Christy: The big transition

Fort Benton, Montana—We have rounded a corner. We are almost complete here by Fort Benton. I am packing up and will be headed for home on Monday. I am getting ready for the trip tomorrow and have delivered the last meal I will run out until we head out to North Dakota during Labor Day weekend.

Our crews are working by Great Falls on wheat, and still chipping away at chickpeas. We picked up the wheat acres by Great Falls and entered a huge field. The first field, right at 1,350 acres, yielded in the upper 70s. As we were finishing up, the farmer asked if we could move over to do 315 more acres adjacent to the field they were working before the rain, and Paul said sure. They worked until 3 in the morning. It was all completed, and needless to say Paul gave the crew the next day off. It was well deserved. That last bit yielded around 90 bushels per acre.

Just getting started by Great Falls on winter wheat we picked up.

I visited our crew working on chickpeas for lunch while they were east of Highwood and chickpeas were averaging just about 30 bushels per acre. The cutting seemed to be going well, and the field looked nice and smooth where they cut.

Field of chickpeas east of Highwood. They averaged well around 30 bushels per acre.
Cutting close to the ground to catch all the chickpeas.

Without a grain cart, combines were dumping directly into the truck and two trucks easily kept up with two machines. While we have two carts still in the area, the wheat Paul’s cutting needs both carts to keep up.

Unloading without a grain cart. And yes, that’s Gus taking a break while it takes a bit to get a full load.

You wouldn’t think packing up would take that long, but it does. I will pull the trailer I pull behind my camper home and it’ll need to be loaded with my office, clothes, school supplies we gathered here recently, all Penny’s needs, and a myriad of other essentials we use while living on the road in the summer. I need to switch pickups and leave mine here so it can pull our camper when Paul moves to North Dakota. Our camper will need to be cleaned well for Paul and the fridge packed for him while he’ll be on his own for the next couple weeks before we can make it back out.

The trip home is 955 miles. I’m going to make it in one day. I have done this every year since Zoey started school, though last year I left from Plentywood, Montana, which is a little closer to home. I’ll probably take off around 4 a.m. and hopefully, if all goes well, make it home before dark. We will also be driving against a time change, and will add an hour to our drive.

A lot of people ask why we do not home school, so we can stay on the road. After weighing the options, we decided public school works for us. We are blessed with a really awesome school system at home in the farming community we live in, and they are incredibly accommodating of our schedule and what we do. Another reason this works, since we also work fall harvest, is that we have custom harvest customers around home. Paul can run crews by home so Zoey can stay in school and enjoy a semi-normal school year while we continue to harvest.

After a super late night, and a long drive ahead, I’m glad work is wrapping up here in Montana. A few chickpeas left to finish, and possibly helping out on some barley, then the rest of the crew can make their way to North Dakota. Hopefully safe travels for us all.

Christy Paplow can be reached at

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