High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest


What makes a team (and I’m not talking football)?
Z Crew

Chester, Montana – Definition of team: “A group of people with different skills and different tasks, who work together on a common project, service, or goal, with a meshing of function and mutual support”.

The business of custom harvesting – or any harvesting – requires having a good team. If there is even one bad apple, it upsets the whole group. But, having a great team is one to celebrate and will be remembered for a long time!
Z Crew: Because it's what Harvesters do.
Ahmia with Brie and Connor (Picture credit Kerry Mattson)

I always told our girls, “There is no one job more important than another on this crew. It takes each and every one of us to get the job done”.  We each knew our job when it was time to pack, load, work and then pack, load, move and do it all over again.

Oftentimes, it feels like the members of the crew who are in the field are the most important ones…wrong! The one(s) providing the support of the team/crew should be viewed just as important (but is sometimes overlooked).

When a team is working together as a team should, it doesn’t function quite as well when one of the members is no longer part of the group. That’s how I felt last night when we came in from the field. I was again missing Ahmia this morning when it was time to make lunches. And I KNOW Kerry is missing her probably more than any of us.
Z Crew: Because it's what Harvesters do!
Ahmia (on the right) brought the kids to the field before she had to head for home.
 
Z Crew: Because it's what Harvesters do!
Kerry shed way less tears than I would have but I’m so bad with goodbyes. And I know my kids would agree with me!

I know how Kerry is feeling. When you become dependent on someone to pick up the slack and can depend on, the void is felt when they’re not there anymore.  Ahmia was hired to replace Kerry at home while she was in the combine and to help Brie and Connor (Vince and Kerry’s two kiddos). I mentioned her in my first post since arriving here at Mattson Farms. Ahmia also replaced Kennedy when she had to go back to college. Remember? They were tag-teaming the job.

When I first met Ahmia, I knew nothing about her. She was pretty quiet while she sat there ever so respectfully listening to the rest of the group as they gathered for the evening meal. I watched her watch everyone else. I also watched her jump in and do what needed to be done. I have always told my girls if there was any one thing I hoped I could teach them, it would be not to wait to be asked to do something. If you see something that needs to be done, just do it. Ahmia just did it.

One of the days that we had some time before going to the field, I visited with Ahmia. So smart, so respectful, so helpful, so responsible. “How old are you, Ahmia?” I asked. Her reply, “I’m 13. I’ll be in the 8th grade this year.” NO WAY!!! When I told Jim this, his reply was, “I think she’s fibbing. She’s got to be 18 or 19.” So when I was alone with Kerry, I asked her how old Ahmia was. She said, “13”.

What a kid she is! She took complete responsibility for the kids and all that was required with the job.  She babysat the kids all day. We would sometimes leave as early as 9:30 and not get home for 12 hours. In that time, not only did she take care of the kids, she woke up early and helped prepare 16 lunches, sometimes baked goodies for breakfast for the crew, prepared the evening meals (main dish was already done but she would also make a side dish and dessert), baked cookies, and even upon request – baked apple crisp. She can make better biscuits than I’ll EVER make.  When I had time to visit with her, Ahmia loved talking about her family, her grandma and how she enjoyed helping her uncle around the farm. She drives combine, tractor and just learned to drive a semi. I should remind you…she’s 13.

Over the past two weeks, Ahmia became one of the crew…one of the team. But she had to go home yesterday so she could begin doing what most 13 year olds do – attend school, volleyball practice and be with her friends.

And we miss her!

Someone once told me I put too much responsibility on my kids during the summer. My reply to them was, “How better could I teach them life lessons than by letting them experience life lessons?” I knew that when my girls were old enough to be on their own one day, they would be just fine. Ahmia will be just fine! And I know that young lady will do amazing things one day.

To you, Ahmia, I’d like to thank you for all your hard work, for always having a smile on your face, for jumping in and doing the job without having to be asked, for taking care of the rest of the team, for just being an amazing person! It was an honor to get to know you.  I hope you enjoy the 8th grade and have fun. I also hope we get to see you again one day.

And to Ahmia’s parents…thank you for raising such a responsible, awesome young woman!

