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Steph: Who likes predictable, anyway?

StephNEW_thumbnailSt. Francis, Kansas—I hope everyone had a fantastic Fourth of July weekend! Osowski Ag Service spent it out in the field doing nothing more American than harvesting a beautiful wheat crop. Well, it feels American (and normal) to us anyway.

We have a little bit longer haul these last couple of days, and with these yields we have been seeing, two semis versus one semi and one tandem seemed like the better way to go. This means that I’ve been driving our blue Peterbilt instead of Purple. This also means that the length of my rig has doubled, going from a 22-foot box to a 42-foot hopper bottom trailer. The best way I’ve found to describe this difference is in relating it to putting your foot in a shoe that is much too big for you; you love the shoe but it just feels a little awkward. My turns had to be a little wider and my awareness turned on a little higher but all in all, I think we get along just fine.

The wheat we have been cutting has continued to be superb, with test weights between 62 and 64 pounds and yields in the 60s. Farmer Randy is one happy farmer. Thunderheads have been surrounding us at our fields the last couple nights but they have yet to affect our progress…until last night. We were just finishing up a field and preparing to make the long haul to the next when Mom pipes up saying she had just checked the radar and by the looks of it, our next field was getting watered. Our plan for the night was quickly flip-flopped, going from moving equipment to the next field to heading home and calling it a night. Oh, the unpredictable world of a custom harvester.

Quote of the Day“When freedom calls, you let it ring.”

Stuff Harvesters Like—When harvest friends show up to camp by us in between their own harvest stops. (Always great to spend time with Russell Harvesting!)

Brandon using autosteer.

Farmer Randy.

Riding around in the grain cart with Farmer Randy is always entertaining.

Trucks all lined up.

That’s a lot of blue in one photo.

Heading back in.

Wheat.

Combine.

Wheat.

Wheat.

Unloading action.

Mom and Dad.

Mom and Dad joking around before we enjoy a tailgate supper.

Our buddy Brady and Brandon enjoying supper.

Our buddy Brady from Russell Harvesting and Brandon enjoying supper.

Dad and Farmer Randy.

Farmer and Randy and Dad.

Wheeler elevator.

The elevator in Wheeler, Kansas. I only had to make a few trips but it was great to meet everyone there!

Ready to unload.

Blue in the elevator.

The elevator guys workin' hard.

The great elevator workers at the St. Francis Equity.

Blue at sunset.

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. You can contact Steph at stephanie@allaboardharvest.com.

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Posted in 2015, All Aboard, Crop Updates, High Plains Journal, New Holland, Photos, Sponsors, Stephanie, Syngenta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Laura: Half-time

LH Blog PhotoPark, Kansas—I think it would be appropriate to say it is half-time for wheat harvest 2015. Most of the cutting has wrapped up for us in the area, with the exception of one combine, so the majority of the crew was at headquarters doing some much needed maintenance before the second half of wheat harvest begins. Mark ambushed the crew with his camera phone this afternoon and got some nice action shots of the activity in the yard!

The crew plans to take the first load of equipment to Colorado on Sunday. If you see us on the road, we’d love to know with a honk and wave!

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Darrin, from Carrico, was out today helping with some tractor maintenance.

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Pieter G. was manning the grease gun.

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Michael power washing the combine.

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I’m not sure that Dalton was amused with the paparazzi! 

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Marnus waiting his turn to do some scrubbing.

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Wian doing some deep cleaning with the power washer.

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The blur of this picture must reflect the speed of Kirby on the creeper!

Also working hard, but missed the impromptu photo shoot, was Pieter T., Albert, and Jaap!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. You can contact Laura at laura@allaboardharvest.com.

 

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Posted in 2015, All Aboard, Crop Updates, High Plains Journal, Laura, New Holland, Photos, Sponsors | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Z Crew: Wrap-up in Garden City

headshotLouisville, Nebraska/Garden City, Kansas—Another stop has come and gone for the Z Crew. Mom and Dad finished July 1 in Garden City, Kansas. Callie and I didn’t even get into the field! The farmer really must’ve done something right with his wheat. It was a phenomenal crop, but for a lot of the people in the area the wheat wasn’t much to talk about.

Mom and Dad’s best piece of irrigated wheat clocked in at 100 bushels an acre and a 60-pound test weight. There was a little irrigated that did about 60 to 65. The irrigated wheat was a bit of a hassle because the grain was dry but the straw was green. They had to cut the wheat going a top speed of 3 miles an hour so the sickle would cut the straw properly. But on the bright side it was flat ground with no mud!

In terms of dryland wheat, Dad talked to other people and there were reports all over the board. Our dryland went 40 to 60, but again, not everyone’s did that well. We just happened to cut some doggone good wheat. They had great cutting conditions with long days working until 10:30 p.m, leaving the field around 11 p.m. and then running to Garden City for a quick dinner.

Now that they’ve finished in Garden City, we’ve run into a bit of a problem. We were able to finish the acres so fast that we now have two weeks of free time before Limon, Colorado, is ready. That’s just the unknowingness of the job. Mom and Dad are using their harvest contacts and networks to find a space-filler job. For the moment Dad’s decided we may move up to the Goodland and Colby, Kansas, area and park in hopes of picking up some work. The next problem we will run into is that Colorado and Montana crops look like they’ll be ready at just about the same time!

