23 May Steph: My ten-year AAWH anniversary
Grafton, North Dakota—With the help of a few unexpected calls and texts, it came to my attention that this will be my tenth year contributing to the All Aboard Wheat Harvest program. Oh, the places I have been and the things I have seen and, not to mention, all that has changed in those ten years. There is something in my writing style that shifts when addressing my AAWH family. This is where it all began. My writing journey started with AAWH so I definitely feel most comfortable on this platform. Thanks for sticking with me this whole decade.
For those of you who may be reading my nonsense for the first time, my name is Stephanie (Osowski) Cronje, a third-generation custom harvester. Even though Osowski Ag Service no longer physically makes the trip down south along the wheat belt, I assure you our hearts make the trip every single year on complete and total autopilot. I know with absolute certainty that we will all get that itch to pack up and head south by the middle of May every year for the rest of our forever. All our best stories and memories were made on that dusty harvest trail and I’m still on the fence about writing a book about all the colorful hired hands, mishaps, triumphs, and wonderful people we met throughout those years.
Well, I might as well start with the best news of all. Cronje party of three will become a party of four come August. A wheat harvest baby–could we have planned it any better? From where I’m standing, yes, because I have already told my mom that she needs to move into our house for the first week or so after baby girl Cronje makes her appearance since I will be a harvest widow by that time.
As for the Cronje family, my husband Pieter is in his fourth year as farm manager for Weinlaeder Farms, located just east of Grafton. I began two work-from-home positions last summer. One is with Eyford Ridge Seed selling Golden Harvest corn and soybeans as well as Nuseed sunflowers and canola. The other is as a part-time reporter for our local newspaper, the Walsh County Record. Me and our almost toddler, Jack (he will be one on May 23), get to spend our days together. I’m confident he will be selling seed by the time he’s five.
My dad, Bob, went back to his roots and is running loader at American Crystal Sugar as he did that same job when I was growing up in the winter months when our harvest run was complete. My mom, Loree, is still painting and wallpapering the whole county and beyond with her bestie, Bernice, as well as managing all her rental properties in Grafton. My brother, Brandon, is running loader loading sugar beet trucks for Transystems in the winter months and then he will be full-time on the farm during the summer and early fall months. Osowski Ag Service is very much alive and well, except now, rather than doing very much custom work, we harvest our own crops.
I really can’t tell you all when harvest will be and planting has only just begun around here. Not a single field was planted in the Grafton area until the last 24 hours. Between the late winter blizzards and the excessive spring rains we received in late March and throughout April and May, the rivers have risen and have most of the acreage in the county completely submerged. The water levels are higher than anyone has ever seen them and as good as I am at making things sound better than they are, there isn’t a whole lot I can do to sugarcoat the situation farmers are finding themselves in. With crop insurance dates fast approaching and the water not going anywhere, it will continue to be a spring of surprises.
Anyway, there isn’t anything we can do but do what we can when we can. The crops will go in no matter how much later it gets and, as always, I look forward to sharing another harvest season with you all. After ten years, it would be weird to not share a harvest season with you all.
Stephanie Cronje can be reached at email@example.com.
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is brought to you by ITC Holdings, CASE IH, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, US Custom Harvesters Inc., Unverferth Mfg. Co. Inc., Lumivia CPL by Corteva Agriscience, and Kramer Seed Farms.
Cronje, party of 3–soon to be 4.
Throwback to harvest 2017.
House Cronje takes the lake.
The fam bam after Jack’s baptism.
Grandpa Bob, doing grandpa things.
Making some on-farm corn seed deliveries.