High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest


Category Archives: Videos

Tracy: And yet it’s all the same
Z Crew

Chester, Montana – It’s ALL different – the routine is different, the combines are different, the trucks are different and the scenery is different. And yet it’s all the same. 

The Mattson Farms harvest crew consists of five Gleaner combines, two tractors/grain carts and a whole slug of trucks. Four of the five combines are driven by women – Kerry, Megan, Tasha and me. Prior to our arrival, Janice (Carl’s wife) was in the combine I am now running. They have three young men from South Africa (Koos, Mynhardt and Johnathan) for the summer and the rest of the crew are men who have helped them with their harvest in past years (William, Bill, Al, Butch and Quanah). Gabe is a senior in college and is visiting the crew for a week. Travis is the mechanic (I refer to him as the Maytag Repair man) and this leaves Carl and Vince – the two in charge. There are 16 lunch boxes filled each morning.

Speaking of lunch boxes… do you know how much better a lunch prepared by hands other than yours tastes? I am so appreciative of the filled lunch box and a hot meal at the end of the day!

This reminds me of a couple more harvest hands to add to the list. Vince and Kerry live on the farm and have two children. Since Kerry is in a combine all day, they hire a babysitter for kids. Kennedy and Ahmia have tag-teamed this job. These two gals have been the ones preparing the evening meals – but not totally. Most of the meals are pre-made and in the freezer so all the girls (and kids) have to do is cook the main meal and prepare a side dish.

The only real complaint I have is the lack of cell service here. When we first pulled into the yard and realized there was NO SERVICE, I thought my life was going to end right then and there! How in the world would I be able to keep up with all that I’ve got going on? Seems it’s not as difficult as I first thought (and it’s even sort of nice)! However I do miss being able to call the kids once in a while – but have found out facetime works quite well.

I was concerned about running a combine that was different than what I was used to. I rode with Janice for most of the first morning to get the feel of the land and the machine. I was a little apprehensive at first but it seemed as the day grew longer, the more at ease I was feeling. I’ve already been asked by several, “How does the Gleaner compare to the New Holland”? There’s no comparison. The Gleaner is 20 years older than the New Holland. It’s the bells and whistles on the New Holland that I miss – and the fact that it can eat through the heavy crop much easier. So, I have had to change my attitude about cutting wheat – slow and steady!! But in all honesty, other than the age difference, they both do exactly what they’re supposed to do – cut grain.

The one thing I DO think about while sitting in the cab of the Gleaner is my old buddy, “The Beiner”. If Kevin Bein was alive today, I just know he’d be smiling from ear to ear knowing I was sitting in one of “his” machines. I have to wonder if he isn’t sitting next to me on the buddy seat. Darn, I miss talking to him!

We finished our fifth day of work on the Mattson Farm today – August 4th. Vince explained to me the drought line begins in Havre. From Havre east, severe drought; from Havre west, the crops fared much better. The further west you go, the better they are. We’re cutting winter wheat that will average 50 to 60+ bushels per acre. I was told the stand was so beautiful this spring and they were expecting better yields and then they got a late season freeze. So it could have been better but considering the year, I think they’re sitting pretty darn good! The quality is excellent…61-63 pounds and protein has been 13%-15%.

From tonight’s supper conversation, we should be done with the winter wheat tomorrow. What next? Either Durum or Chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Either one will be interesting to me since I’ve never had anything to do with either. So…stay tuned!