Callie and I are doing well here at home. She gets back today from Chicago. Her Annual Report team placed fourth in the nation. Go, Cal! She’s a rockstar. I’ve been spending my time with Jamie, Nora and Eli. I’m dreading the goodbyes next week! Just a few more days and we’ll be back on the road.

We don’t have any big plans for the fourth here in Nebraska. We attended the local parade, swim and watch some fireworks! Down in Kansas Mom and Dad were joined by Jenna. I think they were excited for some new company! So from all of us in the Z Crew we wish you a blessed and safe Independence Day weekend full of great weather and fireworks.

(Thanks for the photos, Mom!)

Z Crew: end of the day
Wrapping up work at the end of a long day. I’m sure Dad was doing his nightly job of blowing off the combine.

Z Crew: wide open
Garden City is probably one of the most beautiful, flat areas you’ll ever see. If you like wheat, you can’t help but like the landscape.

Z Crew: wheat!
Ma really captured a great photo of the wheat during the “golden hour”!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. The Z Crew can be reached at zcrew@allaboardharvest.com.

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Posted in 2015, All Aboard, Crop Updates, High Plains Journal, Jenna, New Holland, Photos, Syngenta, Z Crew | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Steph: First days in Saint Franny

StephNEW_thumbnailSt. Francis, Kansas—Words you’re rarely going to hear my dad say in the same sentence are, “I don’t think we’ve ever taken this way before.” Each summer, we take the same roads and stop in the same towns and fuel up at the same gas stations. So, imagine my disbelief while traveling to St. Francis that these words were said over the radio! It was a different route over the last 140 miles of the trip that took us through towns we hadn’t passed through, and I saw a few wheat fields I’ve never seen before so that was pretty neat. It seemed we chose the hottest day of the week to travel, though, it being 103 degrees and all.

Osowski Ag Service rolled into the city limits of St. Francis around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. I think our tires took a sigh of relief after being on the smoking hot, black pavement all day. Dad and Mom went to unhook and setup the trailer while Brandon and I unhooked and unloaded all the equipment. Then, in true harvester style, Brandon and I took a main in the service truck to see how good ol’ Franny was doing that fine evening.

Farmer Randy was waiting and practically twitching with excitement to get us out in the field yet that night but ended up letting us wait till the following morning so we could have a fresh start. We had perfect conditions for cutting. Picture this: bright blue sky, puffy white clouds sporadically placed in the sky, combine running smoothly with dust blowing swiftly out the back, light breeze blowing through the air.

However, toward evening, clouds started surrounding our field. It sprinkled but it didn’t stop us one bit, we kept on rolling and it turns out sprinkling was all it planned to do! The dust was still flying and the moisture on our truckloads went even lower, if that makes any sense at all. Also, just a little fun fact for the day, a gentleman was in the scale house during one of my trips to the St. Francis Equity and we got talking about AAWH and he pulled his handy-dandy notebook out of his shirt pocket and asked me for my autograph. Talk about a sweet gesture!

The yields have been between 45 to 60 throughout the field so far. Test weights have been around 62 pounds. We have another 80-acre piece that will be ready for us to cut today (Thursday) but after that one, we may find ourselves playing the waiting game for awhile before more fields reach harvest stage. Just means we will get to take in all the excitement St. Francis has to offer! And it’s Fourth of July weekend so pretty good timing, wouldn’t you say?

Quote of the Day—“I’ve never been so excited to have an empty truck in all my life!”

Stuff Harvesters Like—Running into other harvesters at local establishments at lunchtime! (Isn’t that right, Steigman?)

Quick pitstop in Hill City, Kansas.

A quick pit-stop in Hill City, Kansas.

If you're ever in Hill City, check out this resturant! Some delicious homecookin'!

If you’re ever passing through the Hill City area and are feeling hunger pangs, Osowski Ag Service highly recommends Red’s! Talk about some delicious homecooking.

Back in the wheat!

Back in the field!

Chomping.

Steering wheels make good chew toys.

Meet Brady, Farmer Randy's cute little grandchild.

Meet Brady, Farmer Randy’s cute little grandson. This is his first harvest!

Where the green grass grows.

Where the green grass grows.

Crusing right along.

Farmer Randy drives his tractor/grain cart while we are cutting his wheat.

Farmer Randy runs his tractor/grain cart for us while we are combining his wheat.

Purple.

Storm clouds.

Storms a’comin!

Trying to beat the storm.

Pretty cool looking, if I say so myself.

Made for a pretty cool background for the evening.

See the windmill?! I didn't tll after I took it.

See the windmill?! I didn’t see it till I threw my zoom lens on and snapped this photo, so it must have been meant to be.

Farmer Randy and Dad, riding around in the tractor.

Dad rides around with Farmer Randy in the grain cart.

Night shift.

Night shift.

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. You can contact Steph at stephanie@allaboardharvest.com.

