High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest


Category Archives: MacDon

Steph: Change of scenery (again)
Steph Osowski

Monte Vista, CO – Harvest is unpredictable. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times over from each individual correspondent. This year has brought around many changes for individual harvesters and crews alike and in the spirit of that, another change has occurred in my usually predictable summer schedule.

Given the amount of acres burned up in western ND, the acres promised ended up not being the acres given. Having a full crew with less acres than you bargained for is a difficult situation to be in. Right as all this was happening, there was an opportunity for me to join the New Holland Harvest Support team for the duration of harvest. 

So, here I am, from harvest crew member to Harvest Support member, from campground to Holiday Inn. Monte and I got to the San Luis Valley in Colorado just a couple days ago and have been making field visits to the Graham’s who live and harvest in this area. Barley harvest will be in full swing come the weekend but some progress has been made, slow as it may be. This area is unbelievably beautiful — I find myself gawking at my surroundings frequently in a day and being grateful for the opportunity to be in the location as well as the position I’m in. What a summer, huh?

Quote of the Day – “Did the combine always rumble like that or can I only hear it now since I got my new hearing aids?”

Stuff Harvesters Do – Consider beef jerky its own food group.
Grain cart selfie!
Grain cart selfies! Chase, myself and Casey.
The background is to die for.
The background is to die for.
Way too cool.
Way too cool.
The Rockies.
The Rockies.
Monte of Harvest Support, likely giving some combine advice to the Graham girls.
Monte of Harvest Support, likely giving some combine advice to a couple of the Graham girls.
Shelby to my right, Chase at my hip. These kids are great! Just mising Haedyn.
Shelby to my right, Chase at my hip. These kids are great! Just missing Haedyn, who is behind the camera taking the photo. Some true harvest kids right here.
Chase riding with his mama, Casey, in the grain cart.
Chase riding with his mama, Casey, in the grain cart.
That face though... ha ha!
That face though… ha ha!
Blowing dust.
Blowing barley dust in every which way.
Love all the wildflowers growing in all the ditches.
Love all the wildflowers growing EVERYWHERE.
Unloading on Casey in the grain cart.
Unloading on Casey in the grain cart.
Chase reminds me SO much of my brother when he was little.
Chase reminds me SO much of my brother when he was little.
Trucks all lined up (with a gorgeous mountain backdrop to boot).
Trucks all lined up (with a gorgeous mountain backdrop to boot).
Dave and his epic mustache.
Dave and his epic mustache.
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. You can contact Steph at stephanie@allaboardharvest.com.

Janel: One Day At A Time
Janel Schemper

Pierre, South Dakota – We’ve been in the Pierre, South Dakota area since mid-July and we’ve been working but it’s been a slow progress. We’ve dealt with several rain showers (which have brought some relief from the summer drought), high humidity and a few cloudy days.  It’s also been one day at a time waiting on fields of spring wheat to ripen.  It takes heat, wind and lots of sunshine to get the wheat to ripen and lately the temperature has been mostly in just the high seventies.

We could finish here in South Dakota pretty soon if the weather would just cooperate.  Today, it’s cloudy with high humidity.  We need the sun to shine so we can get done before it rains again!  The last few fields of spring wheat we harvested yielded 38 to 50 bushels per acre.  The protein has been 17-20 percent and the test weights have been 55 to 59 pounds.  That’s pretty good for a drought year.  The later planted wheat on summer fallow was more successful this year.  I had a Harvest USA report with Howard Hale a week ago and we discussed how the wheat acres were short this year and there are lots of row crops planted including soybeans, corn and sunflowers. 

When we get all finished up here we will be moving up to North Dakota (one of my favorite states on our route) to harvest spring wheat and canola. North Dakota is an amazing place to be and the people there are simply great.  I enjoy all of our harvest days spent there!  I look forward to the cool mornings and evenings as well as harvesting good crops!  I’m also excited to go to a private garden we are welcome to each year to get sweet corn, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and lots of great vegetables.  My favorite garden fresh vegetables are North Dakota tomatoes!  Yum!

Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
This is our harvest mood captured in a photo! Moo and I cutting wheat in South Dakota.  (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Miss Moo is one of a kind in every way. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
It was such a beautiful evening I just took a few seconds to get out of the combine and take a quick picture of this volunteer sunflower in the wheat field!  It was pretty!  (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
I love wheat harvest and all of the beautiful fields I get to cut with my Dad! (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Miss Moo loves her job! Here we are harvesting spring wheat near Pierre, South Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Harvesting spring wheat at night near Pierre, South Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Harvesting spring wheat near Pierre, South Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Harvesting spring wheat near Pierre, South Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Cutting wheat near Pierre, South Dakota. This spring wheat yielded 50 bushels per acre.  The later planted wheat on summer fallow was more successful this year.  (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
I’ve been harvesting wheat here in the Pierre, South Dakota area since mid-July and have seen a beautiful orange moon several nights lately and it’s always very pretty! (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
A volunteer sunflower in a wheat field I harvested near Pierre, South Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
I enjoy washing our equipment and trucks especially when it’s warm outside. Here I am washing the tractor. (Photo by Carlene Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
This is grain bin work. (Photo by Janel Schemper)


All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere.  Janel Schemper can be reached at janel@allaboardharvest.com

Are they peas or are they beans?
Z Crew

Chester, MT – After we finished cutting the winter wheat (8/5), we had several days of waiting for the next crop to dry enough to get started again. That was okay, though, because it was needed. It was needed because the combines needed changed over to cut chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and the truck boxes needed swept out and cleaned of all winter wheat.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
The truck drivers cleaning the winter wheat from all of the boxes. Johnathon is in the box, Mynhardt and Jim and on the ground.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Four of the five combine drivers. The fifth one is a guy so we didn’t let him join us. 🙂 Left to right is Megan, Kerry, me and Tasha.

It was also decided on about the second day of wondering if anything would dry up enough to cut (the cool temps weren’t helping the situation) to send Jim to Cut Bank after truck parts which were needed to repair one of the fleet. So, I jumped in and rode along. Going after parts in this country means at least a couple hundred miles (or more) added to the pickup. Once we arrived in Cut Bank, we were told the parts they thought they had…they didn’t. A phone call was made to the boss and we were headed for Choteau (just a little further south). On our way through Conrad, we noticed the John Deere Harvest Support trailers were parked at the dealership. So, we pulled in to see our friends, Barney and Round Bale (and the rest of the crew).

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
The mountains were calling my name VERY loudly while driving to Choteau. I’m hoping before we have to leave this country, I can get a day or two over there just to satisfy my mountain craving!

We hadn’t been anywhere they had been all summer so it was a required stop to say hello to some familiar faces! The embroidered statement on their shirts let everyone know it was “Barney’s Final Tour”. I can only imagine how he’s feeling as the days of the 2017 wheat harvest keep clipping along at a quick pace.  Barney has been around the John Deere trailers forever and it just won’t be right without him there! Barney…you’ll always be a wheatie (this is a good thing) – even though you’ve never owned a combine of your own! It’ll be tough next spring as the trailers leave headquarters without you, but maybe Round Bale will let you tag along for a little while to help satisfy the harvest fix you’ll so desperately be needing. Believe me, I understand the pain of watching the crew leave without you. You’ve been an awesome friend and I will miss you but I’m awfully excited for you and your next chapter to begin.

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Good to see these harvest support trailers along the harvest journey – regardless of what color they represent!

The Mattson Farms have been toying with the idea of upgrading their Gleaner combines to a newer model and maybe even a different color. Harvest is the perfect time to demo a newer machine and why not try as many colors as possible? The first machine to make it to the farmyard was the Deere. The combine drivers were all given an opportunity to “test drive” a machine that was 20 years newer than the ones they are currently driving. It was like watching your kids open their gifts on Christmas morning. They just couldn’t believe all the bells and whistles and how much more wheat could be consumed at a faster rate of speed. I had so much fun listening to them compare their new experience. This is one reason I honestly wish my Grandpa could also experience one of these new machines!

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
I stepped out of the pickup and couldn’t resist this picture. Those clouds…
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
This monster of an auger was the one Jim and Koos were adding the steering wheel kit to in a previous update. Ready and waiting for the arrival of the chickpeas.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
This is what a chickpea (garbanzo bean) plant looks like prior to harvest.

While we were between crops, another color showed up in the yard…a red one. By the time it arrived, it was decided the Case combine would head for the durum field for a moisture test. The result was DRY so keep those wheels rolling! Turns were taken and comparisons made but all at once, the chickpeas were ready! This left Jim in the red machine cutting durum while the rest of us jumped in “our” combines and started cutting peas…or beans…or whatever you want to call them. At the end of the day, we headed in and left Jim in the durum by himself to finish. All the other combines were already set for chickpeas. If he didn’t finish with that machine, it would mean changes to one of the Gleaners again as they had already been cutting peas. He finished the field and stepped through the door of the trailer house about 1:00 a.m.

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
A single plant.

I was told the larger chickpeas would be used for salads and canned for grocery store shelves. The smaller peas would be used for hummus. Straight from the field, the peas are extremely hard. If they get too dry, the process of combining them can split them. It’s better to cut them with a higher percentage of moisture and then dried with air in the bin – if possible – to eliminate shattering. They’re really quite good straight from the field! I’ve never cut chickpeas or even seen them before. I find these different crops so very interesting.

