All Aboard Harvest | Texas
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Texas Tag

Claude, Texas - Thoughts of how I was going to write this blog post have been swirling in my head for several days.

Harvest 2017 is still very young. Most of the custom harvesters were on the road and in the fields by the end of May – just barely a month ago. However, before we even left home, we began to see a glimpse of what we might be up against. The three major variables that I am thinking about are low wheat acres (smallest on record since 1919), low commodity prices and the weather.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do! To me, there's nothing prettier than a cut wheat field.[/caption]

Claude, Texas - After all the pre-harvest preparations, details taken care of and tears shed, we can finally say we joined the #harvest17 party today (6/10). 

We woke up to a heavy fog again this morning and very cool temps. But, the weatherman had been warning us of the impending heat and wind. It had been decided the night before we would get up early and move our equipment to a 400-acre field west of our current headquarters. By the time we made the move and had everything situated, we hoped the field would be ready to sample. 

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.

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.

North Texas - The kids were both asleep by a tick after eight this evening. Those reading who know them well, understand that this is nothing short of a miracle. I had the camper tidied by nine, which is another miracle as it's usually well after ten or eleven before I finish that. I don't know how its possible with only four people, and so few belongings, but it often looks like squirrel family took up residence by the end of the day.  It seems two of the four, actually maybe one, not naming names, is the prime suspect. Now, I'm going to utilize these rare quiet moments and get caught up on the blog!

We are nearing the end of our time in Texas. In fact, Mark and some of the crew moved to Custer County, Oklahoma, and were able to start there Wednesday, May 31. The rest of us remain in north Texas but will join them in a few short days.

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.

North Texas - To all of you wishing you were out cutting in a field or those who just need something to get you through until harvest reaches your area, I made you a little something.  Enjoy! [embed]https://youtu.be/P7zQ6Smn_cc[/embed]All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John...