It’s been almost a month since I’ve taken the time to sit down and write. Time has spun a fast web and I’ve gotten caught up in it. To be honest, I have had the time to write in the past week or so, but lure of extra sleep or brief times we were actually home in Valentine outweighed sitting in front of a computer. Cell phone reception has also been pretty sketchy in the fields we cut, and that’s when I normally take the time to post anything new. Lugging the backpack with my laptop and camera equipment got be to be a pain in the ass too. I’m picky and don’t like it to be in the bed the of the pickup and we didn’t have enough room in the pickups for it to be comfortable. So, unfortunately, most of the pics I’ve taken have been from my phone.
My last post put us in Dodge City being constantly rained out. Since then we moved to and from Ogallala, NE and Hemingford, NE.
Dodge City/Ford ended up being a one hell of a muddy mess, but thank the lucky stars no one got stuck. We ended up pulling out and leaving just one combine and truck behind to finish up a particularly hellacious field.
We moved from Dodge City to Big Springs/Ogallala area in southwest Nebraska in a series of moves over the course of almost a week. The job itself went really well, even though we had to call in help for our second job near Chappell- there was no way we could do two jobs so close to each other with the amount of combines we had this year. Wheat from Scott City KS all the way into Murdo, South Dakota and places in Idaho and Montana ripened at the same time. I think just about every custom harvester was put into the same position as us. When we got to Ogallala, one of our harvest kids from last year took vacation from his summer job spraying for a co-op this year to come out and run combine for us. (Only a hardcore farmer would take a vacation to go work.) We “stole” a combine from Valentine and needed an extra guy. We were so glad that Seth was able to come and help us out and it was great to catch up with him.
I was able to meet up with the son of a guy that I’ve known for a very large part of my life. Darcey was in the Navy with my dad for many many years, and was pretty much an uncle type figure to me, along with the rest of the unit. His son, Logan, joined with a different harvest crew, and we knew our paths would cross at some point this summer. Luck be have, his crew was cutting less than a mile from us and we were able to chat in the middle of the road (literally) for quite awhile. I think our dad’s were pretty excited that we got to meet up.
The wheat at home got ready at the same time we were in Ogallala and those poor bastards only had two 670s with 35 ft heads. Virtually all of our wheat is irrigated, so it was a slow process until combines started to come back from Kingsville, TX. After they got two 680s with 40ft heads running with them, harvest went fast. It’s almost funny- Matt and I pretty much never get to see our own company’s wheat.
Ogallala came and went and we moved to Hemingford, NE. The same crew that helped us out in Chappell moved to that job and started for us there. We caught the middle of harvest there, and with two seperate crews, the wheat was knocked out in record time. The farmer had quite a few acres of yellow field peas this year, so after the wheat was done, we got the 680s blown off and pinned up to move to North Dakota, and sent everyone home to Valentine. Matt and I stayed behind with a 670 and a 35ft flex head to do peas. While Matt combined with the farmer, I did a bunch of maintenance work on the 40 ft heads, got the rotor bands and brackets in the 680s.
And we watched it rain and hail more than once. Once storm brought a fury of hail that seemed to just flip the bird to our farmer and only hailed out his crops. We used a scoop shovel to re-ice the beer coolers and sat in his shop and watched it all play out.
Hemingford is probably my favorite place to harvest at. We’ve been cutting for the same family owned farm for over 20 years now, and it’s always a lot of fun. Some customers you tend to bond more with, and that’s the case with this job. Another big factor is Phillip’s F&T in Hemingford. Phillip’s is a family owned fuel and trucking station/shop. They are hands down some of my favorite people on this earth. They are so much fun, helpful beyond belief, and always good for a laugh, shenanigans, and just a plain old stress reliever. They are friends. That statement may sound generic, but when you’re on the road for so long, the term “friend” becomes much more meaningful. These are people we talk to year round, people who know what our job entails, people who know the lingo, know when we’re stressed beyond belief, etc. When the night is winding down, you can usually find a movie projected on the side of the shop, wheelbarrows with iced beer, something cooking on the Pizazz, and always good company (and a dog to love on!)
Because of the weather and the delays, we managed to get home and sleep in our own bed on two separate occasions. I’m happy to say that the house is still in good repair from all of the vicious storms Valentine has had in the past week.
Now we’re currently calling New England, North Dakota home. The three combines and cart we needed were moved on Tuesday, and we followed with the pickups, shop truck and headers yesterday. It was a long and frustrating day for us.
Nothing is quite ready here near New England. We cut spring wheat, durum, and straight cut canola for this farmer. The whole area is green. Regent, ND is a popular place for custom crews to base their operations at and holy crap, I’ve never seen Regent so full of harvesters waiting. We sampled a bit tonight on the field that looked the most ready, but it was still at 17.5 on the hill tops. It’s going to be awhile, and we’re going to be here awhile. It seems like this year we’re either early or fashionably late. (Fashionably makes it sound better….?)
I’m still a sucker for a sunset and clouds. I don’t often take photos of people, but I managed to snap this one with him knowing. This is Jan, one of the South Africans that joined with us this year. He’s always taking pictures of harvest and every one else, but not many pictures get taken of him.
So, now we sit and wait in ND and hopefully something will happen later today or tomorrow.