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Posted in 2015, All Aboard, Crop Updates, High Plains Journal, New Holland, Photos, Sponsors, Stephanie, Syngenta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Megan: Checkin’ off the southern states

8895283761_27d9efa015_tAs I mentioned in my previous post, I’m trying my darndest to bring you all up to speed on Roland Harvesting’s latest happenings. On June 17, Brandon and the crew moved to the next place on our agenda, Carmen, Oklahoma. Since rain had settled in near Duke, Oklahoma, Dad and Ben stayed behind with a combine and truck to finish up the job while the rest of the crew traveled north.

In the week prior to our arrival, the Carmen area received over 8 inches of rain. The interesting part of this statistic is that the annual precipitation for the area is usually only around 30 inches per year! Therefore, it was no shock to us when our first day in Carmen was spent taking samples and waiting on the wheat to dry down. Regardless, the time was not wasted. Harvest Support tracked us down and helped with computer and electronic updates that were needed for the last 10 days.

The next day, we were finally able to get in the fields and kick up some dust. The moisture remained low enough to continue cutting, but the saturated ground couldn’t always hold the equipment. The combines got well acquainted with that red mud in no time! The wheat yielded between 30 to 50 bushels per acre with test weights as low as 54 pounds due to the late rains. Along with the recent moisture, grass and weeds began overrunning many of the fields. In turn, the combines and operators had to work extra hard to ensure the machines wouldn’t become slugged.

On June 22, the harvest gods continued to test our patience. Around 10 a.m. Brandon noticed a fuel leak on his CR 8090. The leak was caused by the fuel lines rubbing together, and luckily the machine was still under warranty. After traveling to Harvest Support to get parts and put everything back together, the combine finally got fired back up around 4 p.m. The rest of the evening was spent maneuvering between the weeds and mud, making it an extremely trying day. Brandon decided to make one last round for the night before calling it quits and lo and behold, he ended up buried in a mud hole. It was one long, bad day. The combine was in such bad shape that the next morning they were just moments away from calling a dozer to pull it out. However, with one last “Hail Mary” attempt they were finally able to get it out with our farmer’s massive tractor.

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Part of the convoy all loaded up and ready to head to Carmen, Oklahoma.

Combine tracks
The first of many “almost got stuck” views. When you feel yourself start to sink you try to get out as soon as possible!

Miss Mary's cookin'
Miss Mary once again spoiled the crew with her delicious meals!

Cutting away
Kicking up dust as Brandon and Joel finish cut out a landing.

Buried combine
Not so lucky this time…

Joel got stuck
Joel stands by the first mud hole he encountered.

Mud tracks
A little aftermath from playing in the mud.

IMG_2454Brandon knows that harvest sunsets are my absolute favorite. I’d say he captured this one beautifully!

Unloading chain
Sometimes it’s a group effort for everyone to get unloaded.

Despite the uphill battle we were able to check off Carmen, Oklahoma, from our list. On June 24, Brandon and the crew loaded up and moved near Amarillo, Texas. The journey was filled with tire troubles and unexpected road construction. Halfway through the trip the pickup was forced to stay behind after a blowout on the header trailer, so the oversize loads led the way. Suddenly, they passed a sign that read, “Road work: 1/2 mile ahead.” Of course, there were no pull-off options or places to turn around. The convoy had no choice but to slowly squeeze past the cement bunkers and guard rails, with not more than a couple inches to spare on each side. The crew had checked online before leaving and there were was nothing marked on the map. Even after this incident Brandon double checked online and sure enough, this road construction was not posted anywhere. After all the excitement the crew eventually made it to Amarillo safe and sound. The last few days Roland Harvesting has been going over some serious acreage.

Irrigated wheat
The crew was welcomed by these gorgeous, flat fields of irrigated wheat near Amarillo.

Meanwhile, this entire time Dad and Ben have been stuck around the Duke/Altus area. Due to several sporadic rain showers it has taken considerably longer to finish up than originally planned. The extra rain means they have also been fighting mud. Dad says the last couple weeks have felt like Groundhog Day. Since our new combine is still out of commission, Dad is continuing to use our old CR 8090 as a replacement. This ol’ yellow beast has been giving him fits lately. A few days ago the combine encountered a computer issue that left him stranded in the middle of a back road for almost seven hours. Despite the many struggles Dad finally broke his time warp on June 26. The next morning Dad and Ben moved their single combine show to Perryton, Texas.

Typically, we move in a northern direction as we follow the harvest across the Wheat Belt. However, these areas of Texas come off at a later time due to the higher elevation. It seems backward to move from Oklahoma back to Texas, but that’s the reality of harvest.

Water across the roadHere is one of the roads Dad had to cross around the Altus area. Seven days after the last rain, water was still running across the road.

Wind turbine on the horizon
There were over 350 wind turbines adjacent to these fields around Perryton, Texas.

Wind turbine at dusk
Day is done.

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. Roland Harvesting can be reached at megan@allaboardharvest.com.

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Posted in 2015, All Aboard, Crop Updates, High Plains Journal, Megan, New Holland, Photos | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments