High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest

Author Archives: Steph Osowski

Steph: Hit the trip meter
Steph Osowski

Dodge City, Kansas – Would you believe I have been a part of the AAWH family for six years now, and I have never even been to the homeland of High Plains Journal? Unreal, but that is no longer the case. I drove into town on Wyatt Earp Boulevard and took a quick look around and knew right away I would get along just fine around here. I could live here. We will be harvesting here for the indecipherable future as it decided to rain on our harvest parade last night (06/21), so I’m hoping to rub elbows with some of the HPJ staff. I also plan on doing quite the exposé on the town in an upcoming post as it is a definite harvest classic. We did get into the wheat a bit, and it’s beautiful — 50-60 bushels per acre with a 58 pound test weight. There’s nothing like wheat harvest in Kansas.

I wish I had an internal trip meter. I should have pushed this spring to keep track of the miles I put on myself. Scratch that — should have started it last winter, because then it would include my international travels. The more I think about it, the further my curiosity for this goes. Just imagine 26 years of Midwestern travels via the harvest run plus all the trucker adventures, various road trips with friends and international travels. My trip meter would probably be broken by now. Continue Reading

Steph: It happens
Steph Osowski

Apache, Oklahoma – Have I mentioned how much I love small town America? Because I really do. For today’s small town love demonstration, I will tell you that the bank had an area setup at the elevator and was cooking burgers for all the harvest crews. As I was un-tarping, one of the ladies asked me how many were in my crew. Upon hearing my response of, “There’s just 3 of us,” she replied, “Okay, we will make you 10 burgers then.” I mean, who I am to turn down free food?

I thought about not posting about this next incident but, it might be exactly what someone out there needs to read to feel better about their own mishap. I’m just gonna go for it. So the other day, I hauled to a new elevator. When you drive truck for a harvest crew, this can be a daily occurrence. Elevators come in all shapes and sizes as well as the scales and pits that go with them. Short, tall, skinny, fat, fast, slow – they make them all sorts of ways. Today’s featured scale is skinny. When the scale workers didn’t recognize my truck with my first load, they automatically came out to spot me. Continue Reading

Steph: Visiting hours
Steph Osowski

Apache, Oklahoma – One of my (many) favorite aspects of this blog is the ability to promote the agriculture industry that has made me who I am today. I’m definitely that person who will hear a nearby conversation going on about GMOs or hormones in beef and interrupt with an, “Excuse me but, did you know…” Those of us who love this industry will agree that it is our duty to spread the word and spread knowledge for everyone to hear. That’s the thing about a passion; it doesn’t feel like work.

The Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children brought three young men out to our field the other day to get a first-hand harvest experience. They loved it! These boys all came from different backgrounds but all found something they enjoyed about the harvester’s life. They were telling me how cool they thought my job was, how cool my LIFE was, and one even admitted he now wanted to be a harvester when he grew up. That right there deserves a moment of silence, because instilling that feeling in any youth is something to commemorate. Continue Reading

Steph: Café Exposé
Steph Osowski

Apache, Oklahoma – There’s something about finishing up harvest at a stop and just as the back wheels of the combine touch the combine trailer, a light drizzle of rain starts across the area. It’s almost like Mother Nature saying, “Hey, here’s to a job well done.” It’s the perfect ending and an even more perfect sendoff, because traveling in the rain is easy on the tires. 

We have now moved to our next stop on the harvest trail — Apache, Oklahoma. John has had a couple guys from this area work for him before, so it’s nice to have some locals to help us out. For example, the first night we got to town, it was later in the day. The campground was seemingly empty and dark with no signs of phone numbers to change that status. Well, it may have appeared that way to a passerby; but when you know a local, he can phone the owner because he’s obviously a friend of his. Everyone knows everyone in small towns, and it’s a beautiful thing. Continue Reading

Steph: Moonlighting Mechanics
Steph Osowski

Gilliland, TX – Statistically, I don’t think I want to know how many hours of my life I’ve spent driving. If someone were to insert the total hours of my life into some magical stat machine, I would bet 75% or more of those hours have been spent behind a steering wheel of assorted vehicles, trucks and machinery. I was once told that I drive a combine so casually it’s as if I’m driving a car. But, it’s what I love, so I wouldn’t want it any other way.

We spent all of Sunday working on equipment — a true harvester Sunday fun-day. It wasn’t on purpose though. We started off the day with good intentions; but when it smells like there’s a bonfire in your cab, something is certainly wrong. We came to find we had a bearing go out on the re-thrasher that needed to be replaced. Not only that, but we also had to made a phone call to the MacDon Harvest Support guys to come and calibrate/check our header. It was the best time for it to happen if there ever was one. Continue Reading

Steph: Occupied Buddy Seats
Steph Osowski

Gilliland, Texas – It takes me exactly 27 minutes and 14 seconds to get from the field to the elevator, scale/probe, unload, scale and get back to the field. However, I’ve never had the opportunity to combine a 450-acre field of wheat (talk about heaven — 450 acres without changing fields ONCE), so John got pushed outta the driver’s seat, and I hopped in. I also wanted to see what these red machines are all about. My review, you ask? It’s pretty awesome. Our wheat stats have stayed about the same with 20-25 bushels per acre and 58-60 pound test weights.