A few pictures of what happened Monday (8/14). 
Z Crew: Because it's what Harvesters do!
Cutting chickpeas with the Sweet Grass Hills on the horizon.
 
Z Crew: Because it's what Harvesters do!
As I mentioned in my previous update, the chickpeas are very fragile and can split if too dry or if handled very often. One step in this game is eliminated and we go back to doing it the “old fashioned” way – the Z Crew way. There are no tractor/grain carts used in this process simply to eliminate one more transfer and one more auger.
 
Z Crew: Because it's what Harvesters do!
It just doesn’t look as beautiful on here as it did in real person!

Z Crew: Because it's what Harvesters do.
The #1 benefit of this job? The sunsets!

Z Crew: Because it's what Harvesters do!
Another field in the books!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Tracy Zeorian can be reached at zcrew@allaboardharvest.com.
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on Tumblr

Lindsey: Everyday adventures
Lindsey: Everyday adventures avatar

Untitled
Photo by Lindsey Orgain

Lindsey Orgain joins AAWH’s Sarah Moyer to mull over her learning curve with custom harvesting as well as the everyday adventures she and her family encounter with their business. Tune in to step into the field with Lindsey.


Transcription:


Every day is an adventure, and we just kind of have to wake up and tackle the day.

Welcome on to this All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ podcast. I’m Sarah Moyer with Lindsay Orgain of Orgain Harvesting. We’re looking forward to talking about their operation in addition to some general custom harvesting questions. Without further ado, thanks for coming on, Lindsay. You didn’t grow up around the custom harvesting business, and you had married into it. So, some of your first experiences with it, what were your thoughts?

Oh,
you know kind of one of the funny stories that I always kind of think back about, and I think Jason and I were still dating… I had gone down to, I think, we were around Chattanooga, Oklahoma. And I’d just gone down there for the weekend, and his family and everyone was there. But I had never even pulled a trailer that I can remember. And he’d hooked me on to a 35-foot header trailer, and was like, “Let’s go.” And so we took off, and we make this turn right onto a bridge. And I wasn’t really anticipating the bridge being there. And anyway, we made the turn just fine, but with a little help from his dad and one of his hired guys… ‘Cause I’d kind of turned a little short, and I was so embarrassed. And I thankfully haven’t had it an incident like that since. I think that’s something that can be taken for granted too is that everyone [hasn’t] pulled a trailer let alone a 35-foot trailer… It was just kind of funny. And I think that was just kind of an eye opener for Jason also that this isn’t going to just be a throw and go kind of thing, you know. It’s going to need a little more guidance about doing things… It’s kind of a funny thing that we still will kind of laugh about, but anyway… We got through it, and we’re here to talk about it today.

And along that, you are not only
here to talk about it today, but you have two kids that you get to help raise and be exposed to this lifestyle. So, some of the adjustments there I’m sure have thing gradual, and it’s all about small learning steps… but what were some of your first roles during harvest?

Still now, if I’m in the field, I’m typically in the tractor and grain cart. And it seems like during our fall harvest, that’s where I wind up. Typically, we might not have as much help in the fall as we do in the summertime… but certainly with two little ones, that doesn’t happen too often these days. So primarily I’m, you know, making sure everyone’s fed. When it’s time to move fields or whatever, you know, I’ll come out and drive a pickup – just whatever needs to be done.

And
that’s important to have some
people available.

Absolutely, now I think that Jason, he likes just having somebody like myself, whom is just kind of available to do
whatever might be done – just kind of have some feet on the ground. That’s how he puts it. [Someone] that’s not tied up in a machine or a truck all day. Kind of a jack of all trades, master of none, I think would be a good title for me.

Well, you help things run more smoothly during harvest, and as you mentioned, this is not a typical
year for the Orgain Harvesting crew with you and a new baby here that just arrived early summer. So, that’s been exciting. You all had a different harvest route than normal. Will you explain some of the adjustments that your harvesting business decided to make to adjust for both the number of wheat acres that were out there this year and having a new baby coming?

