High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest


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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.

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.

Steph: Harvester’s hangout – part 2
Steph Osowski

Scranton, North Dakota – You know how when someone goes, “Hey, tell me a story,” and you draw a total and utterly complete blank? Then later on when you’re going about your daily life, the perfect story comes to mind, and you think “Dang, too bad I couldn’t have thought of that earlier.” Well, pretty sure that’s how this whole “harvester’s hangout” segment is going to go. Therefore, I bring you part two.

  1. It seems every year, there is one specific song that is the “song of the summer.” Back in 2006, the song was Love Today by Mika. He was quite the European pop sensation back then, but he has fallen off the grid since. Anyway, this guy is a soprano. It’s pretty insane. When the crew was in Ogallala, Nebraska, we took the crew out to the lake. So my mom, dad, brother, myself and three hired hands were all piled into the Suburban heading back, and this song comes on. By this point in the summer, everyone knew it pretty well given how often it just so happened to be played. The whole Suburban was singing along to the song, and to this day, I don’t know how no windows were broken.
  2. Just like the “song of the summer,” there always seems to be a “movie of the summer.” Back in the late 90s, my dad purchased Happy Gilmore on VHS. We wore that thing out. I remember sitting in the living room of the fifth wheel Country Aire my parents used to have and trying to decide what movie to watch, and somehow, we would keep going back to it. The whole crew quoted the movie incessantly and to this day, I can still quote the entire movie word for word.
  3. This one was told to me by Papa T, so this is an Anderson Harvesting original. Last harvest in Texas, the crew went to town for groceries and also purchased a grill. Rather than buying a grill that would need to be put together, they wanted the one on display to be able to get to the actual grilling that much sooner. Once all the groceries and grill were packed away into the pickup, they grabbed the grill and shook it, seeing how stable it was. Feeling confident, they decided not to strap it down and head back. Not far down the road, they met a Peterbilt pulling a cattle trailer, flying down the highway. The sheer forces of speed and suction lifted the grill and groceries out of the back of the pickup, and they decorated the highway. There were pickles and peanut butter everywhere. One of the hired hands was devastated about the pickles and managed to salvage a few by picking them up off the highway and eating them. Believe it or not — the grill survived! However, when they left Texas, the grill ended up getting left in the haste of harvest transition.

Enjoy and happy harvest!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. You can contact Steph at stephanie@allaboardharvest.com.

Mike: Cutting down downtime
Mike: Cutting down downtime avatar

Photo by Bill Spiegel
Mike Barnett has well over two decades of experience on the wheat harvest trail as a leader with the John Deere Harvester Works Customer Support Team. For this special edition of the All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ podcastMike is on the line with AAWH’s Sarah Moyer discuss the evolution of this support team and how he started with the program. Tune in to step out on the road with Mike.

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Steph: Hot dog stands
Steph Osowski

Scranton, North Dakota – On one corner, the wheat is days away from being ready to cut. Across the road, the field is grass green and won’t be ready for weeks. A hop and a skip down the road, wheat is being swathed and baled. When the insurance company is paying the farmer to bale rather than harvest, how could you say no? It’s tough for me as a harvester to type that, but I also understand profit margins. Don’t be surprised if harvest crews add some instruments and a hot dog stand to their crew. Just imagine, the crew/band playing some country music and selling hot dogs in the wheat field. Combines park strategically around the bandstand, passing the time before the wheat ripens. Sounds pretty awesome, actually. Continue Reading

Steph: Mountainous
Steph Osowski

Alliance, Nebraska – Okay, tell me honestly; if I were to have a fleet of pink cabovers with white hopper bottoms that coincidentally have pink polka dots, how do you think that would go over? It was a thought-out-loud I had the other day and every member of the crew has a different opinion. I know a certain little harvest girl (Miss Carley Russell) who would be the first in line to drive one.

I’m writing this from a hotel in Alliance, Neb. With my family, we cut in Hemingford for many, many years so this area is all too familiar to me. This morning/afternoon in Pine Bluffs, we took duels off the combine, loaded up the combine, loaded up the grain cart, and fixed a valve on the grain cart trailer. It was HOT. Everything we touched was all but smoking from the heat and the cloud cover that would sporadically bring us shade brought out an audible sigh of relief from all of us. Continue Reading

Steph: Harvester’s hangout
Steph Osowski

Pine Bluffs, Wyoming – Anderson Harvesting is at its first standstill of the harvest 2017 season. Farmer Lance, with his 25 bushel average/62 pound test weight crop, is all cut up and now the real question arises; where do we go from here? John’s ear and his phone have been inseparable for the past few days and the decision is still up in the air. But, as Papa T said, “you go where the wheat is ripe.” Western ND is looking like the best bet!

So, since I’m running low on harvest action, I’m going to try something a little different. I’ve decided to call this little segment the “harvester’s hangout”.  What this will be is me telling three harvester tales of yesteryear. Imagine a room full of harvesters with their scuffed up boots and ball caps in a cafe, exchanging laughs and stories with one another for hours and hours; that’s the feel I’m going for. So, grab a nice cup of coffee and have a comfortable seat because that’s how the best tales are received. Continue Reading

Laura: Learning on the road
Laura: Learning on the road avatar

High Plains Harvesting (2017-Laura)
Photo by Laura Haffner

Laura Haffner and AAWH’s Sarah Moyer talk about balancing family and business during harvest. In addition to the lessons they find from the HPH crew, she focuses on her children’s character development and creating impactful experiences for them on the road. Tune in to step into the field with Laura.

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Steph: Roars in the rotor
Steph Osowski

Bayard, Nebraska – Well, courtesy of AAWH, Anderson Harvesting will be heading back south a bit to Pine Bluffs, Wyoming to continue the wheat run. Farmer Lance awaits us our arrival and Farmer Don can sit back and relax, knowing his wheat is safe and sound in the bins of the elevator. He averaged about 35 bushels per acre with test weights between 62-65 pounds. Our next fields are right in the corner of Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. I’ve always wanted to be in three places at once, and I just might get my shot.

A fun fact — Farmer Don’s son brought his family out to spend some time in the field and experience harvest. The following day, his wife and kids went off to a family reunion and he stayed. Little did I know, it was his birthday! This became known to me after the fact. And I didn’t even get to wish him a “happy birthday,” but all he wanted to do was spend his birthday in a wheat field. That’s music to a harvester’s ears. Continue Reading

Steph: Gummy worms
Steph Osowski

Bridgeport, Nebraska – Just as I was letting off the clutch at a stoplight in town, a motorcycle revved the ever living out of his motor and sped by me. I about had a heart attack — hearing noises like that, all I could think was that I blew something somewhere on my truck. I mean, I am hauling 64 pound wheat, so anything is possible.

It is pretty rare to have two stops on the harvest run that are a mere 27.5 miles away from each other. Obvious reasons being that they are both likely ready at the same time; and as we all know, the wheat waits for nobody. But, contrary to the norm, we moved from Gurley to Bridgeport without missing a beat. Farmer Don has some pretty spectacular wheat with test weights anywhere from 62-65 pounds, 35-40 bushel, and protein peaked at 13 for content, but is consistently between 8-10. Harvest days are coming and going and definitely running together these past 10 days or so. This time of year just works that way. It’s harvest autopilot, if you will. You just do because you know you need to do, and that’s all there is to it. Continue Reading