High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest


Megan Roland

Writing in the pickup Roland Harvesting is owned and operated by my parents, Alan and Loretta Roland. My dad has been doing custom harvesting since 1978, We run a family-based operation that my older sister (Ashley), myself, and younger brother (Brandon) were raised in and continue to help out with. We grew up on a farm near Hemingford, Nebraska, where our parents still reside, farm, and operate Roland Harvesting.

Roland Harvesting is excited to be sharing another harvest run with all of you followers!  

The Happenings of Roland Harvesting
Megan Roland

Hemingford, Nebraska/Gould, Oklahoma – Although I might be a little slow updating the rest of the world, Roland Harvesting is spot on for this time of year. And truthfully, in the world of harvest that’s all that really matters! The crew has already jumped into the swing of things as they unloaded the combines in Oklahoma over a week ago. Their headers have been in the wheat every possible chance between the pouring rains.

For those of you curious about my late arrival to All Aboard Wheat Harvest this season… all I can say is, “Better late than never!“ In the past year, I’ve become significantly more involved in my work as a Labor & Delivery Nurse. With my new work commitments it is going to be difficult for me to track down the harvest trail this summer. I’m bummed out about not being as involved with the harvest operation as I have been, but I know my family will keep me in the loop. With that being said, I am happy to report that I am returning to AAWH as a “guest blogger” and will do my best to update you on Roland Harvesting’s adventures.

After weeks of preparation the crew finally loaded up and hit the road on May 26th. The journey south held the usual complications: multiple detours due to road construction. On May 28th, they arrived in Gould, Oklahoma and successfully cut for a few hours until the rain hit. The following days consisted of sampling, waiting for the wheat to dry down, cutting a couple hours, and eventually shutting down when the rain started up again. With the uncooperative weather, Dad stayed back in Nebraska with Mom to finish spraying the crops and square away things at the farm.

During the first few days of cutting one of the combines broke a belt and we encountered the beginning of a huge headache. Brandon ran to our local implement dealer and was shocked to see their doors closed after many years of business. Since there is currently no support available on the road, he was forced to send a crew member in a semi to Goodland, Kansas to pick up the desperately needed parts. Let’s hope this isn’t an indication of what the rest of the summer will hold!

To our luck the sunshine finally broke through and our harvest operation was able to fully commence a few days ago. This past weekend Dad hauled the camper to our next stop near Carmen, Oklahoma. He also moved one combine up to Carmen to begin cutting since the wheat is ready there, too!

Roland family at Brandon's graduation
This winter held a few noteworthy moments for the Roland family. In December 2015, Brandon graduated from the University of Wyoming with his Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Communications. Brandon is quite the talker so this degree was naturally right up his alley! Above: Dad, Ashley, Brandon, Mom and Megan celebrate this momentous event!
Kassidy Hope
Just a short month later, on January 18th, Roland Harvesting welcomed it’s newest member to the family, Miss Kassidy Hope! I might be a little bias but I think I have the most adorable niece!
Equipment in the yard
I was able to make a trip back home to Nebraska in the middle of May. This sight welcomed me as I drove into the farm yard.
Wheat in Hemingford, Neb during May
Here’s what western Nebraska wheat was looking like about 3 weeks ago.
Working on the service truck
Dad and Brandon provide some maintenance work on the service truck.
Service truck projects
The service truck received some much needed TLC before hitting the road this year. It was cleaned out, reorganized, and even spruced up with a fresh coat of paint. Dad carries the most common belts we need on harvest but even with this supply we rely on harvest support and dealerships along the way.
Brandon directing the combine
Brandon relays directions to a crew member watching on the other side of the trailer while the combine is being loaded.
Loading up
Dad loads the first of the three CR’s.
2016 crew
Roland Harvesting’s annual crew photo. This year’s crew includes: Justin S., Justin, Brandon, Dad and Hank. (Tiny is not pictured)
Mom and Dad
It’s hard to believe that Mom and Dad have been running our harvesting operation for almost 40 years!
Fuel stop
The convoy fuels up in Alliance, Nebraska before heading south.
Adding red flags
Red flags are always a must for the oversize loads we haul.Convoy ready to goAnd they’re off!