It
has been a different year for sure, as far
as acres go. You know, I’ve read and seen a lot about different diseases and drought; and fortunately where we have been, not been a huge issue. However, the acre count has definitely, definitely been down. One of our main customers in this area had to hay everything, which we are cattle ranchers ourselves…That’s something that we do and are prepared for, I guess – in a sense from other people just knowing more about that side of the agriculture industry. Jason had a friend tell him one time, “You know, if you’re combine is parked at home, you’re certainly not going to cut anything with it.” And that’s kind of been our motto, I guess you could say as we have moved on… that we may not have as many acres as we have in years past, but we will have you no acres if we don’t keep going.

We will digress to thank our sponsors, but in a moment we’ll talk about some norms for  custom harvesting that may be not as familiar to the
outside community. We would now like to thank our primary sponsors for this podcast: High Plains Journal and John Deere. Let’s jump back in, Lindsey. What is your outlook on the unpredictability that’s associated with custom harvesting?

Every
day is an adventure,
and we just kind of have to wake up and tackle the day… just kind of be ready for what it throws at you, I suppose, and if that includes a month and a half old baby too... But she’s certainly been a really, really, really good baby. She’s not thrown a wrench in anything, so we’re very, very blessed and thankful for that. Every baby is a little different, but she’s been about as sweet as they get… 

A very good thing,
especially with the busy time that harvest is. Would you talk about some of the things that happen in the off season that are important to helping make harvest run smoothly during the harvest season?

I
suppose, probably with maintenance and things… You know we have a typically pretty good  fall run as well. S
o, when we wrap up wheat harvest, we have maybe a month or so usually to get home and kind of get our own farming done as far as plowing and getting some wheat in the ground, because we do graze quite a bit for our cattle. And then we get packed back up, and thankfully our fall acres are in Oklahoma. They’re in north central Oklahoma; so we are away from home, but not to Montana away from home. You know, we’re able to kind of be back and forth. You know, that can typically last anywhere from getting wrapped up around Thanksgiving, and then there’s been years that we’ve been finishing our fall harvest in December, January, February… just kind of depending on the weather. If it’s been a wet winter and fall, it’ll take a while; so then it feels like when wheat harvest it’s about to start again. And I guess as far as, you know, doing things to get ready for wheat harvest, I guess it’d just be typical maintenance… that might not happen as early as we’d hoped to just kind of depending on when our fall harvest gets wrapped up.

How
do you keep all of the paperwork straight, and how is that all
organized? Is that something you do on the road, or does some of it have to wait until you get back home?

None of our fall customers are wheat customers, so, you know, we don’t revisit
anybody.  I guess you could say [that] season to season. But our paperwork is typically just from job to job. We have to get everything wrapped up and done before we move on to the next customer. Having to worry about Farmer A while you’re trying to tend to Farmer B It’s a lot easier, I think, mentally and certainly on paper to just get everyone wrapped up as you move on. And sometimes, I guess, as far as when we’re collecting money from each farmer, we might wait until we’re ready to leave, because that can take a lot of time to go around and collect… and mostly just because everyone wants to visit and chat. And that’s perfectly fine, but it’s certainly something you have to kind of factor in time for… You know you’re not just going to go show up and grab a check and go. I don’t think that’s how this business works. You have to have those relationships with those farmers, and I mean they’re our friends too… Basically, you know you’ve got to factor in pretty much another day to kind of get that side of things totally done. That’s I guess you could say fun side of it too, because everyone likes to get paid. But then, you also finally, hopefully have time to chat and kind of get caught up on life, because certainly when everyone is in the field and working there’s not usually time to do that.

That sounds
like a classic case of what many agriculture producers experience, whether they be custom harvesters or not, is that relationship building and being neighbors no matter the distance.

Absolutely.
Not growing up in this industry, that’s certainly something that I have come to love about
it is everyone who is in this line of work – be it on the harvesting side, on the producing side – I mean, they do this because they love it. You have to. I couldn’t imagine waking up every day and this being your job and not love it. Certainly on years like this, if you don’t have a passion for it, how do you keep going? How do you keep wanting to put more seed in the ground or load that combine up again?

