All Aboard Harvest | Jada: The “Big Move” to Texas
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Jada: The “Big Move” to Texas

Combine loaded and ready to go

One of our combines parked on our farm, loaded and ready to go.

Our trip from home- Bowdle, SD- to our first stop each year is approximately 1,010 miles and takes two to three days to travel. We can only travel during the day because the majority of the equipment we drive is wide loads. As a result, we always try to leave early when we move so we can travel further. Another reason for this is because it is cooler- our equipment is less likely to overheat and our tires are less likely to get damaged from the heat.


Moving is a teamwork process. Perry helps guide Henrry as he backs up.

When we are on the road, moving becomes a teamwork process. We have radios that allow us to communicate with each other about vehicles and dangers coming from each way. Each person plays an important role in this. The person in the lead is responsible for setting the pace and alerting the rest of the crew of upcoming things such as other wide loads, narrow bridges, upcoming stop signs, and anything else that drivers of the wide load equipment should be aware of. The rest of the trucks/ vehicles are responsible for maintaining enough distance between the trucks/ vehicles they are following. This allows other vehicles to pass more safely. They also warn the truck in front of them when someone is following them.  

Loaded and ready to leave home

When we are loaded, we have long wide loads which makes it hard to pass us.

I have heard that the biggest complaints of people who live in the heartland are road construction and harvesters during the summer. This makes me think of a song sung by country music singer, Craig Morgan, entitled “International Harvester”. I can’t help but laugh when I hear this song. While the song may not be completely accurate to a custom harvester’s actual move, the song portrays how moving can be just as frustrating for harvesters as it is to the people who are trying to get around us.

On the other hand, it isn’t a surprise that drivers get frustrated following us. We aren’t always driving as fast as the speed limit and since we are wide loads, we are hard to pass. I wasn’t kidding when I said you were boarding a train… when our entire operation is moving, a driver has to pass 11 long vehicles to get around us: 4 trucks pulling combines, 1 truck pulling the grain cart, 1 truck pulling the service trailer, 2 trucks pulling double grain trailers and 3 pickups pulling campers. Passing us would make any sane driver crazy!

Euan checking machinery at gas stop low res

Taking a break to check the equipment: Euan tightening a mirror on the service trailer.

For harvester, finding parking spots can be a pain but is necessary because we have to take breaks to check the equipment- tires, safety chains, load binders- and give our drivers a break. On the way down, we stopped and visited our friends at Vernie’s Trux- N- Equip in Hays, Kansas.

Fueling up

Roly filling up at a truck stop in Clinton, OK

Jada Bulgin can be reached at All Aboard 2009 Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.

  • Dan McGrew
    Posted at 08:54h, 01 June

    Just finished reading the entire postings to date.
    Texas and Okla. harvests appear near disastrous — at least they are getting their seed back and paying for harvest.
    Questions —
    What’s the total length of the Kenworth with combine and equipment trailer?
    Is that a Dodge Ram 5.5 Turbodiesel (Cummins) 2500 with quad cab?
    Do you use the Hensley Air Ride hitches for better stability from the pickups and campers? {That Hensley has kept me right side up several times and towing any trailer is much less tiring with no sway or fishtailing.]
    What communication works? Are you using a Satellite Service, such as Hughes, for telephone, internet, fax and your TVs?
    {I know — There ain’t much time for TV during the season.]
    Are many of the crews still getting hands from the ag colleges? {Okla. A&M/OSU Farmhouse Fraternity used to have about half its membership on the High Plains during harvest.]
    Why do you refer to your route as being through the MidWest?
    Midwest is Ohio to Eastern Nebraska and S.D., Eastern ND/Minn. to the Ohio or maybe into Kentucky, back to Missouri and Eastern Kansas.

    In the 50s, few women made the harvest trek. Women had kept farms and ranches alive during WWII while the men were in uniform. The "vets" came home and objected to women in the workplace, particularly on the land.
    Women lost a great deal of their newfound freedom for several decades.
    Of course, the equipment and accomodations today are beyond our imagination then. Most of us slept under the combines in our bedrolls. Few crews had decent food. Within 20 miles of town, we drove in for two meals daily.
    If you can sneak some of the answers to my questions to your columns, there are probably many readers who would appreciate these little equipment and systems items.