 

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

Homeward Bound
Megan Roland

8895283761_27d9efa015_tDickinson, North Dakota—Roland Harvesting is finally in the midst of wrapping up the 2015 wheat harvest. The gang has been working their tails off in North Dakota for the last month. The wheat has been phenomenal, with most dryland making around 70 bushels per acre! The high yields in the area have made this stop considerably longer than we had anticipated. Along with the lengthy stop, we began losing crew members in mid-August, as many of them returned to school. Justin was the first to head back home as he began his junior year of high school. One of Brandon’s good college friends, Neil, made the journey from Colorado to help out the crew for the next few weeks. He was definitely a lifesaver and a huge asset to the operation! Last week, Brandon, Joel and Neil headed back to Laramie to begin another year of college at the University of Wyoming. In fact, Brandon will graduate in December with a degree in Agricultural Communication.

With much of the crew leaving, Mom has once again joined the harvest trail, along with two new truckers/combine operators. This weekend, progress has come to a halt as rain set in and the weather turned cool. Fall is certainly on the brink up north! If the weather cooperates, we are hoping to finish in North Dakota later this week. Mom and Dad will then head back home to Nebraska to plant wheat and continue fall harvest. Often times fall harvest does not wrap up until November or December, so there are still a few busy months ahead.

As another wheat season comes to an end, Roland Harvesting is beyond thankful for all of God’s blessings. Our season started off a bit rocky when we lost all of our hired help. However, we were blessed with many hardworking crew members who committed their summers to our harvest operation! As always, we are thankful for our farmers and the work they provide us with so that our livelihood may be kept a reality. I’d also like to give a huge shout out to the sponsors—High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. I’m thankful for their support of our harvest adventures and for understanding the importance of promoting agriculture. Lastly, a special thanks to all of the followers out there. Without you, All Aboard Wheat Harvest would not be able to thrive as it does. Here’s Roland Harvesting signing off on another successful harvest season!

Hillside cutting The rolling hills in western North Dakota make for some challenging cutting at times.

Cutting in a line A view from the third combine.

End of the dayBrandon captures his final sunset in the wheat field before heading back to college.
All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. Roland Harvesting can be reached at megan@allaboardharvest.com.

From Nebraska to North Dakota
Megan Roland

Hemingford, Nebraska/Dickinson, North Dakota—Home harvest is slowly beginning to wrap up. In addition to the last of our wheat, my parents have several hundred acres of peas to finish harvesting. We’ve been plugging away but the last week has been filled with many breakdowns. In Brandon’s CR we are currently waiting on a pulley for the rotor drive, which means we can’t push the machine to its max. If we do, we end up plugging the rotors, which shuts us down for 15 to 20 minutes to unplug the slug. We continue to “baby” this combine until we get the correct parts in to fix it.

Meanwhile, Dad’s machine that had engine failure in Oklahoma earlier this summer continues to give us problems. It was returned five weeks ago and is still not performing as it should. Last week, Tim, a mechanic from our home town dealer (Alliance Tractor), spent several hours in our combine with a laptop downloading data on the engine performance. This ongoing engine problem is rather frustrating as the machine lacks horsepower, which drastically hurts our performance.

On July 26, Roland Harvesting made a split and sent part of the crew near Dickinson, North Dakota. Tiny and Joel left a day early to drop off a combine and header. They unloaded everything and headed back to Nebraska for the second combine. The next morning Brandon and Justin hit the road with the grain cart, service truck and grain trailer. Mom and I followed them with the pickup and camper. The trip went without a hitch until we hit a tremendous thunderstorm south of Buffalo, South Dakota. After calling it a night there, we made it to Dickinson, North Dakota, the following morning. Mom and I set up the camper, loaded it with groceries and zipped back to Nebraska to help Dad with the last of home harvest.

The following photos are from my time spent at home.

View from the cab
Perfect view from the combine cab.

Grain cart unloading
Justin lines the grain cart up with an empty truck to unload.

Heat of harvest
Brandon accidently photo bombed this view with his combine. And it actually turned out really cool!

Finishing a landing
Dad opens up a field.

Cutting away
Mom and I cutting away contently.

Waiting for a load
With the front hopper full, Ben waits for the back hopper to be filled before heading to the elevator in town.

Stuck again
Things are slowly starting to dry out but we are continuing to fight mud from time to time.

Dad measuring the dualsDad measures the width of his combine duals to see if he can wiggle through a narrow gate.

Checking out the combinesWhen the side hatch of the combine is open, it means either the machine is “broke down” or maintenance work is being done. In this case, Dad was checking the rotors that have been giving us grief lately. 

After playing in the mud for weeks Brandon gave his combine a badly needed bath. Doesn’t she look all squeaky clean?

