All Aboard Harvest | Crop Updates
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Crop Updates

Southern Kansas - The weather was relatively uncooperative when the crew was in west central Oklahoma. They were constantly catching little showers that kept them out of the field or fighting humidity. For several days, that left very slim information to share, so things have been slow in the reporting department. But all of a sudden, harvest cut loose again, so I'm going to rush to get caught up!

The crew with Mark in Custer County, Oklahoma, saw yields ranging from the 30s to 50s. Test weights were average in the 58-60 pounds per bushel range. They finished in Oklahoma last Saturday night.

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.

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.

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.

North Texas - The kids were both asleep by a tick after eight this evening. Those reading who know them well, understand that this is nothing short of a miracle. I had the camper tidied by nine, which is another miracle as it's usually well after ten or eleven before I finish that. I don't know how its possible with only four people, and so few belongings, but it often looks like squirrel family took up residence by the end of the day.  It seems two of the four, actually maybe one, not naming names, is the prime suspect. Now, I'm going to utilize these rare quiet moments and get caught up on the blog!

We are nearing the end of our time in Texas. In fact, Mark and some of the crew moved to Custer County, Oklahoma, and were able to start there Wednesday, May 31. The rest of us remain in north Texas but will join them in a few short days.

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.

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.

Wichita County, Texas: May 24 - Mark it in the books - the official start to the cutting season. I had almost forgotten how I love to hear the hum of the machines. The low sound almost has a calming effect on the soul, and nothing can beat the smell of fresh cut wheat!

Due to moisture, some fields have some patches that remain to be cut, so we don't have official yield data to report yet. Test weights are coming in around 58 lbs per bushel. Hail damage has affected yields, and some fields have been zeroed out at our first stop. Today's forecast shows a high of 99, and tomorrow shows 101 with a little wind. It should be prime cutting weather, if we can avoid the small chances for rain in the forecast.

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.

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.