My buddy seat was occupied for awhile today by Miss Breanna. She is Farmer Glen’s niece, and we had ourselves a time. We spent a good portion of the afternoon talking about our favorite colors, swapping stories and singing along to Shania Twain on the radio. She also likes Johnny Cash, and said she would have ridden in the combine with me all day long — a girl truly after my own heart. She climbed off the combine, and then shortly after climbed right back up the ladder to give me a hug so, I’d be lying if I said she didn’t take a little piece of it with her. Continue Reading

Steph: Commence
Steph Osowski

Gilliland, Texas – You know how they say everything is bigger in Texas? That’s no lie. I kid you not. I had a mosquito the size of a quarter bite me today. Around dusk, Josh the Elevator Worker and I had to dance around like fools while unloading my truck in an attempt to keep them away. Not like it worked much — my arms and neck are covered in little red welts. Battle scars on the first full day of cutting, what more could you ask for? Harvest is HERE. The yields are between 20-25 bushels per acre with test weights coming in at 58 pounds. With a whopping distance of four miles to haul the grain in to the elevator, we are seeing some major progress and were able to do 250 acres on day one with our combine.
Continue Reading

Steph: Road to Texas
Steph Osowski

Gilliland, Texas – I had a nightmare last night that my tractor/grain cart load fell off my trailer… never had I been so happy to be jolted awake by reality at 3 a.m. Sometimes road stories are bizarre and out of control like that. This road story is the exact opposite.

We were graced with perfect travel conditions and the road to Texas went off without a hitch. When we were embarking on our final travel day this morning, Bossman John asked me if I had $16 to pay for the campsite since he had no cash (and also said he would give me $20 back. As an economics major, that’s a no-brainer). I had $16 exactly and not a penny more.
Continue Reading

Steph: New Perspectives
Steph Osowski

Grafton, ND – Harvest time. I doubt there will ever come a time when I don’t start mentally packing for it come mid-April. My mind will wander off, daydreaming about wheat fields, and next thing I know I’m checking my apps for wheat prices, weather reports for that first stop on the wheat run and yield projections. Some friends of mine started combining in southern Texas a week or so ago and were sending me Snapchats of their combines in the wheat… I got goosebumps.

For those of you new to the program this year, here’s a quick synopsis of me. My name is Stephanie (Steph) Osowski. I’m a third generation custom harvester and am hopelessly addicted to the lifestyle. My family has always custom harvested so all my best childhood memories are either in a wheat field or somewhere along the wheat belt. Continue Reading

The Lingering Harvest of 2016
Steph Osowski

Grafton, ND – It is October 6th and I sit here being able to tell you that we are not done with wheat harvest yet. Sugar beets are being harvested, potatoes are being dug, soybeans and edibles are being combined and there is still some wheat that has yet to be taken off. We have had some desperate calls from farmers in the area that normally wouldn’t have their wheat custom harvested but since they can’t get through their fields with their wheeled-combines, the one combine we had tracks put on has been a busy little bumblebee. Dad has switched out the concaves on the combine with tracks at least 3 different times because he switches crops so often. It still amazes me how that thing can just drive right through water standing in the field. However, we have discovered it isn’t a foolproof system — the track combine has still been stuck. We have had anything from a tank puller to a 4-wheel drive tractor having to yank us out of some of the holes we have found ourselves in. It is truly unbelievable. As for the rest of Osowski Ag,  Brandon is helping out until the bitter end when college will start for him in November. Mom has gotten back on her regular work wagon but occasionally will spoil us and still bring supper out to the field.

The days have been long and the nights have been… well, the same actually. This time of year is the time to buckle down and get as much work in as you can to prepare for the long winter months. What I mean is this; dad needs help during the day for wheat/bean harvest and then Peter and I have a farmer that I take night shift for driving beet truck. I have been told recently that if you stack your feet on top of one another, try to nap and your feet topple to the sides that that is enough rest and you are good for another 8-hours. I think that is a trick I may put to the test before long. It still doesn’t know how to quit raining up here seeing as we received around half an inch in the last couple days- so that’s fun. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all you readers out there for your continued support of this program and our crazy lifestyles we love. This year has certainly been an interesting one but if I’m being honest, that’s something I can truly say for each and every harvest season. I know I’m lucky to have the opportunity to be able to say that. An even bigger thank you goes to High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture for bringing this program to life and doing everything they can to support us out in the field. The gratitude we correspondents and harvest crews alike have for you is immeasurable. So again, thank you!

As for me, I have a holiday booked for a solid month and a half to head back to South Africa and then spend some time in Europe on the trip home. People always ask me how I can do such far and long trips and my response is always the same; you just gotta book it and go from there. Hopefully we will be finished with harvest by Christmas, right?

Till next harvest, have a great year and we look forward to sharing our stories with you next season!
Waiting on the headland.
Waiting on the headland in my beet truck. To the left is the pull tractor and to the right in the beet harvester.
Dad getting pulled out by the tank puller AND 4-wheel drive.
Dad getting pulled out by the tank puller AND 4-wheel drive.
Grandpa Hiladore running grain cart. Isn't he the cutest?!
Grandpa Hiladore running grain cart. Isn’t he the cutest?! Note the lunch box and thermos — can’t go anywhere without those!
Peter and I, ready to haul beets.
Peter and I, about to embark on a beet harvest shift.
A cute little barn by the river.
A cute little decrepit barn by the river, surrounded by perfect fall colors.
Osowski Ag bids farewell!
Osowski Ag bids farewell!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. You can contact Steph at stephanie@allaboardharvest.com.