All Aboard Harvest | Emma: Crossin’ off Elk City and Cleanin’ Up
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Emma: Crossin’ off Elk City and Cleanin’ Up

The Misener crew has crossed Elk City, Okla., off the harvest list as of Tuesday. As I mentioned in my last post,wrapping up at home is bittersweet. This is when we leave and won’t be back until mid November or December. Many people ask how we’re able to do it and I just have to say that this lifestyle is not for everyone. It’s our way of life and what we do.

My family really has two homes. We have Elk City where we have our home base and this is where we repair and store all of the machinery when it’s not in use. Our other home is a 30 foot trailer. We live about half of the year in our trailer and it makes our family close. We have to be or it wouldn’t work like it does. I’m proud that I’m comfortable to live that close to my family because I’m fortunate to have such a great family. It doesn’t feel like it’s half a year, but I suppose some harvesters would beg to differ.

While the guys finished up the last of the wheat harvest I took Abby to the airport. I have to say I already miss her. It has been three years since I met Abby. She applied to come on harvest and since then we’ve really become inseparable. If it weren’t for harvest I wouldn’t have met her and she has helped us out a great deal. I have to thank her for taking vacation time from her full-time job to come on harvest yet again to help out. Thanks Abby!


The wheat around Elk City was what we expected. It averaged just shy of six bushels/acre, 9 percent moisture and the test weight was great considering the year – 61 pounds.

Looking out across the wheat field near Elk City, Okla. It’s pretty thin.

It’s not very tall. We have to put our heads directly on the ground or we won’t cut it off.

It depends on the field, but in the fields where the wheat is an inch or two shorter it creates problems such as not wanting to feed. The wheat likes to sit on the platform until enough is gathered to be forced in.

With all of the fires happening out west the smoke is filtering towards us. This was taken yesterday in the last field we harvested. This was around 6:45pm. The sun sets here about 9:35pm. You can tell how dark it is even though there are about two and a half hours of daylight left.

Since wrapping up Tuesday that meant Wednesday was clean up day. Most of the time we just blow off our equipment in the field when we’re done, but being so close to home means we drive them home to clean up there. We like to use a leaf blower to get all the chaff build up blown off and then use an air hose the second time around to get into all the little areas. The air hose can get in tight corners and crevices where chaff can collect. We don’t want to spread any weeds that we may have picked up across state lines.

After blowing off the machines we wash them with the power washer to get the rest of the dirt and dust off and then we move to the cabs. We take great pride in our work and take excellent care of our equipment. It is after all, our office. Dad always used to say, “I don’t want to have any trash wagons running around here.” So, it’s become a normal routine after the completion of each job, and it can be a dirty job.

Here is what Thad and Joel looked like after the first part of the cleaning job. Maybe we could get Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs to come help out on harvest.

Thad and Joel blowing off the combines. Definitely a dirty job!

After the machinery is top notch clean we will move on to our next destination. We’re lined up for Andale, Kan., next. I’m told the wheat is decent and hopefully the drought hasn’t been as bad in that area of the state. I guess we’ll know soon enough.

We’ll start hauling equipment today. We’ll take one combine, and a grain trailer. Since the move is around 300 miles we’ll only have time to make one trip up a day. We can’t travel after dark with wide loads. The second load will likely be two wide loads, another grain trailer and our campers and cargo trailer. This is when I’m glad I don’t drive the big loads because Dan and Dave will then get the third load so that our move will be complete.

We’ve decided to only take three combines north because beyond Andale. With the drought as bad as it is and now the Dakota’s dealing with flooding, the acreage we’ll be cutting is questionable. Some readers may remember the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s, but most of us have only read about it. I think history may have repeated. Due to our advanced farming practices and vegetation the drought compared to the 30s doesn’t seem so bad, but the statistics say otherwise.  We have been told that present day is even drier than that of the Dust Bowl era. It’s hard to imagine, but something to think about.

Moving day is the most stressful for us. Our vulnerability increases because of our exposure on the highways. I ask that if you see a wide load, please slow down and have patience.