I was only able to catch part of the crew for this photo opp. Above: Dad, Brandon, Justin and Ben sport our new AAWH T-shirts.

Brandon and Megan
A little brotherly, sisterly love between Brandon and me.

Getting ready to head northPart of the convoy all loaded up on the road and ready to head north.

Justin ready for the roadJustin is ready to hit the road in the service truck.


I was able to catch Joel in North Dakota since he missed the crew photo. He poses in front of their new home for the next few weeks.

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. Roland Harvesting can be reached at megan@allaboardharvest.com.

Home harvest
Megan Roland

Hemingford, Nebraska—Roland Harvesting made it back to our ol’ stompin’ grounds around July 15 and has been in the heat of home harvest since then. Scattered rain showers dampened our efforts for the first week and our days were spent bouncing between fields trying to find dry wheat. Brandon and part of the crew worked around the Chadron, Nebraska, area and also spent their fair share of dodging rain storms. They finally knocked out Chadron last week and moved everything home to help Mom and Dad. The rain eventually come to a halt and with all three combines working together we were able to cover a significant amount of acreage.

Like everyone around the Hemingford area we’ve been fighting mud almost every day. Due to this, we have had to cut the fields in patches to avoid the low spots. This is much more time consuming than cutting in our normal fashion. I was able to sneak away from Wyoming for a few days to help out with home harvest. Since I’ve been running tractor and grain cart, I’ve been put on mud duty by default. In one field alone I pulled out two pickups and a combine in less than 30 minutes. That tow rope and I became the best of buddies in no time!

Due to adverse conditions, many harvest crews have elected to skip this stop and head for drier ground in Montana, which is ready two to three weeks early. Because we’re in the business of customer service, we are currently trying to help neighbors whose crews pulled out on them. We’re still working on our own wheat, too, so we’ll be keeping plenty busy.

Home harvest in full swing!

Ready to be harvested
Much of the wheat was damaged this spring by late freezes. Scattered hail storms and excessive rain fall the past couple months have also impacted yields in the area. Most of the dryland wheat is making between 20 to 40 bushels per acre with test weights running in the high 50s.

Making progress
Nebraska cutting at its finest. The field is patched out in this manner to avoid mud holes.

Getting ready to be pulled out
Well, we’re trying to stay out of the mud. Brandon was the first to get stuck, with many other incidents to follow by the rest of the crew.

Grain cart waiting
The tractor, grain cart, and I playing “sheep dog” on top of the hill to oversee the operation. Since I’ve been dubbed the “tow queen,” I’ve been running like crazy the last few days. 

Stuck in the mud
Then it was Joel’s turn. Harvest trick: As soon as you know you’re stuck, stop. Don’t try to get yourself out otherwise you’ll bury the combine even worse and you can cause serious damage to the machine. Joel did just that and waited patiently as we brought in a bigger tractor to get this beast out.


Since the fields are so soft, the combines have to keep their weight down to give them better floatation. A full grain tank adds 24,000 pounds of added weight to the already 45,000-pound combine. This means unloading frequently. Often times, we’ll stop near the ends of the fields to unload so the grain cart doesn’t chance getting buried near the mud holes.

Out muddin'
Even Harvest Support has been doing some off road mudding.

Mom and Brandon
Mom and Brandon take a quick break from the harvest madness to eat lunch in the field.

View from the CR
After a few days in the grain cart I was finally promoted to a combine operator again. Here’s a front row view of the CR in action.

Combine sneaking past
Harvest is a group effort. Brandon and I go round and round, both in the combines and in our sibling rivalries.

Rained out
A brief thunderstorm rained on our parade the other day and eventually shut us down. Rule of thumb: When the middle of the reel is completely wet and dripping, it’s time to quit and wait for it to dry.


Ten minutes later the sun came out and the wind picked up. Since it was only a sprinkle, we were back in the field kicking up dust in no time.

Catching the back swath
And I’m back in the combine picking up a back swath! As you can see, the stubble is full of grass and weeds. This is due to the extra moisture received this summer and because the chemicals have reached the limits of their effectiveness.

Trucker Ben
Ben anxiously waits for another full truckload.

Waiting to get loaded
Nothing comes close to a harvest sunset like this one.

Best part of the dayMy favorite part of the day. 

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. Roland Harvesting can be reached at megan@allaboardharvest.com.