With those remarks, that will conclude this All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ podcast with Lindsey Orgain of Orgain Harvesting. This production is made possible by High Plains Journal, John
Deere, AgriPro, Unverferth Manufacturing Company, I.T.C., the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children’s Ten Acre Challenge and you – our listeners. Thank you so much. I’m Sarah Moyer, and this has been your All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ podcast.
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on Tumblr

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.
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on Tumblr

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
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on Tumblr

Are they peas or are they beans?
Z Crew

Chester, MT – After we finished cutting the winter wheat (8/5), we had several days of waiting for the next crop to dry enough to get started again. That was okay, though, because it was needed. It was needed because the combines needed changed over to cut chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and the truck boxes needed swept out and cleaned of all winter wheat.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
The truck drivers cleaning the winter wheat from all of the boxes. Johnathon is in the box, Mynhardt and Jim and on the ground.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Four of the five combine drivers. The fifth one is a guy so we didn’t let him join us. 🙂 Left to right is Megan, Kerry, me and Tasha.

It was also decided on about the second day of wondering if anything would dry up enough to cut (the cool temps weren’t helping the situation) to send Jim to Cut Bank after truck parts which were needed to repair one of the fleet. So, I jumped in and rode along. Going after parts in this country means at least a couple hundred miles (or more) added to the pickup. Once we arrived in Cut Bank, we were told the parts they thought they had…they didn’t. A phone call was made to the boss and we were headed for Choteau (just a little further south). On our way through Conrad, we noticed the John Deere Harvest Support trailers were parked at the dealership. So, we pulled in to see our friends, Barney and Round Bale (and the rest of the crew).

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
The mountains were calling my name VERY loudly while driving to Choteau. I’m hoping before we have to leave this country, I can get a day or two over there just to satisfy my mountain craving!

We hadn’t been anywhere they had been all summer so it was a required stop to say hello to some familiar faces! The embroidered statement on their shirts let everyone know it was “Barney’s Final Tour”. I can only imagine how he’s feeling as the days of the 2017 wheat harvest keep clipping along at a quick pace.  Barney has been around the John Deere trailers forever and it just won’t be right without him there! Barney…you’ll always be a wheatie (this is a good thing) – even though you’ve never owned a combine of your own! It’ll be tough next spring as the trailers leave headquarters without you, but maybe Round Bale will let you tag along for a little while to help satisfy the harvest fix you’ll so desperately be needing. Believe me, I understand the pain of watching the crew leave without you. You’ve been an awesome friend and I will miss you but I’m awfully excited for you and your next chapter to begin.

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Good to see these harvest support trailers along the harvest journey – regardless of what color they represent!

The Mattson Farms have been toying with the idea of upgrading their Gleaner combines to a newer model and maybe even a different color. Harvest is the perfect time to demo a newer machine and why not try as many colors as possible? The first machine to make it to the farmyard was the Deere. The combine drivers were all given an opportunity to “test drive” a machine that was 20 years newer than the ones they are currently driving. It was like watching your kids open their gifts on Christmas morning. They just couldn’t believe all the bells and whistles and how much more wheat could be consumed at a faster rate of speed. I had so much fun listening to them compare their new experience. This is one reason I honestly wish my Grandpa could also experience one of these new machines!

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
I stepped out of the pickup and couldn’t resist this picture. Those clouds…
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
This monster of an auger was the one Jim and Koos were adding the steering wheel kit to in a previous update. Ready and waiting for the arrival of the chickpeas.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
This is what a chickpea (garbanzo bean) plant looks like prior to harvest.

While we were between crops, another color showed up in the yard…a red one. By the time it arrived, it was decided the Case combine would head for the durum field for a moisture test. The result was DRY so keep those wheels rolling! Turns were taken and comparisons made but all at once, the chickpeas were ready! This left Jim in the red machine cutting durum while the rest of us jumped in “our” combines and started cutting peas…or beans…or whatever you want to call them. At the end of the day, we headed in and left Jim in the durum by himself to finish. All the other combines were already set for chickpeas. If he didn’t finish with that machine, it would mean changes to one of the Gleaners again as they had already been cutting peas. He finished the field and stepped through the door of the trailer house about 1:00 a.m.

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
A single plant.

