All Aboard Harvest | agriculture
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agriculture Tag

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?

Bayard, Nebraska - Well, courtesy of AAWH, Anderson Harvesting will be heading back south a bit to Pine Bluffs, Wyoming to continue the wheat run. Farmer Lance awaits us our arrival and Farmer Don can sit back and relax, knowing his wheat is safe and sound in the bins of the elevator. He averaged about 35 bushels per acre with test weights between 62-65 pounds. Our next fields are right in the corner of Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. I've always wanted to be in three places at once, and I just might get my shot.

A fun fact -- Farmer Don's son brought his family out to spend some time in the field and experience harvest. The following day, his wife and kids went off to a family reunion and he stayed. Little did I know, it was his birthday! This became known to me after the fact. And I didn't even get to wish him a "happy birthday," but all he wanted to do was spend his birthday in a wheat field. That's music to a harvester's ears.

Western Nebraska – This year I was in Kansas longer than expected due to the evening rain showers. We couldn’t ever work really late like we needed to and put in our time because we’d get shut down by the rain most evenings. The weather really messed with us. 

Thankfully, my brother Jared and Uncle Lonny were able to harvest most all of our wheat jobs in Western Nebraska before we got there. We did still get to stop there and cut for a few days, which was great. Disappointingly, the wheat I cut didn’t yield well due to mosaic disease. The wheat looked decent from the road, but the mosaic disease really got to it this year. However, Western Nebraska has some of the most beautiful sunsets with such beautiful colors. I didn’t get to cut there long enough this year to enjoy them. 

Morgan County, Colorado - Ryan left several days ahead of us to get started in Colorado. I had several more days of paperwork and preparation before we left home again, so I was relieved to finally have it all done and hit the road late Friday morning. As soon as I hit top speed, we experienced what I would call a "major" vibration. I exited on the next road. Nothing was visually off, so I circled around and tried again... same thing. The kids thought is was hilarious and great fun. They were laughing and making the "aaaahhhhh-ahhhh-ahhhhhh" noise along with all the vibrating. I could feel my frustration rising. All the while, I said prayers of thankfulness that this happened only a couple miles from home. A few back and forth calls with Ryan, a few calls to local mechanics to see who could get me in last minute, a couple shakes at Wendy's to pass time with the kids, several laps around Wal-Mart and visits to the pet department to watch the fish, two plus hours later we were ready to roll again. Thankfully it seems that something had just gotten out of balance, and it was nothing more serious!

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

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

Bridgeport, Nebraska - Just as I was letting off the clutch at a stoplight in town, a motorcycle revved the ever living out of his motor and sped by me. I about had a heart attack -- hearing noises like that, all I could think was that I blew something somewhere on my truck. I mean, I am hauling 64 pound wheat, so anything is possible.

It is pretty rare to have two stops on the harvest run that are a mere 27.5 miles away from each other. Obvious reasons being that they are both likely ready at the same time; and as we all know, the wheat waits for nobody. But, contrary to the norm, we moved from Gurley to Bridgeport without missing a beat. Farmer Don has some pretty spectacular wheat with test weights anywhere from 62-65 pounds, 35-40 bushel, and protein peaked at 13 for content, but is consistently between 8-10. Harvest days are coming and going and definitely running together these past 10 days or so. This time of year just works that way. It's harvest autopilot, if you will. You just do because you know you need to do, and that's all there is to it.

Sheridan County, Kansas - It has been humid lately. And by humid, I mean western Kansas humid, not eastern Kansas humid. The day I was there it was downright sweltering with temperatures in the high 90s and almost no wind. Yes, it's not common out here to have little to no wind.

Out in that heat is where I met Stoney, a semi-retired farmer, whom wanted to come check out the "big harvest." It has been something on his to-do list for some time, and he drove 8 hours from the east to come watch. That is REAL desire to come watch harvest on a hot July day! Of course they have harvest east of us; but the fields are often smaller, and there isn't as much wheat in his area. The scale out west is just different. Here, the field sizes are often so much bigger, and they can hold a larger number of machines, larger headers, etc. It is a little humbling to think that someone would want to visit "US." In my mind, we just do what we do, but I guess it is no different than me going to see other sectors of agriculture, like the strawberry patch earlier in the season.  I think we as farmers and ranchers, of whatever type, typically have a great respect for the profession and enjoy seeing and learning what goes on in other areas different than out our own backdoor.

Tribune/Sharon Springs, Kansas - We just finished our job here in the Greeley and Wallace County area. To give you some perspective, last year we started around July 5, and this year we ended the entire job on the 5th. It's interesting how seasons can vary so much from year to year.

This was part of the area affected by the late season blizzard I mentioned in an earlier blog post. Most of the wheat was laid flat beneath the snow. And who would have thought, after all it's been through this year, it would survive and be a respectable crop.

Test weights here were in the high 50s. Irrigated acres ranged widely between 50-80+ bushels per acre. I guessed the reduction in yield was due to freeze damage but was told they suspected it was 10 consecutive days of heat at the end that effected the yield.  The irrigated results were a bit of a disappointment and just another example of a farm that tried to do everything right and was dinged by natural forces out of their control.  Dryland (non irrigated) acres were in the 50 bushel per acre range. In some places, it was as good or better than the irrigated, which is unusual.

Gurley, Nebraska - Harvest is all about the people. It's about the people you harvest for, the people who provide you with your fuel, the bar/grill in the small town that cooks you supper every night, and the people on the other harvest crews that you get to mingle with at the end of the night. The people are what make the harvest what is it... addictive and unforgettable.

Here in Gurley, the harvest spirit is tangible. The campground is loaded with harvest crew trailers, combine trailers, service trucks and semis. The best part is that we all know each other, so we are just one, big harvest family. Being a harvester is a very misunderstood profession. People just can't understand why we would want to load up our super expensive equipment on trailers, pack up a camper and haul it all across the country to cut wheat only to load it all back up in a week to do it again in a different town. It sounds crazy, and we all know it does.

Tribune/Sharon Springs, Kansas - On July 3, Mother Nature put on quite the show for us. We had just moved to our last field of the job. It looked like we may get some rain, but we didn't know if it would be a slight delay or shut us down completely. The crew gave it their best shot and stayed in the field until the rain drove them out. In the end the storm won. We ended up having to wait the majority of the next day for the moisture in the grain to drop to be able to cut.

For those of you who haven't witnessed a prairie storm or who just like weather, these photos are for you! They show the progression of how things went down. It was truly an amazing sight to watch it all unfold.  

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1024"]High Plains Harvesting (Photo Credit: Laura) The rain was still off in the distance and didn't look to be a very deep line. (Photo Credit: Laura Haffner)[/caption]