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.

Laura: Week In Review
Laura Haffner

Montana/North Dakota: The crew in Montana finally got about a five day window to cut. That was just enough time for them to finish the winter wheat harvest. The next plan is to move on to the spring wheat. However, the moisture level is hovering around 22.5 percent, so that is still several days off.

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Mark)
Unloading on the go in the wide open spaces of northern Montana. (Photo Credit: Mark) 
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Mark)
Another shot from the crew in Montana. (Photo Credit: Mark)
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (James)
The sun setting on Montana’s winter wheat harvest. (Photo Credit: James)
Meanwhile, the crew with Ryan in North Dakota continues to fight moisture, hence why news has been so limited. They recently finished field peas. I’ve had some questions regarding their edibility. I learned the answer is, “Yes!” The yellow peas are for foreign food aide. Green peas are sold to India for human food consumption. The peas made around 15-25 bushels per acre.

After finishing the field peas, they moved on to Durham wheat. This kind of wheat is used to make pasta and has a higher protein content. It’s important to get it out as quickly as possible. Each rain can change the color of the grain which then effects the grade. It starts out a bright, golden color and dulls with each rain. We are gradually making progress harvesting the Durham, but have struggled to really get rolling strong. The crew has seen a fair share of late starts, lots of moisture testing, and days we just haven’t been able to cut at all. They’ve been fighting the showers, humidity and sometimes cold, cloudy weather. They keep getting 0.3 inches of rain then, 0.8″, .15″, etc. Whenever they can go, they go hard. Tonight (Monday) there’s a 90% chance of raining so they’re going as long, and hard as they can. They’ve been dry in North Dakota, so despite the showers, the ground is still holding up well. The highest Durham yields so far have been around 45 bushels per acre. 

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Ryan)
Field peas that the crew in North Dakota were harvesting. (Photo Credit: Ryan)
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (RYAN)
Combines in the distance. (Photo Credit: Ryan)
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Ryan)
Waiting to take the next load to the bin. (Photo Credit: Ryan)
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Pieter)
That’s a beautiful field of wheat! (Submitted by: Pieter)
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Ryan)
It stays light pretty late in the north country! (Photo credit: Ryan)
High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Ryan)
Trying to beat the rain on Monday night. (Photo Credit: Ryan)
All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Laura can be reached at laura@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.

Laura: Waiting
Laura Haffner

Montana – There hasn’t been much to report the last several days. It seems that as quickly as the crew in Montana started their northern most stop of the year, they had to shut down due to green crops. Mark reported they were seeing yields in the 40 bushels per acre range during the short time they were rolling. Some of the crew members decided to visit Glacier National Park during their downtime. This has traditionally been a crowd favorite.

The crew in North Dakota has been also down for a few days, but were able to restart harvesting chickpeas last night. However, rains have them shut down again. They need the rain so one hates to wish it away! We are thankful to have crops to harvest when the time comes, so wait we will! 

Mark contributed the photos below from their current job in Montana.

High Plains Harvesting - Mark 2017
Photo by Mark of High Plains Harvesting.


High Plains Harvesting - Mark 2017
Photo by Mark of High Plains Harvesting.


High Plains Harvesting - Mark 2017
Photo by Mark of High Plains Harvesting.


High Plains Harvesting - Mark 2017
Photo by Mark of High Plains Harvesting.


High Plains Harvesting - Mark 2017
Photo by Mark of High Plains Harvesting.


High Plains Harvesting - Mark 2017
Photo by Mark of High Plains Harvesting.


The pictures below were contributed by Jill.

High Plains Harvest -Jill(2017)
Photo by Jill of High Plains Harvesting.


High Plains Harvest -Jill(2017)
Photo by Jill of High Plains Harvesting.


High Plains Harvest -Jill(2017)
Photo by Jill of High Plains Harvesting.


High Plains Harvest -Jill(2017)
Photo by Jill of High Plains Harvesting.


All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Laura can be reached at laura@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.

Laura: Harvest in North Dakota? Yes, peas!
Laura Haffner

North Central, North Dakota – We’ve been a little light on the news lately, but no news is sometimes just no news. The last several days have been consumed with making the big moves to North Dakota, and the crew in Montana moved just shy of the Canadian border. It takes a lot of effort to make those moves from arranging all the travel permits to the actual miles and trips it takes to get there. 

We are thankful to be cutting here in North Dakota as they’ve been very dry this season. Our farmer is currently having us cut peas. The process is similar to harvesting soybeans. We switched out concaves and are using flex draper headers. They have recently caught some much needed rain.  The guys hope to be back in the field in the next couple days.

I wish I could take credit for the clever title, but it was all Ryan!  He also contributed the moose photos below. I was on the phone with him the other night when he popped over the hill and saw this moose. It was fun to witness with him, even though I wasn’t in the truck too. It’s not something a Kansan sees everyday! Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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

Laura: Rattle in the night
Laura Haffner

Northeast Colorado – The other night Pieter had machinery issues so stopped in the field, got out of the cab, and hopped off the ladder. Immediately he knew something was wrong. Ryan said he was yelling over the noise of the combine about there being a snake. Ryan thought he was just imagining things as it would be hard to hear a rattle over the roar of the motor. Pieter kept yelling and pointing. When Ryan shined his light in the direction Pieter was pointing, sure enough, there was a rattle snake coiled up and ready to strike. 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