We're scheduled to start cutting on Wednesday, but with the rain
we received today, that may be optimistic. Today was spent taking
the Kenworth for a drive as one of the guys reported that it
was "cutting out" when rolling down the road. It ran
perfectly. Also had to recharge the A/C system as it was low
enough that the low pressure switch prevented the system from
turning on at all.
Mike and I stopped and had a look at an FMC pea combine that
rolled down a hill after a hydraulic system failure. It went
off a small embankment and ended up on it's side. The operator
wasn't injured. Looked like a wild ride.
Paul and I moved a wheel tractor (4WD John Deere) with a flail
mower to a field. The weeds needed to be cut down pretty bad.
We also closed the doors on the two grain silo's the farm owns
as well as repairing one of the auger doors in the floor.
The rain last night kept us from cutting today. Moisture content
was way up there.
Troy and I finished putting together the rear end of the MacDon
swather that the farm uses for cutting alfalfa for bailing. Mike
came up with a dampener setup to help control how much the rear
wheels oscillate back and forth. They act a bit like the front
wheels on a grocery cart, and can be a real handful when out
on the road moving from field to field. Hopefully we'll fire
things up tomorrow.
My daily net haul: 201,000lbs
We got started first thing in the morning as soon as Mike got
a sample of wheat analyzed for moisture. Here are the guys (three combines)
out in the field next to the farm, and all four trucks in a row, mine
in the lead. Troy had one bad tire on his truck, and one of the
bankout wagon tires was low on air, but everything else ran well.
We finished the field next to the farm and moved over to another
field and have it 3/4 done. This year I bought a cheap Sony MP3
CD player ($50 at Best Buy) and have it plugged into the stereo
aux input in the truck. It's great having 140 songs on one CD
Daily net haul: 263,000lbs
finished off the field from yesterday and we moved to a new field
around lunch time. Cutting has been going well. One of the guys
broke a shear pin in a bankout wagon when he fired up the PTO
with the auger full of wheat. Bad deal, the auger had to be pulled
out with a forklift and the pin repaired. A few pictures: Front
of my trailer, Paul tarping a load, Barb on the way to
Mission (in the dust cloud), Cory running the 9750STS 1,2.
Daily net haul: 299,000lbs
a lovely start today. Alex picked up a hole in the hydraulic
filter on his combine somehow. We had to change it before we
could move to the next field. Mike had a strap wrench which wraps
around the filter and has a square tube that you put a 1/2"
wrench in and turn it. That filter was on there, but good! As
soon as we put any pressure on it, hydraulic oil just started
spraying out like a water hose. Had it running down both arms,
it was just nasty. Mix in a little dirt and dust and bleah. After
a lot of grunting and a little cursing, the filter came off.
When the filter sprung a leak last night, the engine sucked a
lot of it up through the radiator and plugged it up good with
straw and debris. Mike had to wash all that out with the fire
rig. No permanent damage done though, and an hour later we were
In the next field, we got a lot of wheat cut. It was a good day.
Pictures of the trucks and tractors this morning 1, 2, 3. One of the
city of Adams off in the distance
from the same field. Two of the lift platform at the grain elevator
in Mission 1, 2. It's used by
trucks that don't have tilt beds or bottom dumps.
Daily net haul: 279,000lbs
like it was going to be a hot one today and boy was it! Someone
said it was over 105deg F. We got in a good day today, shutting
down at 6pm instead of 7 as usual. So far, I've racked up 450
miles on the truck. Amazing how it piles on even for short hauls
like we're doing. Alex broke the sickle bar in his combine (no
fault of his, it happens) but other than that, things went very
well. Pictures: Dave loading Troy's truck with the green
bankout wagon with James waiting in line to unload, Troy kicking up some
dust out on the gravel road, the combine crew opening up the next
field, picture from my truck,
and finally a picture of the clouds off in the distance.
Witnessed a near accident at the intersection in Mission. As
I pulled to a stop getting ready to make a left turn to the elevator,
a driver in a Ford Excursion pulling a camper trailer pulled
out in front of a semi coming from Pendleton. The trucker locked
up the brakes on his trailer (it was unloaded, easy to do) and
missed the Ford guy by 20 feet or so at 40mph. Crazy stuff. I
can't tell if the Ford guy wanted to get through the intersection
before having to wait for me to turn, or if he was just careless
and didn't look both ways before taking off. Gotta be careful
was rather mild, temperature wise. Topped at about 90deg F and
there was a light breeze. We finished off the field from Saturday
and moved over to the large field near Milton-Freewater. Alex broke
yet another sickle bar, but other than that, it was a productive
day. In the morning, I made three runs to Mission, then at the
Milton field, we started hauling to the farms' grain silo's.