Million-mile drivers
Megan Roland

Growing up in rural Nebraska means that riding and driving are learned from early ages and quickly become the norm. This mentality has carried over into my adult life as well. So, it was no surprise when I got off work the morning of July 2, hopped into my Jeep and hit the road. I headed back a few hundred miles to the farm in Hemingford, Nebraska, where I met Mom and Dani, Brandon’s girlfriend. We threw our bags in the back of the pickup, hooked up to the Shelbourne stripper header and began our journey south.

On June 30 Dad and Ben moved from Perryton, Texas, to Hoxie, Kansas. Unlike many years, this stop was short and sweet. The cutting was great and the wheat averaged right around 45 bushels per acre. Mom, Dani, and I pulled into Dad’s last field just in time to see the combine make its final round.

Meanwhile, Brandon and his crew finished up near Amarillo, Texas, and began the trek to southern Nebraska. After encountering many complications they finally made it Colby, Kansas, late in the evening. The following morning Brandon’s crew dropped off their equipment in Imperial, Nebraska. All of us then piled into the pickup and semis to double back down to Texas to finish jockeying the rest of our machinery.

We loaded everything up in Texas in record time but sadly did not make it as far north as we had planned. Temperatures soared well over 100 degrees on the day of our move, with no wind, making it a long hot, haul. Because of this we didn’t make as much progress as we had hoped. This meant we were left traveling through all of Kansas and much of Nebraska on the Fourth of July. I had the pleasure of hauling the tractor and grain cart, which was a nice switch up to playing pilot car in the pickup. About midmorning the convoy was making our way through Scott City, Kansas. We immediately noticed folding chairs and energetic families lining the main street. As the first child threw his arm up and began to motion for me to honk I quickly realized a Fourth of July parade was about to start and the kids were convinced we were part of it. With our flashing lights already engaged, signifying our oversized loads, the children yearned to hear our air horns as well. Of course, we couldn’t disappointment so our whole convoy laid on the horns and showed off our farmer waves as we rolled down main street, parade style. Clapping and cheering accompanied us throughout the entire town. The only thing that would have made it better was if we had candy to throw out the windows!

We continued hauling north and finally pulled into Imperial, Nebraska, midafternoon where we unloaded the combines in the New Holland parking lot. The general consensus from our farmer was that the rest of our day would be filled with sampling and an unlikely chance of getting going. Dad made the executive decision to take the afternoon off and hit it hard in the morning. My sister and brother-in-law, Ashley and Kurt, had made a 1,000-mile trek from northern Montana to come catch up with the crew. We ended up meeting them in Holyoke, Colorado, and spent the evening of the Fourth of July watching fireworks in the park and enjoying some much needed family time.

The next morning I started the long voyage back to Wyoming as the crew fired up and got a couple hours of good hard cutting in. The next few days were filled with cool, damp weather, making it difficult to get going strong. Once the sun made an appearance the acres around Imperial, Nebraska flew by. The wheat yielded between 40 to 60 bushels per acre with test weights hanging out around 59 to 60 pounds. Moisture in the late spring is ultimately what helped save their crop. Due to the cool, damp weather the farmers who sprayed with fungicides had significantly better yields than those who did not.

Due to many technical difficulties with my camera during this trip, my photos were cut short. I will be joining the crew back home around Hemingford, Nebraska next week and will be sure to catch up on photos then! Roland Harvesting moved to Chadron, Nebraska, a few days ago and is cutting away like crazy.

Unhooking the header
In one fluid motion Dad unloads the header in a matter of seconds.

Dad strapping down the header
Tightening up the last strap on the header trailer.

Loading up the CR
Lining up the CR with the trailer. We had quite the collection of mud from down south.

Chaining down the combine
Chaining down the combine.

Mud drying out
It rained the day before we made it back to Panhandle, Texas. It took some maneuvering to get everything moved around in the muddy fields.

All loaded up
The oversized loads parked for the evening.


The convoy up with the sun and ready to cross the Nebraska border.


Rockin’ the Roland Harvesting logo.

Twin beauties
The twin beasts enjoying some sunshine.

Dani and Brandon
Dani and Brandon cheesin’ it up.

The convoy parked in Oakley, Kansas for a lunch break.

The morning we all split ways Brandon, Ashley and I all came out for breakfast wearing our matching 2014 All Aboard Wheat Harvest T-shirts…completely unplanned! Yep, we’re pretty adorable siblings. We’ll be sure to sport our new T-shirts the next time we’re together.  

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. Roland Harvesting can be reached at megan@allaboardharvest.com.

