All Aboard Harvest | 2017
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2017 Tag

North Central, North Dakota - We've been a little light on the news lately, but no news is sometimes just no news. The last several days have been consumed with making the big moves to North Dakota, and the crew in Montana moved just shy of the Canadian border. It takes a lot of effort to make those moves from arranging all the travel permits to the actual miles and trips it takes to get there. We are thankful to be cutting here in North Dakota as they've been very dry this season. Our farmer is currently having us cut peas. The process is similar to harvesting soybeans. We switched out concaves and are using flex draper headers. They have recently caught some much needed rain.  The guys hope to be back in the field in the next couple days. I wish I could take credit for the clever title, but it was all Ryan!  He also contributed the moose photos below. I was on the phone with him the other night when he popped over the hill and saw this moose. It was fun to witness with him, even though I wasn't in the truck too. It's not something a Kansan sees everyday!

Chester, Montana - It took us almost three full days to get to Chester, and we were driving the speed limit most of the time! I think it was the late starts (and extended visiting) that probably had a lot to do with the time frame. On Thursday, we didn't leave Jamie's house until well after noon. We had to get in a couple more baby snuggles before we headed north again. Then, we made it back to Chadron for the night. It was the craziest thing, though. As we made our way down the hill into town, it was completely dark. Apparently, the entire town of Chadron was without power due to a storm that had rolled through earlier. We set up camp in the Walmart parking lot, opened the windows of the trailer house and went to bed. It was all of like 9 p.m. 

Chester, Montana -  It was meant to be. That’s the only reason I can say all of this happened the way it did.

So often, we say the words…“keep the faith,” “God’s will,” “just let God have it,” etc. But how often do we recognize His hands at work? Pieces of the larger picture were falling into place well before we even realized what was happening.

We finished cutting in Chadron on Sunday, July 16. We spent the next couple of days cleaning equipment and parking it where it will stay until the move is made to Colorado for the millet harvest in September.

The plan was to go home from Chadron. Then, Jim said we would take the month of August and maybe do some things we can’t normally do – like go to the mountains for a few days or to Montana and see friends we haven’t seen for several years. It was difficult for me to think about being done with the wheat harvest, but it appeared there were no more acres for The Beast to consume. So, the plan Jim came up with sounded good to me.

Pierre, South Dakota – We are slowly making progress. We have been here a couple of weeks now and for the most part have spent most of our time waiting on spring wheat to ripen. We have cut a few fields (some have been hailed on), and overall the wheat is yielding around 30 bushels per acre. The protein has been 17-20 percent, which is excellent. However, the wheat is light, weighing about 55 pounds or so. The wheat is standing good, and the conditions have been fair. What we really need are some good drying days, including lots of heat and wind. That would help our wheat harvesting progress a lot.

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

Fort Benton, Montana - Last year 25 percent of our crew went to Montana.  This year 75 percent of our crew went to Montana to harvest winter wheat, spring wheat, chick peas and lentils. They have been there for about ten days and have been harvesting full blast nearly every day.

The winter wheat has been averaging over 60 bushels an acre, 62 pounds and 13-14 percent protein.  Sounds good to me!  It took the crew three days to get all of the equipment from Western Nebraska up to Montana, so I hope they have the best of luck there and continue getting in some big days of harvesting!

Hardin, Montana - Things can get pretty dry in Montana in the summer. That doesn't sound like that unusual because a lot of places get dry. However, it takes on a different meaning when you're dealing with some of the desolate areas that make up the state. There aren't always the square north/south or east/west roads every mile or so like you find in some parts of the plains. If lightning strikes, and a fire starts, it's not always very easy to fight because of the very remote, and often rough terrain. Same can be true for a fire started by harvest equipment. The fields in the part of the world can be very large, I'm talking 1000+ acres. If a fire starts and blows through a field, the consequences can be devastating and extremely difficult to fight. Crews are often driven from the field for rain, but at this stop, the crews have been asked to shut down when the fire risk seems especially high, which is completely understandable.  There are disastrous fires currently burning in the state.

Eastern Colorado - Due to a lack of urban centers, I'm guessing a lot of people would deem where we're currently cutting the middle of nowhere. It is true we are miles and miles from the nearest village or town, but despite all that, "I" would say we're in the middle of somewhere. That somewhere is beautiful. Brave little houses and farmsteads dot the landscape -- those few still willing to take on the unpredictable windswept prairie. Signs of days gone by are here too. I see the abandoned one-room school house and the occasional forgotten skeleton of a house that was once a happy home. Who were these people that once inhabited these spots, and what became of them? Song birds flutter on the breeze. The swish-swish of wheat and grass can be heard, and in the words of Louis Lamar, "The wind, always the wind." Cattle peacefully chew the grass. And the view... one can see for miles. 

It's out here that there are few distractions. One can think out here, breathe out here, and just be. Sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky that I am to see these places that most rarely, if ever do. I have to think that a lot of the world's problems could be overcome if we just took a little R&R on the prairie to clear the air in our souls and minds. 

Chadron, Nebraska - The last time we were in Chadron for the wheat harvest was 20 years ago. Our kiddos were much younger. I was pregnant with Callie, and the job I had at that time had nothing to do with spending time in the field (except to haul meals) or the combine. My job was so much different back then. I was in charge of kids, activities, food, laundry and being the "go-fer."  Little did I know that just four short years later, plans would change. Man... what I wouldn't give to be able to step back in time and relive one of those days. Those days seemed they would never end because of the needs of the kids, the husband and the hired man. When I see familiar sights in this town, I think back to those days. One of my favorite memories is attending the circus held under the big tent on the east side of town. We went with those same harvest friends (Krumbach Harvesting), whom shared their acres with us this year. They also have four children very close to the same age as our girls. I remember how excited they all were when the elephants made their grand entrance, and I'm certain there was cotton candy involved.

Pierre, South Dakota – We made the big trip from Western Nebraska up to the Pierre, South Dakota area, and there is definitely a big ole drought going on. I was told that there really hasn’t been any rain at home in Nebraska since May, and South Dakota looks to be the same way. I could see the drought results as I traveled across Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota last week. Kansas looked alright, but as soon as I was in Nebraska I could see it. And it became worse as I traveled into South Dakota.

On the way up here we ran into road construction at Mission, South Dakota. There was a sign at Valentine, Nebraska that said road construction and width restriction 31 miles ahead. We asked around in Valentine; and everyone said they had seen lots of combines going north, and we could get through there. We got up to Mission, and there it was. There they were working on the main street that we travel, and our wide loads couldn’t fit through because of the cones. I wonder how many combines have just been hauled through there anyway. A local was nice enough to stop and tell us to turn around at the school, go back a mile and then head west on the gravel. Then at the dead end, go north up to Highway 18 and we would be back on the right track again to Highway 83 north. There was no detour route sign anywhere. For goodness sakes, why not?