All Aboard Harvest | Megan: Chadron, Neb – Part II
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Megan: Chadron, Neb – Part II

Dad helped Brandon, James, and I get started in Chadron and then he went back home to begin cutting our own wheat with our old TR98 combine. Along with the help of my uncle and aunt, my dad and mom having been whittling away on our family’s wheat near Hemingford for the past few days.  Brandon, James and I have remained very busy in the Chadron area and hope to finish up here today or tomorrow so we can get moved back home.

Between our own wheat and our customers in Chadron and Hemingford, we have many acres of ripe wheat that need to be harvested. Now that we are near home again we have many other family members who are more than willing to help out. With so much work ahead, we are very grateful that the rest of our family can take the time to help catch us up when we really need it.

More terraces
Many of the fields we are cutting near Chadron have steep terraces.

Cutting terraces
Another view of the terraces. They keep the combine operators busy since they have to cut out the terraces first then go back and pick up the strips of wheat in between them.

Tall wheat
I cannot believe how tall some of the wheat is around Chadron. The wheat in this picture came up to my waist and I have very long legs!

Dark dust
Notice the unusually dark dusk coming from the combine. This is due to a large amount of moisture many of the field received this year and from rust settling in the wheat.

Dropping to windrows
Dad shows James how to adjust the combine so it can windrow the straw.

Cutting windrws
Our combines are capable of producing straw windrows so that they can then be bailed. Due to the drought in southern states and the flooding in the Dakotas and eastern Nebraska, there has been a high demand for straw bales. Much of western Nebraska has been contacted to bale their wheat straw so it can be shipped out to areas in need of it.

Yesterday we cut a field literately at the Chadron Municipal Airport. It’s not very often that you see a combine and plane parked this close to one another.

Taxi-ing on airport
The combines taxi down the runway. They couldn’t quite get up to speed to take off so we settled for cutting the wheat field at the end of the runway!

Airport 2
We harvested the wheat field right next to the runway. It was pretty neat watching the little “puddle jumper” planes take off and land all afternoon.

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

  • jeff kelley
    Posted at 17:20h, 23 July

    What do you mean cut out the terraces ? You guys are doing a good job. thanks

  • Karen
    Posted at 08:12h, 24 July

    Nice reporting today Megan, thanks for the laugh and the pics of cutting near the airport. I don’t think I have ever seen a combine running down a runway! Wishing all a great harvest up that way!

  • Dan McGrew
    Posted at 11:53h, 24 July

    You can’t imagine how many idle, bored “urban chics” could never understand the glory of your harversters’ life.
    I first followed the old Gleaners up from Lubbock, through Cheyenne Wells, Colby, Holyoke, Imperial, Sidney, Ogallala and into Chadron back in the late 40s early and mid 50-s.
    By ’57 was Farm and Area Editor for 17 counties in S.W. Nebraska, N.W. Kansas and N.E. Colorado for the McCook Daily Gazette.
    End of May, to June 2nd, 1958 I took a five day swing as far east as Salida, Witchita, Enid, Okla. City, back across to Amarillo, then sigzagging north through Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas and back down via eastern Lusk, Chadron, Ogallala and Imperial.
    Produced a report predicting the biggest bumper crop of wheat of all.
    Got repeated calls from USDA officials telling me I was craz, demanding I print an immediate retraction. Can’t repeat my answer for a lady, even a combine and grain cart operator.
    The Nebraska Wheat Growers hurried a big European millers purchase with their new Brussels sales office to get top dollar for that western nebraska milling wheat.
    Simple reality, many of the USDA officials were in the pocket of the big U.S. grain brokers. In late ’57, out of curiousity I followed a Texas semi grain hauler out to the hangars at the old McCook Air Base to discover them dumping the cheap soft South Texas feed wheat and replacing it bushel for bushel with Nebraska milling wheat.
    I went straght to Wayne Allen at McCook, who was on the NWG board and reported what was going on.
    Within two days, they had that nonsense stopped. All the major names were pulling this– Hauling in the cheapest wheat of all and swapping even=-steven for Nebraska’s prime grain.
    That lead immediately to NWG setting up a new European sales office in Brussels. The final meeting for that was Ogallala.
    Loved the Chadron Airport coverage.
    Ask the parents, aunts, uncles, and their elders if they remember back in the late 80’s when Chadron airport was the scene of a major drug bust, with a light plane flying the stuff in from south of the border, with couriers waiting from most of the major cities.
    I had been traveling the 27 western states with my Rural West Manufacturers’ Sales and Service Representative firm, logging about 200,000 highway miles annually for a dozen years, starting in ’79.
    Discovering one of my favorite towns of all time was being used as a drug delivery point was a real bummer.
    I took a break about ’52 when the harvest was in South Dakota on July 4, to compete in the Valentine Rodeo. Still have found memories of the big open-air dance pavilion in Valentine’s park down by the river. That was when us foolish young folks could dance polkas, schottiches, Put Your Little Foot, the Rye Waltz, Two Step, Fox Trot and jitterbug from 7 p.m. until Cowboy Church at sunup. Of course, there was one 85-year-old boss who worked three of us (17-31) in relays all day Saturday, then we bathed in a stock tank and headed for the dance in town.
    That poor decrepit old timer danced every set until midnight, when he got on the stage and fiddled until dawn.
    Too bad folks worked so hard they never had time for fun.
    From some of you correspondents’ descriptions, it is more than obvious a custom harvesting operation can easily have and equipment investment of $2-Million to $4-Million.
    I was twelve when I got my first job as a nomad. Dropped off at a field and walked out through about fifty yards of fresh stubble, checking for grain on the ground.
    Found the owner and offered to adjust those combines to reduce his losses by at least three-fourths and keep them adjusted to do that well or better for $35 daily. He upped the ante, $50 and expenses to cut losses down by 75%, $100 to cut losses 85% or better.
    I road the summer with him. Only catch, he signed me out to adjust other people’s combines and he kept that money. There were days I crawled inside as many as thirty different rigs. That was barely $3.00 per.
    I learned with my father’s old 28-Inch McCormick threshing machine, starting to climb inside and do the repairs when I was six years old.
    Just crank t he shakers down flat, slide sheets of cardboard to lay on, replace those old rock maple bushings, and and the hangars, straighten out bent metal, etc. Even use heavy crowbars to straighten cylinder teeth from inside — which was not very intelligent.
    Compared with that threshing machine, the Gleaners and what few other combines were out there.
    Crawled around one entire Sunday afternoon inside J.D’s,,IH , Masseys and one or two minor brands in a big parking lot outside Colby to figure out how those different brands differed and how to adjust them.
    Some of those machines had seriously dumb systems for adjusting the air blowers.
    This modern equipment must be an absolute joy to operate, GPS, field moisture meters, grain carts, semi haulers in the field, even the semi housing conversions.
    We considered it luxury to be able to sleep under the stars and not have to spread our blankets under trucks and combines when it rained. Upscale crews had 12-foot camper trailers for kitchens, folding tables and stools outside for a dining room. –Rain, eat in the t rucks.
    Cabs on trucks and combines!!!– What kind of pantywaists did people think we were?
    Breathtakingly beautiful young women on the crew running all equipment, and breaking hearts.
    Lordy, lordy, lordy.
    And I refused to let my sons follow the harvest.

  • Charles M. Gore
    Posted at 12:59h, 24 July

    This was a good post. Do you know if the baled straw went to a feed mill or is going to peoples ranches? Feeding Wheat straw is tricky and requires a good set mixing equipment. Most of the straw baled in Southern Illinois is used for bedding of cows or by landscapers to hold the ground when planting new grass. The airport shots where also neat.