High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest
All Aboard Wheat Harvest Combine Cam

Author Archives: Steph Osowski

We’re home… Now what?
Steph Osowski

Grafton, ND – The two worst turns of the entire harvest are the two that lead us back to the homestead. I can say, however, that we all made it back into the yard without tipping any equipment into the ditch.

Harvest is still about ten days off around home. Even though half the crew is heading to western ND to knock some wheat out, we still have about a week or more of downtime. What’s a harvest crew to do? Well, all the things we thought about doing but didn’t have time to do on the harvest trail such as; washing combines, washing headers, re-sickling headers and washing trucks/hopper bottom. Basically, we are making our entire fleet look pretty again.

When you want input on your product, what do you do? Send a representative out to the people that use it, that’s what! Mr. Igor Kuzmenko from New Holland, PA paid us a visit in our very hometown this afternoon. He asked us questions about the combines and what we thought could be improved and how New Holland could greater serve us in the future. We really enjoyed and, most of all, appreciated the visit!

Quote of the Day“And that was without a single drop of coffee.”

An Osowski Original – This original is a flashback from only one year ago on our trip back home. About 45-minutes from home, we hit some road construction that was so soft and narrow that we had to unload the combine right in the middle of the construction site to get the truck/trailer combination out of the hole we found ourselves in. We were asked by one of the construction interns, “Didn’t you check the website?” Of course I am perusing the Internet while pulling combine down the road… Not. And for the record, it wasn’t on the website nor were there signs until you were too far-gone. Oh, the memories.

On the border!
Made it back to the homeland!
Stopped in the cute little town of Kulm for lunch.
Stopped in the cute little town of Kulm, ND for lunch on our drive home.
Beautiful ND countryside.
Beautiful ND countryside.
The wheat is still a little green up here!
The wheat is still a little green up here at home and the Mother Nature-made ditch is proof of all the rain we received. Since May 27, the Grafton area has received 27 inches of rain.
Visited my daycare kiddos!
Visited my daycare kiddos!
Sunset on our first night home.
Sunset on our first night home.
Osowski Ag with Igor.
Osowski Ag Service posing with Igor.
Washing combines.
Washing combines.

Vices
Steph Osowski

Selby, ND – Osowski Ag Service is now homeward bound. I was recently sent a text that said, “Holy smokes! Have you guys ever been home this early?!” My response? Probably in a time far, far away, but none that I can recall. It is a safe bet that we will be home the first week in August or later, rarely earlier. Grafton can now be better known as the true land of 10,000 lakes given all the rain they continue to receive so I’m guessing by the outskirts of town, we will be swimming the duration of the way.

We’ve all got our thing we use to stay awake or at this point in the season, get slight withdrawals from if we don’t have said thing at our disposal. We’ve all got our vices. Mom’s, for instance, is Mountain Dew. She prefers it from a fountain but will accept cans or bottles. Dad has to have a thermos full of coffee. Peter can normally be seen holding a Red Bull with a side of Skittles, but Coca-Cola will work in the absence of Red Bull. Brandon has to have dill pickle sunflower seeds with a Coke. Last but not least, I am a big fan of Monster Rehab energy drinks (preferably the pink lemonade flavor). Traveling days call for multiples of all of the above.

The wheat we did while in Hemingford, Neb. did about 30 bushel for an average. The protein scrambled around from 7-10 in content. Around home, we are looking at 2-3 weeks before we start combining wheat but the barley could be ready within the week. The headers may need floaties, but we will do what we can!

(6 stops, 2 combines and…)
Bread Count – 6,549,191.88 loaves

Quote of the Day“Me and rattlesnakes are on a seek and destroy mission.”

Heading down into Farmer Steve's crater field.
Heading down into Farmer Steve’s crater field.
Waiting for a load.
Waiting for a load.
Pretty moon.
Pretty moon.
Cleaning off combines.
Cleaning off combines.
Gorgeous sunset.
Gorgeous sunset.
"Where the battle wasn't."
“Where the battle wasn’t…” One of the best town signs along the trail!

