High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest


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Steph: Harvest towns and capturing memories
Steph: Harvest towns and capturing memories avatar

Perspectives through the window.
Photo by Steph Osowski


Steph Osowski joins AAWH’s Sarah Moyer to discuss her important dots on a road map – her favorite harvest town, her hometown and Dodge City. She also provides an update on the “Cabover Alert” scores. Tune in to step into the field with Steph.

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Steph: Harvest hood
Steph Osowski

Gurley, Nebraska – Harvest is all about the people. It’s about the people you harvest for, the people who provide you with your fuel, the bar/grill in the small town that cooks you supper every night, and the people on the other harvest crews that you get to mingle with at the end of the night. The people are what make the harvest what is it… addictive and unforgettable.

Here in Gurley, the harvest spirit is tangible. The campground is loaded with harvest crew trailers, combine trailers, service trucks and semis. The best part is that we all know each other, so we are just one, big harvest family. Being a harvester is a very misunderstood profession. People just can’t understand why we would want to load up our super expensive equipment on trailers, pack up a camper and haul it all across the country to cut wheat only to load it all back up in a week to do it again in a different town. It sounds crazy, and we all know it does. Continue Reading

Steph: My dream truck
Steph Osowski

Dodge City, Kansas – I have found that I do some of my best thinking with a windshield in front of me. While I was over-the-road trucking this spring, I started to daydream about the different features a truck could have that would make life in a truck that much more enjoyable. Mind you, most of these things are pure imagination but it’s certainly a place to start.

  1. A holographic barista that will prepare you any coffee drink known to man (bring on the espresso).
  2. Autopilot — that’s got to be close on the trucking horizon, don’t you think?
  3. To go hand in hand with the autopilot, the driver’s seat should swivel so the driver can easily move in, out and around the seat/cab.
  4. A little more about this seat… it should also have the capabilities of a high-end massage chair — one that actually relaxes you and doesn’t leave you in a bigger pile of knots than when you started.
  5. In the sleeper, there should be a button you press that slides the solid roof of the sleeper to one side to expose a starry night.
  6. A giant flat-screen TV that folds down from the roof between the main cab and sleeper. If there’s autopilot, there’s plenty of time to catch up with your Netflix-ing.
  7. Blow a tire? A motor? Maybe an alternator? No worries — the truck will notify you when these things happen, slowly get you to safety and fix itself.
  8. An interactive motherboard that could do anything from teaching you a foreign language to reading you books (in different voices per character) to singing you a lullaby before bed, making the time over the road that much better.
  9. The ability to change colors anytime. Tuesday could be purple; but maybe by Friday you’re feeling more adventurous, and you want it to be camouflage.
  10. Wheels that turn into propellers so the truck can go underwater. This serves absolutely no purpose — just sounds super cool.

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Steph: Kidnapped
Steph Osowski

Dodge City, Kansas – Once the harvest stops in Kansas have all been completed, the rest of harvest becomes a blur. I was thinking today how far we have come as a crew. I say this in the sense of a rhythm – a groove that a crew gets into. Everyone gets acclimated to how everyone else works, and things just go smoother. The farmers in Texas versus the farmers in Nebraska see two different crews.

We were able to finish up in Dodge, and we will be heading to our fifth stop on the harvest run – Sidney, Nebraska. We brought one of two combines up here today, and the wheat is still a bit green along with the inch of rain the area received this afternoon (07/03). The wheat we cut in Dodge ran anywhere from 60-100 bushels per acre, and the test weight averaged 60 pounds.

That being said, Farmer Chris here in Dodge City bid Anderson Harvesting off with an awesome barbecue for a job well done. There were hamburgers, brats, brownies… you name it. Farmer Chris’ wife, Eileena, made some of the most delicious potato salad I have ever had in my life, and the evening was full of laughter and conversation. Continue Reading

Steph: Photo of a photo
Steph Osowski

Dodge City, Kansas – A little over a week ago, I received a Facebook message request. I hit “accept” to get a look at what this perfect stranger had to say. In the message, this gal explained to me that her and her husband both grew up on farms in Oklahoma, but they had made their home in the Philippines for thirty-five years now. She continued on to say her husband never missed a High Plains Journal issue and that he particularly loved the All Aboard Wheat Harvest program. How cool is it that? This program is so widely renowned.

