All Aboard Harvest | Steph: An Update and Some Insight
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Steph: An Update and Some Insight

StephNEW_thumbnailThis time of year, harvest is normally at full speed around Grafton, N.D. Not this year. I have touched on the crazy spring weather we had with the excessive rain and now when we would like rain, we can’t buy a drop. Isn’t that always the way? We are hoping harvest will start up in the next week so normalcy can be restored. In the meantime, I have been logging some hours in at my old high school part-time job being a carhop at Westside Drive-In! It’s been great fun and I have been able to catch up with a lot of folks in town. Also, I have been able to babysit a few times for some of my favorite kiddos in town, so I can’t complain about the downtime.

In the recent days there are a couple topics that have come to more to my full attention: finding hired help and advancements in technology.

When I was younger, I remember dad always having a different crew of hired helped every summer for harvest. There were a few that would return for a couple summers, but most often it was fresh faces. We used to need at least three or four every year. Not only did we need that many, but so did most other harvest crews. It used to be when harvest crews came to town, businesses would bunker down and the town would brace themselves for all them “crazy harvesters” that would populate the town for a week or two. Dad has made jokes that farmers would “lock up their daughters” so they wouldn’t get exposed to such a lifestyle. The more common sight with a harvest crew these days? Family owned and operated.  Mom and dad like to think the reason we (Brandon and I) make the best hired help is because we watched years and years of hired help, so we know the dos and don’ts of harvest.

Perusing through the papers these days, almost every farmer in my county is looking for workers, along with traveling harvest crews.  It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find help in our area with the oil fields out west gobbling up all the good workers. However, this trend is going on all across the Midwest. We are all hoping that the labor force will strengthen in the area with all the ads floating around and that harvest will go off without a hitch!

I will save observation number two, technology, for another post.

Quote of the Day: “Let’s make like wheat and head out.”

Throwback to the crew of 2001.

Throwback to the crew of 2001. Look how little Brandon was in dad’s arms! And check out dad’s rockin’ goatee. Top row; Steve, Stanley (a Russian who’s actual name I cannot spell and he preferred Stanley anyhow), Kevin, and my cousin Mark. Bottom row; Grandpa Hiladore, Danny (whom traveled the harvest trail with us for almost 15 years), dad and little Brandon in dad’s arms.

The AAWH crew photo from harvest 2012. New crew photo TBA!

Our AAWH crew photo from harvest of 2012. New crew photo coming soon!

We took this past Saturday and stole away to Devils Lake, N.D. and tried to rid the lake of a few walleye. We came home with our limit and some great memories!

Beautiful sunset on a day of fishing.

Sunset after a great day of fishing.

Grandpa Hiladore, casting out.

Grandpa Hiladore casting out. Look at that smile! He loves him some fishin’.

Three generations of harvesters. Turns out we can fish too!

Three generations of harvesters! Turns out we can fish too. The fish may not be that large, but they make for some great filets.

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. Steph can be contacted at


  • Judy Sweeney
    Posted at 07:48h, 19 August

    Looking forward to your technology post.
    Today’s post reminds me of the harvest crews of the 1940’s where the crews walked through (or thumbed a ride as I don’t remember them having vehicles) and we had a bunk house where they stayed.
    My Dad made an outdoor shower for them using a big tub on the “roof” which was warmed by the sun during the day. The water was hosed to a springer that made it into a shower.
    I also remember watching the crew shoveling the wheat from the truck into the granary. As I remember, next came the auger that picked up the small pile shoveled from the truck into the granary and then came the hydraulic lift for the truck to unload the wheat into the pile for the auger to pick up and deliver into the granary. I remember climbing into the rafters of the granary and jumping down into the wheat! This story to should show my age – mid 70’s. Thanks for pulling me into these great memories with your posts and don’t forget to keep a diary of your posts/memories which will hopefully also lift you up to great respect for how harvesting is being done when you are in your mid 70’s.

  • Ramona
    Posted at 02:17h, 20 August

    Remember the harvesters, Norman and Gary Hamm, father and son from Kansas the parked all their trailers and cook car in our yard. They had painted the side of their trailers with Hammtown, USA, population 27. Became great friends through the years.
    When we ran out of storage for the grain one year, it had to be dumped on the ground in the yard.
    What fun it was to jump up and down in the wheat!