Made two runs there before quitting time. The farm has a complete
truck scale (big enough for a full semi) and large pit that can
take a full load from a semi at one go. It doesn't take long
to weigh, dump, weigh, and hit the road. Rode with Corey for
a bit in the JD 9750STS. Nice machine, really chews through the
The crew cut the majority of the Milton field. Had a bunch of
good runs to the farm silo's. Road time is the best time in a
truck :-) One fellow in a Honda was nice enough to let me merge
into traffic even though I was only doing 25 (and picking up
speed) and when we hit Winn hill (a major hill between Milton-Freewater
and Athena) he passed me and just about that time his car blew
something. A HUGE cloud of blue smoke poured out of the exhaust
pipe. I couldn't even see the car.
Had yet another idiot out on the highway pass me on the left
as I was making a left turn into the field. I was half way into
the left lane as well. Just crazy.
We finished off the Milton field around noon today and moved
back over close to Athena. I had the last load off the Milton
field and by the time I got back to Athena, the combines were
just rolling in. We had a lot of equipment packed into a small
area until the headers were back on the combines and they were
cutting. Here's some wonderful pictures of my handywork with
my semi, 1, 2. In the process
of trying to avoid running over the red van, I failed to notice
the nice dirt pile right next to it covered in weeds. It jambed
the rear tire on the trailer up into the bottom of the trailer
hard enough that the truck couldn't move. Paul had to chain the
wheel tractor to the trailer and pull me off backwards. We all
laughed. While sitting in the field waiting for a load later,
some random person pulled over and took a picture of Barb having
her truck loaded, 1. We didn't have a clue who the person
Saw Clint and Paul moving all their equipment back from the Spofford
field over in Walla Walla today. Called Clint on the cell phone,
he said everything went well. They'd been having problems with
a leased combine. They are the folks I worked the 2000 and 2001 harvests for.
The crew finished up on the field near Weston, and we moved over
to the Nelson piece just outside of Athena. Jason got his combine
stuck, but we were able to pull it out with the winch on Larry's
pickup. Barb was out sick, so it was just Paul, Troy, and I.
We made a total of 23 runs to the farms silo's. The odometer
on my semi topped 950 miles. Pictures for today: inside of my
truck 1, 2, 3, 4, and Paul guiding Dave
in loading his truck. The Fuller Roadranger transmission in my
truck gives a total of 13 forward speeds. It's broken up in first
through fifth low range, then 2nd gear is actually 6th in high
range with 6th through 9th being split, so 6, 6-over, 7, 7-over,
8, 8-over, etc. Basically, you run through the 5 gear pattern,
shift into high range, then as you work through the gears again,
you use the red thumb lever to split the gears, basically cutting
each gear jump in half to make better use of the engine torque.
When unloaded, I usually skip splitting gears as you can accelerate
faster in traffic by just using the normal gear pattern without
splitting. Each gear in low range is about 40% higher than the
previous one, but this drops to 17% or so in high range as the
engine has to work harder at higher road speeds. Factory diagram of the shift
We had a good day today. Paul was off so it was Barb, Troy, and
I running trucks. With the short haul to the farm silo's, it
wasn't bad. We finished off the Nelson field around 4pm and moved
up Holdman highway a few miles to the next field. Alex' combine
smoked badly when he started cutting into that field and Mike
had to work on it. The diesel fuel filter and air filter both
needed to be replaced. I got to run the wheel tractor through
town which thankfully has a pretty wide main street so it was
cake. Before we moved, there was a fire a few miles to the North
in a lentil bean field, but whoever was there got it under control
quickly. Took a couple pictures but forgot the camera in the
Well after having a couple very productive days, all three combines
were down with various issues right off the bat. Alex' combine
has a diesel injection system problem of some sort as evidenced
by the smoke when he starts
cutting. Most John Deere diesel engines will smoke a bit as they
rev up under load but then don't show any smoke when running.
Cory's 9750 lost the belt tensioner for the Rahco hillside leveling
system pump, he had to drive to Colfax, WA for the part. Jason's
combine broke the return auger clean in half. Larry was able
to get a new auger pretty quickly so we got Jason back up and
running. Alex' combine is down until Monday when a factory mechanic
will come work on it, and Cory's combine got running with just
enough time to finish his first pass around the field. Larry
called it a day as everyone was hot, tired, and stressed out.
Troy, Barb, and I each had two runs to the farm silo's, Paul
headed out to truck water to the cows the farm has. A couple
pictures of Troy's fantasticaly accurate weather vane made from
a water bottle and two pieces of straw, 1, 2. It actually
worked! Troy's German Shepherd, Chloe, has been riding with him
all harvest, James who drives one of the bankout wagons is on
the left in the second picture. I've been searching around the
internet looking for tips on how to troubleshoot the rolling
idle my truck has. The engine (Cummins straight six with turbo)
doesn't want to idle smoothly and really loads up. It takes a
few shifts under power to get it to clean out, then it runs great.
