High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest

Category Archives: HPH

Laura: The other half
Laura Haffner

Ellis and Rush County, Kansas – A few days ago I gave you an update for half the crew. Today I’ll give you the other half.

This part of the crew had similar issues as the one further south. We fought several days of rain and/or humidity. The wheat never completely dried down and stayed in the 12-13 percent moisture range, so it was something to be watched the entire time they were cutting. This area had some hail and disease, and we had to abandon a couple fields because there just wasn’t anything there. We saw yields anywhere from 0-55 bushels per acre.  

The elevator we hauled into was nice to work with and had great service. Let me explain. When I was out at the field, the first night they were really able to cut into the evening. I asked the question, “How late is the elevator staying open?” See, you don’t harvest until the elevator closes. You take your trucks in to dump as late as they’ll take you. Then you bring them back to the field and fill everything back up, so they’re ready to unload first thing in the morning. And this allows you a bit more precious cutting time. Continue Reading

Laura: Our afternoon with young men of Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children
Laura Haffner

West central Oklahoma – As you’ve read the All Aboard Wheat Harvest blog, you have likely noticed the listing of some of our contributing sponsors in the side bar of the site page. One new to the line-up is this one:

10-Acre Challenge

“What is this challenge and who are they?” you may ask. Well, I had to enlighten myself as well, so let me share with you what I discovered. The 10-Acre Challenge is a call for those in agriculture to donate ten acres of their crop to the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children and challenge their friends to do the same.
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Laura: A different kind of harvest
Laura Haffner

Clay County, Texas – Journeying along the harvest trail in the summer is not exactly conducive to an elaborate vegetable garden though I admit I did plant a lonely cucumber and pumpkin plant for the kids in hopes it would catch just enough rain until we make it for our home stop. My lack of garden is probably why I love a good farmer’s markets on the trail. Getting produce picked at the peak of freshness and the fun of the actual market is a win-win. So when I learned of a “pick your own strawberries” event at a patch not too far down the road, I knew we had to do it to give the kids at least a partial garden experience. To put it mildly, it was a hit as you’ll see from the pictures below.
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Laura: Texas Summary
Laura Haffner

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. Continue Reading

Laura: Texas Wheat Harvest Video
Laura Haffner

North Texas – To all of you wishing you were out cutting in a field or those who just need something to get you through until harvest reaches your area, I made you a little something.  Enjoy!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Laura can be reached at laura@allaboardharvest.com.

Laura: It has started!
Laura Haffner

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. Continue Reading

Laura: When the rains come to stay, the crew will play!
Laura Haffner

Wichita County, Texas – After a couple seasons of life on the road under my belt, I’m packing lighter and lighter all the time. I don’t have time, energy or space in our camper house to deal with unnecessary clutter. So, I debated bringing the kids’ mud boots this year. Surely we wouldn’t need them for a third year in a row. I finally threw them in as a mind game and insurance policy against the imaginary Texas harvest rain gods because if we had them, we wouldn’t need them, right? Wrong. With grain moisture around 15%, we were just on the verge of being able to cut when the rains started. As I’ve stated many times in my writing, I have a terrible time wishing away rain when I come from an arid area and armed with the knowledge that this region broke out of a terrible drought just two years ago. However, the Texas weather systems and I need to have a little chat, because these harvest rains are starting to be a thing!
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Laura: Mom Guilt
Laura Haffner

Kansas –  For months Little Man’s prayers have been harvest/travel themed and have sounded something like this or a variation thereof, “Dear God, please watch over the combines, the wheat, the blue headers, the camper house, the splash park, and the swimming pool. AMEN!”

Just the other day we helped play musical vehicles with Ryan, which allowed us to pay a visit to headquarters where a beehive of preharvest prep was taking place. One of the crew members expressed his excitement for heading south and getting the cutting season going. He then asked me if I was excited about harvest.
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So long, summer run…
Laura Haffner

Home: I can’t believe its time for me to write my closing post. I’m happy to report that all of our crew and equipment made it home last week safely from the summer run. They spent the remainder of the week completing preparations for corn harvest and jockeying equipment into position. We originally thought that we’d begin picking (almost said cutting—it’s time to switch the lingo) last week, however, the corn harvest season officially kicked off on Labor Day. Fall harvest for our crew consists of corn, soybeans, and grain sorghum (milo). We will remain in Kansas for these jobs.  

