they were working on the main street that we travel, and our wide loads couldn’t fit through because of the cones. I wonder how many combines have just been hauled through there anyway. A local was nice enough to stop and tell us to turn around at the school, go back a mile and then head west on the gravel. Then at the dead end, go north up to Highway 18 and we would be back on the right track again to Highway 83 north. There was no detour route sign anywhere. For goodness sakes, why not? Continue Reading

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Laura: Learning on the road
Laura: Learning on the road avatar

High Plains Harvesting (2017-Laura)
Photo by Laura Haffner

Laura Haffner and AAWH’s Sarah Moyer talk about balancing family and business during harvest. In addition to the lessons they find from the HPH crew, she focuses on her children’s character development and creating impactful experiences for them on the road. Tune in to step into the field with Laura.

Continue Reading

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Steph: Roars in the rotor
Steph Osowski

Bayard, Nebraska – Well, courtesy of AAWH, Anderson Harvesting will be heading back south a bit to Pine Bluffs, Wyoming to continue the wheat run. Farmer Lance awaits us our arrival and Farmer Don can sit back and relax, knowing his wheat is safe and sound in the bins of the elevator. He averaged about 35 bushels per acre with test weights between 62-65 pounds. Our next fields are right in the corner of Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. I’ve always wanted to be in three places at once, and I just might get my shot.

A fun fact — Farmer Don’s son brought his family out to spend some time in the field and experience harvest. The following day, his wife and kids went off to a family reunion and he stayed. Little did I know, it was his birthday! This became known to me after the fact. And I didn’t even get to wish him a “happy birthday,” but all he wanted to do was spend his birthday in a wheat field. That’s music to a harvester’s ears. Continue Reading
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Janel: It was fun while it lasted
Janel Schemper

Western Nebraska – This year I was in Kansas longer than expected due to the evening rain showers. We couldn’t ever work really late like we needed to and put in our time because we’d get shut down by the rain most evenings. The weather really messed with us. 

Thankfully, my brother Jared and Uncle Lonny were able to harvest most all of our wheat jobs in Western Nebraska before we got there. We did still get to stop there and cut for a few days, which was great. Disappointingly, the wheat I cut didn’t yield well due to mosaic disease. The wheat looked decent from the road, but the mosaic disease really got to it this year. However, Western Nebraska has some of the most beautiful sunsets with such beautiful colors. I didn’t get to cut there long enough this year to enjoy them.  Continue Reading

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Laura: Bad vibrations
Laura Haffner

Morgan County, Colorado – Ryan left several days ahead of us to get started in Colorado. I had several more days of paperwork and preparation before we left home again, so I was relieved to finally have it all done and hit the road late Friday morning. As soon as I hit top speed, we experienced what I would call a “major” vibration. I exited on the next road. Nothing was visually off, so I circled around and tried again… same thing. The kids thought is was hilarious and great fun. They were laughing and making the “aaaahhhhh-ahhhh-ahhhhhh” noise along with all the vibrating. I could feel my frustration rising. All the while, I said prayers of thankfulness that this happened only a couple miles from home. A few back and forth calls with Ryan, a few calls to local mechanics to see who could get me in last minute, a couple shakes at Wendy’s to pass time with the kids, several laps around Wal-Mart and visits to the pet department to watch the fish, two plus hours later we were ready to roll again. Thankfully it seems that something had just gotten out of balance, and it was nothing more serious! Continue Reading

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