Six Million Loaves!
Steph Osowski

Hemingford, Neb. – I apologize for not posting on here for a few days but man, what a few days it has been. In my last post, I let you all know that we were leaving our beloved St. Francis to move on into Nebraska. We pulled into Big Springs on Friday, unloaded and started up right away. We struggled to find an elevator that was both open and had space for more wheat and ended up hauling to Frenchman’s in Chappell. The wheat did alright; about 35 bushels and had test weights at 60 pounds. We finished our 250-acre job on Saturday, loaded up and are now at our last stop on the harvest run – Hemingford, Neb. I told you we could kiss summer goodbye after our first stop. Where did the summer go?!

This area has not received the rains that western Kansas did and the crops are suffering because of it. Many farmers in the area have been baling their wheat rather than cutting it at all. Farmer Steve told me today that he wouldn’t have minded if his wheat would have gotten hailed out and we all know any farmer saying those words is the rarest of the rare. The wheat is doing about 25 bushels but the test weights are 61-62 pounds. Protein is a bit low, about 7.8 for content.

Last year we buried the combine in Farmer Steve’s field. Brandon was surveying the area the other day and found that his ruts were still there from this event. No surprise, really – it took two wreckers to undo that mishap. With the lack of rain this area has, we did not anticipate getting stuck to be a problem. How very wrong we were. While leaving the field last night with its last load of the night, the Peterbilt found itself to be flush with the ground. This morning, we found ourselves digging small trenches underneath the traps of the hopper bottom in order to fit an auger underneath to empty out the truck into Purple. Nothing like some excitement, right? I told Farmer Steve this field is cursed. Shout-out to the Phillips people for helping us out and loaning us some of your toys to get out of the hole we made.

Bread Count – 6,107,375.82 loaves

Quote of the Day“I couldn’t tell you what’s going on on the other side of the terrace.”

Some of our farmers from St. Francis! From left to right; Mitch, Randy and Spencer.
Some of our farmers from St. Francis! From left to right; Mitch, Randy and Spencer.
Dad and Farmer Randy.
Dad and Farmer Randy.
Loaded up.
Loaded up.
Group selfie before departure!
Group selfie before departure!
Farmer Clinton.
Farmer Clinton in Big Springs, Neb.
Lounging.
Lounging.
Unloading into Purple.
Unloading into Purple.
Combines.
.
Sunset on the service truck.
.
Enjoying the view.
Enjoying the view.
All in a line.
.
Quite the excitement.
Quite the excitement.
Holes for augers.
Trench for the auger to fit underneath the trap.
Thanks to the Trent for the help and bringing out his little toy!
Thanks to the Trent for the help and bringing out his little toy!
Unloading.
Getting unloaded so it can get unstuck!
Sunset on Purp.
Sunset on Purp.
Lovely.
Lovely.

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

Later, Kansas
Steph Osowski

St. Francis, Kan. – It is always a sad day in the neighborhood when we leave St. Francis, but the time has come. Finishing up the last couple days has been a bit of a gamble when it comes to bringing trucks to town. The equity has two different locations in town and since the wheat is so spectacular, they’ve both filled up ahead of schedule. They were loading trucks to get wheat out but the full trucks were coming back just as often to put them right back at the top of the bins. The nice humans working in the scale-house kept telling us “this next load might be your last” so we knew we were trucking on thin ice.

While combining our last 80 acres, those words became a reality. We were told at both equity locations that we weren’t allowed to come back until the morning. It was only 4:30 p.m. and we only had 35 acres left. We began to go through the possibilities of where else we could haul to instead. It came down to adding 20 miles to the already 20-mile haul or driving 15 miles through solid road construction only to get in line behind 10 trucks to dump on the ground.

It was decided that I would go the route of road construction and “see how it goes,” as Dad put it. Let’s just say I would have rather not seen how it went. Two hours later, I returned to the field where both combines were loaded to complete bin capacity. However, the field was finished! Want to hear the best part? It rained 2 inches on that field last night so at least my little trucking adventure was not done in vain. All of our farmers in this area had a great crop (80-bushel average, 62 pound test weights) and we were able to pick up a few extra acres, bringing us to five farmers we had the pleasure to cut for around St. Francis.

I have to tell this little story as well because I can honestly say this is a harvest first. We had a farmer not only find us a neighbor to cut for but also told us that since we were right across the road from said neighbor’s field, we could move off his field to do his neighbor’s piece and then just move back onto his fields after. See, this is strange, irregular behavior because not wrongly so, farmers would rather have their wheat off yesterday come harvest time. People have such a way of surprising you.

