clouds to the west and a storm on the horizon had Dean scrambling
early this morning. Last night, they had filled all the trucks, the
grain cart, and combine, but had left the grain cart and combine uncovered
when they quit at midnight. The weather forecast didnt call
for rain but we did get an early morning shower. Dean had time to
tarp the grain cart and move everything to the edge of the fields
before the lightning got bad. Lots of people were scrambling, too,
as I watched truck after truck head down the highway for the elevator,
trying to beat the storm.
the grain cart & tractor, they unloaded the combine on the "go"
yesterday. The tractor driver positions the grain cart under the combines
unloading auger, and the tractor and combine drive alongside each
other until the combines grain tank has been emptied. Since
the combine can continue to cut wheat, it really makes a difference
in how many bushels get cut - over 4,000 with one combine today. Thats
enough for over 290,000 loaves of bread!
brother came home today to help with harvest but Lawrence only got
to drive one truck to town when they unloaded the grain cart &
combine this afternoon. By 7:00 p.m., the wheat had dried out enough
Dean could start cutting again. He couldnt cut too late because
the wheat wasnt any too dry and the humidity level rose quickly
once the sun went down.
all day for the sun to come out and burn off the humidity and dry
down the wheat today. Dean finally got back to cutting in late afternoon
but Grandpa took over so Dean could go help coach Julies last
ballgame of the year (and eat watermelon with the girls afterwards).
Hes been cutting wheat close to the house that was damaged by
both the April freeze and the May hailstorm. It "made the most"
(highest yield per acre) that theyve ever had on that field.
Theyre anxious to get into the better wheat tomorrow.
like each day brings some type of combine repairs. So far, these recent
ones have been ones the guys can do themselves in the field - replacing
chains, bearings, belts, etc. The repair bill at Millberger -where
we go for combine parts - must be adding up!
when I took lunch to the guys, one was running the combine, one was
baling the waterway, and one was driving the truck. Lots of activity!
Were looking for custom cutters - custom harvesters - but havent
been able to hire any yet. Theyre cutting wheat from Texas to
South Dakota and out to the Colorado border - all at the same time.
Usually, there are lots of custom cutters here as Highway 281 - Hoisingtons
Main Street - is a major north-south route used by the crews. Its
discouraging to watch crew after crew roll thru town and not stop.
Theres a lot of wheat still to be cut in this area.
4-H Sheep Project Leaders & older 4-Hers helped the kids
shear their sheep tonight. They should be a lot cooler, which will
be good since the temperature hit 102 degrees F. today.
Day of the 1997 Wheat Harvest! Weve finally got harvest weather
- where the wheat & weather are cooperating and you can start
at 10:00 in the morning and cut until midnight or later like Dean
did last night. Wheat yields are still very good and our wheat is
still No. 1 quality wheat. The smaller grain elevators in the area
are starting to fill up. Since most of the railroad lines have been
abandoned, most of the grain elevators count on unloading grain into
semi-trucks which haul the grain to larger elevators with more storage
space. This year, the trucks are in super short supply. The railroad
hasnt delivered the grain cars that have been ordered so the
grain elevators are starting to worry about where theyre going
to put all the wheat thats coming in. Were not even half
adjustment today - the hoist at the grain elevator quit working so
all trucks have to be able to unload by themselves. It means we cant
put quite as much wheat on our 34-year-old wheat truck. The truck
bed is raised using a steel cable rather than hydraulics and it takes
a little more patience and care than the newer trucks.
Deans brother, made another trip out to get to ride in the combine
and drive the old truck to town. On their way back to Salina, he counted
27 trucks in line at the Dorrance grain elevator. Weve been
fortunate to be able to unload quickly in Hoisington but the lines
have been really long at other area elevators.
in Kansas changes quickly! This morning, its cloudy, windy,
and cool. When the kids walked their sheep up the hill to the radio
tower, they wore jackets. A high of 80 degrees F. is predicted for
today, with chances of showers. Although the wheat stalks are still
tough this morning, the wheat kernels are very dry. As long as the
guys slow the combine down and allow extra time for the straw to be
cut and move thru the machine, they can still cut wheat.
hot dry weather dried the swathed (cut) alfalfa. If it doesnt
dry out, it will mold or rot or can even catch on fire once its
rolled up into the big round bales. The trick is to have enough moisture
in the leaves so that they wont fall off the stems as the baler
picks it up and rolls or presses it into a bale. The leaves are the
most desirable part of the alfalfa. With this mornings cool
weather, John is baling alfalfa while Dean is cutting wheat and Bruce,
our summer high-school employee, is driving the wheat truck. Grandpas
helping out whenever and wherever needed.
