13 Jul Megan: Hoxie Harvest
Hoxie, Kan. – After the Fourth of July, Roland Harvesting continued cutting away and had a very successful weekend with all the extra help around. I have a ton of photos I would like to share and I have a feeling that they will tell a better story of our time in Hoxie than I could say in words. I will, however, offer some summaries and commentary along the way.
With over a week of 100+ degree temperatures, we had the perfect harvesting weather during this stop. We did run into a couple short rain showers as we were wrapping up in the area but it’s so dry here that it didn’t stop us from cutting!
Ashley naturally took her spot in the combine again but Dad had a bit of a surprise for her. Instead of running our usual draper headers, Dad challenged Ashley to try the newest addition to our equipment: the stripper header. (I’ll share more on this change in my next post.) Ashley braved the test and, of course, was able to operate this new header like a champ! We like to tease Ashley because she always says that she hates flat fields since they are “too boring.” She’d rather cut a field with rolling hills and terraces because, “they were more of a challenge.”
Although it’s hard to make out, this is a picture of one of our trucks headed down the dirt road after making a turn. It’s only traveling about 30 mph and look how dusty it is already! If you look close you can barely make out one of the side mirrors. Traveling with heavy and oversized loads on these dry, powdery roads can make for very dangerous situations due to the decreased visibility. When the wind blows (which is pretty much every day), this problem gets even worse.
In addition to dusty roads, there are many other hazards we encounter during the summer. While recently reading the Colby Free Press newspaper I ran across some good safety tips for the general public to remember during the harvest season. Here are a few friendly reminders:
- Look for caution signs such as yellow/orange flashers or orange triangles on the back of tractors or combines – these indicate slow moving vehicles. Often times a pickup or another vehicle with 4 way flashers on will lead or follow a moving convoy.
- Don’t assume the farmer/harvester knows you’re there. Most operators regularly check for vehicles behind them but majority of their time must be spent watching for oncoming traffic. Implements are also loud, hindering the farmer’s ability to hear your vehicle.
- Pass with extreme caution. Don’t pass unless you can see clearly ahead of your vehicle and the farm/harvest equipment. You should never pass in a designated “No Passing Zone,” even if you are stuck behind a farm vehicle. Do not pass within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad crossing, bridge, or tunnel.
- Allow extra room when following farm or harvest equipment. Just because a farm vehicle pulls to the right side of the road does not mean it is turning right or allowing you to pass. Due to the size of farm equipment the farmer must execute wide left turns, to allow plenty of room and time to turn. So remain alert for a driveway or field that they may be turning into.
- Be patient. Don’t assume a farmer can move aside to let you pass at any given moment. Shoulders may be soft or steep, which can cause the machinery to tip or the shoulder may not support the weight of a heavy farm vehicle. When moving combines with headers, there are often obstacles on the side of the road that can prevent the operator from moving over, so they may have to continue further down the road before pulling out of the way.
- Think of slow moving vehicles or equipment as a warning to adjust your speed and to pay close attention. Patience and extra caution are essential for everyone to remain safe on the roads this time of year!
On Sunday, Brandon and his crew loaded up their two combines and made the move to our next stop in Imperial, Neb. Meanwhile, my parents and I stuck around in Hoxie with the grain cart, CR 9060 and stripper header to finish up.
Loading equipment can sometimes be very stressful and confusing if everyone isn’t on the same page. A few years back we came up with some universal signals to use to help clarify our hand gestures. Above: Jose touches his chest and points, indicating that the front end of the combine needs to be shifted that direction. This can be done by the combine operator pushing on the appropriate steering brake, which will help move the front tires, also known as drive tires, to the correct position.
Meanwhile, Kasey spots on the backside of the trailer and watches the rear end of the combine. By placing a hand on his hip and pointing Kasey indicates that the rear of the combine needs to be moved that way. This can be done by moving the actual steering wheel, which will move the back tires, also known as steering tires. Jose watches Kasey and relays the hand signals to Brandon so he can adjust the combine accordingly. These helpful directions have saved a ton of headaches as well as drastically cutting back on the time it takes for us to load.
A completely loaded grain cart and a full bin on the combine is the result of a holdup somewhere down the line. This either happens when we’re waiting on trucks to come back from the field, which is common in high yielding wheat, or if there is a problem with a truck, such as a blown tire or overheating engine. The other time that this occurs is if the grain elevator in town isn’t open yet. Towards the end of wheat harvest the elevators often cut back their hours since there are not as many trucks hauling into their facility, meaning they may be lucky to unload a truck every hour or two.
In the case above, it was a Sunday and the elevator didn’t open until 1 pm. We strategically loaded everything up so we could immediately fill an empty truck once it returned from the elevator.
Kurt successfully hauled his first loaded semi into the grain elevator and made it safely back to the field! Growing up in Chester, Montana Kurt has helped out with wheat harvest since he was little. He often drove straight trucks and semis with cattle pots, but never had the chance with a loaded grain trailer. This marked his first official haul, and already, he looks like a professional truck driver!
In case you couldn’t tell by the photo Augie absolutely loved running and jumping in the wheat! We were sad to see Ashley, Kurt, and Augie leave Sunday evening to return home to their “real jobs.” Nevertheless it was fun to have them around and they sure were a ton of help.
A special thank you to JD’s Restaurant of Hoxie! They were always so helpful and packed up many yummy meals “to go” for Roland Harvesting during our time here. Another shout-out to the Town & Country Store for being so flexible and making sure we could always get fuel when we needed it. Living on the road all summer long makes us truly appreciate the generosity of small town businesses that really care about their customers!
Tuesday evening we were finishing our last field in the Hoxie area just as some dark storm clouds loomed our way. Luckily, we cut the last acre just as some sprinkles began to fall. Dad was even able to get the combine and header blown off before the rain set in. The next morning we loaded the last of our equipment and headed north to join the rest of the crew in Imperial, Neb.
All Aboard Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and Syngenta. Megan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.