See you up the road at our next stop—Big Springs, Nebraska!

Bread Count – 5,872,151.46 loaves

Quote of the Day“The best kind of prize is a surprise.”

Blue and cows.
Blue and cows.
On top of the hill.
On top of the hill.
Heading down a rather steep decline.
Heading down a rather steep decline.
Combine.
Combine.
B&W.
A combine in black and white.
The sun did some cool things this day.
The sun did some cool things this day.
Love the countryside out here.
Love the countryside out here.
Some long lines at Scoular in Idalia, CO.
Some long lines at Scoular in Idalia, Colorado.
The sun did some cool things this day.
The sun did some cool things this day too.
Combine photo bomb!
Combine photo bomb!
Sunset.
Sunset love.
Sunset.
Sunset.
Sunset.
Sunset.
Sunset.
Sunset.

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

Cupcakes and Combines
Steph Osowski

St. Francis, Kan. – To start, I need to tell you all something very exciting that I did. I ordered a T-shirt that says “St. Francis, Kansas” on it with a barn and a windmill—basically all of my favorite things on a shirt. Well, Mom ordered it for me under my instruction while I was driving truck. Super excited.

These last couple weeks, Peter and I have created this game we like to play. It’s very similar to musical chairs except it involves energy drinks. Each day we ask ourselves, What color/brand/flavor do we want to try today?” We try to pick a new one each time and we each try it to see if it will make a repeat performance in our bellies or not.

The crop around here continues to be fantastic, which means our days are long and our nights are short. This time of season, we all just know what vices we need to get us through the day. The two elevators in St. Francis are taking turns getting filled up so the lines and waits are long. It’s rough for progress but it’s a nice change-up for us truck drivers because we now have to freedom to jump out of our trucks and socialize with one another a bit. I have witnessed many meetings of the minds the last couple days, so if you have a problem that needs to be solved, shoot it my way and I’ll have a solution for you within a load or so.

Bread Count – 4,904,224.5 loaves

Quote of the Day“Maximum effort!”

Windmill love.
Windmill love.
Making a few rounds!
Got to make a few rounds in the combine to experience for myself how great this wheat goes through the machine.
Christmas in July.
St. Francis has an event where they have a few decorations strewn around town, calling it “Christmas in July.” Here is the decor that the Equity had for the truckers’ viewing pleasure.
Next to dump at the Equity.
Me and Blue, next in line to dump at the Equity.
Progress.
Progress.
Pistachio cupcakes.
Mom’s pistachio cupcakes. They always taste like more.
Sunrise on the Equity.
Another day in the books!

 

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

The Cue List
Steph Osowski

St. Francis, Kan. – A non-harvest person would say working a 15-hour day must mean you got an extra large amount of work done. Lately, that is not so much the case. The straw is thick and the heads of wheat are plump full of grain so the amount of acres we can normally get cut in a day with our two machines is substantially lower.

The thing is that we work in acres, not hours. Harvest is that way; you put in the long hours to make that one more round or to fill that last truck before the elevator closes for the night. The stats we have to show for it are worth it. Our yields are still up in the 80-90 bushel range with test weights between 58 and 62 pounds.

We get to cut a field for Farmer Randy that we have never cut before since we started cutting here back in 2009. Basically, you get there by going down some dips and around some curves until you get to the middle of nowhere and then you will come across a wheat field. Cut that field. This last field for Farmer Randy has, however, put us right where we need to be because Farmer Spencer is next on the cue list and we are now right across the road from those fields. Glass half full! Also, fun fact, Farmer Spencer butt-dialed me today and left me a 3-minute long voicemail of tractor and generic phone-in-pocket noises.

Bread Count – 3,708,176.64 loaves

Quote of the Day“It doesn’t cost any money to be clean.”

Checking trucks over.
Checking trucks over.
Fierce clouds. Windmill love.
Weird looking clouds.
Some weird looking clouds showed up.
Dad and Uncle Steve conversing.
Dad and Uncle Steve of Russell Harvesting conversing.
Friendly neighborhood truck drivers.
Steph and Peter, your friendly neighborhood truck drivers.
Meet Brady.
Meet Brady, a member of Russell Harvesting.
Truck passenger selfie!
Truck passenger selfie!
Ready to switch fields.
A sweet surprise.
A sweet surprise!
Dad and Mitch, figuring something out.
Dad and Farmer Mitch, figuring something out.
Thrashing.
Peter's first time eating a small powdered donut.
Peter’s first time eating a small powdered donut.
Purple and a rainbow.
Purple and a rainbow.
Dusk cutting.