I was told the larger chickpeas would be used for salads and canned for grocery store shelves. The smaller peas would be used for hummus. Straight from the field, the peas are extremely hard. If they get too dry, the process of combining them can split them. It’s better to cut them with a higher percentage of moisture and then dried with air in the bin – if possible – to eliminate shattering. They’re really quite good straight from the field! I’ve never cut chickpeas or even seen them before. I find these different crops so very interesting.

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Two pictures in one – the chickpea pod on the left prior to cracking open to expose the pea (or bean).
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Chickpeas

The header is placed right on the ground and cuts as low as possible. The one concern around here is picking up rocks. The fields were rolled with a very heavy roller prior to being planted. This is done to smash the rocks into the soil to prevent them from being eaten by the machines.  So far, I’ve had one rock stop the center belt of the MacDon header. I watched one of the other combine drivers throw boulders from the cab of her machine this evening.  I really hope I can get through the rest of the acres without picking anything like those up!

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Tasha and I had minor breakdowns at the same time last evening. Mine was broke before hers, though, and required a trip to Havre for parts which took forever. I accused Jim of stopping somewhere but he says he didn’t. I guess I have to believe him. 🙂
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
The mechanic’s (Travis) truck next to the Silver Bullet.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Thank goodness for good help (Vince and Jim) who know how to put things back together again! Tasha looks pretty relaxed in her combine.
Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Travis and Jim working on Tasha’s machine.

We’re waiting for the newer Gleaner to show up. I think the Gleaner tradition in this family runs pretty deep. I’m even a bit excited to see what changes have been made since I have gotten pretty familiarized with the Silver Bullet I now call “mine”.

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Eli and his little “mini-me”. Their baby pictures are like looking at the very same kid! Jamie says Eli is obsessed with Ben and is torturing him all the time.

  

 
The routine is better known and I’m better acquainted with the people who make up the Mattson Farms crew. It’s a comfortable feeling…a good feeling. And once again, I have to believe God led us here for a reason. The mornings and evenings are beginning to feel like fall and I have to wonder (as I always do about this time)…where has the summer gone?

Z Crew: because it's what Harvesters do!
Another one of the many beautiful sunsets I get to witness…all because of this job we have! The hills in the distance are the Sweet Grass Hills.

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Tracy Zeorian can be reached at zcrew@allaboardharvest.com.
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on Tumblr

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.
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on Tumblr

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.
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on Tumblr

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.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on Tumblr

Mike: The final run
Mike: The final run avatar

Photo by Bill Spiegel

The 2017 wheat harvest marks Mike Barnett’s final run with the John Deere Harvester Works Customer Support Team. For this special edition of the All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ podcastMike talks with AAWH’s Sarah Moyer, explaining his perspective of custom harvesters persevering through the difficult year. He also comments on his team from this year and those from years past. Tune in to step out on the road with Mike.


Transcription:

It’s been a wonderful experience knowing these people. I’m fortunate that I got involved in this

Welcome on today’s special edition of the All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ podcast. I’m Sarah Moyer with round two from Mike Barnett. He is with the John Deere Harvester Works Customer Support Team. It was our pleasure to have him on last week, and as a recap (if you missed it) Mike has been with the John Deere Harvester Works Customer Support Team since 1991, which was the first year that they set out to the road along with the harvesters. Mike, we talked about your experience with the team. It is your final run on the harvest trail – a big year for you and your crew. When I met you at the Kickoff for All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ in Clinton, Oklahoma, it seemed like the relationship that you had with some of the harvesters there was a good one… Have you made some friendships through the years?

Absolutely.
Like I said, the first year I went out we were kind of green…
 The first year I listened a lot more than I talked, but the next year we went out and things were a little bit better. And, you know, after the second year we went out, we went back. You know, we did more improvements. But just learning, talking to the guys… I’ve known some of them for a long time now. I’ve watched their kids grow up. It’s been a wonderful experience knowing these people. I’m fortunate that I got involved in this, because somebody told me once that harvest gets in your blood. And it does. I mean, it really does. I look forward to it every year. You know, it can be long hard days and some long hard hours, but to me it’s worth it. I really enjoy working with the end user customers and John Deere dealers, you know, all the way from Texas to Canada. It’s a great experience every year. And I really enjoy it, and I’ve learned so much about their business over the years and made some great friendships.