Checkin’ off the southern states
Megan Roland

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m trying my darndest to bring you all up to speed on Roland Harvesting’s latest happenings. On June 17, Brandon and the crew moved to the next place on our agenda, Carmen, Oklahoma. Since rain had settled in near Duke, Oklahoma, Dad and Ben stayed behind with a combine and truck to finish up the job while the rest of the crew traveled north.

In the week prior to our arrival, the Carmen area received over 8 inches of rain. The interesting part of this statistic is that the annual precipitation for the area is usually only around 30 inches per year! Therefore, it was no shock to us when our first day in Carmen was spent taking samples and waiting on the wheat to dry down. Regardless, the time was not wasted. Harvest Support tracked us down and helped with computer and electronic updates that were needed for the last 10 days.

The next day, we were finally able to get in the fields and kick up some dust. The moisture remained low enough to continue cutting, but the saturated ground couldn’t always hold the equipment. The combines got well acquainted with that red mud in no time! The wheat yielded between 30 to 50 bushels per acre with test weights as low as 54 pounds due to the late rains. Along with the recent moisture, grass and weeds began overrunning many of the fields. In turn, the combines and operators had to work extra hard to ensure the machines wouldn’t become slugged.

On June 22, the harvest gods continued to test our patience. Around 10 a.m. Brandon noticed a fuel leak on his CR 8090. The leak was caused by the fuel lines rubbing together, and luckily the machine was still under warranty. After traveling to Harvest Support to get parts and put everything back together, the combine finally got fired back up around 4 p.m. The rest of the evening was spent maneuvering between the weeds and mud, making it an extremely trying day. Brandon decided to make one last round for the night before calling it quits and lo and behold, he ended up buried in a mud hole. It was one long, bad day. The combine was in such bad shape that the next morning they were just moments away from calling a dozer to pull it out. However, with one last “Hail Mary” attempt they were finally able to get it out with our farmer’s massive tractor.


Part of the convoy all loaded up and ready to head to Carmen, Oklahoma.

Combine tracks
The first of many “almost got stuck” views. When you feel yourself start to sink you try to get out as soon as possible!

Miss Mary's cookin'
Miss Mary once again spoiled the crew with her delicious meals!

Cutting away
Kicking up dust as Brandon and Joel finish cut out a landing.

Buried combine
Not so lucky this time…

Joel got stuck
Joel stands by the first mud hole he encountered.

Mud tracks
A little aftermath from playing in the mud.

Brandon knows that harvest sunsets are my absolute favorite. I’d say he captured this one beautifully!

Unloading chain
Sometimes it’s a group effort for everyone to get unloaded.

Despite the uphill battle we were able to check off Carmen, Oklahoma, from our list. On June 24, Brandon and the crew loaded up and moved near Amarillo, Texas. The journey was filled with tire troubles and unexpected road construction. Halfway through the trip the pickup was forced to stay behind after a blowout on the header trailer, so the oversize loads led the way. Suddenly, they passed a sign that read, “Road work: 1/2 mile ahead.” Of course, there were no pull-off options or places to turn around. The convoy had no choice but to slowly squeeze past the cement bunkers and guard rails, with not more than a couple inches to spare on each side. The crew had checked online before leaving and there were was nothing marked on the map. Even after this incident Brandon double checked online and sure enough, this road construction was not posted anywhere. After all the excitement the crew eventually made it to Amarillo safe and sound. The last few days Roland Harvesting has been going over some serious acreage.

Irrigated wheat
The crew was welcomed by these gorgeous, flat fields of irrigated wheat near Amarillo.

Meanwhile, this entire time Dad and Ben have been stuck around the Duke/Altus area. Due to several sporadic rain showers it has taken considerably longer to finish up than originally planned. The extra rain means they have also been fighting mud. Dad says the last couple weeks have felt like Groundhog Day. Since our new combine is still out of commission, Dad is continuing to use our old CR 8090 as a replacement. This ol’ yellow beast has been giving him fits lately. A few days ago the combine encountered a computer issue that left him stranded in the middle of a back road for almost seven hours. Despite the many struggles Dad finally broke his time warp on June 26. The next morning Dad and Ben moved their single combine show to Perryton, Texas.

Typically, we move in a northern direction as we follow the harvest across the Wheat Belt. However, these areas of Texas come off at a later time due to the higher elevation. It seems backward to move from Oklahoma back to Texas, but that’s the reality of harvest.

