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Brian: Preparing Can Be The Hardest Part

Greenfield, Iowa – Wheat harvest is just around the corner, but preparations for Summer 2019 started a long time ago.  The winter months gave us time to reevaluate the summer, consider what did and did not go so well, and look for ways to continuously improve our harvesting efforts.  

The difficult agricultural economy that has persisted makes for very tight margins between income and expenses for farmers.  Custom harvesters are finding it challenging to make their businesses profitable, too.  The largest expense for harvesters is the depreciation of the combine’s value as it racks up unusually high hours of usage—often 5 times or more what would be considered average use by a typical farmer.  In an effort to maximize our efficiency we have made some equipment upgrades for this year to harvest more acres in less time, a benefit to both us and our customers.

David made the most notable upgrade … a new Case 8250 combine, the latest model with notable changes.  It’s a major investment but incredibly exciting to take delivery of a shiny new machine that promises more uptime and the latest technology.  With increased horsepower for faster harvesting, a high definition camera with photo recognition enabling automatic adjustments without operator input, 4 wheel drive to better manage those dreaded muddy conditions and a host of other improvements we are exited to get this new machine in the field for the first time and see what it can do.

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The changing of the guard … David’s new Case 8250 combine, on the left, is delivered from the factory in Grand Island, Nebraska, replacing the previous machine on the right.


We also have upgraded both draper platforms from 35 feet to larger 40-foot widths.  These larger headers certainly give the operators a lot to watch while harvesting, but they allow us to cover more acres in a day while reducing other expenses.  With uncooperative weather seemingly the new normal, everyone welcomes this boost in efficiency.  Bigger platforms also required up-sizing our header trailers.  In February, Brian made the long drive to Montezuma, Kansas, to pick up the new wheat head, and, in April, David acquired his new head.  

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Brian picking up the new 640D John Deere draper header with the new 40 foot trailer in Montezuma, Kansas.


May is likely the most hectic time of the year for our family.  We are busy caring for newborn baby calves, readying summer’s hay making equipment, and planting  our corn and soybean crops.  All the while, we are making preparations to get wheat harvest equipment ready and preparing our farms and houses to be vacant for 3 months.  I guess 36 times of doing this is supposed to makes the entire job easier, but it still feels overwhelming every year.  


Brian planting corn in Iowa, taking advantage of a rare day of sun and dry ground. Persistent rains have made for a very challenging planting season.


Almost endless rains have continuously hampered planting this spring, and we still have soybeans left to plant.  We are getting very nervous about the limited time we have to finish planting before Oklahoma is ready.  While we wait for a window of dry weather, our days are filled with oil changes, greasing, mounting new tires, vehicle inspections … and the power washer seems to be going more often than not cleaning equipment. 


Cameron power washing the trailer house as it comes out of storage. Parked next to the house, countless trips will be made back and forth as “move in” efforts begin in earnest.


The trailer house has come out of storage and “move in” has started.  Meal plans include eating anything that can empty the refrigerator and pantry.  And “The Lists” have appeared, meaning the sorting of clothes, toys, electronics, tools and kitchen wares has begun.  It’s like moving, but worse … because you don’t just pack everything.


Years of trial and error have led to Vernelle and Brenda’s extreme organization of creating “The Lists.”  Randomly throwing things in a box is not allowed … usually.  If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t go.  The men are not always so organized.


Next time we talk I should have a real leave date, but for now we are using June 5.  Until then you can rest assured the days are long as we juggle end-of-school activities for the four Hamer boys, turning cows out to pasture, soybean planting, cleaning, packing, loading equipment and preparations for hay making to begin.  It will be a great relief when the chaos is behind us and we pull out of the driveway headed to Oklahoma to kick off our 37th wheat harvest run.  It’s literally days away.


Brian, Glen and Cameron sorting cow/calf pairs to be be taken to pasture for the summer, despite muddy conditions after another rain.

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

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