Megan: 2011 Home Harvest is History

On Monday we were able to reunite all three of our combines and what a glorious feeling it was! We were finishing up a job about 45 miles from home, in between the towns of Hay Springs and Rushville. Two of the combines had to be roaded to the new fields but it was well worth our time so we could power through the last of our acres we had to harvest.

Monday night we were racing against a storm and rushing to finish a field before it rained. Lighting flashed against the dark sky and thunder cracked in the distance as we pushed the combines to their limits. During the very last round the TR98 couldn’t quite keep up with the newer CRs and the feeder house broke on it. Luckily we were able to finish the field just as it began to sprinkle but we were all bummed out the 98 was broke down. Throughout all of home harvest the TR98 had been working extremely well for Mom and without the help of it we certainly would not have been able to get over all the acres we did. Our local mechanic is going to work on the TR98 and it should be ready to go soon so it can help out with corn harvest at home this fall.

For much of the time we were up in Hay Spring we were fighting breakdowns.  Dad’s combine had to be parked Sunday afternoon since it was having some major issues with the transmission. It was down for almost 48 hours and caused a lot stress for everyone. Once we found the repair bulletin issued by the company the entire problem turned out to be a bad electrical sensor in the transmission. After Dad diagnosed figured this out it was an easy fix and he had the combine up and running Tuesday morning.To our relief we wrapped up wheat harvest in the Hay Springs area Tuesday evening and began shuffling the machinery back home.

Wheat harvest in Nebraska is almost officially complete for Roland Harvesting. Overall, most of the dry land wheat in the Hemingford area ended up yielding between 30 to 50 bushels per acre, weighing around 59 to 62 pounds per bushel, and protein running right around 10 percent. In the Hay Springs area the test weights were slightly higher, most of which ranging from 61 to 63 pounds per bushel and protein averaging around 11 percent.

We have a few acres of mud holes left to go back and clean up, but aside from that all of our customer’s wheat and our own for that matter has been harvested. Next on our agenda is northern Wyoming for malt barley harvest. Although this is All Aboard Wheat Harvest my family veers a little ways from the wheat belt as we pick up some barley in Wyoming. I will keep you posted with the minor changes we experience while harvesting barley versus wheat.

Wednesday morning we loaded up one of the CR combines, with one of the grain trailers hooked up behind the combine trailer. Brandon hauled this load and James led him with the pickup and header. They made the move to Thermopolis, Wyoming to begin harvesting barley that is ready in the area. Dad and I are tying up loose ends at home and picking up the rest of the mud holes. We will load up the other CR this afternoon and will hit the road bright and early tomorrow morning to join Brandon and James in Thermopolis.

Dusty combine
One of the CRs kicks up dust and chaff in the field as it contently harvests away.

Combine far away
Harvesting some high yielding irrigated wheat. If you look closely you can see the pivot in the background.

Both combines unloading
Both of the combines unloading on the semi.

Tracks by river
This is one of the bridges we had to cross on our move to Hay Springs. You can see how the outermost tire tracks didn’t quite fit on the bridge. The dual tires on Brandon’s combine hung over the edge and the drive tires on Dad’s machine barely fit. I was too scared watching their tires that I forgot to take pictures of them going across!

Over canal
A photo from inside the tractor as the grain cart was going across the bridge. It was a pretty tight fit for me too!

Tall wheat
Look at how tall and beautiful the wheat was. I’m 5’10’’ tall and it almost came up to my waist!

Mom overlooking
Mom sits on the back of the pickup and looks over the “ocean of wheat” we are about to harvest. As custom harvesters we love cutting wheat and it is what we do for a living, but there is a whole other side to it that we often don’t realize. At the beginning of home harvest Mom mentioned to me how much she and Dad loved raising us kids at the farm because we were all blessed with the experience year after year of watching countless acres of wheat planted from tiny seeds grow into a collection of three foot tall beautiful standing wheat.

Now that all of us kids are older and go on the road with Dad, Mom has to watch the process by herself. Right before home harvest is her favorite time of summer as she enjoys looking across the rolling plains to see the gorgeous golden wheat dance and sway in the wind. There is certainly an undeniable magnificent beauty that wheat possesses as it matures. However, after the massive combines push through the field and hastily harvest the grain, nothing remains in the field but the barren brown stubble that is considered an eyesore to most. Nonetheless, with it comes the bitter sweetness of the tractor and plow a few weeks later while the fresh smell of earth is revealed as the stubble is broken up in preparation for planting next year’s crop. Season after season our family continues to do what we love. We just have to learn to stop and take the time to fully appreciate the astounding phenomenon of Mother Nature. It brings a whole new meaning to the “Circle of Life.”

Combine unloading
Dad unloads his combine into the semi. The combine operators have to get the headers fairly close to the grain trailer but the new longer augurs on the CRs have made unloading much easier than it used to be with the older TRs.

Parked trucks
The old semi awaits to be loaded as the new one sits in line behind it.

Working under combines
Unfortunately, Dad spent over a total of 24 hours under the combine trying to fix the transmission. He did not have ideal working conditions whatsoever.

Working under combine
Dad continues to work on the transmission while James hands him tools. Once we finally figured out the problem it only took about 15 minutes to fix. What a long hassle though!

Blowing off the combines again
Brandon blows off one of the combine with a massive air hose from the service truck. Due to the weight of it James helps to lug the hose around so Brandon can quickly blow off the combines. It is a very dusty and dirty job so the boys wear dust masks so they don’t inhale all the chaff that comes off the combines. Also, the air hose is extremely loud so Dad makes them wear protective earmuffs.

Blowing off the combines
We blow off the combines after every stop so they are clean and won’t contaminate our next destination. Things like weeds, jointed goatgrass, and rye can easily be transferred to other fields so we avoid infecting clean fields by blowing off the machines and headers. It is also effective for the combines so chaff and dirt doesn’t build up anywhere and cause problems.

Dad and Brandon before they hit the road
Brandon and Dad smile for a picture in front of the loaded combine that Brandon hauled yesterday.

Hemingford wheat pile
Home harvest is pretty well wrapped up. This is the massive pile of wheat that was dumped on the ground at the grain elevator in Hemingford during the last 15 days or so of harvest.

Hemingford wheat pile
This is the other half of the ground pile of wheat near the Hemingford elevator. There is almost 1 million bushels of wheat in the pile. The elevator began to unload trucks on the ground due to the combination of not having enough bin space for the grain and to alleviate the truck line at the elevator.

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

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