Water across the roadHere is one of the roads Dad had to cross around the Altus area. Seven days after the last rain, water was still running across the road.

Wind turbine on the horizon
There were over 350 wind turbines adjacent to these fields around Perryton, Texas.

Wind turbine at dusk
Day is done.

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. Roland Harvesting can be reached at megan@allaboardharvest.com.

One step forward, two steps back
Megan Roland

The last few weeks have been filled with several unexpected twists and turns for Roland Harvesting. Bear with me as I bring you all up to speed on our harvest season thus far.

On June 4, Brandon, Justin and new crew members, Joel, Ben, and Aaron (Tiny), headed south with the last of the equipment.  Since two of the combines and a few trailers had already been dropped off, the trip went by quickly without a hitch. Dad stayed home for a couple of days to finish planting fall crops then booked it south to join the madness.

Upon arriving near Duke, Oklahoma, the crew hit the ground running. They were able to jump right into cutting and knock out several hundred acres in a short amount of time. They ran extremely long hours and spent many nights working until 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. The wheat in the area yielded around 20 to 30 bushels per acre with lower test weights due to the late rains. Surprisingly, the moisture stayed down as the weather turned hot and stayed sunny with temperatures in the upper 90s and lower 100s. Gotta love favorable harvest weather!

Unfortunately, this productive stretch came to an abrupt halt. On June 11, our brand spanking new CR 8090 (with 39 engine hours and 22 separator hours) was cruising along in the field when suddenly Dad noticed the oil pressure gauge bottom out. Dad thought nothing of this, assuming it was a sensor problem. Upon stopping and opening up the side hatch he was shocked to see engine oil blown all over the machine. Turns out, in less than 45 seconds all the of the oil had drained out of the combine.

Since the combine was still under warranty, we were covered by Top Service. Two days later the local dealership we had purchased the new CR from brought out a replacement combine for us. Irony twist for you all—this exact machine was our old 8090 we had just traded off this year. It was an excellent machine but we always work our combines hard. We had traded this one off as it we had put a ton of hours on it the past couple years. A little life lesson from my parents came back around in full circle with this situation. We were raised to always take care of things because you never know when you’re going to see them or need them again. In this case, we certainly needed it as we are currently still using our old machine as our new CR 8090 remains out of commission.

The day after our new combine went rogue on us the rain set in. The wet weather shut us down and after three days of rain we were forced to split the crew. Dad and Ben remained in the Duke area with one combine and a truck to finish up. Meanwhile, Brandon and the rest of the crew headed north to our next stop in Carmen, Oklahoma. If we had not faced complications with our new combine, we would have been able to knock out everything near Duke and move together as we had originally planned. Although, we all know how harvest plans work out—they’re just tentative ideas that change about 20 times a day! During all these complications our loyal customers were very supportive and understanding, allowing us time to get caught back up.

Another problem we faced during our first stop was that Harvest Support did not arrive to Altus, Oklahoma, until after June 15. Due to complications, they missed much of the run down south and in turn, left Roland Harvesting and many other crews in a scramble during breakdowns. Luckily, we run three machines that are alike so we are able to carry a decent supply of parts to get us by. It certainly helps that Dad is an incredible mechanic and can fix just about anything (besides computer problems) on the combines. When you’re in the dead heat of harvest and a combine breaks down, you use whatever it takes to make it run so you can get back into the field. This is exactly what we had to do multiple times. However, when Harvest Support made their grand entrance all of the crews welcomed them with open arms. Upon arrival Monte and Chase put in many long hours, making sure everyone was squared away. Harvest Support is an easily accessible resource that is beneficial for everyone on the harvest run. We’re relieved to have them back on the road with us!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this harvest catch-up. All photo credit goes to Roland Harvesting crew members!

Last CR on the move down
Getting the last combine moved down south.

Texas selfie
A selfie of Brandon and Justin in front of the Texas state line!

Cutting away
Back in the saddle again! Due to the late rains this spring, grass and weeds began to pop up in many of the fields.

3 bumblebeesThe three bumblebees all lined up at attention.

Dark clouds looming
Dad captured these gnarly looking clouds. Luckily, this storm by-passed our field for the night. 

Moving to a new fieldPart of the crew moving to a new field. It’s extremely challenging to squeeze through small gates with our 40 foot headers so we often take them off between fields.  

Unloading on the grain cart
A quick stop to unload on the grain cart.

Oil everywhere
This is the view Dad was greeted with when the new CR broke down.

