Megan: Roland Harvesting Splits Up

As you know, Roland Harvesting has had an unusual harvest run this summer and our abnormal routine isn’t stopping anytime soon. We have had to separate our crew several times in order to make it to all of our jobs and to keep all of our farmers happy. Well, surprise, surprise Roland Harvesting is split up, yet again! Last week Mom and Dad made the trip from home to northern Wyoming and are currently harvesting malt barley in the area. Many of the fields ripened in odd patterns, which is now making the harvesting process problematic. Although the actual grain is ready, some of the straw in the barley is still green and very tough, which makes it slow going. Most of the yields have been ranging from 80 to 140 bushels per area, which is on the upper end of average for malt barley.

Meanwhile, Brandon, James, Jose and the truckers have been near Dickinson, North Dakota for the last ten days, harvesting both winter and spring wheat. As I mentioned in my previous post, we’ve never worked in North Dakota before so it’s certainly been a new experience for us. We have been working outrageously long hours but luckily the fields are good-sized and right by each other, meaning we don’t have to spend our time moving and taking off headers every couple of hours. This saves a ton of time and makes our lives so much easier. Winter wheat in the area has been of excellent quality and is yielding around 60 to 80 bushels per acre.  In contrast, spring wheat has not been doing as well, making between 25 to 45 bushels per acre with good protein ranges. Unfortunately, the test weights have been a little lower than expected but they seem to reflect the large amount of rust that has settled into many of the fields. Due to the rust in these fields the combine windows get absolutely filthy with a nasty black film clinging all over the combines. Brandon and James have to stop at least once an hour to wipe off the windows so they can see through the dark dust cloud that engulfs the machines.

In addition, we’re living life back in the camper due to the very limited, expensive lodging in the air area caused by the recent oil boom. It feels like we are separated from the rest of the world and have not been in the loop with much of any current news. Aside from AM/FM radio in our cabs, we have not had internet access or watched any TV for almost ten days. Since we don’t stay in the camper very often it is lacking in the entertainment factor and simply has the necessity of beds to sleep in, a refrigerator for food, and that’s about it. We’ve honestly been in our own little world lately but we’ve definitely been keeping plenty busy in it!  We’re only a few hundred acres away from being done in North Dakota and to follow our normal routine what happens? It rains, of course. We’ve been sitting in rain the last two days but it’s given us a little time to catch up on sleep, laundry, and equipment maintenance. Hopefully we will finish up this weekend and can meet up with Mom and Dad in northern Wyoming in a couple of days.

Even though our crew is working in two different states right now it still feels like Roland Harvesting is operating as a whole. Since we have been split up so much this summer we are starting to get the hang of things. Brandon and Dad may exchange many phone calls throughout the day but we are certainly learning to function efficiently during these separations.

All photos are from North Dakota. Hopefully we will get some of the Wyoming harvest when we meet back up with Mom and Dad.

ND wheat
North Dakota wheat fields: A special first for Roland Harvesting!

Brandon gives truckers directions
Brandon gives the truckers, Danny and Greg, directions about where to pull the trucks into the field.

Insight to Brandon's cab
Pictured about is what Brandon considers his “survival harvest gear.”

Have you ever wondered how combine operators survive 14+ hour work days in their cabs? Well, ponder no more as I share their insight with you. Please reference the above photo. First and foremost is the handy-dandy tool bag filled with all the essentials along with a mini shovel and a crowbar for those days your header gets a little too friendly with the ground. Then you have the necessities including duct tape, hand wipes, paper towels, a microfiber window wiper, blue tooth, sunglasses, and a camera. You can’t forget the coffee, water, beef jerky, notepad, and of course, the New Holland Harvest Support information pamphlet. And there you have it: the key supplies that contribute to a combine operator’s workday.

Jose washing windows
Jose washes the windows in the tractor. I have been passing on all of my window washing secrets to him. And of course he has to demonstrate them, right?

James ready to go
James fires up his combine and checks his run screens on the monitor before he starts the field.

Brandon back in the field
Brandon thinks it’s pretty neat to be working here. North Dakota is one state that Dad has never harvested wheat in but Brandon and James have. It’s not very often that you can “one-up” Dad in the world of harvest.

James checks out wind rows
Like many other places in the country, North Dakota has had a dry summer. Because of this the farmer is having us windrow most of his straw so he can feed it to his cattle this winter.

Jose in tall wheat
Jose shows us that we’re harvesting some waist tall wheat! That means we have plenty of straw to make nice windrows.

Header in action
“Keep your header in the wheat!”  That’s what Dad always says.

Ready to get into the field
James pulls into a field to start cutting some winter wheat.

Unloading in the bin
We unloaded some of our trucks into our farmer’s grain bins nearby our fields. This made the trucking and hauling very short and sweet. This worked out well since many fields were yielding very high and we could get trucks back into the field pretty dang quick.

Combine and grain cart silhouette
These are always the hardest photos to capture. Regardless, I just love the silhouette of the combine unloading on the grain cart as the wheat dust hangs in the air and the sun prepares to dip below the horizon. Ah, life is good.

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


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.