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Janel: Taking care of business

Holdrege, Nebraska—Hello from Holdrege, Nebraska. I am Janel Schemper and have been a custom harvester all of my life. I have been running combine full-time since I was thirteen years old. I’ve been chasing my combine career forever. Each year I harvest winter wheat, spring wheat, canola, soybeans and corn along our seven state harvest route. My whole life, I’ve been a part of our harvest crew. It seems like I’m always taking care of business whether it’s harvest time or not. It is a family business and the work is never ending. I’ve always got taking care of customers on my mind too. Customers count on us just like we count on them. It works both ways. They depend on us for our harvesting service so really that’s what keeps us going and coming back again and again. That’s business. However, sometimes we work ourselves out of work and are looking for more work. I’ve gone door to door many times before over the years with my dad and brothers looking for wheat to cut. If you need some grain harvested please look us up on our www.schemperharvesting.com website.

What I love most about harvest is being in the field. Have you ever seen a sunset over a golden wheat field while cutting wheat? There is nothing prettier than just that. It’s literally like a field of gold—if only the wheat price was like gold too. You know what I mean. I also love the rustle of the wind blowing through a standing wheat field. Wheat dancing in the wind is always quite the sight on a hot summer day.

I have always felt that the month of May is the most stressful time of the year. A lot of changes are happening during this time for a custom harvester. The nights at home are coming to an end. Everyone asks, “When are you leaving for harvest?” It’s typically a mystery until the time comes. There’s so much effort, hard work, planning and time that goes into preparing for harvest. If you’ve never lived it then you’ll never truly know. It’s a high stress time no doubt about it. However, when we finally get on the road and are headed south for harvest it becomes exciting. It’s even better when we’ve got a full crew on board that’s anxious to get to work with us on harvest for the next six to seven months.

Another question I hear is, “How is the wheat looking down south?” The reports I’ve heard are positive and I’m very optimistic! There is freeze damage around but not in the area where we cut. It sounds like they’ve had decent moisture and the wheat looks good. We truly don’t know what it’ll make until the wheat is cut and the grain is across the scales. Then we can total up the bushels and divide by the acres to figure up the yield. Recent cooler weather is postponing harvest. However, when the weather turns hot things can change quickly so it is important to be prepared for that as well. As a custom harvester, I’m always watching the weather reports.

We have some new John Deere combines this year. The combines that aren’t new are currently getting fixed up with new parts. My two brothers, JC and Jared are mechanics, too, so they are doing all the work on the combines. Our employees are starting to show up.  I myself am still trucking five days per week. I’ve been trucking heavily since last November when corn harvest ended. Recently, besides driving truck I’ve been doing shop work too. I’ve helped unload our new combines that JC hauled home from the East Moline, Illinois, John Deere combine factory. I’ve helped with tire work on the combines, replacing sickle sections and guards on the MacDon headers, painting concaves, maintenance work on combines and overall getting everything ready to go for harvest. It’s a constant work in progress until it’s time to go south for harvest.

We’ve got wheat to cut and more than ever I’m looking forward to another harvest. This is my fifth year writing for the All Aboard Harvest coverage in High Plains Journal.  I really appreciate the opportunity and all of the comments and messages from AAWH followers. I truly think agriculture people are the best people in the world. It’s a tough industry to be in but somebody’s got to do it. We harvest the grain that feeds the world. That is an important job. Did you know you need a farmer more than anything else in your life? A farmer is what feeds you three times a day. Without agriculture people there’d be no life. As always, thank a farmer and a harvester too.  Best of luck to all farmers and harvesters. Please be safe.

Janel Schemper can be reached at janel@allaboardharvest.com.

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by Case IH, Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc., BASF, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Gleaner, ITC, Westbred, Huskie, Western Equipment, US Custom Harvesters, and High Plains Journal. 

This new John Deere s770 combine arrived in the yard March 30, 2021.  JC hauled it home from the John Deere combine factory.  Miss Moo was thinking “combine ride!” 

There were five people involved with unloading this combine.  We got it done.

Another new combine arrived in the yard on April 22, 2021.  It took us less than an hour to have all four tires on it, the ramps in position and then moved the truck and trailer out from underneath it.  We were pros at unloading this one!

An oversize load no doubt about it.

I love John Deere green!

All brand new and plastic on the seats and steering wheel.

I drove it first!

New tires on the combine.

A new combine in the yard.

Lots of new paint.

I think the tires keep getting taller each time we trade for new.

Two more new combines in the yard.

One combine has the premium residue system.

My new s780 combine.  I’m back to spinners this time.

A typical day of trucking for Miss Moo and I.  This picture was taken on December 31, 2020.

Here I was loading grain out of a grain bin.  I enjoy this because it’s a one person job!  You just load and go and keep coming back until the job is finished!

I climbed the bin stairs so I could see the corn level in the bin.  Miss Moo is 12 years old now.  When she was on her first harvest back in 2009 she followed me about 10 steps up before I realized what she was doing.  She was just a pup then and wouldn’t do that nowadays!

This Peterbilt is what I drive to haul grain during the harvest off-season.

She’s a pro!  So many rides for one little dog!

I hauled a load of corn to a Phelps County feedlot.  Sometimes the pit is super slow.

Having to unload slowly teaches patience.

A typical day of hauling grain.

Another day of hauling grain.

Miss Moo loves rides and cows too.

She is the best dog ever!  Sometimes I wonder how many acres and miles she’s got now!


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