Blown engine
Engine oil and chaff are the best of friends.

Storms moving in
These clouds brought the rain that shut us down for a few days.

Rain day food
Brandon sums up the perks of a rain day.  

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. Roland Harvesting can be reached at megan@allaboardharvest.com.

Fury of Mother Nature
Megan Roland

 During my last post I discussed how Roland Harvesting’s recent motto has been “just keep swimming.” It seemed fitting due to the excessive rain down south and the gloomy circumstances we had been facing. What I didn’t realize at the time was the irony behind this title. After spending a week in Nebraska helping the family, I returned to Sheridan, Wyoming, in order to go back to work.  (Most of you know I am an RN at the local hospital.)

On the evening of June 3 the Sheridan area received a tremendous amount of rain. Shortly after it began I heard a trickle of water coming through the back door of my garden level apartment. Thinking nothing of it, I threw a couple of towels on the ground. Seconds later, the door frame suddenly cracked and in rushed hundreds of gallons of water. As I stood there, flood water filled with debris quickly turned my apartment into a churning river and then a lake. I watched as this nasty, contaminated water rapidly and forcefully destroyed the place I used to call home. My couches and bed soon became floating rafts. Kitchen items, clothes, shoes, and decorations floated down the hall. Totes of college books, binders, and pictures were submerged before I could even lay eyes on them. It took less than 30 minutes for my entire apartment to be flooded with nearly 4 feet of water. I attempted to rescue as many pictures and things of sentimental value as a I could.  It’s a gut wrenching, sickening feeling to recognize that everything you have worked for is about to be ripped from you. You only have seconds to decide what stays and what goes.  It’s a truly impossible task. Ultimately, I managed to walk away soaking wet, filthy, and with nothing more than some bruises.

Now, at first glimpse, I know this story does not appear to be related to harvest, but I’m sharing it for two purposes. First off, to explain to you why you haven’t heard any updates about Roland Harvesting for over two weeks. And secondly, to show you how harvest tendencies never really leave a farm girl like myself.

As custom harvesters we witness firsthand the toll that weather plays on various aspects of our lives. Good ol’ Mother Nature continually impacts when, where, and how we harvest each and every crop. It wears on our equipment and is always messing with our schedules. The weather conditions directly influence our paychecks, our moods, and ultimately our livelihood. Sure, we deal with it on a daily basis and truthfully it is part of our everyday routine. What harvester or farmer doesn’t check the weather report when he/she first wakes up in the morning? The thing about Mother Nature is that she is easy to take for granted. However, she always has a way of making sure you know who is in charge. Anyone who has spent a few summers on the harvest trail can attest to the countless intense thunderstorms, plummeting hail, downpours of rain, and grueling droughts that can be experienced across the Wheat Belt. To be honest, when I was younger my sister and I often considered storm chasing as a profession! Nonetheless, experiencing this recent flood has put the true power and fury of Mother Nature back into perspective. She is strong. She does not discriminate. She can strike at any time. She demands respect.

Although harvest is filled with endless weather battles, life on the road is actually much simpler than one would think. When packing my bag for harvest I bring the bare necessities: work clothes, my favorite hat, a few toiletries, and my camera. The camper life brings a dry roof over our heads, a place to store and make food, and a warm bed to sleep in. I have had to revert back to this harvest mentality countless times in the last few weeks. I have spent days sorting through hundreds of damaged belongings, throwing away nearly three city-sized dumpsters of unsalvageable items. I am currently living life with the bare necessities, just like we do on harvest. I am saddened by the entire situation, but at the same time I am so incredibly thankful. I am blessed to be alive and healthy. I am blessed that I have a new, dry apartment over my head and a job I love to go to every day. I am blessed to have such wonderful family, friends, and coworkers who have bent over backward to help me in my dire time of need. All of the overwhelming love and support offered to me has blown me away time and time again. People are good. God is good. To everyone who has helped me through this trying time, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!

Years of challenges on the farm and on the harvest run have truly helped shape me into the resilient individual I am today. This experience has confirmed that. I am strong. I am hopeful. I have faith that God is working in my life and has offered me this challenge for a reason. All in all, this attitude and strength will get me through, as it has generations of farmers, harvesters, and ranchers before me. As my Grandpa Fraser used to say, “What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.” Here’s to being stronger!

Stay posted for my next update on what Roland Harvesting has been up to for the past couple weeks!


“Welcome to my home.” Yes, that is my couch floating in the background.