(L to R) Dan, Thad, me, Abby, and Joel on Abby’s last harvesting day.

Be safe and God bless!

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

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  • Robert
    Posted at 10:05h, 09 June

    hi, Im an Englishman farming on a large scale in Romania 25000 acres, and read your blog with interest. Today’s pictures of the wheat fascinated me, as it was sadly as a result of the drought, so thin. Is it worth the farmer harvesting it when its like that? Harvest costs in Romania would be around 21.5$/acre + diesel + transport to elevator. If i have my maths correct then 6 bushels of wheat is approx 0.162 metric tonnes which even at todays prices means only approx $50/acre ex field

    • Emma Misener
      Posted at 11:15h, 10 June

      Wow! glad to have a reader from over seas! Thanks for following the blog! 😉

      Definitely some farmers are questioning whether it actually IS worth cutting. Our customers kind-of picked and choosed which field here and there to cut, meaning we didn’t harvest all the acres they had. Some wasn’t worth harvesting. The farmers figured if they could get 5bushels/acre it would be enough to cover thier costs. As I said in my post it was averaging around 7-8 bushels.
      So, in the end it was in thier best interest to harvest it.

      • Robert
        Posted at 05:07h, 11 June

        thanks for the answer and good luck with the season. Our harvest will start approx june 30th with oil seed rape ( canada calls it canola) 4000 acres followed by wheat approx mid july 7500acres then sunflower,corn and sugar beet. We have 3 s690i JD machines ( i think in the us they are 9890 ? biggest rotary machine they make) with 30′ headers. Yields are we hope 1 tonne +/acre on rape and 2 tonne/acre + of wheat. we will send you pictures

        • Emma Misener
          Posted at 09:20h, 14 June

          I also hope this harvest season for you is well! You mentioned that you harvest rape/canola. I wonder, do you harvest it straight, or do you windrow it? All of the canola we harvest is windrowed so we use our pick-up heads with belts to pick it up and into the machine. Where we harvest canola in North Dakota, we hope for 1 ton+/acre as well. I hope your wheat does as good as you’re anticipating! Thanks for your comments, I always love to hear them!

  • Marianne Bischoff-Tulleken
    Posted at 07:13h, 13 June

    Dear Emma
    I am a South African woman whose son is presently in USA working for a company similar to yours doing custom haraveting. Being a 19 year old young man and passionate about farming he is thoroughly enjoying his time in the States BUT when we chat to him, sms, skype etc he is very vague in his descriptions of things happening there. Discovering your website has been an absolute lifesaver to me as I realise that the routes you are travelling are very similar to the ones he is travelling/working and therefore the things you describe, the photos you put up on your blog, and everything you share about your team just brings be closer to my son! I cannot wait for your next blog to arrive every few days to see what is happening in your lives. Keep up the excellent work and may the harvests be successful!!! I often wonder if yu are not in the same trailer parks! Regards Marianne

    • Emma Misener
      Posted at 09:12h, 14 June

      Thank you so much for your input! It’s always nice to hear the readers stories as well, and it makes me happy to know that I can bring a smile to someones face through my posts!
      It’s interesting that your son is here in the states, and I’m sure he’s having the time of his life! Knowing the harvesters life, most likely he’s been kept really busy. Thanks to todays technology, keeping in touch is a breeze now days!
      We have had a couple of people from South Africa come work for us in the past, and we have always enjoyed their company! You all have a fantastic work ethic. I miss having them around!

      More than likely I will not meet up with him, only because of the simple fact that we don’t stay in trailer parks. Most of the places we go to harvest, the farmer lets us stay on his farm, so we miss the ‘trailer park’ life mostly.
      Thanks so much, I enjoyed hearing from you!

    • Emma Misener
      Posted at 09:24h, 14 June

      I wasn’t thinking clearly! haha! In my last reply to you, I didn’t ask your sons name or what harvesting crew he’s working for. If I knew, I could keep my eyes peeled for him!

  • Alex Oscar
    Posted at 20:25h, 21 October

    What a well executed article.

  • 趣味
    Posted at 00:33h, 22 October

    You couldn’t be more factual!!!