06 Jul Megan: Visitors Galore
“Time flies when you’re having fun! The more the merrier! Three’s a crowd!” These statements are entirely too accurate for Roland Harvesting the last few days. Our excitement started on Sunday when my college friend, Kellyn, and her younger sister, Kylie, made the trip from Cheyenne, Wyoming to catch a glimpse of our chaotic lives as harvesters. Kellyn has come home to the farm with me many times and has had a taste of harvest before, whereas Kylie’s closest encounter with agriculture before this was planting flowers with her mom. The girls showed up first thing in the morning, dressed in work clothes, and ecstatic to head out to the field.
However, the countless stories and photos I’ve shared with Kellyn and Kylie could not prepare them for the culture shock they experienced once we began our work day. We slowly eased them into things as they took turns riding in the combine and tractor with us. Growing up in Colorado Springs, the girls explained how they used to think the term “farmer” was just someone who lived in the country and drove a tractor around. When they met me four years ago in college they were both shocked and intrigued by what my family does for a living. This week they were finally able to experience harvest and understand exactly how I spend my summers.
We were also able to brag up Nebraska to them as we were harvesting outside of Chadron, tucked away back in the trees of the gorgeous Pine Ridge. Beautiful timber, rolling hills, and wildlife filled the horizons past the wheat fields. With everything up and running, we were able to enjoy this view that we dubbed our “little piece of heaven.” A photo just can’t give it justice.
The three combines finish up near Chadron. The skies have been very hazy and rather strange looking since we’ve been back in the panhandle of Nebraska. This hazy smoke has drifted our direction from the Colorado and Wyoming wildfires.
Sunday evening we finished near Chadron and made the trek home. We took off headers so the combines would have an easier time with the move. With our extra helpers around we were able to get everything home in one trip. All this equipment awaits to begin the journey: 3 combines, 3 pickups and headers, a tractor and graincart, along with 3 semis.
When we asked Kellyn to pull a header home she was absolutely terrified. We gave her a quick pep talk, threw in the middle of the convoy, and didn’t give her much of a chance to object. An hour later after successfully making the move and parking her rig, she stepped out the pickup with the biggest grin on her face. It’s amazing how the responsibilities of harvest can impact a person’s confidence. You made us proud, Kellyn!
After being on the road for eight long weeks it is so nice to finally be back home, near Hemingford. The next morning Brandon’s girlfriend, Lara, arrived from her hometown of Walden, Colorado. Lara is no stranger to the world of agriculture but her expertise is in the ranching side of things so all this wheat and harvest equipment was quite a switch up to the horses and cattle she is used to.
We threw Kellyn, Kylie, and Lara right into midst of a typical harvest day. And man, were they troopers! They helped with daily chores from filling up the coolers to cleaning cabs and washing windows, to getting fuel. Once we got going for the day they were our “professional riders.” They asked countless questions and we gave them lots of answers – sometimes way more information than they were curious about. However, a question such as, “what happens to the wheat when it leaves the field,” requires a fairly complex answer. By nightfall I felt like a professor and I’m pretty sure after a day full of being taught “fun facts” the girls were a bit tired of learning by then. Oh well, at least they let me humor them! We also let the girls drive the tractor, get behind the wheel in the combine to make a couple rounds and ride in the semi to the grain elevator. As far is harvest is concerned, they certainly saw, heard, and did it all!
While unloading the grain cart on the semi, I got a bit distracted explaining how the tractor worked that I accidently made some piles. I told the girls that we’d have to climb into the grain trailer to move the piles so it could be easily tarped. Before I could even finish this statement they bolted out of the tractor, scrambled up the ladder and were playing in the wheat like little kids in a sandbox.
Kylie (left) and Kellyn (right) prove that “city girls” appreciate where their food comes from, too! Kylie’s favorite part of harvest: “Driving the combine and playing in the grain! Who knew that could be so fun?” Kylie also admitted she had no idea the hard work that came with harvest and the extent of our operation. Kellyn’s favorite part of harvest: “Being trusted enough to pull a header 30 miles home from Chadron AND moving the tractor and grain cart to the next field all by myself!”
For me, being born and raised on a farm and growing up with harvest, most of my life has revolved around agriculture. The idea of not knowing the difference between corn and wheat, or not being able to hook up to a header trailer or not understanding how to read a ticket from the elevator is completely unimaginable to me. Having the girls around the last few days has shed a whole new light on this thought. It’s crazy how much of harvest we take for granted when we work in it day after day.
When we finally finished for the night we all sat around at the dinner table and enjoyed one of mom’s infamous home cooked meals. Kellyn, Kylie and Lara excitedly chattered away about the day’s events as we all asked them various harvest questions. We decided to have an impromptu “pop quiz” administered by Mom and Dad to see who had learned the most during the day. Things got pretty heated between the students and mentors and after many giggles were exchanged we finally just called a “draw.” Everyone survived a full-fledged day of harvest and now knows way more about combines and wheat than when they arrived. In my book I would call them all winners!
Left to right: Kellyn, Lara, and Kylie proudly display their quizzes after we discussed them at the dinner table. Here’s a preview of our madeup quiz. How would have you done?
1.) Q – How do you know when the wheat is ready to harvest? A – When it is ripe, dry (moisture lower than 13.5 percent), and golden
2.) Q – What is the first that happens at the grain elevator? A – After you untarp your truck you wait to get probed for a sample, then weigh in
3.) Q – What is the name of the “stuff” that comes out of the back of the combine? A – Chaff and/or straw
Tuesday morning, James’ girlfriend, Darci, also joined our crew of visitors. Growing up in Scottsbluff, just an hour away from Hemingford, Darci has been exposed to agriculture but she’s never really experienced it. She jumped right in with the rest of the girls and helped out whenever we asked. Before anyone could warn her she started asking questions about harvest and us Rolands didn’t hesitate as we starting spilling out our answers again.
I applaud all of the girls’ eagerness and perseverance to come and see what harvest is all about. Their curiosity and questions about everything had me as tickled as could be. Also, the neat thing is that all of us girls go to college at the University of Wyoming. From majors ranging in Health Science, to Business, to Engineering, to Agriculture they all really gave harvest an honest try and hopefully will never forget the experience they had!
All Aboard Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and Syngenta. Megan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.