Megan: Reinforcements To The Rescue

Growing up in a harvesting family gives you quite a unique perspective on life. Making a 9 hour drive is viewed as “nothing” and traveling 700 miles in a weekend isn’t given a second thought. Devouring a burrito one-handed while driving a combine is no big deal and eating your Sonic burger dinner at midnight isn’t uncommon. Working an 18 hour day is the “normal” and getting 6 hours of rest is a considered a good night’s sleep. These mentalities shed light on the typical attitude of Roland Harvesting. But the truth of the matter is that this frame of mind is often carried on to our lives in the off season and even after life on the road. So, it’s no surprise that when Dad called up my sister and brother-in-law (Ashley and Kurt) late on Thursday night to ask for their assistance over the weekend, their response, without a second thought, was, “Sure, what can we do to help?!”

As you might recall Brandon and the crew headed south by themselves at the beginning of June, leaving Mom and Dad at home to finish planting spring crops on the farm. After fighting an uphill battle the last couple of weeks my parents could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Translation: It’s officially time for them to meet up with the rest of the crew and finish bringing down the last of the harvest equipment! However, moving two semis, two pickups, a combine, header, grain trailer, camper, tractor and grain cart is an awful heavy load for just the two of them to move. So naturally, they called in reinforcements: Ashley, Kurt, and me.

The three of us, calling ourselves the back-up crew, were up long before the sun on Friday and made the 200 mile journey home to the farm.  We worked our little tails off alongside Mom and Dad as we shuffled vehicles around, loaded up the combine and tractor, hooked up the other trailers, stocked the camper, and finished other “last minute” tasks around the farm. Unfortunately, even with all of our hard work and determination, we were unable to make our departure on Friday as planned. You see, there is this phenomenon in the harvesting world. It’s called: “anticipated leave date,” with anticipated being the keyword. This date is often pushed back… Okay, let’s be honest, it is almost always pushed back by at least a day. We never plan it that way and we always do our darndest to get gone but due to this phenomenon, linking back to one reason or another, it rarely happens the way we plan.

Kurt, Carl, and Dad fix a wheel on the planter
Kurt, Uncle Carl, and Dad finish fixing a tire for the planter. We are blessed with an amazingly helpful extended family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are always on stand-by and are more than willing to help us out anyway possible. From running meals, to taking care of farm duties during our time away, to assisting in moves, the rest of our family is certainly a cornerstone for Roland Harvesting.

Megan driving the semi
It feels good to be back behind the wheel of a semi!

Augie dog is our new trucker buddy
My trusty truckin’ buddy, Augie Dog.

Chaining down the tractor
It takes a group effort of Dad, Kurt and me to chain down the tractor.  On Saturday, we realized the three-point on the tractor needed some last minute welding done on it so we loaded it up and dropped it off in town.

A crucial aspect of running a small town business is catering to your customers. We would like to give a shout out to Mike Honstein of Hemingford for always doing this! He is our #1 go-to welder in the area and he always helps us out when we’re in a bind.  Mike actually worked for Roland Harvesting about 15 years ago and joined us for a summer on the road. Mike is well aware of how critical time is on harvest so he always does whatever he can to get us back up and running. This even means working on the weekends and after-hours. Thanks, Mike!

View from inside the combine before loading
A view from inside the combine as the loading process begins. It is important to have spotters on the ground to watch the tires and overall placement of the combine on the trailer. Dad gives directions while Kurt watches the other side of the trailer.

Loading up the combine
Dad motions for Ashley to continue to move the combine forward. Loading up can sometimes be a stressful process so patience is certainly a virtue at this time.

Ashley putting on the windshield cover
Ashley bungees down the windshield cover on the loaded combine. As kids, this was one of the first tasks we were given on harvest. It seems like it used to be a lot easier to climb around the combine as limber little kids. Apparently we’ve lost our monkey skills with age.

Mom finishing paperwork
Mom finishes up some paperwork at her desk and sadly, the pile never seems to get any smaller. Managing the books is an essential part of the harvesting business and is often very time consuming.

Cutting a support block
Chainsaws and harvest?! Yup – this is what we call farmer ingenuity. After loading the tractor and grain cart we realized that we needed a support block under the tongue of the grain cart. Above: Dad uses a chainsaw to cut the board to size.

On Saturday we were finally able to hit the road with the last of our equipment. I fell into the lead with the pickup and header, followed by Dad hauling the combine and grain trailer, then Ashley with the tractor and grain cart, with Kurt and Mom bringing up the rear with the camper and jeep.

Part of convoy all loaded up
Part of our convoy lined up and ready to go. After all the preparation this is a long awaited feeling!

Ashley before hauling the graincart
Yep, she’s still got it! Even though it’s been 5 years since Ashley has officially been on harvest for the summer, she hopped into the truck and hauled the loaded tractor and grain cart like a pro.

Kurt on the radio
Kurt answers Mom on the CB radio after filling up with fuel. Fun fact: Kurt recently got his Class A CDL and has joined our clan of truckers!

Learn a little radio talk:
“10-4,” “copy that,” and “roger” translates into: Okay, got it!
“What’s your 1020?” translates into: Where are you at?
“What’s your ETA?” translates into: What is your estimated time of arrival? When will you be here?
“Stopping for a 10-100” translates into: Time for a quick pit stop!

Our trip went flawless until south of Grant, Nebraska, just 30 miles from our planned stop for the night and just as dusk was beginning to settle. Kurt and Mom radioed about an “alligator” in the middle of the road and a few seconds later Ashley saw some sparks flying out from under her trailer in the side mirror. After pulling over the convoy and investigating the scene, we quickly found the blown tire on the trailer. Dad positioned the rig on a block and by doing this we could then chain up the axle, which created clearance underneath the trailer. This allowed us to move the load safely to town without dragging the rim. Dad’s quick critical thinking skills will never cease to amaze me!

Blown tire
The blown tire on the grain cart trailer. This is the same axle I blew out last year, except for on the other side. It was fortunate that Mom and Kurt were following this rig and  were there to call it out.

Convoy pulled over for blown tire
The load pulled over on the side of the road. Ashley and Kurt sport the orange safety vests that are in every vehicle, in case of emergencies. Being right at dusk and on a highway with no shoulders, such safety equipment was very helpful for both us and oncoming traffic.

Since the following morning was a Sunday, it was afternoon before we could get our tire fixed on the trailer. Once this was done Dad, Ashley, and Kurt then continued down the road to WaKeeney, Kansas. There, Ashley and Kurt dropped off the grain cart and got a ride back home from Aunt Lynda so they could get back to “real work” on Monday morning. Dad continued south with the combine while Mom and I traveled ahead with the camper and header. We pulled into Carmen, Oklahoma on Sunday evening, meeting Brandon’s crew, who was already unloaded and busy cutting. It sure was a hectic three days but thanks to everyone’s help all of Roland Harvesting is finally on the road and in the wheat where we belong!

Ashley fueling up
Ashley fuels up on Sunday morning before hitting the road again. Meanwhile, Dad checks the chains on the load and tires on the trailer.  

Wheat field at home - still green
This is a usual end-of-the-day picture with the green wheat around Hemingford. The next sunset we will see at home will be over a golden field of wheat.

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


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