13 Jul Steph: Harvest towns and capturing memories
Steph Osowski joins AAWH’s Sarah Moyer to discuss her important dots on a road map – her favorite harvest town, her hometown and Dodge City. She also provides an update on the “Cabover Alert” scores. Tune in to step into the field with Steph.
Why don’t we take more pictures? Why don’t we write down what happened? It’s not only for the readers, but it is for us.
Welcome on to the All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ podcast. I’m Sarah Moyer. Here speaking today with Steph Osowski of Anderson Harvesting. Steph, in one of your recent posts you talked about Dodge City since that was an area that you hadn’t cut in before, and it is the home of High Plains Journal. But you also mentioned that it was a town that you could live in. Why is that so?
Every town you go into, especially just going on harvest and being such a part of the community, because not only do we communicate with the farmers, but we have the different fuel stations, we go to the cafés, we deal with the different implement dealers. Every town you go into… it’s got its own feeling. You drive into Dodge City, and you just feel… it was a welcoming town. It has so much to offer really. It’s a really good harvest town, because everything you need is in town. It’s all there, and everybody I met was really friendly too. So that was even better.
So the hometown that you’re from, what is it like?
I’m from Grafton, North Dakota, and it is very agricultural. Almost anybody you meet is involved or had been involved with agriculture in some way, shape or form. It’s in the Red River Valley, so the dirt is, compared to down here, it’s black… so it’s very rich. A majority of the crops you’ll see are, sugar beets and potatoes quite a bit… Corn is making its way here and there. It just depends on the year, but there’s also a lot of wheat too. But it’s one of those places where you have options. Every year, it’s a discussion at the dinner table, like “What are we going to plant this year?” I’m fifty miles from Canada, but aside from that it’s one of those towns where… winter time is hockey season… because the whole town will show up for hockey games, whether you have anybody you know or anybody you’re related to playing or not. That’s what our entire winter was based around was “OK, well, where are we playing hockey this weekend?” Not only was it good for the kids, but it was a social experience for the families.
It sounds like between harvest and hockey season your year was pretty wrapped up… You have some family members, who have a harvest crew, so then you’re on a different harvest crwe this year. And that’s been an adventure, but did you start out on the trail when you were young?
I did. Well, these guys laugh at me, but my mom actually combined a sixty-acre field the day I was born. My dad had to go get her and bring her to the hospital, so I could be born.
Wow. So yes, definitely from an early start. That’s about as early as you can get. That was a part of your summers, and you’ve covered a lot of miles on the harvest trail, so could you pick a favorite harvest town then?
St. Francis Kansas.
That was easy.
No questions asked. Yup.
You mentioned it in your one of your recent blog posts, because you had the chance to swing by there while you were traveling. Correct?
Yeah, I was shuffling hopper bottoms north, and John called me at one point and he said, “Hey I want you to stay. I know that your favorite place…” Well, he said in the world, which is, you know, probably close but… He called me and he’s like, “Hey I want you to stay, like go hang out with your family. Go hang out with your friends. Just go spend the evening with them.” So I got there. I think it was about seven o’clock at night or something, and I parked my truck. And my mom came and picked me up; and I only had to make a couple phone calls, because they had done the rest and said I was coming. So it was… it was really nice.
Once again we’re speaking with Steph Osowski of Anderson Harvesting this summer. She’s one of our All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ correspondents. Getting back with Steph, we’ll talk about visiting the High Plains Journal office, keeping track of all of her blog posts ideas, and family videos from days gone by. We’d like to pause to thank our sponsors, High Plains Journal and John Deere, for their contributions to this podcast. So Steph, one of the activities that you were able to do in Dodge City, as you mentioned during one of your posts, was that you visited the High Plains Journal office. And that was something on your Dodge City bucket list, so to speak…because of your writing experience. So what was that like?
