Megan: Roland Harvesting Stays Busy

Since my last post Roland Harvesting has been staying extremely busy. The wheat finally ripened up enough for us to continue harvesting around Plainville and the nearby town of Zurich. The grain elevator, Midland Marketing Coop, in Zurich was very helpful as they worked with us to unload the grain quickly and efficiently so that we could continue cutting.  They were also cooperative when it came to those truckloads of wheat that were a little on the wet side.

We finished up in the Plainville area Wednesday afternoon and loaded up everything in 110 degree weather. Working around all the equipment in blistering weather was certainly not enjoyable but we got ‘er done. The short journey to Hoxie, Kan., went well, especially considering the high temperatures which increase the chance of blowing tires.

That evening upon arrival to Hoxie, we unloaded and began harvesting. Many magnificent wheat fields are scattered around Hoxie. However, not everyone in the area was so lucky since many fields south of town were pummeled by hail earlier this summer. To our luck all of the fields we are harvesting avoided such devastation.  In comparison to the southern states, this area of Kansas received much more rain than most of Oklahoma and Texas. The wheat has been yielding about 60 to 70 bushels per acre, with most test weights between 60 to 64 pounds per bushel. We’ve had some very successful days of cutting and have many fields knocked out already.

Friday, the rest of our immediate family (Mom, Ashley and Kurt) traveled to Kansas to visit and help us with harvest for the weekend. To give Dad a much needed break after six stressful weeks on the road, Ashley and Kurt ran combine for much of the weekend. Although Ashley has not been on harvest full-time for four summers now, we are still always impressed by her amazing combine operating skills. She can hop into a combine for the first time all summer and her expertise is immediately evident to everyone in the field. Mom reminded us that she has already logged countless hours in the old machines, so she simply enjoyed her kids’ company this weekend. She spent many hours in the combine with Brandon and was quite impressed by what a great operator he has become.

Saturday we were working on an extremely challenging field with many terraces and gullies. Ashley and Kurt were in one combine and Brandon was in the other. I ran grain cart for the day while James and Jason trucked for us. We decided for custom harvesting parents that that had to be one of their proudest moments. To have all of your kids running the equipment, staying productive in a difficult field as fierce storm clouds gloom overhead – what more could they ask for? Of course, we wouldn’t have been able to get that many acres cut if it wasn’t for James and Jason’s help in the trucking department.

It rained Saturday night and we were not able to cut at all on Sunday since the fields were quite muddy and the grain was still too wet to harvest anyway. We went to the field to cut a sample and spent the rest of the day enjoying our family time. We bought fireworks and had our own personal show Sunday evening. I know the entire crew was extremely happy to have the rest of the family here and we certainly enjoyed their company.

On the Fourthof July we got back into the fields and had a very productive day by getting many acres of high yielding wheat cut. Although we all wished we could have spent the day out boating or fishing at the lake, we all understand that this is our job. As many individuals working in agriculture can relate, we do not work the typical time frame of 8 a.m.– 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with holidays off. Instead we work each and every day whenever possible. As custom harvesters, our main concern is to get the current farmer’s wheat harvested and put it into the bin safely and efficiently. It is days like this that remind us that farmers and harvesters are certainly the backbone of America. Last night we did luck out and on our way back to Colby we caught the tail end of their big firework show!

In the wheat
Harvesting in a high yielding wheat field outside of Hoxie, Kansas.

It is nice to actually see stubble in the fields now.

Brandon combines away in a field that yielded about 70 bushels per acre. What a wonderful feeling!

Truck sunset
Since the combines usually get the glory of the sunsets, I decided it was time to give the trucks a little bit of credit.

The Roland Family on our rain day – From left to right: Me, Ashley, Mom, Dad, and Brandon

Kurt and Ash
Kurt and Ashley pose for my photo shoot in the wheat. I think this looks like a fitting engagement picture since both of them come from an agriculture background!

Buba, James goofy
James wanted to show off how strong he was by giving Brandon a “piggy back ride.” Jason watched as he laughed at how silly they can be sometimes.

Meg and Ash
Ashley and I just so happened to be wearing New Holland colors so we had to pose with the combine. We’re pretty well camouflaged, huh?

Big crew
The entire crew minus my parents in front of one of the CR’s. From left to right: James, Kurt, Brandon and Jason, while Ashley and I sit in the tire.

Blast to the Past: Today’s Flashback is incredibly special to my family and me. With yesterday being Independence Day, I would like to have a commemoration for my Grandfathers who were both Veterans of World War II and very important members of Roland Harvesting for many years.

Robert (Bob) Roland – My Paternal Grandfather

Grandpa Roland received his draft papers during the first year he was following the wheat harvest.  He joined the Army during World War II and fought overseas for two and half years. Due to his agriculture background he was given the duty of being a jeep driver in the European Theatre. Today, he continues to be a proud Veteran.

Grandpa Bob is a unique asset for Roland Harvesting since he has always been very active in our harvest operation. For many years, Grandpa took care of all of the farming at home while Dad was on the harvest run. In addition, if our crew needed a semi, combine, or trailer brought anywhere while the harvest crew was down south Grandpa would stop what he was doing to deliver whatever they needed. Grandpa has always been available whenever the crew needs anything and he has helped with many harvest moves. Also, during home harvest he drove truck for our crew for many years. Grandpa Roland just turned 87 years old this past April. He always makes sure to check in with the crew everyday so he can be updated about our progress.

Kids and Grandpa in '97
This is the type of combine Grandpa Bob took on harvest before he was drafted. This photo is from 1997.  From left to right: Brandon, Grandpa, our cousin Andy, Ashley, Me and James. Grandpa Bob has always taken the time to teach us about old equipment and share many stories with us.

Francis Fraser – My Maternal Grandfather

Grandpa Fraser joined the Army when he was only 17 years old and my Great Grandmother had to go in and sign off for him so he could join since he was considered underage. He was a rifleman foot soldier in the Army for three long years. Being stationed in the South Pacific during World War II he was very lucky to even return home.

Years later, after my mom married my dad, Grandpa Fraser joined the Roland crew for many summers of the harvest run. He was an outstanding truck driver for about 10 years and he certainly enjoyed his job. No matter how hot it was outside, my parents recall Grandpa always walking around the combines every single time they came up to the truck to unload. There were many times that he would find a bearing going out or notice something not running correctly. My parents claim that he must have saved them hundreds of dollars by being so observant about such things. Although Grandpa Fraser past away in 2005, we still have many fond memories of him, both as a Veteran and as a truck driver.

Grandpa by trailer
2003: Grandpa Fraser helped us move to Wyoming to harvest malt barley. He stood by a combine trailer as he gazed upon the majestic mountains in the distance. Unfortunately, I was not able to find the photo of Grandpa and us grandkids sitting on the back of the pickup with his birthday cake. Grandpa’s birthday was in July and we celebrated it in the field many times.

Along with many other men and women, my grandfathers fought for their country and protected the same land that they lived off. I’m so proud that they not only risked their lives for our freedom but they also raised and harvested much of the grain that has helped to feed our country that we are all so lucky and blessed to still live in today. I’m so proud to be an American and I remain extremely thankful for my grandfathers and all the individuals like them!

Megan Roland is the newest member of All Aboard. She can be reached at All Aboard 2011 is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.

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