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do.
Our new location.
Z Crew: Because that's what Harvesters do!
We did have one rain day since we arrived. Jim and Koos are putting a steering wheel kit on the new auger.
Z Crew: Because it's what Harvesters do!
This thing is a monster and without the steering wheel addition, it was practically immovable.
Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do.
The daily menu.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Tasha, Ahmia and Kerry preparing about a jillion sandwiches every day.
Z Crew: Because that's what Harvesters do!
The assembly line begins about 7:00 each morning. While the gals are busy putting these lunches together, I am in charge of water jugs and filling lemonade bottles. I’ve been taught how to create a refreshing mid-afternoon treat. Fill water or Gatorade bottles 2/3 full of lemonade and freeze overnight. The next morning, fill the bottle to the top with more lemonade. As the frozen lemonade melts, it creates a slush. Pretty good on a hot day!
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do.
Please don’t tell The Beast it’s been replaced for a little while. This ‘ole girl and I have become pretty good friends over the last couple of days.
Z Crew: Because that's what Harvesters do!
Partial line-up of trucks waiting to head to the field.
Z Crew: Because that's what Harvesters do!
Dang! These Montana wheat fields are big!
Z Crew: Because that's what Harvesters do!
The hills in the background are called the Sweet Grass Hills. The elevation of the highest point is 6,983 ft.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do.
These hills in the field look like they’re no big deal – until you start climbing them. I had to put it in first gear to make it up and over. I honestly don’t know how the people cut wheat in the Palouse! They are a whole lot more brave than I am!
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do.
I am most impressed with the width of the swath we take compared to what I’m used to.  Five combines with 40 foot heads = 200 foot swaths. It’s quite amazing to watch big acres disappear so quickly.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do.
This group is so organized but it doesn’t happen on its own. Carl’s son, Vince, is the orchestra leader. He’s in the tractor/grain cart shown in this picture all day long constantly on the two-way directing everyone’s next move – much like a symphony. I really am quite amazed how he keeps everyone moving in the right direction but I do feel sorry for how often he hears his name being called out.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do.
Making the move to another field.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do.
Vince and Travis working on a noise I was hearing in the machine.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do.
I don’t know much about the unloading process since I’m in the combine all day. However, they’ve got it perfected! Jim said it’s pretty nice not having to get out of the truck to weigh at the scale or to dump. There is someone at each station keeping the flow moving. Above, William is the truck driver and Gabe is helping him get the truck dumped.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do.
Awfully nice winter wheat!
Z Crew: Because that's what Harvesters do!
Tasha had to come to my rescue. My bin filled before I could get myself cut out of the line I was opening up. So, I had to follow her out of the cut.
Z Crew: Because that's what Harvesters do!
Finishing another field with the Sweet Grass Hills in the background.
Z Crew: Because that's what Harvesters do!
Action shot – while waiting for Tasha to get dumped. At one point, the grain carts couldn’t keep up and we had to wait for them in the field.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do.
The end of another day!
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do.
The evening lineup.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do.
No explanation required!
Z Crew: Because it's what Harvesters do!
Another day of work comes to an end.




All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Tracy Zeorian can be reached at zcrew@allaboardharvest.com.

Tracy: My Harvest Top 10 List
Z Crew

Chadron, Nebraska – This came to me today as I was following Jim and The Beast to the field. YES! I said… field. It’s been quite the week. And when it began on Monday, I would have never guessed we would be making a move northward. It’s been an emotional roller coaster for me; and from what I hear, other harvesters are experiencing the same, crazy feeling.

We finished south of Wallace, Kansas late Monday afternoon. Once the last standing straw of wheat was cut, we decided that regardless of what happened next, the combine and header would have to be cleaned. Jim and I had talked a little about what we thought we would/should do next. We had no acres to move to so we had decided that we’d just clean the equipment up and see if we could park it at the New Holland dealership in Goodland until moving it to Colorado for the millet harvest in September. That’s what we thought when we laid our heads on our pillows Monday night.  Continue Reading

Tracy: Full speed ahead!
Z Crew

Claude, Texas – Good grief! We go from not sure what to do next to full speed ahead! We just completed our sixth consecutive day of being in the field (06/15). 

Last night, I had a few things to catch up on – one being bills that needed to be paid. I had to look at my phone to see what the date was. My brain did this weird little thing when I saw it was the 14th. I felt like I had completely lost a day (or two). It was the strangest feeling. You see, when we’re out here doing what we do, it’s just day after day after day. No reason to really know what the date is until you have to step back in the “normal” world once in a while… like to pay bills.  Continue Reading

Tracy: Joining the party
Z Crew

Claude, Texas – After all the pre-harvest preparations, details taken care of and tears shed, we can finally say we joined the #harvest17 party today (6/10). 

