Hemingford, Nebraska—Just like Dory, the optimist fish from Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo, Roland Harvesting’s motto for the past couple weeks has been “Just keeping swimming.” In reality, it feels as if we’re swimming upstream in the Mississippi River.
On May 21 the crew headed south to drop off part of our equipment at our first stop near Altus, Oklahoma. The journey was filled with multiple detours, most of which were not planned, due to mismarked road construction and unforeseen flooding. Rain accompanied the convoy for much of the trip. Pulling oversized loads in a downpour has a way of sky-rocketing the amount stress for everyone involved. With our trailers kicking up a constant water mist and difficulty seeing out of the mirrors, the rain made it even harder to see traffic and maneuver the heavy, oversized loads. These factors caused the convoy to travel slower than usual, making the trip even longer than originally planned. Upon arrival the crew spotted what appeared to be hay bales floating in fields and their hopes of cutting anytime soon immediately disappeared. Since the Altus area was pushing 20 inches of rain in the month of May, everyone headed back to the farm in Hemingford to wait out the time until the fields dry out.
The photos below are credited to Mom and Dad.
On May 19 the Hemingford area endured another spring blizzard. Not even two days later this bad boy was out on the road hauling a combine to Oklahoma.
During this blizzard we received almost 5 inches of wet snow.
Brandon begins the process of changing out the concaves in one of the combines.
The convoy is all loaded up and ready to head south. Pre-trip checks are a must before hitting the road.
Sadly, this trip down south was short-lived. It’s hard to believe this was almost two weeks ago!
A snapshot by Brandon of the “floating hay bales.” If you look closely in front of the trees you can spot those little dots.
After a rough trip moving equipment down south, Roland Harvesting endured a devastating blow. Three young, promising hired employees, who were very close friends, walked out on our operation with little to no explanation. This disheartening act has left my family to scramble at the last minute to find help for the summer. (Can you feel the current pulling you down river yet?)
My sister put it best: “As long as I can remember, my family has always strived to ensure our employees are treated fairly and are well taken care of during their time with us. Mom always opens up our home and her heart to harvest help, often treating employees like her own children—cooking them delicious meals, doing their laundry, making their doctors’ appointments, purchasing new clothes and toiletries as needed. In addition, as with any business, we spend thousands of dollars training, insuring and investing in these individuals. Every year, we put our trust and faith in our employees. Unlike large corporations, our entire family’s livelihood is directly dependent upon our employees’ successes and mistakes.
My siblings and I have been raised in the world of harvest, and as such, we have seen some of the best employees in the world, and unfortunately, some of the worst. However, above all, the most important thing an employee can offer is a positive attitude and their commitment. If you give someone your word, you follow through. If you start something, you finish it. If you make a mistake, you own up to it. As a business, we have made our own commitments and they involve so many more people than just my family. These crew members didn’t just quit us, they quit the farmers and families throughout the Wheat Belt who are depending on us to harvest their crops.
The truth is that harvest life, with the long hours, hard work and unexpected turns, isn’t for everyone. However, regardless of the line of work, when an employee has an issue, the professional thing to do is to sit down with management and discuss your concerns, not selfishly walk out the door. That doesn’t resolve anything. All we can do now is move forward.”
The funny thing about mistakes is that you have to live with them and learn from them. Even after this “near drowning episode,” Roland Harvesting has “kept swimming.” After many efforts Dad and Brandon were able to track down some new crew members who were willing step up and commit to a summer on the road.
These dark, grey clouds (both figuratively and literally) have continued to follow us lately. The rain currently has us at a standstill from every angle. Around Altus, the rain has finally stopped and now we’re just waiting for the fields to dry out and for the humidity to go down. Meanwhile, rain continues to hinder our efforts on the farm. Around the Hemingford area we’ve received over 12 inches of rain during the last month or so. We’re always thankful for the moisture, but this much rain has made it impossible to get in the fields to finish planting corn and sunflowers. I was able to come home for a long weekend and we’ve officially seen the sun for two and a half days so far, with the 10-day forecast predicting more rain. Nonetheless, until the sunshine decides to fully grace us with its presence, Roland Harvesting will “just keep swimming.”
Who wants to play in the mud? It’s hard to tell but this field is actually planted to peas.
Is that rice growing in Nebraska?! Not even close—this is actually a field of winter wheat, half of which is currently under water.
The wheat is starting to head out around home. By the leaves you can see some evidence of freeze damage. There is also a possible start of a rust infection settling in due to the cool weather and moisture.
A new pond for the local ducks and geese!
The peas sure have enjoyed the nice, cool weather we’ve been having lately.
It’s not spring time without newborn kittens!
Check out our lakeside property! Photo credit to my sister, Ashley.
All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. Roland Harvesting can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.