During my last post I discussed how Roland Harvesting’s recent motto has been “just keep swimming.” It seemed fitting due to the excessive rain down south and the gloomy circumstances we had been facing. What I didn’t realize at the time was the irony behind this title. After spending a week in Nebraska helping the family, I returned to Sheridan, Wyoming, in order to go back to work. (Most of you know I am an RN at the local hospital.)
On the evening of June 3 the Sheridan area received a tremendous amount of rain. Shortly after it began I heard a trickle of water coming through the back door of my garden level apartment. Thinking nothing of it, I threw a couple of towels on the ground. Seconds later, the door frame suddenly cracked and in rushed hundreds of gallons of water. As I stood there, flood water filled with debris quickly turned my apartment into a churning river and then a lake. I watched as this nasty, contaminated water rapidly and forcefully destroyed the place I used to call home. My couches and bed soon became floating rafts. Kitchen items, clothes, shoes, and decorations floated down the hall. Totes of college books, binders, and pictures were submerged before I could even lay eyes on them. It took less than 30 minutes for my entire apartment to be flooded with nearly 4 feet of water. I attempted to rescue as many pictures and things of sentimental value as a I could. It’s a gut wrenching, sickening feeling to recognize that everything you have worked for is about to be ripped from you. You only have seconds to decide what stays and what goes. It’s a truly impossible task. Ultimately, I managed to walk away soaking wet, filthy, and with nothing more than some bruises.
Now, at first glimpse, I know this story does not appear to be related to harvest, but I’m sharing it for two purposes. First off, to explain to you why you haven’t heard any updates about Roland Harvesting for over two weeks. And secondly, to show you how harvest tendencies never really leave a farm girl like myself.
As custom harvesters we witness firsthand the toll that weather plays on various aspects of our lives. Good ol’ Mother Nature continually impacts when, where, and how we harvest each and every crop. It wears on our equipment and is always messing with our schedules. The weather conditions directly influence our paychecks, our moods, and ultimately our livelihood. Sure, we deal with it on a daily basis and truthfully it is part of our everyday routine. What harvester or farmer doesn’t check the weather report when he/she first wakes up in the morning? The thing about Mother Nature is that she is easy to take for granted. However, she always has a way of making sure you know who is in charge. Anyone who has spent a few summers on the harvest trail can attest to the countless intense thunderstorms, plummeting hail, downpours of rain, and grueling droughts that can be experienced across the Wheat Belt. To be honest, when I was younger my sister and I often considered storm chasing as a profession! Nonetheless, experiencing this recent flood has put the true power and fury of Mother Nature back into perspective. She is strong. She does not discriminate. She can strike at any time. She demands respect.
Although harvest is filled with endless weather battles, life on the road is actually much simpler than one would think. When packing my bag for harvest I bring the bare necessities: work clothes, my favorite hat, a few toiletries, and my camera. The camper life brings a dry roof over our heads, a place to store and make food, and a warm bed to sleep in. I have had to revert back to this harvest mentality countless times in the last few weeks. I have spent days sorting through hundreds of damaged belongings, throwing away nearly three city-sized dumpsters of unsalvageable items. I am currently living life with the bare necessities, just like we do on harvest. I am saddened by the entire situation, but at the same time I am so incredibly thankful. I am blessed to be alive and healthy. I am blessed that I have a new, dry apartment over my head and a job I love to go to every day. I am blessed to have such wonderful family, friends, and coworkers who have bent over backward to help me in my dire time of need. All of the overwhelming love and support offered to me has blown me away time and time again. People are good. God is good. To everyone who has helped me through this trying time, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!
Years of challenges on the farm and on the harvest run have truly helped shape me into the resilient individual I am today. This experience has confirmed that. I am strong. I am hopeful. I have faith that God is working in my life and has offered me this challenge for a reason. All in all, this attitude and strength will get me through, as it has generations of farmers, harvesters, and ranchers before me. As my Grandpa Fraser used to say, “What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.” Here’s to being stronger!
Stay posted for my next update on what Roland Harvesting has been up to for the past couple weeks!
“Welcome to my home.” Yes, that is my couch floating in the background.
I was in the middle of cooking breakfast for dinner when this happened. You know it’s truly a flash flood when there isn’t even enough time to eat the bacon!
My bathroom became the collection site for much of the debris.
Like I said, “Just keep swimming.” A view from my backdoor.
My Uncle Carl and a dear friend, Lindsay, helped with the immediate cleanup. Just like harvest, it took a whole crew to get it conquered.
I know I’m going to catch grief for posting this picture but Mom and Aunt Lynda earned their time to shine! From combine operators to disaster relief workers, these ladies always work their butts off and can truly do it all!
While sorting through a tote I ran across an old notebook I used to keep on harvest. Although it was sopping wet and ended up in the trash, I found some interesting things including these old fuel prices from Hollis, Oklahoma. That was also the year that harvest was running almost a month early!
Luckily, my New Holland toys survived and cleaned up nicely. Just like the real thing, they’re built heavy duty like that. 😉
All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. Roland Harvesting can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: Betsy English, Megan’s cousin, has set up a GoFundMe page at http:// www.gofundme.com/wbc5dxg to help raise funds for Megan to fill the gaps that her insurance will not cover.