We woke up to a heavy fog again this morning and very cool temps. But, the weatherman had been warning us of the impending heat and wind. It had been decided the night before we would get up early and move our equipment to a 400-acre field west of our current headquarters. By the time we made the move and had everything situated, we hoped the field would be ready to sample.  Continue Reading

Laura: Texas Wheat Harvest Video
Laura Haffner

North Texas – To all of you wishing you were out cutting in a field or those who just need something to get you through until harvest reaches your area, I made you a little something.  Enjoy!



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

Tracy: Be patient heart…it will only hurt a little while
Z Crew

Manley, Nebraska – The preparations have been ongoing for quite some time. The talk about harvest and when we’ll be leaving has been happening for more than a month. I’ve often thought about creating a sign and start wearing it every day about the first of April. What would this sign say? It would say…”I don’t know when we’re leaving”. Maybe I should just create a t-shirt! So, THINKING about harvest and DOING harvest are two different things…two different worlds. 
Continue Reading

Patiently Waiting and Q&A
Laura Haffner

Garrison, North Dakota—The kids and I survived the long trek to North Dakota. They really did as well as I could have hoped, but that doesn’t mean this mama wasn’t just a little stressed.  But, all’s well that ends well! For now, I’m just going to pretend the return trip doesn’t exist!

I have been in North Dakota before, but this is my first time for an extended stay. What beautiful country I find myself in. Gently rolling farm land can be seen in all directions. We are staying just a few short miles from the Missouri River and Lake Sakakawea, the third largest man-made reservoir in the United States. The weather has been warm, but pleasant with just a hint of coolness in the breeze.

After cutting nonstop for weeks, the harvest has finally caught up to itself. The wheat isn’t quite ready here (nor in Montana where Mark is), so we’ve been getting to have some much needed family time. It seems we have a few days together back-to-back and then we may go for weeks with very minimal time together. I’m trying to soak it in while we have it. We’ve tried to do a few out of the ordinary fun things like take the kids to the lake to play on the beach and water. Too bad prime lake time coincides directly with prime harvesting time otherwise we might make it a habit. Ryan’s tan lines (not pictured) made it obvious we aren’t lake people! We’ve also done more ordinary things like going to the park and getting to go for runs/walks as a family.

That’s the latest harvest news, such as it is. Hopefully I can write later in the week that we’re going. This stop has on-farm grain storage so they will let us cut at 16 percent moisture, which will help us get started a little sooner.

In the mean time, while we wait for harvest, I thought I may address several questions that have popped up over the season with a common theme. I attempted to do something new a few weeks ago and make a video to answer all the questions, but I think I need a little practice in broadcast journalism before we go live with that. Nothing says “humbling” more than listening to your own voice on video. I could probably make a bloopers movie from all our rejected footage. I would get almost to the end of my information and then I’d get stuck on the word rotor. For some reason, I kept saying router. Ryan would say, “Honey, practice. It’s a rotor, roooooowwwwwwww-ter…” To which I would be, “I know what a rotor is and how to say it, I just can’t spit it out!” Then there were toddler interjections and baby babble and the ill timed radio chatter or Ryan forgetting we were live and comment on something. It was hilarious! As a result, here are written answers.

Why do we run stripper headers? Many of our farmers desire to run stripper headers to aid them in their no-till conversation practices. Since the headers just take the grain from the head, the remaining plant is left standing in the field. This helps holds snow in place in winter in snowy areas and shades the ground helping with weed suppression.

What caused the wheat to go down (become lodged)? Some examples of conditions that may cause it to go down are excess moisture weakening the straw, wind, grain too heavy for the straw to support, or a combination of these conditions.  

What is the main way a stripper header is different than the draper headers? The headers are very different. The most basic explanation is the draper headers cut the wheat stem at a desired height, then, the majority of the plant is fed into the combine. Stripper headers “comb” the plants, if you will. This combing motion pops the seeds out of the head and the grain is then fed into the combine leaving plant residue in the field.

