Sage: One tough week

Cut Bank, Mont.- When you live on a farm, the biggest thing you want to avoid is an accident.  In 21 years, I have done a great job of avoiding major accidents that cause damage to either equipment or someone else.  But it all caught up with me last week.

Early in the week I was in a combine moving from one field to another.  I’m one of the most experienced operators on the harvest this season, and the move was a little tricky.  We were moving with our headers on three miles straight down a road to the next field.  Sounds easy enough, but throw in telephone polls that are on either side that might have a gap of 45 feet between them.  With a 30 foot header, there is no problem, but with a 40 foot, like the ones we have, it could get difficult.  About half-way to the field, I met the two polls that were the skinniest to get through.  To avoid a meter of some sort on the left telephone pole, I hugged the right side of the road, only to find that the right side of the header hit that pole square and bent the frame of the header, totaling it.

I truly felt terrible, but did learn something from it.  Take the extra time to put the headers on the header trailer to avoid any issues.  No matter how mad I wanted to be, I could only be mad at myself because at the end, I was in control.

But my troubles didn’t end there.

About the time I had finally quit beating myself up for the header incident, Dad wanted me to haul it to our dealer in Montana.  It was supposed to rain, and the haul from the field to the elevator wasn’t too bad so dad could go without Sierra and I for a couple days, as one combine would be down anyway.  We took off bound for Montana pulling the header in my personal pickup.  We made fairly good time, despite not being able to go the speed limit because of the massive load we had on.  We were about 300 miles away from our destination when we were in an accident.

We were going around a sweeping left turn with an off ramp that came down and met the interstate.  I was taking the turn very wide to stay out of traffic, but in the end took it just a little too wide.  I managed to keep the pick-up on the road, but the weight and the momentum of the header pulled us down in the ditch, and caused the truck to flip one and a half times.  The truck and header trailer were totaled in the wreck, but Sierra and I walked away with out a scratch, mainly because we were both wearing our seatbelts.

It was a very scary incident that could have been much worse.  I learned that no matter how careful you think you are driving, there is always room for improvement.  The officer that came to the incident informed me that that corner had been very accident-prone.  He said that usually people don’t walk away from that corner so we are very lucky.

In the end everything is replaceable, that is why it is all insured.  It’s better not to use that insurance, but in the time of accidents it is comforting to have.  I also became aware of how many great people I have in my life.  Not only in my immediate family or in my group of friends, but the random people who genuinely care about me.  I received more phone calls and text messages to make sure my sister and I were o.k.  I am truly blessed to have a great family and amazing friends.  God truly was watching over and protecting us.

As for the crew, they are still in Dumas, Texas, and cutting a mixed bag of wheat. I say that because almost half of the crop we are cutting was devastated by hail.  The crop that wasn’t hit by hail is averaging very well for the area, 40 plus bushels to the acre on dryland and 50 plus on the irrigate portion.  But it isn’t a very big job, so they should be close to finished by the time Sierra and I get back tomorrow.

It was heartbreaking to see my truck totaled, but my sister and I are truly blessed to walk away without a scratch.

Sage Sammons can be reached at All Aboard 2010 Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.

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