HPH-2016-Fall Havest (Charel)
Pieter and Stefan harvesting dry corn. (Photo Credit: Charel)

HPH-2016-Corn Harvest (Pieter)
The view from the combine cab has changed a little! (Photo Credit: Pieter)

HPH-2016-Corn Harvest (Pieter)
Corn harvest keeps the grain cart operators hopping! (Photo Credit: Pieter)

HPH-2016-Corn Harvest (Ryan)
A nice pano view sent in by Ryan.

I’ve pondered long and hard about what I would say to wrap this year up. However, you’ve spent the summer hearing my perspective of the rains in Texas, phenomenal yields and great cutting weather of western Kansas and eastern Colorado, and the ups and downs of waiting for the right cutting conditions in Montana and North Dakota. I thought instead of rehashing the same memories, maybe you would enjoy hearing thoughts from some of our crew members. 

What job do you like the most and least while working on the crew?
Willem: Obviously driving the combine and my least favorite is cleaning the camper.
Charel: I enjoyed driving grain cart because it kept me busy all the time. I like to be moving all the time. My least favorite is to fix the stuff that broke down.
Albert: My most favorite is probably being out in the field in the combine. My least favorite is breakdown of equipment.
Shaun: The thing I most liked was when everyone knew what they were doing and seeing the crop getting off the field. The weather isn’t always cooperative. That’s hard.
Pieter: The job I like the most is running combine. I guess the job I like the least is servicing combines.
Henry: I like getting to see new places, combining, grain carting, all of it. Blowing combines off in the morning instead of the evening is my least favorite.

It is being said that wheat harvest in western Kansas was a once in a lifetime harvest. What was it like to be a part of harvesting a historical crop?
Willem: It was a good thing! It was good to see the good attitudes of farmers during harvest.
Charel: It was good to be part of it. To see the smile on the farmers’ faces was good. It made me enjoy it like they (the farmer) do and be able to cut a good yielding crop.
Albert: It was great to see the smile on all the farmers faces and to see the achievement they reached. One particular older farmer told me that in all his years of experience he’d never seen anything like it. To see his facial expression and gratitude was great.
Pieter: It was special. It was great to know the farmers made really good yields. I was amazed by the crops from this year to last year and it was an honor to be here again.
Henry: It actually felt pretty amazing to be a part of a historical harvest.

What was your favorite harvest stop and why?
Willem: Scott City was the most beautiful place we visited. It is similar to where we live in South Africa. It felt like home, but better! The wheat and good yields and pivots with maize were beautiful. I wish I could have a set up like that at home one day. I celebrated my birthday there too so it felt even more like home. I also enjoyed Texas and North Dakota.
Charel: I guess it was Hoxie. The wheat was really good and it was nice to be in such good wheat.
Albert: It’s hard to compare them. All of them are fun. Scott City was great because of the wheat and weather was cooperating perfectly.
Shaun: I enjoyed cutting for the people in Flemming. They really appreciated the harvesters. They did a lot of extras this year.
Pieter: Garrison and Sharon Springs. In Garrison, I enjoyed the people and the scenery. It was a really beautiful place. It was really amazing cutting the yields in Sharon Springs.
Henry: The place I liked the most was passing through northern Nebraska and southern South Dakota. The winding roads, different types of scenery and hills. I just liked the scenery.

What is a favorite memory from the harvest experience?
Willem: The best memory was cutting the last field with my brother (Pieter). It had been our dream since young boys to harvest together and it was a pivotal point when we completed the last field together and realized we made our dream happen. That photo will be in my office some day (the photo he is referencing was in the last AAWH article).
Charel: I met good friends and good people on the road. It was nice to be in Montana and see the country. It was beautiful.
Albert: Going to Glacier National Park was a memorable experience. Seeing all the beautiful nature was a highlight of my year so far.
Shaun: Glacier National Park. That was something I haven’t seen in my life so that was the biggest moment for me.
Pieter: The first time I cut with my brother (Willem). That was really special to me.
Henry: Getting everything ready for harvest and moving down to Texas. The anticipation for the season was fun.

