30 May Megan: Carmen, Okla.
Roland Harvesting has kept quite busy the past few days near Carmen, Okla. To both our relief and our farmers, the wheat in the area is significantly better than it was last year during the drought. Most of the wheat is yielding around 40 bushels per acre, with some fields even making 60 bushels per acre. The test weights are remaining between 60 and 62 pounds. Out in the field we continually talk about how much better things are this year and how lucky the area is to have such a great crop after last year.
Our five person crew has had no down time lately as the combines keep their nose in the wheat, the grain cart is constantly running and each truck is in the field just long enough to be quickly loaded and get back out on the road. In fact, the idea of almost having to wait on trucks is somewhat exciting due to the high yields. Unfortunately, we’ve also had many random breakdowns the past few days. From changing fuel filters to blowing out air filters to changing out hydraulic swivels we have kept the service truck on hand at all times. After 35 years of working with New Holland combines, Dad is usually the No. 1 mechanic when a machine breaks down. However, since Mom and Dad are cutting down the road in Lahoma it’s not sensible for Dad to coming running back to our field to fix every little breakdown. With that mentality in mind, the boys have done an excellent job of diagnosing and fixing all the problems we have come across so far. (Of course, a little coaching from Dad on the phone seems to help). As Brandon and James keep saying, “We might not always know the answer to the problem but we can always find a way to get the combine back up and running in the field.”
Due to these breakdowns, we’ve had a temporary switch of many duties in the field. Luckily, we are all cross trained so the transition has been fairly smooth. One day, James’s combine broke down and he ran to go get parts while Brandon worked on disassembling the break. Greg took over grain cart for me while I was placed in the combine. Now obviously, growing up in a harvest family, running combine is in my blood. However, to be honest, while growing up I logged most of my hours in the grain cart, truck and running to get parts. During home harvest and every so often on the road, I would take over and run combine but usually my siblings, Ashley and Brandon, were the full time combine operators. With this in mind, I was a bit nervous to hop in the only combine up and running in a field full of ditches and terraces. Besides that, Brandon is beyond possessive about his combine so I was a little paranoid something horrible was going to happen. Nevertheless, two nerve-racking hours later I had combined over 40 acres and nothing had broke. Harvest always has a way of putting you out of your “comfort zone,” but somehow it always works out. Needless to say I was never so happy to get back into my tractor and grain cart after that incidence.
The camper has made life interesting for us as well. The one night we came home and didn’t have electricity and the next night our air conditioner went out. We found a new electrical cord and just opened the windows so we survived just fine. These aren’t “normal” challenges we typically face at the end of the day and we quickly realized how spoiled we are staying in motels. Although, there have been some perks of the camper. Mom and I have been doing a little cooking and running it out to the field, which the boys have loved.
On Monday, we finished in Carmen and moved to the nearby town of Helena. We were excited to see the wheat is also doing phenomenal here. Unfortunately, last evening we had a strong storm hit our field and we were rained out. Today, it looks like more rainy day duties and babysitting our field until it dries out. Being on the road about three weeks now I think it’s almost time for us to start catching up on our sleep too!
James and Brandon use their mechanical skills to fix the header. Some bolts broke and torqued the entire motor bracket causing the chain to not run properly. Luckily, they were able to straighten it out by hand and get it running.
Meet Neal and Mary of Carmen, Oklahoma. When you think of southern hospitality, this cute couple is just that to a tee. Last year, Brandon celebrated his birthday (June 2nd) the first day he began cutting in Carmen; our farmers, Neil and Mary, surprised him with a birthday dinner. This year, Miss Mary surprised all of us with not one, but two amazing home cooked meals and desserts brought out to the field! We were so spoiled and so grateful for her kindness! Since we finished in Carmen before June, she said we had to celebrate Brandon’s birthday early this year and we did just that.
A quick “crew picture” (minus Mom and Dad sadly) after one of Miss Mary’s delicious meals. After being declined nap time by Boss Brandon we all reluctantly headed back to our cabs with nice fully bellies. Left to right: Greg, Brandon, me, James, Danny.
All Aboard Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and Syngenta. Megan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.