All Aboard Harvest | Stephanie: Part of the ship, part of the crew
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Stephanie: Part of the ship, part of the crew

Stephanie: Part of the ship, part of the crew

Being part of a harvest crew is an experience that cannot be cheated or duplicated. You have to travel the trail yourself to truly understand why we all rant and rave about it.

Stephanie1

I’ve done both. I’ve been the daughter of the owner of the crew and been the hired hand on a crew. I can’t change your genetics but I can give you this neatly packaged little list to help you gain perspective but, most importantly, provide a solid pro-harvest argument.
I’ll try to keep it more sassy, less sappy.
1. Get out of that dusty hometown of yours and see the beauty of this country! The wheat belt is stunning, seriously.
2. Hand in hand with that, being away from home without the option of just going home whenever you want to instills an even greater appreciation for home when you do return. The thing is—home will always be there. The experiences you have away from home that you bring back help you see it in a whole new way.
3. Meet and work alongside strangers. You can never have a strong enough set of people skills.
4. Build strong, long lasting relationships with these so-called “strangers.” Whether it’s your fellow crew members, the farmer or the elevator worker who unloads your truck every round, harvest has a way of bonding people.
It’s not what you know it’s who you know, right?
5. Learn flexibility. Harvest is the perfect place for this. The finicky weather, the consistently changing scenery, the many personalities of the farmers you cut for, the feeling of working 18-hour days for a month straight and falling asleep at the fuel pump while filling up the service truck … it’s character building! Just roll with it.
6. How did I get all the way to number 6 without mentioning food yet? Food, food, food. The southern states have the best sweet tea and, of course, there’s the fried chicken, fried okra, Coca-Cola cake, SnoCone shacks on every corner, Rocky Mountain oysters, and Sonics that are open 24 hours a day that serve the best cherry limeades … I could go on and on. If only I had kept track of how many Sonic coconut cream pie shakes we got that one summer in Hobart, Oklahoma. We would stop every single night around 1 a.m. on our way back to the camper from the field.
Also, I’m a sucker for a good café and they are much more common, and more delicious, in these rural wheat towns.
7. Simplify your to-do list! When you’re living out of a camper in a campground like we always did, you don’t have a lawn to mow. You also have much, much less surface area to clean. Your days are simple—wake up, cut the wheat, go to sleep, repeat. Okay fine, there’s a possibility of a few more things in there but refer to number 5—flexibility, my friend.
8. Satisfaction. You ever do a job and you go, dang, that was a lot of work with not much to show for it? Well, with harvest you’ve got scale tickets and stubble for miles.
9. Did I mention fun? I’m hoping my word choice this whole time screams “fun” but, man, harvest is fun! I mean seriously, you get to play a crucial role in the success of the most exciting part of the growing season. Harvest is what a farmer works the whole season for and you get to help them do it stop after stop and get paid for it.
10. Live yourself a summer of experiences filled with people and stories that you will tell over and over again. Our harvest stories are our favorite stories ever! You know what they say—you don’t realize how valuable a moment is until it’s gone. The moments will be countless. We hope you’re staying safe and making memories out there.
Happy Harvest!
Stephanie2
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.  Stephanie can be reached at stephanie@allaboardharvest.com
3 Comments
  • Paul E. Tomlinson
    Posted at 21:26h, 06 August

    Well said, I never got to go on a harvest run, always wanted to, as a teenager it sounded like fun, now after following the harvest on line for several years, I’ve learned a lot !! I spent the first 20 years of my life on a farm, Born & raised, made hay,small squares, in the summer working for who ever called 1st. then in my Junior year of High School, started working for a neighboring farmer, then full time after graduation, We did the complete circle, land prep, planting & harvest, loved it!! Had the 1st. chance to buy dad’s farm in ’67, but went to town & got a job with a Gas & Electric Utility Co. retired 39 & 1/2 years later, But also got a lot of miles in seeing our great country! Life has been good! Thank’s for sharing your story & listening to mine-

  • Barb Jestic
    Posted at 11:14h, 07 August

    Love all the stories and perspective on harvest! Thanks for taking the time to share!

  • Dean Taton
    Posted at 11:43h, 07 August

    That’s a similar experience for the people on the other side of harvest. The ones working at the local grain elevators. Always enjoyed working with new and returning summer help. We had stories to tell, also, usually at the expense of someone’s error or mishap. Happy to say, a lot of those friendships are still going after 50 years. Same with a lot of harvest crews that returned, some for many years. Lucky enough to have friended some of those characters, also. 45 years in the grain industry, and lots of good memories.