22 May Megan: Catch Up Time Near Altus, Oklahoma
After a long day of traveling and cutting wheat on Thursday, May 10 we were disappointed to wake up Friday and hear the Gould area received about an inch of rain. Over the weekend a couple more rain showers came through the area. We continued to “babysit” our field and sample it periodically in hopes that it would be dry enough to start cutting again but the weather was not in our favor. The sky remained filled with gloomy clouds and the humidity in the air spiked. Due to the cool, damp weather the wheat would not dry down and the moisture remained between 19 percent and 16 percent all weekend. The lowest the moisture dropped down to was 15.7 percent on Sunday.
During these few days where we were unable to cut we kept very busy with random projects. We performed maintenance on the combines, replaced lights on the tractor and grain cart, looked at other fields in the area, and visited with many farmers. After about Day three of waiting around all of our “rain day” jobs were completed and we were anxious to get back in the field. On Sunday, we were all feeling a bit down since we had not been able to cut for the last few days and also that it was Mother’s Day. We’re used to celebrating Father’s Day on harvest, but we’re always with Dad so it’s fitting. However, neither Brandon nor I have ever spent a Mother’s Day away from Mom.
We made sure to call her and she seemed a bit blue as well. She could tell we were upset that we couldn’t get into the field due to bad weather. Mom explained how harvest is not always ideal and although everything is very early this year, she emphasized how we just have to count our blessings and be thankful there was even a crop down south to cut. She always has a way of putting things in perspective for us and always keeps the attitude about how the “sun will come out tomorrow.” And that it did.
Finally on Monday the sun came out, the warm wind began to blow, and the temperature rose into the 90’s. We all knew this meant the wheat would dry down in no time and then harvest would kick into full gear. And boy, were we right. All last week we worked long, hard days and cut out many acres in the Gould and Duke, Oklahoma area. For the most part we had a smooth week with minimal complications. James’s header had a minor breakdown but we were able to get it up and running until the parts for it can be shipped here.
Since Dad is still at home finishing planting at the farm, Brandon has played “boss” in his absence. Now, to preface this it’s important to remember that family dynamics in harvest can certainly be interesting sometimes. One moment it’s the most challenging thing and the next moment it’s the best thing in the world. The first day we were back in the field Brandon and I had a few miscommunications. After all, he is my “little” brother, being two years younger than me, and giving me orders. Needless to say I found this situation to be a bit stressful. And being a rather strong-willed woman, I began voicing my opinion and disagreeing with him on how he was running things in the field and how hard he was trying to push. Being siblings we know how to irritate each other and of course, this began quite the argument. But, being siblings, we also both knew we had to make up and clear the air. After all, we’re family and even as much as he can upset me sometimes, I will always love him – and vice versa. The next day we calmed down, talked things out and found a “happy medium” for us to agree on. Since then, Brandon has done a phenomenal job as he coordinates with the farmers, gives orders in the field, and overall makes sure everything is running smoothly. However, throughout the day he checks in multiple times with Dad, who we now refer to as “corporate” when we’re talking business. Also, the rest of the crew has stepped up their game and made sure we work together as a team on things. But who would have guessed my almost 20 year old brother and a group of young adults could keep a harvest operation running so smoothly? I suppose Dad has trained Brandon and the rest of us better than anyone would have imagined.
On this past Saturday evening, we had quite the thunderstorm brewing around the Duke, Oklahoma area. Luckily, the storm mostly blew past as we had just a few sprinkles at our field we were cutting. However, the next field we were moving to was hit full-fledged by rain. Yesterday, we were able to finish our one field, fix a leaking hydraulic hose on the tractor, and move everything to the next field. Puddles everywhere and mud in the driveway told us we’re not going to be cutting for a day or two, but at least all the equipment is at the new field. For now, it’s just playing the waiting game again!
By the last rain day, we had done every task imaginable to keep us busy and we were more than ready to get back to work. Our farmer, John, mentioned he was putting up some new gates so we jumped at the chance to help him. Who knew harvesters could fix fence and “play cowboy” as well? Left to right: Danny, Brandon, Greg, Brandon and John move a gate around the corral.
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and Syngenta. Megan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org