All Aboard Harvest | Brian: Weather Forces Us (Again!) To Make Hard Choices
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-16824,single-format-standard,qode-quick-links-1.0,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-title-hidden,qode-theme-ver-11.2,qode-theme-bridge,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.4.7,vc_responsive

Brian: Weather Forces Us (Again!) To Make Hard Choices

Onida, South Dakota – Make sure you watch the above video for a summary of last weeks activities.

A quick synopsis: With SW Kansas finally finished we intended to move up to Big Springs, Nebraska for our next job. However, in another weather-related twist to the 2018 harvest, the worst case scenario of two states ready for harvest simultaneously has become a reality. So in an agonizing decision we have made arrangements to skip our Nebraska job and move 600+ miles to Onida, South Dakota.

It’s disheartening, a little tough on morale and negatively affects the financial bottom line for countless crews that face the same dilemma…how to be in two places at once. We hope to begin harvesting this weekend, despite a large hail storm that pummeled the area shortly before the 4th of July. Scroll down below and take a look at the photos documenting our cleaning, loading and moving of equipment from Kansas to South Dakota. And be sure to check out my upcoming blog where I’ll show you the devastating crop destruction from the hail storm…you won’t believe some of the aftermath photos I have to share with you. Be sure to leave any questions or comments you have. The crew would love to hear from you!


Untitled design

After weeks of trying to arrange an in-field visit when it was not raining, we finally succeeded in welcoming visitors on the last day of Kansas harvest. A big thanks to Don Taylor and Jim Glennie from The Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children for making the long drive so Kolton and Dakota could experience harvest first hand. We enjoyed the conversation! Kolton and Dakota each had an opportunity to drive the combine and experience the latest in harvesting technology. Make sure to visit to consider how you might join in supporting the great work of this organization, including being a part of the 10 Acre Challenge.


Untitled design-8

Removing the outside dual tires allows for a much narrower transport width, but at nearly 2,000 per tire its a lot of work that requires a lot of precautions. The boom on the front of the combine allows us to lift each wheel into the back of the truck for hauling. Once the tires are loaded, the combine can then be driven onto the trailer and chained down for transportation. It’s quite the view and sensation to drive such a large machine up the ramps, slowly climbing onto the trailer.


Untitled design-3

Am I dirty enough yet? One of the worst jobs on a hot, humid day is cleaning the machines before loading and moving to the next job. It is simply….disgusting, and requires usually two showers to get all the dirt off! And if harvesting in the mud isn’t bad enough, it always leads to the fun task of washing all that mud off the machine. Lets hope drier field conditions await us in South Dakota.


Untitled design-2

The crew takes advantage of good parking spots for fuel and food. It’s a long caravan going down the road, and it takes a lot of planing to make sure your route contains no road construction. Even a tight parking lot can be an issue, as backing out of a tight spots is virtually impossible when pulling loads like these. Lunch on the side of the road, in the trailer house, is often a quick affair. Triple-digit heat turn these “tin boxes” into a sauna and no one likes to spend much time in there! The long drive to South Dakota required an overnight stay and with a heat advisory it seemed impossible to be able to sleep inside the trailers with no air conditioning. Careful planning (and a little luck) ended our first moving day in a town with RV hook ups…and glorious A/C for a restful night. This is a luxury when traveling on the road, and not always a given. Many uncomfortable nights have been spent trying to sleep in the sweltering heat of a the trailer house parked at a truck stop. It’s an unglamourous end to a long day of driving sometimes.


Untitled design-6

All loaded up….just to take them back off again. It’s a carefully coordinated process that eventually becomes part of the routine. The work never gets easier, but familiarity makes it go faster.


Untitled design-4

Every year our travel routes change and evolve, often due to road construction. This means a variety of new views of the countryside, which can lead to some amazing discoveries. Located south of Kadoka, South Dakota these rock formations are pretty amazing and are always a crew favorite. Nature can truly be inspiring, and the Badlands hold a unique beauty. But there is not a wheat field in sight…..


Untitled design-7

The grasslands of South Dakota, rolled up in hundreds of round bales. I often wonder how long it takes to move all those bales and stack them up. It’s not hard to imagine herds of buffalo roaming these grasslands in a time gone by. It’s a totally different “look” from the other states we harvest in. The sun sets are frequently photo-worthy, as seen here sinking behind a ripening wheat field that stretches for miles. The wide open spaces of South Dakota should be on your “bucket list” of things to see. It’s beautiful and the crew loves to spend time here in Onida.


Untitled design-5

Even when equipment is new, with over 15,000 parts a combine always has maintenance issues to attend to. Our farmer graciously provides us a place to change out the break-in engine oil and dispose of used oil and filters. Here you can see a glimpse of the technology in today’s combine. Pictured is the main cab computer processor, a network data server and modem with cellular and wi-fi connectivity, located in the cab. The “black screen of death” and a repeated rebooting warning did not resolve a software issue. This required an in-field visit from John Deere to replace the network server processor and they installed a fresh software download. Custom harvesters, just one generation ago, didn’t envision harvesting technology like this.

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Brian can be reached at

  • Harry and Sharon
    Posted at 16:41h, 14 July

    Dear Brian and crew. Thank you for all the pictures and report of your many issues and weather good and bad. We feel for you all and the many challenges you have to deal with. You are doing a really important thing for the wheat farmers and the American people. Most do not realize what would be without your job. There is a LOT of us that do. My Husband and I was raised on farms and had a summer of harvest, etc. We understand what you are going through. Please be careful with stress and take care of your self and crew. So not to get down and sick. Eat right also. But you know that. Later Sharon and Harry Drake. south central Kansas. 60 miles south of Wichita.