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wheat Tag

Dodge City, Kansas - There are two cup holders in the combine. I jumped in for a few rounds and put my lemonade-flavored Monster Rehab next to John's filled-to-the-brim Yeti coffee cup. Combining along, I hit a plethora of bumpy spots in the field, a typical occupational hazard. I go to take a sip of my drink and got a sip of half coffee/half lemonade Monster. I don't recommend the combination. Here's to you, bumpy Kansas wheat fields.

DISCLAIMER: It will never be just "a few rounds." That's the trick phrase a harvester will use to get you to switch places for whatever reason.

Before that story was given the opportunity to occur, we did incur some rainy days that were filled with wrenches and combine rehab. That's the thing about harvest -- time is of the essence.

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]

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 - 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. 

Apache, Oklahoma - One of my (many) favorite aspects of this blog is the ability to promote the agriculture industry that has made me who I am today. I'm definitely that person who will hear a nearby conversation going on about GMOs or hormones in beef and interrupt with an, "Excuse me but, did you know..." Those of us who love this industry will agree that it is our duty to spread the word and spread knowledge for everyone to hear. That's the thing about a passion; it doesn't feel like work.

The Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children brought three young men out to our field the other day to get a first-hand harvest experience. They loved it! These boys all came from different backgrounds but all found something they enjoyed about the harvester's life. They were telling me how cool they thought my job was, how cool my LIFE was, and one even admitted he now wanted to be a harvester when he grew up. That right there deserves a moment of silence, because instilling that feeling in any youth is something to commemorate.

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.