I was in the middle of cooking breakfast for dinner when this happened. You know it’s truly a flash flood when there isn’t even enough time to eat the bacon!

 My bathroom became the collection site for much of the debris.

Like I said, “Just keep swimming.” A view from my backdoor.

My Uncle Carl and a dear friend, Lindsay, helped with the immediate cleanup. Just like harvest, it took a whole crew to get it conquered.

I know I’m going to catch grief for posting this picture but Mom and Aunt Lynda earned their time to shine! From combine operators to disaster relief workers, these ladies always work their butts off and can truly do it all!

While sorting through a tote I ran across an old notebook I used to keep on harvest. Although it was sopping wet and ended up in the trash, I found some interesting things including these old fuel prices from Hollis, Oklahoma. That was also the year that harvest was running almost a month early!

Luckily, my New Holland toys survived and cleaned up nicely. Just like the real thing, they’re built heavy duty like that. 😉

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. Roland Harvesting can be reached at megan@allaboardharvest.com.


Editor’s note: Betsy English, Megan’s cousin, has set up a GoFundMe page at http:// www.gofundme.com/wbc5dxg to help raise funds for Megan to fill the gaps that her insurance will not cover.

 

Just keep swimming
Megan Roland

 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 themEven 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 megan@allaboardharvest.com.

Megan: Gearin’ up for another season
Megan Roland

Anyone who has spent a summer on a custom harvesting crew knows the feeling that sets in this time of year. The anticipation of harvest adventures and the excitement of heading down the road consumes your thoughts. You can practically smell the hint of wheat dust and feel the warm sunshine on your cheeks as you daydream of firing up the combines in a golden field. Those lucky enough to have experienced this feeling know it is forever embedded in your heart and mind. My family and I like to refer to this feeling as your gypsy soul. It is safe to say that many gypsy souls, including mine, have been in full swing for weeks now.

It’s hard to believe this will be my second summer missing out on the harvest trail. I continue to live in Sheridan, Wyoming, working in my passion as a labor and delivery/pediatric nurse. Even though I love what I do, I deeply miss the buzz of harvest and all of the exhilarating adventures that come with the territory. This summer I have high hopes of tracking down the crew as much as possible. You can take the girl out of the wheat field, but you can’t take her heart out of the harvest!

For the new readers out there, Roland Harvesting is owned and operated by my parents, Alan and Loretta Roland. My dad has been doing custom harvesting since 1978, making this his 37th year of harvest. We run a family-based operation that my older sister (Ashley), myself, and younger brother (Brandon) were raised in and continue to help out with. Brandon plans to take over the operation after graduating college next year. We grew up on a farm near Hemingford, Nebraska, where our parents still reside, farm, and operate Roland Harvesting.

We are proud of the strong crew that will be hitting the road this summer. We have the perfect combination of experience and novice to run a smooth operation. Dad and Brandon are thrilled to have crew members Matt and Justin returning for the summer. We also welcome newbies Jake and Jon, who are in the midst of training. I’ve recruited a few of these crew members to take photos for me when I’m not around. For now, Mom will be staying at home to keep things in order at the farm and make sure spring crops come up with no complications.  When the crew has to split up or if they get behind Mom will catch up with the harvest to help out.

As the plan stands now, Roland Harvesting is gearing up to head south in the next day or two. Part of the crew will be taking down a load to our first stop near Altus, Oklahoma. It will take two trips to get everything moved. Dad will be about a week behind them as he finishes planting spring crops at home. Our farmers in southern Oklahoma had a dry winter and their wheat crops were looking rather weary early this spring. Many stressed areas were about to die, but rain set in the 1st of April and hasn’t stopped. These troubled areas were revived and finally started to green up due to the moisture. Now many fields are filled with scattered spots that are not ripe. Last week alone this area of southern Oklahoma had 7 inches of rain. Bring on the mud and chains, right?!

Roland Harvesting is excited to be sharing another harvest run with all of you followers!

Spring snowOn the weekend of May 8 we received 2 inches of rain followed by 14 inches of wet snow. Hemingford, Nebraska is under another extreme weather advisory for the next two days, with predictions of rain, snow, and freezing temperatures. Guess we’ll be loading the combines in insulated coveralls this year!

Beautiful wheat Enid, OK '13
A throwback to one of my all time favorite photos from Enid, Oklahoma, in 2013!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. Roland Harvesting can be reached at @allaboardharvest.com.