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Two pictures in one – the chickpea pod on the left prior to cracking open to expose the pea (or bean).
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Chickpeas

The header is placed right on the ground and cuts as low as possible. The one concern around here is picking up rocks. The fields were rolled with a very heavy roller prior to being planted. This is done to smash the rocks into the soil to prevent them from being eaten by the machines.  So far, I’ve had one rock stop the center belt of the MacDon header. I watched one of the other combine drivers throw boulders from the cab of her machine this evening.  I really hope I can get through the rest of the acres without picking anything like those up!

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Tasha and I had minor breakdowns at the same time last evening. Mine was broke before hers, though, and required a trip to Havre for parts which took forever. I accused Jim of stopping somewhere but he says he didn’t. I guess I have to believe him. 🙂
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
The mechanic’s (Travis) truck next to the Silver Bullet.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Thank goodness for good help (Vince and Jim) who know how to put things back together again! Tasha looks pretty relaxed in her combine.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Travis and Jim working on Tasha’s machine.

We’re waiting for the newer Gleaner to show up. I think the Gleaner tradition in this family runs pretty deep. I’m even a bit excited to see what changes have been made since I have gotten pretty familiarized with the Silver Bullet I now call “mine”.

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Eli and his little “mini-me”. Their baby pictures are like looking at the very same kid! Jamie says Eli is obsessed with Ben and is torturing him all the time.

  

 
The routine is better known and I’m better acquainted with the people who make up the Mattson Farms crew. It’s a comfortable feeling…a good feeling. And once again, I have to believe God led us here for a reason. The mornings and evenings are beginning to feel like fall and I have to wonder (as I always do about this time)…where has the summer gone?

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Another one of the many beautiful sunsets I get to witness…all because of this job we have! The hills in the distance are the Sweet Grass Hills.

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

Janel: Montana Nearly Complete
Janel Schemper

Great Falls, Montana – Our crews in Montana will be finishing up soon. They have been harvesting there since mid-July and have kept busy and had decent harvest weather. I asked my brothers JC and Jared for a crop report and pictures and they delivered. The spring wheat made 43 bushels an acre for an average, the test weights were 58 and 59 pounds and the protein was 15% plus. The chickpeas made 35 to 40 bushels per acre and did very well. They’ll be finishing up on lentils soon and they’ve been yielding 27 bushels per acre for an average.  

When they finish up in Montana they’ll be going to North Dakota next to harvest spring wheat and canola. Our 10 day forecast for our next stop is mostly sunny and seventy degree weather. However, there are a few days in there with a chance of storms. 

Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting lentils near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting lentils near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting lentils near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat near Great Falls, Montana. It’s nice harvesting right next to the elevator where the grain is being hauled.  That’s a beautiful field of wheat! (Photo by JC Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
This is my nephew Sage Schemper at Shep’s burial site. Shep was a sheep dog. This is a tourist attraction in Fort Benton, Montana. If you read the story about Shep you’ll understand he was forever faithful.  (Photo by JC Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting chickpeas near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by JC Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting chickpeas near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by JC Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting chickpeas near Great Falls, Montana. They unload the chickpeas onto the truck instead of using a tractor grain cart that way the grain is handled less.  (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting unloading at the elevator near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by JC Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting chickpeas near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by JC Schemper)


All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere.  Janel Schemper can be reached at janel@allaboardharvest.com.

Steph: Anti-habitual
Steph Osowski

Mandan, ND – My mom got asked by my neighbor when I’m coming home. He also asked if the reason I’m never home is because I work for the FBI. My only hope is that her answer was, “that’s classified.”

This topic is something that has probably been brought up by everyone I know so I feel the need to touch on it. Not just for me but for harvesters everywhere. And also, for anyone who spends time on the road for work. I’ve been asked the same questions umpteen times, year after year; When are you coming home? How long will you be gone? Don’t you miss home? As an economics major, the answer to 99.9 percent of economic questions is “it depends” and the same goes for harvest/agriculture. The newest question that has arose is “when are you going to get a real job?”

Now, that last question can be taken many ways. How do I take it? Simple. A “real job” is one that pays you and most importantly, one that you can enjoy. Harvest is what I enjoy… I have even more passion for it than I realize. It has always been the center of the year, everything else falling in place around it. Harvest is the constant and everything else fills in the blanks. May till October/November are the busiest months of the year, working long hours seven days a week. The months when other people take time off and go to the lake are the months harvesters work the most; the months the money is made. The other months are for less time-constraining activities. Those off-months have given me the opportunity of freedom and flexibility and those are the two things that keep me going on those sporadic days when I catch myself wishing I could have some free time without a steering wheel to control. Harvest has probably ruined my chances of ever being happy at a desk job, but it has opened so many other doors that I think I can forgive it for that. Harvest is my real job and always will be.