Just like the town, they welcomed me in, and everybody was, “Oh, I know you. I know who you are.” It was humbling, I suppose, would be the right way to say it. Because I feel, even though… this is my sixth year writing for All Aboard… It just amazes me, because I grew up doing it. I don’t look at myself as any different than anybody else. I’m just doing my job, so I think it’s still really cool that people are so interested in hearing about what we do.
As you’re brainstorming and thinking of what to write for blog posts… you have quite a variety of topics, and even I would say moods to your post. Some are a little more serious, and some are more lighthearted. For example, your recent dream truck post… That is one that is more fun, and do you jot these ideas down or how do you keep track of those?
Yes, I am the queen of notes… and I love just notes in general. I have I don’t know how many different note pads, but for my blog specifically, I have a note in my phone that’s titled blog stuff. Any idea I come up with throughout the day – any thought I have that I think I can expand on – they all go in there. And I sometimes [write] when I get home at the end of the night from harvest, or sometimes I write them in the morning… I would be lost, because writer’s block is a real thing. I get to my computer, and I’m like, “Huh, I don’t really know what to say. What did happen today?”
And another part of your posts are your photos, and obviously some people have really enjoyed your photos, enough to where they’re printing them out and putting them on their walls… such as the couple in the Philippines that you connected with. So where does your photography experience stem from?…
I guess, the whole smartphone thing, I think, has brought around everybody taking pictures and documenting things. But on harvest, I know like even from a young age, my mom and I and my dad and even when my grandparents used to come down, we used to take video. And that was one thing I remember. I remember a crew member did in the summer of 1999. He made a video of the whole entire summer. So he had his camera on him the whole time, just videotaping just different things that happened. And I remember there’s one part of the video… (We have this video on VHS just by the way. We can still watch this video)… He took the grain cart through a huge mud hole – just a giant mud hole. And he just covered the tractor and covered the grain cart. And I remember his commentary and just seeing the stuff like that. I think it was then and that, and like just writing down the stories and the experiences and the comments of, “Oh I wish we had a picture of that.” I think that all kind of brought it home to the fact of, “Why don’t we? Why don’t we take more pictures? Why don’t we write down what happened?” I think that’s another reason why I love All Aboard. I love writing for them so much; because it’s not only for the readers, but it is for us as harvesters. We can look back and be like, “Oh my gosh, yeah. That did happen,” or different things like that.
And some of those little things are fun to look back on, I’m sure. Maybe one from this year that will be fun to look back on is your “Cabover Alerts.” You guys have been competitive with a couple other crews on counting how many cabovers you see. First do you want to explain what a cabover is?
A cab over is basically like a perfectly square truck… where there’s no deviation in shape, but just like a cube.
So the moment we’ve been waiting for the “Cabover Alert” scoreboard. Here we go. What do you have, Steph?
It’s changed actually quite a bit. MacDon, they made a big recovery… I think they’re up. They’re beating us now…. In my post, C&K was winning. And we were in second. MacDon was in third… “Cabover Alert” scoreboard: C&K has 20 and a half, because… so a cabover truck pulling a semi trailer, like a farm version of it, that’s worth the whole point. But there’s a lot of cabovers like Isuzus that pull more so little, maybe, moving trailers or there are different urban-type things. So those are worth half a point, FYI. I don’t think I ever specified that in my post, but twenty and a half, Anderson is 32 and MacDon is 35.
Well, good luck on the cabover alerts and with harvest, Steph. Thanks for speaking with us…. That was Steph Osowski of Anderson Harvesting. She is one of the All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ correspondents. We’re happy to say that we have other contributing partners to this podcast, whom we would like to thank you this time… AgriPro, Unverferth Manufacturing Company, I.T.C. and the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children’s Ten Acre Challenge; and again thank you to High Plains Journal and John Deere for supporting All Aboard Wheat Harvest™. To be in the know on everything All Aboard, visit allaboardharvest.com to see blog posts and other media. You can find this podcast and previous podcasts under the media tab on that website. And that website shares the name for our Facebook page. We’re also on Twitter @AllAboardTour among other social media platforms. I’m Sarah Moyer, and this has been your All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ podcast.