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

20% Chance
Steph Osowski

St. Francis, Kan. – Another stop with a good crop, what’s a harvester to do? Rejoice, that’s what we do! The elevators, farmers, harvesters and gas station owners are all grinning with a wheat crop like this.

The rain over the weekend slowed everyone down for a good day and half. On Monday, nobody was sure if the wheat would be ready to thrash or if the ground was dry enough to hold up a combine. Come 4pm, everyone in Cheyenne County decided to try a sample and by 4:30pm, the lines at the elevator were out of control.

There was talk of rain coming again within the next 24 hours so the urgency was not misplaced. The funny thing I have found about this area is that when the weatherman says there is a 90 percent chance of rain for the area, it might spit on one corner of the county and call it a day. When the weatherman says there is a 20 percent chance for scattered showers, the entire area gets drenched. Today, the 20 percent chance only bore fruit to a small shower but it was enough to cut our evening short. The last day and half has allowed us to finish up with Farmer Tadd and move on to Farmer Randy. We have seen yields between 60 and 70 and it’s looking to be around 80 to start Farmer Randy’s fields off. Test weights are between 57 and 60 pounds.

Bread Count – 3,371,868.36 loaves

Quote of the Day“I have a rumbling in my rotors.”

Good ol St. Francis.
Hauling to Scoular in Goodland, Kan.
Hauling to Scoular in Goodland, Kan.
Scoular Elevator.
Scoular Elevator in Goodland, Kan.
The wheat is rather tall.
Trying to beat the storm. It won.
Trying to beat the storm. It won.
Mr. Burt Moore came and paid us a visit!
Mr. Burt Moore, a faithful AAWH follower, came and paid us a visit!
All lined up.
.
Gotta love fields close to the elevator.
Sunset love.
.
Steph and Carley from Russell Harvesting.
Steph and Carley from Russell Harvesting.
Dusk unloading.
Checkered stubble.
Checkered stubble.
Dusk hauling.
.
Maverick giving us a smile.
Maverick giving us a smile.
Some lightning action.
Some lightning action before the rain came this evening.
I love western Kansas skies.
I love western Kansas skies.
Rainbow to end the rain shower.
Rainbow to end the rain shower.
All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. You can contact Steph at stephanie@allaboardharvest.com.

A Girl on the {Harvest} Run
Steph Osowski

St. Francis, Kan. – There are a few things you may not know about being the only girl in a sea of harvest and testosterone. I am here to fill you in on a few key points. My fellow harvest ladies, this one is for you.

  1. They think you can, they think you can’t. You’ll get all makes and models. Shrug off the nonbelievers.
  2. Prove the nonbelievers wrong. It’s fun and extremely rewarding.
  3. Guys have wallets. Girls have purses and/or a carryall of some sort. Don’t go anywhere without it.
  4. Switching from one machine to another “for a round”? Bring everything you need. You’ll probably be in there all day.
  5. In order to get your good ideas to be put into action, you will likely need to make the men think it was their idea in the first place.
  6. Going on a parts run? Don’t forget to call the field before you head back. They probably thought of something else they need and you can’t come back without it.
  7. Always have a book or portable hobby of some sort with you. The “hurry up and wait” concept is what harvest is made of. You do a LOT of waiting.
  8. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty! Everything guys can do girls can do better, right? 
  9. To go along with the previous one, it’s okay to ask for help sometimes (I am a do-it-yourselfer, this can be a struggle for me).
  10. Be mindful when you are helping someone out with their job. If you’re too good at it, it will quickly become your job… Forever.

I’m sure there are many, many more so if you think of any, feel free to shoot them my way and I will include them in an upcoming post. Us ladies have to stick together. Happy Harvest!

