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Emma: On the Road Again

Willie Nelson’s tune ‘On the Road Again’  is playing for the Misener crew as we head on down the road. This song seems to be a theme song for those of us in the harvesting lifestyle.  Every two weeks we’re on the road again and moving to a new place.

After finishing in Gotebo, Okla., we headed north to our next stop, south of Elk City. Our first trip was with the five combines, and the tractor and cart pulling a header. It may sound a bit out of the ordinary, but to save fuel we just drive the combines down the road if our next harvest stop is with in 100 miles. If we didn’t do this we would have three times as many trips up and down the highway because we don’t have enough drivers to get everything moved. We use the 100 mile benchmark because any more than that and the time it takes doesn’t outweigh the fuel savings.

We finally arrived at our destination and went out for supper at our local Home Cookin’ Restaurant in Elk City. It’s delicious and let me tell you that you’ll never go hungry in that place – and the wait staff is great. Once we got good and full, we drove back to the campers and got rested up for the next days move.

Next up we will move the campers, cargo trailer and a semi with the last combine, and a semi with a grain trailer. This will complete our move to Elk City where we will hopefully get into the field right away.

Here’s a few pictures of our moving day.

Getting ready to get on the road. Everybody’s headed for their combines.

There we go, down the road to the next stop.

I was the last combine in the convoy. First was Dan in the tractor and grain cart pulling a head, then Abby, Joel, Thad, then me all driving a combine.

When we’re moving down the road we try to space ourselves out a quarter mile to a half of a mile in-between each combine. This helps us manage the traffic that will come up behind us and cars and trucks won’t have to pass us all at one time making it safer for everyone on the road. We also have to be mindful of bridges. As with any wide load, making sure we don’t meet anybody on the bridge is important. Two-way radio communication is key to our crew to report oncoming traffic and traffic that comes up on the convoy.

Moving day is probably the most stressful when we’re on harvest. The entire crew has to be completely focused and pay attention to what is around all of the time. Moving can make us more prone to accidents and we take it very seriously. Before every move we have a crew meeting to go through details and make sure everyone is on the same page. My dad used to always say ‘it’s not you that I don’t trust driving the equipment down the road, it’s the other drivers you have to look out for. Don’t trust them for anything. Be defensive and cautious.’

Yesterday’s move gave Joel a new appreciation for farm equipment on the roads. Because of their size there is very little room for mistakes. Personally, I think it should be a requirement for anyone getting a drivers license to have to ride in farm machinery going down the road – as well as a semi. They’ll have a new found appreciation and realize the dangers associated with going down the road. Maybe they would even think twice and slow down to be safe.

Maybe we’ll get lucky while we’re in Elk City and get a little rain. For the second year in a row we had no rain while we were in Gotebo. I don’t think we have ever finished around that area without at least one good rain, just another surprise this year.

I want to take a moment to give Ernie a shout out. He asked a couple of great questions that I thought I would answer here on the blog because maybe more than just Ernie are curious.  Ernie noticed that on our combines we don’t have regular 9600 tires. We run Michelin Agribib 30.5 x 32 on the the front axle, and the rear axle tires are equivalent to a 20.8 x 26. We are experimenting on my combine with Firestone 23.1 x 26 on the rear axle.

We have bin extensions that are not the typical extension either. We run something called a Hopper-Topper and increases our total capacity from 240 bushels to 300 bushels. These are nice because the weight of the extra grain is better distributed and we can fold them down when we transport.

Another follower, Tom, asked the question about hours on our machines. We run older machines (15 years old) and he wondered how we keep them running so well. We don’t have the typical amount of hours for a machine of that age. Dad was able to find machines we run at low hours. Right now the machine with the most hours runs 6500 hours. Dad swore by these machines and wouldn’t run anything else.

Thanks to everyone for following along. Be safe and God bless!

Emma can be reached at emma@allaboardharvest.com. All Aboard 2011 is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.

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