We chitchatted about how harvest was going, and she then mentioned to me that there was one particular photo that her husband loved. The only thing was this; he had only seen it in black and white, and he had always wanted to see it in color. I asked her to send me a “photo of the photo,” and I would see what I could do in terms of hunting it down in my picture archives. Continue Reading

Steph: Support systems
Steph Osowski

Dodge City, Kansas – There are two cup holders in the combine. I jumped in for a few rounds and put my lemonade-flavored Monster Rehab next to John’s filled-to-the-brim Yeti coffee cup. Combining along, I hit a plethora of bumpy spots in the field, a typical occupational hazard. I go to take a sip of my drink and got a sip of half coffee/half lemonade Monster. I don’t recommend the combination. Here’s to you, bumpy Kansas wheat fields.

DISCLAIMER: It will never be just “a few rounds.” That’s the trick phrase a harvester will use to get you to switch places for whatever reason.

Before that story was given the opportunity to occur, we did incur some rainy days that were filled with wrenches and combine rehab. That’s the thing about harvest — time is of the essence. Continue Reading

Steph: Hit the trip meter
Steph Osowski

Dodge City, Kansas – Would you believe I have been a part of the AAWH family for six years now, and I have never even been to the homeland of High Plains Journal? Unreal, but that is no longer the case. I drove into town on Wyatt Earp Boulevard and took a quick look around and knew right away I would get along just fine around here. I could live here. We will be harvesting here for the indecipherable future as it decided to rain on our harvest parade last night (06/21), so I’m hoping to rub elbows with some of the HPJ staff. I also plan on doing quite the exposé on the town in an upcoming post as it is a definite harvest classic. We did get into the wheat a bit, and it’s beautiful — 50-60 bushels per acre with a 58 pound test weight. There’s nothing like wheat harvest in Kansas.

I wish I had an internal trip meter. I should have pushed this spring to keep track of the miles I put on myself. Scratch that — should have started it last winter, because then it would include my international travels. The more I think about it, the further my curiosity for this goes. Just imagine 26 years of Midwestern travels via the harvest run plus all the trucker adventures, various road trips with friends and international travels. My trip meter would probably be broken by now. Continue Reading

Janel: For one second I thought Moo went hog wild
Janel Schemper

Pratt, Kansas – I just spent two days getting equipment moved from the Weatherford, Oklahoma area up to the Pratt, Kansas area; and on the way I saw combines cutting everywhere along the highways we traveled. Most were custom harvesters but some were farmers, and a few looked to be like farmers helping farmers. For the most part, the ground conditions looked dry, but on the Oklahoma/Kansas border I saw that there were a few fields that got tracked up really pretty badly. Wheat was left uncut in the fields, because the ground would not hold the combine up. Getting stuck is no fun, so they left it for another day when the ground will be drier. We did get caught back up to the harvest at Pratt, where the wheat is just borderline ready. The highway is full of combines too. The harvesters keep coming through Pratt loaded up and heading north. I’m sure wheat harvest here will be in full swing in just a day or two, depending on what the weather does.   Continue Reading

Steph: It happens
Steph Osowski

Apache, Oklahoma – Have I mentioned how much I love small town America? Because I really do. For today’s small town love demonstration, I will tell you that the bank had an area setup at the elevator and was cooking burgers for all the harvest crews. As I was un-tarping, one of the ladies asked me how many were in my crew. Upon hearing my response of, “There’s just 3 of us,” she replied, “Okay, we will make you 10 burgers then.” I mean, who I am to turn down free food?

I thought about not posting about this next incident but, it might be exactly what someone out there needs to read to feel better about their own mishap. I’m just gonna go for it. So the other day, I hauled to a new elevator. When you drive truck for a harvest crew, this can be a daily occurrence. Elevators come in all shapes and sizes as well as the scales and pits that go with them. Short, tall, skinny, fat, fast, slow – they make them all sorts of ways. Today’s featured scale is skinny. When the scale workers didn’t recognize my truck with my first load, they automatically came out to spot me. Continue Reading

Steph: Visiting hours
Steph Osowski

Apache, Oklahoma – One of my (many) favorite aspects of this blog is the ability to promote the agriculture industry that has made me who I am today. I’m definitely that person who will hear a nearby conversation going on about GMOs or hormones in beef and interrupt with an, “Excuse me but, did you know…” Those of us who love this industry will agree that it is our duty to spread the word and spread knowledge for everyone to hear. That’s the thing about a passion; it doesn’t feel like work.

The Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children brought three young men out to our field the other day to get a first-hand harvest experience. They loved it! These boys all came from different backgrounds but all found something they enjoyed about the harvester’s life. They were telling me how cool they thought my job was, how cool my LIFE was, and one even admitted he now wanted to be a harvester when he grew up. That right there deserves a moment of silence, because instilling that feeling in any youth is something to commemorate. Continue Reading