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Mama said there’d be days like this…

All Aboard Wheat Harvest Laura HaffnerBurkburnett, Texas/Roosevelt, Oklahoma—Wow, I sure wish the song would have said “a day like this”! What a few days it has been. A crop that had looked so promising in a region that had been drought stricken has now had yields reduced in some areas due to the opposite problem—too much water. We are trying hard to get the crop out and salvage the highest yields possible. When you’ve had 20-plus inches of rain in the last month, the ground is unpredictable. Normally the first job is spent training the new crew and setting expectations. This year the added obstacles have created training and productivity challenges.

For the most part, we are running well and the ground is fairly solid. However, there are still mud holes out there. Some are obvious and easy to avoid, but there are also spots I’d compare to black ice in the winter that take a person by surprise. The operator may be running fine with no ruts when suddenly the ground gives way. It seems that the ground is firming from the top down, so when someone does fall through there is no bottom in which to gain traction. Unfortunately, we’ve had to put our new heavy-duty tow rope to use. We’d rather it collect dust in the truck. When someone goes down it’s time lost, a hole in the field (which we do not want) and extra safety concerns, as we don’t want to cause any injury to operators or equipment when pulling them out.

We also had another first for our crew when we had to hired a bulldozer to pull us. It’s fun to exchange stories during/post season, but these are some memories we could really do without reliving. “Remember when that dozer had to come pull us out? That was awesome!” said no harvester ever. Ryan has been working to carefully document where an issue occurred in the field so our farmers aren’t taken by surprise when it’s time for them to begin field work. Thankfully our farmers have been understanding of the conditions and situation and have been working hard to find areas that may be harvested with fewer issues.

Some unloading action Sunday evening.

Unfortunately, there is a first time for everything. 


Preparing to unload just outside of Burkburnett, Texas.

Meanwhile, back at camp, we haven’t been immune to problems either and it seems that some little gremlin has popped up daily. None, thankfully, are super earth shattering, but it is really frustrating when they keep you from carrying out your responsibilities well and efficiently whether it’s taking care of your family and crew or doing business online. Some of the issues have just been me learning the camper or some general maintenance that needed to happen post winterization and have had relatively easy fixes. Some haven’t been quite so easy and are still in the process of being resolved. Thankfully, Kirby knows heating and air and worked hard on my air-conditioning for which I’m grateful. I learned through several days of issues that camper windows are strictly cute and decorative and are not much good for strong air flow (unless maybe you’re in the cool mountains or something?). I feel like I’m finally settling into a bit of a routine and am no longer having to go to the grocery store every day. Much of our time is taken up running errands, preparing, and delivering meals, but in the in between times, Little Man and I have been trying to keep things as normal as possible for him and have gone to the park, pool, library, church, etc. He really has been in a trooper in his new life!

Little Man loves helping get harvest meal supplies at the grocery store. However, it is necessary to screen his cart because there are occasionally some surprises added. 

If you bike into town, then you can eat donuts for breakfast guilt free on National Donut Day!

These boxes have revolutionized my harvest meal prep and they are recyclable! 

Do like the cows do when there is no AC!  We went and cooled off at the camp ground pool before meal prep!

Kirby, working his magic on the AC!

 We took our turn at operating the tractor and grain cart last night when the guys were moving equipment. 

Our crew has split up now. Ryan, Kirby, Jaap, Wian, Dalton and Westin have stayed here to continue to work on these jobs. Mark, Pieter T., Pieter G., Marnus, Harold, and Albert, left Friday to start our Roosevelt, Oklahoma, job. Wian joined them Sunday so they now have four combines running there to maximize running capacity in Oklahoma while still allowing us to make progress in Texas with two machines with the current ground conditions. Mark said this morning that they are almost halfway through their job and hope to be finished Tuesday if all goes well. He reported that of the people cutting so far, talk is that yields are in the low to mid twenties and few have seen anything over 30 bushels per acre. The crew with Ryan has seen around 30 bushels per acre but had a field last night in the 50-bushel-per-acre range.

Ready to roll!  (Photo from Mark.)

Mark sent in this photo of four combines running hard near Roosevelt, Oklahoma. 

Jaap pulling back into the field ready for another load.

 This little guy, Quentin, got his first ride ever in a combine last night!  It’s nice to be able to give people a firsthand experience with this branch of agriculture. 

Dalton combining at dusk.

Nothing has been easy so far this year. However, we are thankful that our crew has remained safe, the rains have held off, the temperatures are good for harvesting, and there is wheat to cut. The Texas crew has remained positive and Mark says the crew in Oklahoma is in good spirits as they’re finally able to run hard. A positive attitude goes a long ways when some days are less than ideal!

A hug may not cure everything, but it sure is good for the soul after a long day!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. You can contact Laura at laura@allaboardharvest.com.


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