15 Jun Brian: Arrived! And so it begins…
It’s 100 degrees, and the wind is blowing 35 mph….yup, we are in Minneola, Kansas alright! Jones Harvesting moved our equipment successfully from Iowa and Minnesota, traveling two days to reach our first stop of the year. We took a different route than normal, skipping drought-stricken Oklahoma. It makes us feel discombobulated to begin harvesting in Kansas instead, and we greatly missed seeing our farmers, friends and the local sights of Thomas, Oklahoma. We were thankful for the extra time at home to prepare for the 2018 season, but are excited to finally leave home and start our summer adventure.
With so many vehicles and oversized equipment, travel on the roads is one of the most dangerous parts of the harvest run. Unexpected road construction, a surprise low bridge underpass, or heavy traffic with narrow streets are all realities harvesters face, and it can be tricky to navigate some of these obstacles with so many long, oversized loads. Even negotiating a gas station with places to park and fuel pumps accommodating wide loads can be cause for an occasional mild panic attack… the Minnesota vehicles rendezvoused with the Iowa gang in Clay Center, Kansas, and crew leader Glen Jones did a great job leading us all the rest of the way to our final destination.
Not everything went as planned. In Minnesota the Deportment of Transportation pulled one machine over for an inspection…always a dreaded encounter. However the DOT soon had us back on our way without much incident. A leaking radiator hose on a semi caused another unexpected delay. We located a replacement part nearby, and this, too, proved to be a minor delay.
The reality of just how dangerous traveling with big equipment can be came near Pratt, Kansas, where we found ourselves stopped on the side of the road in a long line of traffic for a severe accident that had shut down the highway. Two semi trucks had been involved in a head-on collision, and there were multiple fatalities. This was a grim reminder of how much responsibility we have moving such wide, long loads down busy highways, and many motorist seem to forget we can not stop, see or maneuver like a car. Soon a gravel road detour was approved for wide loads to go around the accident site, and we found ourselves back on the road to our final destination.
We finally arrived around 7 PM on Wednesday in Minneola. We set up house trailers quickly before dark, but dinner was uncomfortably hot. A “tin box” of a house heats up quickly in triple-digit heat, and it takes the A/C a long time to cool things down. Still we were happy to finally be in Kansas, ready to unload machines and get started on our first field of wheat. We look to be right on time, with a few machines test sampling some fields, and an occasional field harvested. As weary as we are from traveling, we can’t wait to get started! I’ll be sure to bring you another update soon…harvesting our first fields of Kansas wheat!