Megan: Fourth of July Recap

Hemingford, Neb. – In 34 years of harvest Dad has only ever been home for the Fourth of July twice before this year. In 1994, Dad and the crew finished in Imperial, Nebraska and pulled home on the third. They tried to sample on the Fourth but the wheat around Hemingford was not ready yet so they enjoyed the day off. In 1999, it poured rain in Imperial so Dad snuck away and surprised us for the Fourth.

This year, on the Fourth of July, we were right in the heat of home harvest. Our visitors, Kellyn and Kylie, left the day before but Lara and Darci were still around to enjoy the day. My sister and brother-in-law, Ashley and Kurt, also ventured up from North Platte, Nebraska to join us for their day off of work. We woke up early on the Fourth and moved from our farm about five miles down the road to my grandparents’ farm. Since it was a short move we left our headers on and had pickups with flashers lead and follow the convoy of equipment. Along the way we encountered a pretty scary scenario as James’s CR died in the middle of the road. Luckily, Dad was able to jump start the combine to get it moved off the highway. Upon looking it over, Dad and James discovered the alternator had shorted out. Harvest Support met them part way up the road to get a new one. Once it was installed James’s CR ran like a million bucks again.

Finally we all made it to my grandparents’ wheat field. It was started by the “veterans” (being Ashley, Brandon, and James) running combines with me in the grain cart keeping everyone empty. After they opened up the field and had it whittled down pretty well they finally decided to substitute in the “rookies,” including Kurt, Lara, Darci. The radio chatter following this switch was hilarious. But, to be quite honest, I was very impressed with how the rookies performed in the combines. I think their coaches were a big part their success! Kurt and Lara were even brave enough to try unloading on the go with the grain cart. It was a little slower than usual but I was pretty amazed with their skills. The best part was looking up in the combine cab to see their teachers, Ashley and Brandon, barking orders and frantically giving directions. At least the “newbies” were good humored about it!

Now, when we were younger and before we started going on the road with Dad for harvest, Mom always threw the biggest and best Fourth of  July parties at our farm. We had tons of family who joined our celebration as we would grill out, play games all day, and enjoy the best fireworks show once the sun went down. It has been a lot of years since we have had one of these get-togethers because all of us kids started joining Dad on harvest in the summers. This year, Brandon convinced Mom last-minute to have a little Fourth of July celebration, since we were actually home.

We finally finished the field about two in the afternoon and headed home to enjoy the rest of our day off. Our afternoon was filled with family bonding, wonderful conversation, exceptional food, a few games of Ladder Ball, and some much-needed relaxing time. We had some green corn on one side of the house and had already harvested all of the wheat around the farm so we lit off a few harmless fireworks, like fountains, out in the summer fallow. Jose was on duty with the fire extinguisher although we luckily didn’t have to use it. All in all it was a very memorable day for Roland Harvesting. Nothing like sporting America by working out in the fields and enjoying a little family celebration to finish off the day!

Lara, Brandon, James, and Darci
Lara, Brandon, James, and Darci before they get ready to move the combines to Grandma and Grandpa’s farm.

'98 combining away
I kept trying to snap pictures of the combines but everyone was in such a good mood and continued to tease me all morning. When Ashley, Brandon, and James would see me out in the field with my camera they would try to be very sneaky and cut over this hill so I couldn’t catch them. Very funny, guys!

Kurt and Ashley
Kurt and Ashley in the ’98 after the “combine lessons.” Notice that Kurt is in the driver seat and Ashley looks surprisingly calm. What a happy couple!

Rookies win! Lara, Darci and Kurt pose
The rookies successfully finished cutting the field and we were all so proud of them. Lara, Darci, and Kurt showed no fear to the combines as they conquered the field!

Ashley, Mom and I
Ashley, Mom and I enjoying the afternoon. Yes, Ashley and I are wearing matching shirts, just like we used to do when we were younger. I think it’s a little cuter on 5 year olds but we still got some giggles out of it.

As the afternoon went on we started reminiscing of previous years’ celebrations, which brought up many laughs. We especially got a kick out of this one. In the summer of 2007 we were cutting in Imperial and the elevator closed early due to the holiday. When we finished filling up all the trucks we made it to town just as the fireworks were starting. On the horizon you could see a terrible storm headed our way. Suddenly the wind kicked up, lightning filled the sky, thunder shook the world and drops of rain were beginning to splatter on the ground. Next thing we knew there was a mass explosion of fireworks in the sky. It turns out that the director of the show decided to shoot off all of the fireworks at once since the storm was coming in full-fledged.

Meanwhile, Mom was on her way from home to join us in Imperial. Her phone had died and based on when she had left, that placed right in the heart of the storm. Turning on the local radio stations we learned of flash flood warnings and tornado watches in the area. To our relief, about twenty minutes later, Mom rolled into town safe and sound. She told us the storm was so bad and that it was raining so hard that she literately saw frogs floating across the road. It certainly was a story for the books!

James is one "cool cat"
James is one “cool cat!”

Jose and his mom
The newest member of our crew, Jose, and his mom, Ronda, joined our celebration.

Dad and Carl grilling
Dad and Uncle Carl begin the grilling process. “Double trouble” is always associated with these brothers!

Yummy food
And the yummy food is finally ready…let the grazing begin.

UW alumni and current students
A group shot of all University of Wyoming kids: (left to right) Jose, James, Darci, Brandon, Lara, me, Ashley, and Kurt. All of us are still attending college there besides Ashley and Kurt who are now alumni. I teased them until I realized I would join their club next year. And, to be honest, I just really wanted to show the boys wearing shorts and sporting their super white legs!

Grandkids with Grandpa and Grandma Roland
Spreading some love to our grandparents. Left to right: Ashley, me, Grandpa Bob, Brandon, Grandma Jo, and James. Grandpa Bob is a veteran of World War II so it’s always special to share the Fourth of July with him.

All Aboard Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and Syngenta. Megan can be reached at


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