Janel: Belts, chains, fuel, grease, oil and tires

Holdrege, Nebraska—Hello again for the 7th year in a row. I’m Janel Schemper and I am a third-generation custom harvester from Holdrege, Nebraska. This is my 42nd wheat harvest. I’ve been going on harvest my entire life and have been an All Aboard Wheat Harvest correspondent since 2017. My grandpa was a first-generation custom harvester. My dad and brothers are second- and third-generation harvesters. We’ll start our harvest run in southwest Oklahoma in May and work our way north during the summer months. We finish the wheat harvest up in North Dakota in mid-September. Our fall harvest takes place in Nebraska starting in mid-September and then we’re typically finished by late November. My harvest season lasts six to seven months every year and thank God it’s only seasonal and not year-round work because if it was such a thing I’d be in the field all year long. Once you’ve become a harvester, it gets in your blood. During the off-season I do a lot of combining in my mind. I can’t believe how much time I spend thinking about harvest.  

By the time I was a seventh grader, I was running combine full-time. I’ve been hooked ever since. As a female on harvest, I’ve at times felt like the luckiest girl in the world, especially with having such an amazing dad and two older brothers. However, it’s made me extremely independent. Being the only girl on the harvest crew always made me the odd one. I constantly mind my own business whereas the crew is constantly visiting with each other and I’m always left out. It’s fine though because I’m okay with quietness and silence. It keeps me focused on my work and I can keep my thoughts straight. I work hard and have dedication to every harvest job and it doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. I take pride in all of it.  

One thing I love about harvest is seeing the sun set over a golden wheat field time and time again. It’s a pretty amazing sight to see. I love hearing and seeing the rustle of the wheat in the wind on a hot summer day and just being in the big open fields and having all of the fresh air I could ever want to breathe is very nice. The harvest life has left an impact rooted deep within me and I hope it leaves a good impression on others I meet and work with. What I love most about harvest is working alongside my family. It’s the greatest learning experience ever because they tell me exactly what they think and honestly that’s the best way to learn. They just tell it like it is and that’s fine with me. Harvesting has taught me to do a job well done no matter what and to always be ambitious and be the very best I can in all that I do. I know what good and bad conditions are and I know exactly what to appreciate in this business. There’s a reason why I enjoy each harvest season to the fullest.  

Harvest sneaks up on us every year. It is a repetition. There’s good and bad turns. That’s harvest. Mother Nature has a lot of emotions and has everything to do with it. We always hope for the best, it’s just the nature of the business. With harvest being so dependent on the weather I’m constantly checking the forecast. This business is full of challenges, risks and lots of uncertainty. There are a lot of expenses to it too including: machinery, labor, living expenses, repairs, depreciation, etc. We buy fuel, insurance, parts, and warranty and everything increases every year. It’s just always something in this business especially with being on the road—there’s a whole lot of expense to that. It all costs money. 

Belts, chains, fuel, grease, oil and tires are all part of my daily routine. However, my job consists of not only running combine constantly and driving truck and always being in the field but there is so much more to it. I am the record keeper of all the grain tickets. Often times I’m up late at night figuring up the bushels and yields and keeping up on the totals so I’m ready when it comes time to settle up with the farmer. I cook, do laundry, grocery shop, chase after parts, fix things, locate camper parks and accommodate a lot of things and people. I’m up early and to bed late most days and nights. Back in the “olden days” we often got to park our campers on the farm yards. I miss that so badly. It was so quiet and peaceful. Staying in RV parks can be quite uncomfortable depending on the neighbors and noise. 

We have all new John Deere combines again this year. JC and Jared made many trips to the John Deere combine factory in East Moline, Illinois, to pick up and haul the new combine’s home. Once they arrived we got them all set up and ready to go at our shop yard. JC and Jared also spend a lot of their time hauling hay, machinery, and pivots with their flat bed and detach trailers. LaVern, Lonny and I haul grain—lots and lots of grain. I just spent 26 weeks driving truck. I hauled mostly corn and soybeans but also some cornstalk bales and fertilizer. We’ve had 30 to 35 inches of snow in this region. Other than that, we were dry. We’ve dealt with a lot of wind again this spring. Recently, it’s been cooler and rainy and we’ve had 2.5 to 3 inches of rain, which was a gift. I hope and pray that we have plenty of harvest work to keep us very busy this year and great harvesting conditions. If you need crops harvested, please contact me via www.SchemperHarvesting.com or email schemperharvesting@yahoo.com or find me on Facebook—Schemper Harvesting and Trucking or Instagram @janelkschemper.   

During the harvest off-season I’m also a Third Party CDL examiner. Therefore, I’m always preaching good driver habits. I wear my seat belt, check my tires and do traffic checks constantly because that’s what I teach. Part of the CDL test is the Vehicle Inspection. If you are going to be a licensed truck driver you’ve got to know how to inspect pre-trip and post-trip including knowing what to look for in the cab and under the hood, as well as, the tires, brakes, suspension, the connections and coupling, and so much more. You’ve also got to be able to back up correctly and drive without clashing gears at all. All of our crew this year is from the USA only. Do you want to travel the Midwest and gain valuable experience on the American harvest run? You can do your part to help feed the world by joining our harvest crew today. If interested, please apply online at www.SchemperHarvesting.com. Thank you. 

We’ll be attending the harvest crew safety schools later this month. The USCHI Texas Safety Day is May 24 at 9 a.m. at the Wichita Falls, Texas, Convention Center. The MacDon Harvest Kickoff Breakfast is May 25 at 7:30 a.m. at the Wilbarger County Auditorium in Vernon, Texas. As of today, in the middle of May, the wheat looks one to two weeks off from being ready and it is very muddy. The wheat looks like 10 to 50 bushels per acre. There has been wheat swathed and baled and even sprayed and killed. From Coldwater, Kansas, to Clinton, Oklahoma, the wheat is either sprayed or swathed. From Clinton south it is better and looks best towards the Oklahoma-Texas state line.  There are chances of rain the next ten days and even chances of potential flooding. Highs in the seventies and low eighties are expected. Overcast with chances of rain every day will definitely delay the start of harvest. That should give us plenty of time to get down south and ready to go when it’s time to cut wheat. I wish the very best of luck to all of the farmers and harvesters. 

Here I was waiting to get loaded with corn.
I can’t wait to see the wheat dust fly!
I can’t wait to be back in the field and enjoy the busy days of wheat harvest!

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

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is brought to you by ITC Holdings, New Holland, US Custom Harvesters Inc., Unverferth Mfg. Co. Inc., Kramer Seed Farms, and High Plains Journal.

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