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harvest Tag

Dodge City, Kansas - Would you believe I have been a part of the AAWH family for six years now, and I have never even been to the homeland of High Plains Journal? Unreal, but that is no longer the case. I drove into town on Wyatt Earp Boulevard and took a quick look around and knew right away I would get along just fine around here. I could live here. We will be harvesting here for the indecipherable future as it decided to rain on our harvest parade last night (06/21), so I'm hoping to rub elbows with some of the HPJ staff. I also plan on doing quite the exposé on the town in an upcoming post as it is a definite harvest classic. We did get into the wheat a bit, and it's beautiful -- 50-60 bushels per acre with a 58 pound test weight. There's nothing like wheat harvest in Kansas.

I wish I had an internal trip meter. I should have pushed this spring to keep track of the miles I put on myself. Scratch that -- should have started it last winter, because then it would include my international travels. The more I think about it, the further my curiosity for this goes. Just imagine 26 years of Midwestern travels via the harvest run plus all the trucker adventures, various road trips with friends and international travels. My trip meter would probably be broken by now.

Ellis and Rush County, Kansas - A few days ago I gave you an update for half the crew. Today I'll give you the other half.

This part of the crew had similar issues as the one further south. We fought several days of rain and/or humidity. The wheat never completely dried down and stayed in the 12-13 percent moisture range, so it was something to be watched the entire time they were cutting. This area had some hail and disease, and we had to abandon a couple fields because there just wasn't anything there. We saw yields anywhere from 0-55 bushels per acre.  

The elevator we hauled into was nice to work with and had great service. Let me explain. When I was out at the field, the first night they were really able to cut into the evening. I asked the question, "How late is the elevator staying open?" See, you don't harvest until the elevator closes. You take your trucks in to dump as late as they'll take you. Then you bring them back to the field and fill everything back up, so they're ready to unload first thing in the morning. And this allows you a bit more precious cutting time.

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

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

Apache, Oklahoma - Have I mentioned how much I love small town America? Because I really do. For today's small town love demonstration, I will tell you that the bank had an area setup at the elevator and was cooking burgers for all the harvest crews. As I was un-tarping, one of the ladies asked me how many were in my crew. Upon hearing my response of, "There's just 3 of us," she replied, "Okay, we will make you 10 burgers then." I mean, who I am to turn down free food?

I thought about not posting about this next incident but, it might be exactly what someone out there needs to read to feel better about their own mishap. I'm just gonna go for it. So the other day, I hauled to a new elevator. When you drive truck for a harvest crew, this can be a daily occurrence. Elevators come in all shapes and sizes as well as the scales and pits that go with them. Short, tall, skinny, fat, fast, slow - they make them all sorts of ways. Today's featured scale is skinny. When the scale workers didn't recognize my truck with my first load, they automatically came out to spot me.

Claude, Texas - We've made two test cuts within the past couple of days (6/8 and 6/9). The first result was 20 percent and the second (which was just Thursday) was 17.2 percent. It was 60 degrees this morning. Needless to say, I grabbed the sweatshirt as I headed down the steps to make our morning coffee. Great conditions for humans living in a trailer house but not good wheat cutting weather! 

Jim's been tinkering on trucks and the Yellow Beast - mostly just to stay busy (I think), but I know there were some things he put off at home hoping he'd have some time before we got started down here. After taking the first test cut, he realized he had a minor issue with the air conditioning in the combine, so it meant a trip to the New Holland Harvest Support trailer. And... a good excuse to hit the Amarillo Walmart. 

Claude, Texas - We made it!

It's always a good feeling after you've worked so hard to get to the point of driving out of the yard and pointing the trucks south. The transition of "home, home" and harvest has been solidified, and there's no going back. The feeling of arriving at your destination, however, is even better! This is especially true if you made it there with little to no issues. We had no issues. Oh...wait...I'm wrong. There was one wheel seal on the Pete that started leaking. Jim noticed it on Monday morning just as we were getting ready to leave Hays, Kansas.

Apache, Oklahoma - There's something about finishing up harvest at a stop and just as the back wheels of the combine touch the combine trailer, a light drizzle of rain starts across the area. It's almost like Mother Nature saying, "Hey, here's to a job well done." It's the perfect ending and an even more perfect sendoff, because traveling in the rain is easy on the tires. 

We have now moved to our next stop on the harvest trail -- Apache, Oklahoma. John has had a couple guys from this area work for him before, so it's nice to have some locals to help us out. For example, the first night we got to town, it was later in the day. The campground was seemingly empty and dark with no signs of phone numbers to change that status. Well, it may have appeared that way to a passerby; but when you know a local, he can phone the owner because he's obviously a friend of his. Everyone knows everyone in small towns, and it's a beautiful thing.

Manley, Nebraska - I have sort of a surreal feeling this morning. It's the last full day of being "home, home." Home, home...wondering where that phrase came from? It's something the girls started years ago. When they talked about "home," it was the trailer house. When they talked about "home, home," it was Manley. It's stuck. And what's even more interesting...I hear other harvesters refer to their homes in the same way. That's weird, but it works. Now you know.

I was laying in bed this morning trying to take in all the noise that Callie was creating. She was up early this morning getting ready to go to work - her "normal" routine. Normal is good. Even the most normal of activities should be appreciated and loved. You never know when that "normal" is going to change. And isn't life all about change? Anyways...I wanted to just lay there and soak it all in because I know once we leave, it won't be the same when we return. She'll be back to school and the house will, once again, be quiet. I've enjoyed having her home so much. So much! 

Clay County, Texas - Journeying along the harvest trail in the summer is not exactly conducive to an elaborate vegetable garden though I admit I did plant a lonely cucumber and pumpkin plant for the kids in hopes it would catch just enough rain until we make it for our home stop. My lack of garden is probably why I love a good farmer's markets on the trail. Getting produce picked at the peak of freshness and the fun of the actual market is a win-win. So when I learned of a "pick your own strawberries" event at a patch not too far down the road, I knew we had to do it to give the kids at least a partial garden experience. To put it mildly, it was a hit as you'll see from the pictures below.

Gilliland, TX - Statistically, I don't think I want to know how many hours of my life I've spent driving. If someone were to insert the total hours of my life into some magical stat machine, I would bet 75% or more of those hours have been spent behind a steering wheel of assorted vehicles, trucks and machinery. I was once told that I drive a combine so casually it's as if I'm driving a car. But, it's what I love, so I wouldn't want it any other way.

We spent all of Sunday working on equipment -- a true harvester Sunday fun-day. It wasn't on purpose though. We started off the day with good intentions; but when it smells like there's a bonfire in your cab, something is certainly wrong. We came to find we had a bearing go out on the re-thrasher that needed to be replaced. Not only that, but we also had to made a phone call to the MacDon Harvest Support guys to come and calibrate/check our header. It was the best time for it to happen if there ever was one.