High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest


Category Archives: Syngenta

Steph: There’s no place like harvest
Steph Osowski

Grafton, ND – Upon leaving Colorado after my Harvest Support adventure left, the Graham Family that I became familiar with (and let me tell you, to know them is to love them) came to bid farewell to me and Monte. The three Graham kids were asking all sorts of questions and the one that stuck out the most was when little Chase exclaims, “I won’t ever see you again!” My heart broke a little because it was so adorable but my response was simple. “Oh yes you will — we’re harvesters!”

The Harvest Support truck finished up the season the last week of August and I’ve been back home ever since. It’s amazing how long a person can be gone from home and it somehow feels like you never left. It is also amazing how dirty my apartment got without anyone actually living in it for months but that’s another story.

Harvest around here is without a doubt in full swing. Wheat is pretty well taken care of so now the transition to fall crops has begun. Between daycare, nannying and hauling potatoes for the harvest, I’ve been anything but idle. Sugar beet harvest will begin first week in October and that’s basically considered a holiday in this area. I kid you not, people use their vacation time from their “day jobs” to come haul beets for local farmers. I even have a friend from college coming up from  Minnesota to get in on the action. It’s a kind of a big deal.

What a roller coaster year, huh? To be honest, nothing surprises me anymore. Growing up a harvester, there’s one thing for certain and that is — nothing is certain. Always expect the unexpected. In fact, expect it with a smile. To me, there’s nothing better than the unexpected because that’s truly when we grow as human beings. Staying in the comfort zone gets you nowhere. High Plains Journal continues to be awesome from year to year, providing me with this program to tell you harvester tales and my gratitude only grows from year to year. A big ol’ thanks also goes to John Deere, Syngenta, Unverferth and the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children. You’ll never truly know how appreciative us corespondents are for your support to our livelihood! There’s no place like harvest.

You might be asking yourself, “where in the world will Steph go next?” Well, I’ll be heading to South Africa again this winter and scheduled a couple solo trips on my way home (Abu Dhabi, UAE and Nice, France). Once you get the travel bug, it demands serious attention. And as recently discovered, more and more attention each year. I read somewhere that you weren’t born to just work, pay bills and die. Kind of a harsh way to put it but, I plan to have many stories for the rocking chair when I grow old.

Until next year — I wish everyone a prosperous fall harvest and a safe and toasty winter. Happy harvest!

Quote of the Day – “Why’d you break it? Grandpa wants to work.”

Stuff Harvesters Do –
Naturally gravitate towards other harvesters. In a crowd, at a restaurant, attending a concert… anywhere.

Cabover Alert FINAL:
C&K Harvesting – 115
Anderson Harvesting – 131.5
MacDon Harvest Support – 73

Rainbow captured on the way out of Colorado.
Rainbow captured on the way out of Colorado.
Repping the HarvestHer brand!
Repping the HarvestHer brand!
Unloading the potatoes out of the the live-bottom truck I'm driving for Lone Wolf Farms.
Unloading the potatoes out of the the live-bottom truck I’m driving for Lone Wolf Farms out of Minto, ND.
At the warehouse where all the trucks unload.
At the warehouse where all the trucks unload.
Conveying their way into the warehoue.
Conveying their way into the warehouse.
Sunrising on the day.
Sunrising on the day.
Heart shaped potato!
Heart shaped potato! See, carbs really are love.
Mounds and mounds of taters.
Mounds and mounds of taters.
Lone Wolf Farms; est. 1938. 4000 total acres that vary between potatoes, sugar beets, wheat and soybeans. Classic family farm ran by 2 brothers (Chris, Josh) their dad (Keith) and grandfather (Dean). The fave color is, of course, "red like the potatoes."
Lone Wolf Farms; est. 1938. 4000 total acres that vary between potatoes, sugar beets, wheat and soybeans. Classic family farm ran by 2 brothers (Chris, Josh) their dad (Keith) and grandfather (Dean). Their fave color is, of course, “red like the potatoes.”
Potatoes is all about moving parts.
Potatoes is all about moving parts.
Trucker selfie in my HarvestHer shirt.
Trucker selfie in my HarvestHer shirt.
Sunrise.
Sunrise.
Nanny life. That face he made was PRICELESS.
Nanny life. That face he made was PRICELESS.
Had to include a couple favorites from the wheat run.
Had to include a couple favorites from the wheat run.
Happy harvest!
Happy harvest!

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.

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: 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

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

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: 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: 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