23 Jul Brian: Time to take a road trip?
Onida, South Dakota—It has been a long, two-day affair, but the crew’s move to South Dakota is finally over. Time to relax, right? Wrong. Sully County welcomes us with a fierce storm forming in the west. A storm watch is in effect, and we have been frequently checking the radar on our phones. It’s time to get the trailer houses set up and eat our evening meal before the rain drops start to fall. The combines unload at a farm site just north of town. After supper, we rush to get the equipment situated before things turn muddy. Only ten more miles to go.
The storm shifts and advances unexpectedly. We get caught in a heavy downpour just a few miles from the farm, but thankfully there is a large graveled entrance. We get parked out of the way and make a sprint in the rain to the pickup. We end up getting quite wet, but no one seems to mind much. We are just thankful the long Kansas-to-South Dakota trek is behind us.
The clouds look ominous, and the crew has little time to move equipment the last ten miles. It’s a race against the clock before the rain drops fall.
Eventually the ominous clouds and lightning give way to the sun slipping below the horizon. The sunset paints the sky a brilliant orange hue, and the trees create stark silhouettes against the skyline. The storm leaves behind a full double rainbow—its brilliant array of colors contrasted agains the dark sky still filled with lightning and thunder. It’s the perfect way to end a very arduous travel day, but photos simply cannot capture the stunning views we witnessed tonight.
They say every cloud has a silver lining, and this is the first notable rain for many local crops in quite some time. The fields, particularly the spring wheat, benefit greatly from tonight’s heavy rain. The wheat still has ten days to go before it fully ripens, so the crew decides to take advantage of this extended harvesting break. We head out in three opposite directions with three different goals to accomplish.
David and Vernelle head back to Butterfield, Minnesota, where David checks in on his farm and crops. It’s unusual for us to be back at home this time of the year, but David takes the opportunity to haul some grain, spray some beans and preform a variety of tasks left unfinished before leaving for Oklahoma. It’s the perfect opportunity for David and Vernelle to sort through some family heirlooms left behind by their parents.
Vernelle and David return to the farm in Minnesota. They find the crops to look excellent and the impressive height of the corn almost creates a maze.
Cameron and Brenda decide to load up their family and head off to Rapid City, South Dakota, for a mini summer vacation, something wheat harvests don’t normally allow. They spend a few days exploring the area—traveling the scenic byways to visit Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Storybook Island and Bear Country. The boys have never been to this area before. Everyone has a great time exploring the outdoors, and it is a perfect escape from our rectangular tin boxes, also known as house trailers.
The Hamer family loads up and heads to The Black Hills on a mini-vacation. It’s the boy’s first visit to Mount Rushmore, and they discover dinosaurs are much more friendly here. The Badlands resemble a moonscape as night falls.
Glen and Brian head back to Iowa to check on the farm’s cattle and crops. However the real reason for this trip is to bring back a tractor for grain cart duty. We have rented a 1,300-bushel grain cart locally in South Dakota and we are excited to add this time-saver to the fleet. Last year’s wet ground conditions, generous yields and long hauls highlighted our need for a better solution to boost productivity when the weather doesn’t cooperate. Brenda will now find herself in the field with the men each day, hauling the grain away from the combines in the grain cart. With the ability to reload the trucks in under 90 seconds, everyone looks forward to getting more done in a day.
Glen and Brian return home to home to check on the farm and retrieve a tractor. The Kenworth truck may be retired from daily hauling duties, but it makes a great tow vehicle as we pick up the locally rented grain cart.
The wheat continues to slowly ripen here in central South Dakota, taking more time than anticipated. Unseasonably cool weather and rain means the quality and yield of the wheat will be excellent, but the green tint of the straw indicates we are still a few days out from harvesting.
Gold and green mix together, creating a beautiful view as the spring wheat ripens. Ample rains have the crops here looking fantastic, and high yields are expected.
The crew has enjoyed our extended break from the daily grind in the field, but we are anxious to get back to work. The machines are unloaded, and all services completed. The windows are washed, and the fuel tanks are full. Weeks of harvesting lie just around the corner, but the crew is prepared to take on the challenge. Tomorrow we are moving equipment out to the field to sample the moisture of the grain. Harvest is ramping up here in central South Dakota, and I’ll be able to share the action in the field with you again soon.
The equipment is unloaded, and the final inspections are complete. A monumental harvest is just around the corner. The machines and crew are ready.
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc., Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Agri-Pro, Gleaner, BASF, and High Plains Journal. Join the conversation by leaving a question or comment. Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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