And
it doesn’t seem
like although this is your final run, you will probably try to make it back out to some fields for fun next year during harvest.

Yeah,
that’s the plan. I hope I have the opportunity to do that. I don’t think you’d just be able to walk away from it. You know, like I said, we made a lot of great
friends, and I talk to them, you know, a lot on the phone. And a big part too is U.S. Custom Harvesters Annual Convention We’re a big part of that. So that’s a three or four day event every year that we always attend. It’s pretty good time. We do clinics and classesjust get together and talk. And it’s a good place to exchange information, and we look forward to the convention every year too.

Looking
ahead to what you’ll be doing post-harvest this year What are you most looking forward to?

Well, when we get back after this harvest is over, I’ll have a few things, you know, that I’ll need to button up work
wise. And then I have to start the whole retirement process, and I’m not even sure what that is yet. I know it’s going to be a few phone calls and some emails, and [I’ll] try to get that all organized… Come up with a final date and a final day and I guess start planning the retirement party.

Will you be inviting any harvesters out to that?

Yeah, I’ve told
 several of them that it’s coming and they’re going to be invited. They all say the
same thing: “You gotta wait ’till harvest is over.” Well, we’ll just have to see how it works out.

And let’s go ahead and take a quick break here
midway, Mike. As we do continue, I’d like to talk with you about the struggles of customer harvesters this year. It has been a challenging year, as I know they would attest, and you would attest as someone who interacts with so many custom harvesters yourself. We would like to go ahead, though, before we get to that and thank our primary sponsors for this podcast. Those being High Plains Journal and John Deere – a great partnership with both of those entities.

Mike, this year has been a tough year for custom harvesters, in particular. And with all your experience, what do you
see as the response for custom harvesters and how they’ve persevered through tough years in the past.

Well, we were talking about that the other day. This has been a tough year for them, and it seems like the resiliency of these people has always amazed me.
What they were able to accomplish during the spring, summer and fall harvests has always amazed me and it does to this dayI know some of them are facing really tough runs. I couple of them I talked to are done… for the wheat harvest. But a lot of times if the wheat harvest doesn’t go so well for themthen they have a chance, you know, to kind of catch up or make up a little bit on their fall run. In some areas of the country, there’s going to be a few of them, you know that are going to have much of a fall run either. But we’ve had some tough years before.  They always bounce back... I’ve talked to him before when they’ve had rough years. They’re not sure about this and they’re not sure about that, and then the next year you go down to Texas and there they are and they’re ready to go again. They definitely have a never say die attitude. They’ve just been a joy to work with for all these years. And I’m going to miss it when it’s done. But it’s just, just time.

What
do you think you’ll miss most?

Probably
one of the things I’m going to miss most is working with my team… There’s been a lot of guys involved in this over the years. You know, I was lucky enough to been involved since the start, so like right now we’ve got some excellent guys on our team. And their young guys that understand, and they know combines. I try to, you know, teach them the business end of it with custom cutters… and what the custom cutters expect from us and everything else. And they are all willing to, you know, leave home for two or three weeks and put in some pretty hard days. They do an excellent job, and I’m definitely going to miss that part of it. It seems like we have one or two new guys every year that we take out. And there’s no better place for them to learn… It’s a good learning experience for them. It helps him out a lot in their jobs. That’s going to be a big part of it that I miss as well.

Those were some closing thoughts from Mike Barnett of the John Deere Harvester Works Customer Support Team
This is his final run on the harvest trail as a member of that team. He’s been with it since the beginning and is proud to be a part of the community out there on the harvest trail. If you missed last week’s be sure to go online under the “Media” tab and check out our first segment with him. You’ll also find other week’s podcasts under that tab on the allaboardharvest.com website… that being the same name for our Facebook page. And if you’ve missed us on Twitter, go ahead and check out @AllAboardTour for updates on postings and podcasts. Finally, we would like to thank our partners for this podcast – those being High Plains Journal, John Deere, AgriPro, Unverferth Manufacturing Company, I.T.C. and the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children’s Ten Acre Challenge. I’m Sarah Moyer, and thank you for tuning in to this All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ podcast.
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on Tumblr

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.
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on Tumblr