2 custom harvest crews down Main Street coming back from the grain
elevator. One was from South Dakota and one was from Saskatchewan,
Canada. Both turned west on Highway 4 (Hoisingtons Ninth Street).
We do have someone local who has finished his own cutting who will
start on one of our fields this morning. That should help take some
of the pressure off.
grain elevator, I learned that this is Jims 29th wheat harvest
as the scaleman. Jim is a schoolteacher who comes back each year to
stamp the truck weights & record all the information about each
load of wheat on a scale ticket. It takes someone sharp to keep track
of all the tickets as full trucks roll across the scales and empty
trucks come back to be weighed again.
information about who owns the wheat - not only which farmer but also
which farm owner - also has to be recorded accurately for each load
July 4, 1997
lost 25 acres of wheat in a wheat field fire this afternoon. Luckily,
there were no injuries and no equipment was damaged. A bearing went
out on a combine and the hot metal dropped into the wheat and started
the fire. The combine drivers had fire extinguishers but couldn't
get it out before it really got going with a gust of wind. The fire
was on the very top of a hill so the flames and smoke were visible
the combine drivers had a cellular telephone and could call 911 right
away. The fire departments from Beaver, Claflin, and Hoisington responded.
In small towns & rural areas, the firefighters wear pagers and
the fire whistles still blow to summon them to fight a fire. Watching
these volunteers, you have a great appreciation for their dedication.
Dean & I talked to the guys from Beaver who had been cutting wheat
and dropped everything to come fight the fire. They were headed back
to their own wheat fields when the fire was out.
time the fire started, Dean had his combine stuck in the mud in another
field. They were pulling it out with the tractor. The swather had
just broken down, too, so it wasn't the best of afternoons. Before
he quit cutting for 4th of July fireworks, Dean cut the wheat field
just across the highway from the house. It was all for seed wheat
and he left the wheat straw to bale.
4th of July fireworks at our house weren't near as dramatic as the
afternoon fire. Between our kids and the neighbor's kids, they put
on a show and had fun. Dean's parents came out, too. We sat and watched
all the fireworks going off in town and around the countryside, as
well as the big fireworks show at Great Bend, 17 miles away. We couldn't
see the ground show but the aerial display was fantastic.
a lot into today. Dean got started cutting early but picked up a rock
with the combine header while talking to me about lunch on the radio.
The rock broke some "fingers" that had to be repaired and
replaced. While they were working on that and Deans dad was
making another parts run to Millberger, it sprinkled.
had hoped that one of our neighbors would finish cutting his own wheat
and be over to help this afternoon but Alan called and his combines
"wobble box" was broke and he wouldnt be able to get
his combine repaired until at least mid-afternoon. Farmers have their
own farm lingo just like all the other professions.
used the small square baler to bale the wheat straw right across the
highway from the house. When were calving, we use the straw
bales in the barn to help keep the calves warmer and drier. We also
build our doghouse out of straw bales. Theyre also used in nativity
scenes at Christmastime, to mulch gardens, and to keep pets warm in
winter. Very few people still have the small square balers or mess
with straw bales. Its time consuming, and "bucking"
bales is hot, itchy work. The high school boys decided they preferred
going to the weight-lifting room to get ready for football this fall.
We did get 3 trailer loads picked up and under cover before the rain
and I went back and checked out where the fire was the day before.
The guys used the tractor and disc to cut up the ground around the
smoldering bales so that the fire couldnt go anywhere else.
We stopped to take pictures of the combines that were finishing up
cutting our wheat on the field next to the one that burned. It was
fun to watch the old, small combine cutting with the larger combines.
Hoisington grain elevator filled up this evening - just as the rain
hit. The grain elevators in Boyd, Claflin, and several other area
communities had filled up and there were wheat trucks coming to Hoisington
from everywhere. The lines of trucks at the elevator were long it
took a long time to get unloaded and back to the wheat field. The
elevator manager stayed at the elevator all night and unloaded wheat
into semi-trucks so that there would be room for more wheat tomorrow.
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