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         Moundridge, Kansas

Harvest JournalHome PageFrederick, OKHunter, OKTribune, KSPhilip S.D.Fall HarvestArchives


At Home For A Few Days

The Moundridge area is the only place that I cut wheat for more than one or two farmers, in fact I usually cut for four or five.  That may sound like a real good deal.  Not so!  It is much better to cut for one large farmer than it is to cut for several small farmers.  That way you only have to keep one person happy.  If we have a rain delay and I have to move on to Tribune before I finish here I have several farmers unhappy with me, and they're my neighbors whom I have to live with all year.

 Wednesday, June 13, 2001

On Wednesday June 13th we moved home to the Moundridge area. I always try to cut first for Bruce Regier, my neighbor. My Dad started cutting for his dad some 40 years ago. We were able to cut about half of Bruceís wheat on Wednesday and finished on Thursday, then moved on to some other neighbors. The wheat in this area has really been surprisingly good. Yields have been from upper 40s to low 60s with one small field yielding only 38. I guess there is some truth to the old saying "if you plant in the dust your bins will bust". It was sure dry here last fall when most of the wheat was planted. We finished all that I had promised to cut yesterday June 19. Last night it rained in the area any where from ľ inch to 2 1/2 inches. Day off for the crew. I guess they deserve one. We will be moving to western Kansas at Tribune next week. Look for more reports later at this same site.

 McPherson, KS

 Well, the wheat at Tribune wonít be ready quite as soon as I thought it would be, so I called Mike Schrag, from McPherson who I do some fall harvesting for to see if he needs some help with his wheat harvest. He said, "I have over 500 acres left, and that is a lot for my old Massey combine. You bet I need help. You can cut as long as you want to or till we get done. And if you have to leave before it is all cut, donít worry Iíll understand." That is the kind of farmer a Custom Harvester hopes for when he has a little time to fill before heading for a large job.

With the rain on June 19th we were able to get in just one day of cutting for Mike, and I was sure that would be all we would be able to cut. We were unable to cut from Thursday to Monday the next week. This was really the first time off we have had this harvest. But we didnít sit around and twiddle our thumbs. Well, Wednesday was a little slow, we discussed some ideas to put on this web site. I typed them out and Chris our Web Master did the web work.

On Thursday we went to McPherson to do some much needed maintenance work on the trucks and combines. We found the right front wheel on Chrisís truck had a bad oil seal and most of the oil had already leaked out of the oil reservoir. Ouch! That could have been serious. Got a new seal, took the wheel off and was relieved to find that the bearings were still O.K. Did some more checking around on the trucks and decided that the left front tire on Benís truck should be replace. Got that done. Had Chris and Ben grease their trucks. Each has dumped just over 100 loads of wheat already this summer and the hoists are squeaking when they lift a load. They did a little complaining about it at first explaining to me that I hired them as truck drivers and not "grease monkeys". By the time the trucks are greased, I had to show them where most of the grease fittings were at, I explain to them that they look more like "grease monkeys" than truck drivers.

On Friday I told the crew that I had a special job for them to do. They were all wondering what was going to happen. We went out to the field and I showed them some weeds that were growing between the dry land soybeans and irrigated corn that the herbicide didnít get. Again I heard some complaining that I hired them as a harvest crew and not field workers, but we all got after it including the "straw boss" and the weeds were pulled. Well most of them. We left some for Chris and Jeremy to finish up on Saturday.

On Saturday Ben and I took the grain cart to Tribune. Oh, I could have done it myself, but Ben owed me for one day last week when I let him leave early, 5:00 PM, to go to a wedding in Inman with his girl friend. Itís amazing what a woman will make a man do some times! We had a good trip to Tribune with the grain cart. Ben drove out there, I dozed a little and made sure Ben wasnít dozing. He doesnít like to get up as early as I made him get up that day. When we got to Tribune I called Jim Shafer the farmer we cut for there and told him we were in town and would be for about an hour, did he have time to meet. Ben and I got the grain cart unloaded and went to the Burger Bar to eat some of the best hamburgers in Western Kansas. Jim got to town just when we were getting ready to leave even though he had said he would not come, but he wanted to take me out to a wheat field and get my advise on whether he should spray it for weeds.

Weeds are really a big problem in the wheat this year in a lot of Western Kansas. We looked at one field that Jim said that co-ops were supposed to spray the day before and hadnít done it yet. He said he called them and had some words with them about being so slow. I really have a hard time imagining Jim having words with anybody, because in over 25 years of working for Jim I have never heard him say a bad four letter word or show any sign of anger, and thatís in harvest time the most stressful time for farmers! And Jim is a farmer. One of the best farmers I know personally. I donít know how he can stay so cool with everything he has at stake this time of year. Jim and Kathy, his wife, are special friends to Mary and me.

