Brian: Mama said there would be days like this

Onida, South Dakota—Everyone can use a little advice from time to time, and no one is better at dispensing timely wisdom than a mother. “Everything looks better after a good night’s sleep” is probably something your mom once told you, or perhaps “this too shall pass” was said to comfort you after a bad day. Moms always seem to know best, and we’ve been trying to take their advice to heart this week.

We’ve had a rollercoaster of a week, starting with the fickle weather. One minute excessive heat warnings had us sweating our socks off, but then we needed those socks to keep our feet warm with temps in the low 50s overnight. Some mornings were too cool and damp to get an early start, while other were so hot and windy we couldn’t get to the field fast enough. Just as we started to get our hopes up for a really big week, we experienced a major break down.

A bird’s eye view of the machines at work reveal a certain symmetry in agriculture often overlooked. Apparently this aircraft wanted a close-up view of our equipment and field.

A low fuel pressure warning on my machine began to intermittently appear, so I placed a phone call to the factory Harvest Support team. While I was on the phone troubleshooting, the engine died and would not restart. After a few hours of inspecting the fuel system it became clear we were going to need an in-field service call to find the problem. Of course rain showers off in the distance were concerning since I had wheat still in the tank. The stress level went up as the raindrops came down and I can confirm it is possible to manually fold by hand the power grain tank covers without the engine running—but it’s not much fun.

The dreaded fault code screen with the yellow exclamation point means our high pressure fuel pump must be replaced. Also dreaded, rain showers with wheat in the hopper on a non-functioning combine.

Being broke down during a rain delay seemed like the best possible scenario, but the repair did not go smoothly. A technician determined the high pressure fuel pump suffered catastrophic failure. After copious phone calls, I located a pump near by. Just as we got our hopes up for a quick repair the news came that another piece had been accidentally damaged during the failed pump’s removal. It would take two additional days to receive that part and the crew felt pretty defeated after being so close to quick fix.

With my machine down, David pushed extra hard to cover as many acres as possible. You can imagine the sickening feeling we all felt when his machine began to act up, the computer randomly shutting down certain functions. Somehow we managed to stumble across a poor connection with a critical electronic diode, and with some good old farmer ingenuity we came up with a temporary workaround … wiggle the wire till everything works again, then zip tie it in place and wrap it with electrical tape. Crisis averted.

Wheat fields compete with sunflower fields for the best use of the the color yellow in nature. Cameron waits in line at the elevator for his turn to unload his golden grain into silver bins.

Of course the week wouldn’t have been complete without a flat tire on Cameron’s truck, a rock breaking the pickup windshield , and some cold showers caused by a water heater on the fritz. Eventually our fuel pump repair was completed and both machines are back running side by side. Mama said there would be days—or weeks—like this. Let’s just hope there’s not many more any time soon.

Moms give the best advice … and cook the best comfort food. Vernelle helps lifts everyone’s spirits during this trying week with homemade pastries made with rhubarb procured from a local friend. Yum.
A close up look inside our failed fuel pump reveals metallic particles mixed in with the red diesel fuel. Bits and pieces of metal in machine fluids are a surefire way to ruin your day.
Cameron finds a flat tire on his semi trailer during his routine morning inspection. Inflation has caused the deflation of a tire to become an expensive repair at over $100 to patch a nail hole.
Green and gold with a beauty to behold. It may be wheat harvest now, but fall harvest is right around the corner for these sunflower fields.

Brian Jones can be reached at

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is brought to you by Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc.High Plains Journal, New HollandITC Holdings CorpU.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc., Kramer Seed Farms and Lumivia Insecticide Treatment by Corteva Agriscience.

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