How are the stripper headers in down (lodged) wheat? The headers work fine in lodged wheat. The combing motion of the fingers can pick it up. It allows less material to run through the combine, making it easier to collect the grain. When running a draper header in lodged wheat, a lot of plant material runs through the combine. Sometimes it’s hard for the machine to separate the grain and plant matter in those conditions.

What adjustments do you need to make to harvest the lodged wheat? Some adjustments may include lowering the header, lowering the hood, and changing rotor speed. 

Underside of Stripper Header
The fingers spin opposite the direction of travel. This pops the grain out and conveys it up and back into the combine.

Thanks for those who have asked questions. I hope I answered all of them and that this helps clarify things.  
 

Since we have received interest in our stripper headers and questions about cutting in lodged wheat, I created a video of the view from the cab. Toward the end of the video when the camera is looking out the right windows, you will see the combing motion of the header through the wheat. Ryan was moving his thumb over the buttons on the hydrostat to show some of the adjustments he can make.

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

The Official Beginning!
Emma Misener

Elk City, Oklahoma — We’re cuttin’ wheat! Harvest 2016 has begun for MFH (Misener Family Harvesters)! As I mentioned in a previous post, we have been having some late nights and early mornings, and we started harvesting a little while back. Here’s a video of the very first outing in the field.


Be safe and God bless!

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

Short and sweet visit
Emma Misener

Vernon, Texas — We are ready for harvest! The machines are in tip-top shape, all preventative maintenance is done and we’re rested up and ready to roll. The wheat isn’t quite ready at our first job so we decided to go visit our friend Kent Braathen, owner/operator of Braathen Harvesting. He starts near Vernon, Texas which is a good hour and a half drive from us. His dad was also a harvester so Kent grew up on the dusty trail just like us. It was a great time seeing Kent and his crew! Thanks for the good times and laughs 🙂

Here’s a quick video.
 

Be safe and God bless!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored my High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. Emma can be reached at emma@allaboardharvest.com.

Working on a Customer’s Combine
Emma Misener

Elk City, Ok — Misener Family Harvesters has not only been working on our own combines to get ready for the 2016 harvest, but also surrounding customer’s equipment. This particular one needed some pretty heavy-duty repairs. The walkers near the rear of the machine had worn some holes in the sheet metal and needed to be taken out to be welded and repaired. This is a time-consuming process and takes hard work. We got the job done and it will soon be on the way to the field. Here’s a few pictures of the whole process from beginning to end.

Emma:customer repair
(L to R) Dan, Liz, Clara, and Elizabeth running wrenches. First, we have to take the chopper off of the combine to access the walkers. Then, all of the walkers need to come out of the back of the combine. This requires more than one person. They weight a little over 200 pounds a piece, and are about 15 feet long.

 

Emma:customer repair
There are five walkers all together. Once we got them all out of the combine, we welded them where they needed it, which was a lengthy process.

 

Emma:elk city repairs
Here’s an example of a patch we put on.
Emma:customer repair
Here, Elizabeth is putting the parts back together that hold the walkers in place. We later replaced these parts with new ones that are grease-less, making everyday maintenance an easier and faster task.

 

Emma:customer repair
Leslie and his Momma, Liz, were the lucky ones to get the job of going into the center of the combine. The walkers are attached at the back and the front of the combine. There’s only one way to reach the front connecting pieces- you gotta get in there! A man can get in where Leslie is, but it is extremely tight, and he has to lay on rigid pieces making it very uncomfortable. He is small enough that he could sit in-between them making his job a bit easier. What a good little volunteer! It was hard, but he did a great job.

 

Emma:customer repair
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In this video, Clara is the lucky one to time the walkers. This is the final step. They need to be timed so that they don’t work against each other and end up outside of the combine! Who knew the combine had an elliptical?! Finally the job is complete and the walkers are like new again.

Be safe and God bless!

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