 Lets see, we were talking about weeds in the wheat. Jim and I agree that the field should be sprayed to kill the weeds so it would be easier to harvest. He told me that he was spraying most of his fields and that some wheat was still quite green and the fields that he was spraying required a ten day waiting period before they could be cut. He was a little concerned if I would be able to stay long enough to cut it all. Remember earlier in this report I said that my turn would come for loss of acres when we get up north. On Sunday June 10th I called the Schofield brothers that I cut for in South Dakota. They informed me that they had made hay out of every acre of wheat that I cut there. I was not surprised to here that because I had heard reports that most of the winter wheat in that part of South Dakota was not good at all, and most of the farmers were working it up or making hay out of it. The Schofield brothers are cattlemen so it was in there best interest to make hay out of it. I canít blame them for that. I think this will be the first year in about forty years that Albrecht Harvesting will not cut wheat in South Dakota. You may wonder why not go anyway and try to find some wheat for someone else. That might be a possibility if the wheat I lost was just the only wheat that was lost in South Dakota. But when most of the wheat has been destroyed in and area that puts a lot of harvesters out of a job in that area and they are all looking for other farmers to cut for. Even here in Kansas, the Harvest Information Office has reported a surplus of harvest crews in most Western Kansas communities, so I think it would be best to just go home from Tribune.

 Well Jim and I agree that I should be in Tribune with the combines on Wednesday. Ben and I head back to Moundridge. This time I drive and Ben sleeps. How can he sleep so good in a truck? The first 100 miles he is out and doesnít care if Iím having trouble staying awake or not. We get back home about 7:00 P.M. Safe trip.

Monday June 25th McPherson, KS

We are finally able to cut wheat again. It has been one day short of a week since we last cut. I told Mike that we could cut all day Monday and till about 6:00 on Tuesday and then we would have to stop and load the combines to be in Tribune by Wednesday noon. He said that would be just great because by then we would have his wheat all cut. I told my crew that they would learn how nice it is to have a grain cart. We were cutting on a quarter section and when you get to the middle it is a long way to drive with the combines to unload into the trucks. Even so things go good until about 2:00, when after unloading my combine at the truck I slowed the engine down to turn on the header drive and when I accelerated the engine to start cutting again the throttle cable broke and the engine wonít accelerate. Thatís the first time that has ever happened to me in all the years. I called the dealer in Hutchinson to see if they had a cable. They informed me that they did not but the dealer in Great Bend did have one. Thatís nice. Just fifty miles farther to drive! My sister Shery was in the field, riding with Jeremy in the combine. I called Jeremy and asked him if his Mom would let me send Ben to Great Bend in her car to get that throttle cable. Ben is on his way.

 While I am taking the old cable off my combine Jeremy continues to cut with the other combine. The first time he came to the truck to unload I thought I heard a noise coming from his combine that does not sound right. No itís nothing. Just paranoid. The second time he came to the truck to unload I heard that noise again. This time Iím sure it is for real and Iím not just hearing things. I told him to stop so I could check it out. I was right. A bearing is out on the shaker shoe. If that isnít repaired immediately it will shake the whole shoe to pieces. Now both combines are broke down. Now with both combines down, will we be done by 6:00 on Tuesday? I called to Great Bend to see if they had that bearing. They did. I told them to send it with the boy who was coming to get the throttle cable. About 3:30, Ben got back to the field. Thatís a half hour before I expected him. I wonder how fast he drove? I chose to replace the throttle cable first because it would take much less time than the bearing. Jeremy is cutting with my combine by 4:00. I started to work on the shoe bearing and soon found out that it did shake some things to pieces. I called Mike to ask him if I could drive the combine to his place and use his welder. Sure, no problem. Jeremy cuts with one combine while I work on the other one till about 10:00 when it is to dark to see anything. Thatís O.K. Iíll have it going by the time the wheat is ready on Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 26th McPherson, KS

Well, I didnít quite have the combine all back together before it was ready to go start cutting, but Jeremy only made a few rounds before I joined him. By about noon we were done. And I was afraid we would not be done by 6:00. Now we have to clean off the combines and get them all loaded in the heat of the day. Oh well, by now my rookie crew knows pretty much what has to be done. Everything is loaded by about 3:30. A little time off before leaving in the morning.

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