As for the harvest in western ND, it’s been a slow moving process. The wheat has taken its time turning and elevators are only open till 5pm on account of lack of truck traffic. And on top of all that, rain showers have sailed through the area followed by moderate temperatures so the wheat doesn’t dry up as quickly as it could be. Unreal — August in North Dakota and the average temperature has been 70 degrees. Comfortable, but wheat likes heat and wind.

Cabover Alert update;
C&K Harvesting – 109
Anderson Harvesting – 115
MacDon Harvest Support – 63.5

Quote of the Day “Nothing haunts me like the cabovers I missed.”

Stuff Harvesters Do – While driving from place to place, crane your neck so bad that it almost cracks in half in an attempt to watch other combines cutting to see what kind of job their doing.
Wheat and sunflowers?! Too beautiful.
Wheat and sunflowers?! Too beautiful.
Sunflowers.
Sunflowers.
Sunflower field.
Sunflower field.
Long distance combine.
Long distance combine.
Almost a full load.
Almost a full load.
Neverending North Dakota country.
Never-ending North Dakota country.
Wheat as far as the eye can see.
Wheat as far as the eye can see.
Closeup.
Close-up.
Meet Ryker! New crewmember from Apache, Okla.
Meet Ryker! New crewmember from Apache, Okla.
A rare photo of me in the wheat field... ha ha!
A rare photo of me in the wheat field… ha ha!

 

Never a dull moment out here.
Never a dull moment out here.
All Aboard Wheat Harvestis sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. You can contact Steph at stephanie@allaboardharvest.com.

Janel: Drying days wanted
Janel Schemper

Pierre, South Dakota – We are slowly making progress. We have been here a couple of weeks now and for the most part have spent most of our time waiting on spring wheat to ripen. We have cut a few fields (some have been hailed on), and overall the wheat is yielding around 30 bushels per acre. The protein has been 17-20 percent, which is excellent. However, the wheat is light, weighing about 55 pounds or so. The wheat is standing good, and the conditions have been fair. What we really need are some good drying days, including lots of heat and wind. That would help our wheat harvesting progress a lot. Continue Reading

Janel: Montana aka Big Sky Country
Janel Schemper

Fort Benton, Montana – Last year 25 percent of our crew went to Montana.  This year 75 percent of our crew went to Montana to harvest winter wheat, spring wheat, chick peas and lentils. They have been there for about ten days and have been harvesting full blast nearly every day.

The winter wheat has been averaging over 60 bushels an acre, 62 pounds and 13-14 percent protein.  Sounds good to me!  It took the crew three days to get all of the equipment from Western Nebraska up to Montana, so I hope they have the best of luck there and continue getting in some big days of harvesting! Continue Reading

Janel: What’s it going to be?
Janel Schemper

Pierre, South Dakota – We made the big trip from Western Nebraska up to the Pierre, South Dakota area, and there is definitely a big ole drought going on. I was told that there really hasn’t been any rain at home in Nebraska since May, and South Dakota looks to be the same way. I could see the drought results as I traveled across Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota last week. Kansas looked alright, but as soon as I was in Nebraska I could see it. And it became worse as I traveled into South Dakota.

On the way up here we ran into road construction at Mission, South Dakota. There was a sign at Valentine, Nebraska that said road construction and width restriction 31 miles ahead. We asked around in Valentine; and everyone said they had seen lots of combines going north, and we could get through there. We got up to Mission, and there it was. There they were working on the main street that we travel, and our wide loads couldn’t fit through because of the cones. I wonder how many combines have just been hauled through there anyway. A local was nice enough to stop and tell us to turn around at the school, go back a mile and then head west on the gravel. Then at the dead end, go north up to Highway 18 and we would be back on the right track again to Highway 83 north. There was no detour route sign anywhere. For goodness sakes, why not? Continue Reading

Janel: It was fun while it lasted
Janel Schemper

Western Nebraska – This year I was in Kansas longer than expected due to the evening rain showers. We couldn’t ever work really late like we needed to and put in our time because we’d get shut down by the rain most evenings. The weather really messed with us. 

Thankfully, my brother Jared and Uncle Lonny were able to harvest most all of our wheat jobs in Western Nebraska before we got there. We did still get to stop there and cut for a few days, which was great. Disappointingly, the wheat I cut didn’t yield well due to mosaic disease. The wheat looked decent from the road, but the mosaic disease really got to it this year. However, Western Nebraska has some of the most beautiful sunsets with such beautiful colors. I didn’t get to cut there long enough this year to enjoy them.  Continue Reading