Megan: Guidelines to a perfect field visit

Hemingford, Neb. – Flashback to last weekend… We had some excitement in our house as two friends of the crew stopped by to visit Roland Harvesting for a couple days. Kyle and Graham, fellow classmates at the University of Wyoming, braved the trip to Nebraska to come experience harvest first-hand. We always welcome visitors but we also give out a friendly “warning.” If you venture out to our field here are some guidelines to remember:

1.) First off, if it’s a planned visit we prefer you to come out to the field in work clothes (old jeans and closed-toed shoes). You will get dirty, dusty, greasy and sweaty. There is no doubt about that.

2.) We anticipate you asking a million questions and if you don’t we will volunteer the information. Bottom line: We’re going to talk your ear off regardless.

3.) Be careful, pay attention, and use your head! Make sure you don’t stand behind equiment or in places the operator cannot see you. When a combine or tractor is running, keep your distance if you’re outside and if you’re in the cab don’t touch any levers or buttons unless we tell you to. Running harvest machinery is fun, but it is also very serious business so it’s important to remember the risks.

4.) You can’t be shocked if we ask you to help – this could be washing windows, turning a wrench, moving a vehicle, greasing a header, fueling the tractor, picking up lunch in town, etc. An extra body is an extra helper!

5.) You will get to ride in every piece of harvest equipment. Of course the most luxurious seat is probably in the combine, but trips into the elevator in the semi are always enjoyable. I personally find the most entertaining ride to be in the tractor and grain cart. There’s not a passenger seat in the tractor but cramming into the cab to bounce across the field is always amusing.

6.) Of course we always make sure that everyone stays safe during these rides and while helping out. However, our main intention is to bring others out of their comfort zone. The only way to fully understand how harvest operates is to jump in and experience it first-hand.  If we have time and especially when we’re cutting our own wheat, we allow visitors to try driving the combine or tractor, just to give them a feel for it.

Kyle and Graham had perfect timing and showed up the day we were preparing for a long move. Luckily, they were cooperative helpers, which allowed us to relocate in one huge convoy. With 3 combines, a grain cart, the service truck, a pickup and semi to move we certainly used all hands on deck!

Explaining the gameplan to the crew
Brandon gives directions to everyone out in the field before we begin our move. When we have visitors around, crew meetings like this are important to do first thing in the morning so we all know the game plan.

Eric hooking up the header to the combine
Eric prepares to hook up the header to the rear of the combine. Graham stands on the side of the combine and relays the directions to Jose as he backs up.

Brandon teaching Graham to drive the service truck
Somehow Graham got volunteered to drive the service truck during our convoy move. Above: Brandon explains to Graham the shifting pattern and high-low range of the service truck. After taking a few spins around the field, he got the hang of it pretty quick.  

Leaving the field
The combines lining up to begin the 50 mile move across the county.

Even though we had extra helpers we were still short-handed so Brandon and Jose hauled their headers behind their combines so we could get moved in one trip. I lucked out and had Kyle pull my header with the pickup. Moving a 45 foot loaded header trailer can be a bit intimidating but Kyle didn’t have any problems and made it to our new field in one piece!

Moving through Hemingford
You might be from Nebraska if… It’s not unusual to see combines at the four way stop on the main street in town. Our very long convoy made the trek through Hemingford and were greeted by many waves and honks!

Brandon and Kyle
Kyle rides in the combine to get a little demo from Brandon.

Taking a sample
A rain shower passed over the area the night before so we had to take a sample to see if we could get going. Sadly, the verdict was not in our favor.

Graham, Kyle, and Jose checking a sample
Graham, Kyle, and Jose check out the wheat in the grain tank after taking a sample in a different nearby field. Unfortunately, the wheat was still wet there as well.

We continued to “babysit” these fields all day and took in samples every couple hours. In the meantime we gave rides to Kyle and Graham in the combines and even taught them how to drive the semis. We managed to keep ourselves very entertained during this down time.

In regards to the waiting game we always refer to “Dad’s rule of thumb,” which states: If the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, the wheat will usually drop one moisture point per hour. Although we were banking on this “rule” it did not prove true for us this time. To everyone’s disappointment the lowest sample we obtained was 15.8% at 6 pm so we finally called it quits and headed back home to the farm.

The crew with friends
The whole posse piles onto the tractor for a quick photo. Top left to right: Kyle, Eric, Brandon. Bottom left to right: Jose, Kasey, Graham.

Although we never actually got to have a “usual harvest day” during Kyle and Graham’s visit, they still had a blast. I guess that just means they’ll just have to come back another time!

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


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