High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest


Category Archives: wheat

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.

Janel: Legendary Jamestown, North Dakota
Janel Schemper

Jamestown, North Dakota – This Jamestown, North Dakota farm we are currently on is “almost” like home sweet home and has become a special place to me as we’ve been coming here since 1989.  This farm family is one amazing farm family.  I really appreciate all of them and getting to visit with them when we are here harvesting.  I went home to Nebraska for school from this farm many times.  When I think about all of the harvest memories I have here it’s just a big ol reminder of how time flies.  I can remember riding in the combine here with my sister and falling asleep in the buddy seat and also riding in the truck with my mom and hauling all of the loads of spring wheat and barley to grain bins on the farm.  This past year my mom found a picture of me running combine and on the back of the picture it said, “Jamestown, North Dakota 1994.”  I wasn’t even a teenager yet and I could run a combine all by myself!  It’s all amazing to me at how time really does just fly by!

I’ve been told it’s a drought year here but all of the crops look good to me. We have been cutting spring wheat and the yields have been in the 55 to 65 bushels per acre range, the test weights have been 60 plus and the protein has been good at 15 and 16 percent.  The wheat was not sprayed and the grain wasn’t too dry.  Almost every load was 15 percent moisture or higher.  The cutting conditions have been rather tough as well.  Howard Hale called me while I was out cutting wheat and we discussed the low wheat acres, high row crop acres and the cutting conditions.  I always enjoy getting a call from Howard Hale for a Harvest USA report.  I listen to his morning and afternoon programs almost daily.

However, our run here was short because there just aren’t that many wheat acres here anymore. Almost everything is planted to corn and soybeans.  I can remember when everything in the Jamestown area was spring wheat and barley and every acre was windrowed.  I can’t believe how things have changed so much.  We’ll finish up and get moved up to the Grand Forks, North Dakota area and harvest spring wheat and canola.  The forecast looks sunny for 10 days so hopefully just maybe we can have a good run at our next and last stop on our wheat harvest run! 

Schemper 2017 - North Dakota Wheat Harvest
Just look at those beautiful North Dakota colors! (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - North Dakota Wheat Harvest
A beautiful day of harvesting spring wheat near Jamestown, North Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - North Dakota Wheat Harvest
Wheat is my favorite North Dakota crop. This year there is so much corn planted here. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - North Dakota Wheat Harvest
My brother Jared Schemper has been driving truck lately hauling grain from the field to the elevator. I like it better though when he is in his combine in the field. I enjoy harvesting crops with him because he is the best combine operator. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - North Dakota Wheat Harvest
It’s a drought year and this wheat field still produced 65 bushel spring wheat! (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - North Dakota Wheat Harvest
These are lentils. Jared Schemper brought me a sample of lentils from Montana.  Lentils look like certs and are as soft as silk. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - North Dakota Wheat Harvest
These are chickpeas. Jared Schemper brought me a sample of chickpeas from Montana. I think they look like mini pumpkins. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - North Dakota Wheat Harvest
Harvesting spring wheat on a cloudy day in North Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - North Dakota Wheat Harvest
Harvesting spring wheat on a cloudy day in North Dakota. The combine operator is LaVern Schemper. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - North Dakota Wheat Harvest
Harvesting spring wheat on a cloudy day in North Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - North Dakota Wheat Harvest
I love this time of day! Combine shadows followed by a sunset! (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - North Dakota Wheat Harvest
I can remember harvesting this field when I was 12 years old. It was planted to barley and was making nearly 100 bushels an acre. We had three combines and the combine operators were JC, Jared and me. I remember we had everything full and were sitting there waiting on a truck to come back to the field. It was mid-August and it was just about time for us to go back home to Nebraska for school. I remember JC and Jared having a conversation about being concerned about what Dad was going to do for help since we were leaving for school. Jared was 15 and was excited to get back home for football and I loved playing volleyball. We were Dad’s crew and it was always sad to leave harvest but yet we were excited to get back to school and play sports! (Photo by Janel Schemper)


All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Janel Schemper can be reached at janel@allaboardharvest.com.

Laura: The end is approaching
Laura Haffner

North Dakota: Last week I wrote that the crew was racing to beat the rain. They were able to finish the field, but caught rain the next morning. As a result, they were out of the field a couple of days. Then they cut three and a half days before hitting green in the crop again. In the middle of the of those few days of cutting, Ryan made the comment, “We’re really starting to feel like we’re harvesting now!”  What he was referencing was typically we’re used to “binge” harvesting, meaning we cut for a week or sometimes several weeks straight and then catch a break. Here we have been making steady progress and chipping away acre by acre. There just hasn’t been any “bingeing” due to the weather conditions so it just feels a little weird. It has been such a strange year, and with the weather up north, it just keeps getting stranger. Nevertheless, we have been thankful for each acre we’ve cut despite the inconsistency in the cutting days. The crew finished up the durum wheat and have moved on to canola. The canola has been yielding in the 25-30 bushel per acre range.

Fall harvest is approaching but not exactly around the corner.  Since harvest has been moving at a slow pace up north, most have been able to keep up with the flow, so there doesn’t seem like there’s many extra acres available after we finish this job.  The end to our summer run appears to be in sight.