With all the ups and downs that happen on harvest, was it worth it?
Willem: Definitely. I didn’t know if I had it in me to do such long hours. It taught me what I’m able to do and I learned more of who I am. I also learned a lot from Ryan about how a young guy got started and how he runs his business. I can use that information when I go home to my own thing.
Charel: Totally. I learned a lot. I had more good times than bad times. It was nice to see this side of the world and how you do it and be a part of a harvesting crew in the States.
Albert: Yes, definitely. Most definitely.
Shaun: Definitely. Every harvest has ups and downs.
Pieter: Ahhhh, yes. For sure. Every day is a different day. You never know what you’re going to get. It’s just part of the job. It’s amazing.
Henry: Yeah, it was worth it. We saw hard days and worked through them and got to the end. We saw a whole lot of good days.  

I appreciate our crew sharing their thoughts.  They spent many long hours working hard on the harvest trail   I hope you enjoyed a bit of a different spin as we close down the wheat harvest season.

Of course, we have a list of people to thank before we say our final goodbye!  Thank you to our customers for trusting HPH for your summer harvesting needs.  We appreciate the opportunity to serve you.  Without you, we would not be here.  

Thanks also to the people along the trail who keep us up and running and able to serve our customers.  Thanks to our neighbors who help around our farm and home giving us a peace of mind while we’re away.  Thanks to our family and friends who are understanding of our crazy schedule! 

Thank you to High Plains Journal for allowing our crew and I to be a part of the All Aboard Wheat Harvest lineup. It has truly been a privilege to be a correspondent for a second year and an opportunity I don’t take lightly. Thank you also to our sponsors: New Holland, ITC, Unverferth, WestBred and Kuhn Krause. Your support for this project does not go unnoticed and is greatly appreciated.  Thank you also to the readers. Without you and your continued interest, encouragement, questions, and comments, there would be no need for a project like this. It has been a joy to share our harvest story with you and interact with those of you who reach out each year.  

If you haven’t had enough harvest yet, feel free to look us up on our Facebook page for photos and updates from the fall run. And for those of you who are already dreaming of the start of the next wheat harvest, don’t fear, we’re only approximately 288 days away until Wheat Harvest 2017 begins! 

We hope you have a safe and happy fall wherever you reside!  Until another time…

Harvest Final
Just one more photo from Wheat Harvest 2016! (Photo Credit: Laura)

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

Field Swamps 101
Steph Osowski

Grafton, ND – I kid you not, there are fields with ruts from one end to the other.  No matter where the combine drove, it left a rut-shaped tattoo. That is what 95 percent of the fields look like in Walsh County, North Dakota. Since we got our tracks put on last week, dad’s phone has been ringing off the hook with more wheat to cut and it’s been the best kind of scramble. 40 acres here and 60 acres there and maybe a quarter somewhere in there each day, all for different farmers in the area. The thing about tracks is that when roading the combine from place to place, the header must always be removed and thrown on the trailer. Also, the tracks only allow for a whopping speed of 15 mph even in the highest gear the combine has to offer. Good thing we have lots of practice loading combines on trailers!

If you’re driving a combine, you need to be extra careful where you go in order to stay on solid ground. If you’re driving grain cart, you need to make sure to unload the combine extra often to keep it as empty as possible. There is also a good chance you’ll be taking the long way to the trucks to steer clear of the ruts and getting stuck yourself. If you’re driving truck, you may need to park on the road in order to not get caught full in the field with no way to move. The wheat is of good quality so it’s well worth the hectic harvest. The protein is between 13 and 14 in content and test weights are in the 60s.

I feel like a bit of a broken record lately with my posts but we seem to be stuck in a weather pattern that is determined to complicate harvest as much as possible. This past weekend, it began raining around 11p.m. and continued to be rainy and cloudy until Tuesday morning. And, low and behold, there is rain in the forecast for Wednesday afternoon and on to the end of the week. Looks like the crops will get to have another swimming lesson before harvest will begin again.
Introducing the tracks.
Introducing… the tracks.
Making dust amongst the water.
Making dust amongst the water.
Grain cart action.
Grain cart action.
Ruts on ruts.
A field of ruts.
A wheat field or a puddle?
A wheat field or a wheat puddle?
It's unbelievable how much these tracks can go through.
It’s unbelievable how much these tracks can go through.
Dad and Farmer Lloyd, surveying the mess of a field.
Dad and Farmer Lloyd, surveying the mess of a field.
Side view.
Side view.
Farmer Lloyd yells at me "your camera is going to break" as he smiles for the camera. :)
Farmer Lloyd yells at me “your camera is going to break” as he cracks a smiles. 🙂
Peeking through.
Peeking through.
Crusing around the corner.
Cruising around the corner.

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