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

Over Two Million Loaves
Steph Osowski

St. Francis, Kan. – Road construction, pizza buffets and roadside bathroom breaks; that is what travel days are made of. We were able to finish up for Farmer Sheldon mid-afternoon on Tuesday (which was also Peter’s birthday). He averaged 62 bushels for his 2016 wheat crop so we left Farmer Sheldon in a happy state of mind. We hit the road for stop number five on the harvest run the following day. I find myself typing “stop number five” a little slower because it never ceases to amaze me how four stops have already been tackled. Will that ever NOT sneak up on me?

I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it many times more; St. Francis is my favorite stop. Ever since we started combining here back in 2009, there’s just been something about it that sticks with me. Also, fun fact to add to my list of love for St. Francis, this is where Peter and I met exactly a year ago. I know some of you were wondering what side of the road we picked him up on so, now you know that as well.

My camera is out of commission till I can get it somewhere where a qualified individual can clean out my lens. I have a spot right in the middle that rears its ugly head in all my photos so I will have to resort to using my phone for the time being. One thing I must say about using my phone is people are a lot less likely to duck and cover than if I am walking around with a big Canon wrapped around my neck.

Bread Count – 2,658,329.1 loaves

Quote of the Day“Have we made it to StephanieVille yet?” – this quote comes from the youngest member of Russell Harvesting. How cute is that?

Coffee cheers.
Coffee cheers.
Farmer Sheldon and his wife, Vicki.
Farmer Sheldon and his wife, Vicki.
Purple.
Peter checking out the tail lights.
Peter checking out the tail lights.
Happy Birthday, Peter!
Happy Birthday, Peter!
A little mud bogging.
A little mud bogging.
Dad and his new "lime popsicle" shirt.
Dad and his new “lime popsicle” shirt.
Wildflowers and combines.
Wildflowers and combines.
Cleaning off the combines for the trip north.
Cleaning off the combines for the trip north.
Loading up before the rain comes!
Loading up before the rain comes!
The NH guys came to say goodbye.
The NH guys came to say goodbye.
Navigating.
Navigating.
Panorama.
Panorama.
Fueling up Blue.
Peter fueling up Blue.
Windmill love.
Windmill love.

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

Refill the Glass
Steph Osowski

Lyons, Kan. – I want to start this off with a protein reading of 13. I have many friends from home as well as some readers that have inquired about this specific reading so I was excited to see it was included on my scale ticket this afternoon. The suspense can end!

We are about to wrap up but this area is not quite ready to let us go. We moved to our last field today and just as we were getting a good rhythm going, the wind picked up and the clouds rolled in. The elevator was closed so we were going to have to quit for the night anyway so let’s hope it doesn’t rain enough to shut us down for too long. The yields are between 50 and 60 bushels with test weights consistent around 60 pounds. The lines at the elevator got a bit outrageous today. This part of harvest has a tendency to do that because elevators are getting full or the pits decide to fall apart in order to give themselves a break from the harvest chaos.

Something you may not know about South Africans is that they love to barbecue. Conveniently, I love to eat barbecued food so this works out very well for me. Peter can grill anything and it’s spectacular. The only catch is you can’t really ask for a specific sauce he uses ever again because the recipe he follows is “dump whatever into a bowl and see how it turns out.”

Bread Count – 1,823,378.47 loaves

Quote of the Day“Glass half full or glass half empty, the glass can always be refilled.”

Grilling steaks.
Grilling steaks, South African style.
Filling up Dad's plate.
Mom filling up Dad’s plate.
Brandon.
In the words of Brandon, “I’ve been waiting for this steak all year!”
Grilling is a bonding experience.
As if being on harvest together is not enough of a bonding experience, we grill together too!
The line at the elevator in Hutchinson, Kan.
The line at the elevator in Hutchinson, Kan.
An AAWH follower was parked behind Steph at the elevator today!
An AAWH follower was parked behind me and Purple at the elevator today and shared this photo to our facebook page. Next time, come say “hi”!
Riding out to the field, having no fun at all. :)
Riding out to the field, having no fun at all.
Mom jumping into the Gleaner with Dad for a ride.
Mom jumping into the demo combine with Dad for a ride.
Nice sample!
Nice sample!
Oh Purple.
The Gleaner with the trucks.
The combine with the trucks.
Gleaner and NH.
The combines making the rounds.
Dusk.
Storm clouds rolling in.
Storm clouds rolling in.
One last dump of the night.
One last dump of the night.

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