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Ryan)
The farmer’s and our combines teamed up for the last field of Durham. (Photo credit: Ryan)
 

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Ryan)
Wheat is finished! On to canola! (Photo credit: Ryan)


High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Ryan)
Getting into the canola (Photo credit: Ryan)
 

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Ryan)
Many of the farms in the area have on farm storage. Its been nearly a month since we’ve taken a load to the elevator. (Photo credit: Ryan)
 

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Ryan)
The next load is about to head into the bin. (Photo credit: Ryan)
 

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Ryan)
Canola harvest (Photo credit: Ryan)


High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Ryan)
The green canola gave us the opportunity to view the eclipse. Everyone was impressed! (Photo credit: Ryan)
 

High Plains Harvesting 2017 (Charel)
Charel snagged a picture of Ryan for me! (Photo credit: Charel)
 


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

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 durum 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 durum, 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 durum 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.

Janel: One Day At A Time
Janel Schemper

Pierre, South Dakota – We’ve been in the Pierre, South Dakota area since mid-July and we’ve been working but it’s been a slow progress. We’ve dealt with several rain showers (which have brought some relief from the summer drought), high humidity and a few cloudy days.  It’s also been one day at a time waiting on fields of spring wheat to ripen.  It takes heat, wind and lots of sunshine to get the wheat to ripen and lately the temperature has been mostly in just the high seventies.

We could finish here in South Dakota pretty soon if the weather would just cooperate.  Today, it’s cloudy with high humidity.  We need the sun to shine so we can get done before it rains again!  The last few fields of spring wheat we harvested yielded 38 to 50 bushels per acre.  The protein has been 17-20 percent and the test weights have been 55 to 59 pounds.  That’s pretty good for a drought year.  The later planted wheat on summer fallow was more successful this year.  I had a Harvest USA report with Howard Hale a week ago and we discussed how the wheat acres were short this year and there are lots of row crops planted including soybeans, corn and sunflowers. 

When we get all finished up here we will be moving up to North Dakota (one of my favorite states on our route) to harvest spring wheat and canola. North Dakota is an amazing place to be and the people there are simply great.  I enjoy all of our harvest days spent there!  I look forward to the cool mornings and evenings as well as harvesting good crops!  I’m also excited to go to a private garden we are welcome to each year to get sweet corn, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and lots of great vegetables.  My favorite garden fresh vegetables are North Dakota tomatoes!  Yum!

Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
This is our harvest mood captured in a photo! Moo and I cutting wheat in South Dakota.  (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Miss Moo is one of a kind in every way. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
It was such a beautiful evening I just took a few seconds to get out of the combine and take a quick picture of this volunteer sunflower in the wheat field!  It was pretty!  (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
I love wheat harvest and all of the beautiful fields I get to cut with my Dad! (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Miss Moo loves her job! Here we are harvesting spring wheat near Pierre, South Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Harvesting spring wheat at night near Pierre, South Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Harvesting spring wheat near Pierre, South Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Harvesting spring wheat near Pierre, South Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Cutting wheat near Pierre, South Dakota. This spring wheat yielded 50 bushels per acre.  The later planted wheat on summer fallow was more successful this year.  (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
I’ve been harvesting wheat here in the Pierre, South Dakota area since mid-July and have seen a beautiful orange moon several nights lately and it’s always very pretty! (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
A volunteer sunflower in a wheat field I harvested near Pierre, South Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
I enjoy washing our equipment and trucks especially when it’s warm outside. Here I am washing the tractor. (Photo by Carlene Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
This is grain bin work. (Photo by Janel Schemper)


All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere.  Janel Schemper can be reached at janel@allaboardharvest.com

Janel: Montana Nearly Complete
Janel Schemper

Great Falls, Montana – Our crews in Montana will be finishing up soon. They have been harvesting there since mid-July and have kept busy and had decent harvest weather. I asked my brothers JC and Jared for a crop report and pictures and they delivered. The spring wheat made 43 bushels an acre for an average, the test weights were 58 and 59 pounds and the protein was 15% plus. The chickpeas made 35 to 40 bushels per acre and did very well. They’ll be finishing up on lentils soon and they’ve been yielding 27 bushels per acre for an average.  

When they finish up in Montana they’ll be going to North Dakota next to harvest spring wheat and canola. Our 10 day forecast for our next stop is mostly sunny and seventy degree weather. However, there are a few days in there with a chance of storms. 

Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting lentils near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting lentils near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting lentils near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat near Great Falls, Montana. It’s nice harvesting right next to the elevator where the grain is being hauled.  That’s a beautiful field of wheat! (Photo by JC Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
This is my nephew Sage Schemper at Shep’s burial site. Shep was a sheep dog. This is a tourist attraction in Fort Benton, Montana. If you read the story about Shep you’ll understand he was forever faithful.  (Photo by JC Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting chickpeas near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by JC Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting chickpeas near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by JC Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting chickpeas near Great Falls, Montana. They unload the chickpeas onto the truck instead of using a tractor grain cart that way the grain is handled less.  (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting unloading at the elevator near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by JC Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting chickpeas near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by JC Schemper)


All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere.  Janel Schemper can be reached at janel@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.

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.

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.