The network server at one of the schools I sysadmin for had some
issues so I had to work on it until 9am today, then I headed
out to the field. The crew just about had the field from Saturday
finished then we moved. As we started cutting the new field,
a storm rolled in. We got quite the lightening show! Pictures
of the clouds 1, 2. We got a little rain but not enough to
stop cutting. Later in the afternoon, Corey had an "issue"
with the 9750. Seems the stub axle that had the rear wheel motor
break off a couple years ago actually cracked in half this time.
He was coming up a hill out in the field when it happened. A
bunch of pictures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. We pulled the broken axle parts off and
a new stub axle will be here first thing tomorrow morning. The
rest of the crew kept cutting while Mike and others worked on
Mike and I started in on the combine axle first thing. Larry
showed up with the replacement axle a short while later. With
the help of Lonnie from Les Schwab we had Corey's 9750 rolling
in an hour. Alex's combine had injection system problems again
but Mike seems to have it running good now. We finished off the
Price field around 2pm and moved to the last field in that area.
We should have it finished in just a few hours tomorrow morning,
then it's off to the Stockman field with all the windmills. A
few pictures, one of the sky today and 1, 2, 3 of the truck
hoist at Mission dumping a small wheat truck. It's the same hoist
that I linked pictures to earlier, this is just from the other
side. The odo in my truck shows 1250 miles.
The crew finished up the Price field in a couple hours and it
was moving time. We took everything except the wheel tractor
over to Stockman (it's too hilly to use the wheel tractor). Each
of the trucks got in two runs to Mission. Having the Stockman
run happen later in harvest is nice because we're all in a trucking
frame of mind, instead of starting off harvest with the hardest
run. One section of the road is 25mph, twisty, and very steep.
It's not what I'd call a good time. My truck has been running
really well since this morning, the injection system is running
properly again for some reason. Makes driving this truck a joy.
There were more thunderstorm warnings in effect. We got a very
slight rain where we were at, but got a great view of all the
lightening up in the mountains and around Mission.
Jason's combine lost a bearing on the unloading auger drive.
Just as we finished it up, the rain started coming down bigtime
at the Stockman field. Mike called it off and we all left. I
went into work to have lunch with the staff and then headed over
to the Reeder's fields to see what was up with them. I had a
fun afternoon chatting with Clint and catching up with them.
Their fields didn't get any rain and they were cutting as usual.
We'll see what Stockman looks like tomorrow.
We rolled into Stockman around 7am and things didn't look good,
1, 2. It started
raining again. The rain stopped a bit later and the guys gave
cutting a whirl. The wheat threshed okay so we made a go of it.
Picture of a somewhat steep section with Cory's 9750 just about
maxed out in the leveling department, Cory and Mike opening up another
field at Stockman, picture as they passed my truck. After
I made one run to Mission, it really started to rain again and
we had to shut down for the day.
The crew showed up at the Stockman field at 7am again and serviced
the combines and bankout wagons. Things were far too wet to cut
so Mike sent everyone home and he'd give us a call around 2pm
letting us know if we were going to cut later. When he called,
it was still too wet to cut so we had the day off. I visited
Clint and Paul again and gave Cody a hand unloading one of their
Gleaners that had a broken unloading auger. Fun stuff.
All the equipment was ready to roll first thing so we got to
work. Mike wants to be done with Stockman today. Between Paul,
Troy, and I, (Barb had the day off) we made a total of 18 trips
to Mission, about 1.5 hours per trip. I was so beat at the end
of the day, but we got the field done! The last trip in to Mission
there was a semi with a potatoe trailer being dumped on the lift.
Pictures 1, 2, 3. While I headed
back to the ranch, the combine crew moved their gear back to
the farm as well. We'll be starting off on a field right next
to the ranch tomorrow. Mike hopes to be done with harvest by
We put the headers back on the combines, the crew serviced the
machines, and they were off and rolling. We knocked out a couple
of fields 1/2 mile from the farm, and then moved to a pair of
fields bordering the farm driveway. We worked until about 9:30pm
to make up time. Driving my semi is a lot of fun at night. Almost
no one out on the road, few distractions, peaceful in a way (the
humming of a big diesel engine). Mission was a fiasco. Trucks
were parked clear back to the corner store, probably 30+ trucks
in a row. It took me about 1 1/2 hours to get through, which
is no good when you have three combines cutting in good wheat.
A picture from my truck
at Mission of the wheat pile and a semi in the back being dumped
on the hoist, the wheat pile, one of the sunset (the dust in
the field gives it the hazy effect), and one of the sky overhead at
The crew finished the field next to the farm and then headed
east a bit to the next field. They were able to knock out three
fields before the combine guys took off at 6:30pm for a concert
in Hermiston. Mike, Lance (fellow from the local NAPA store)
and James drove combines after dark with me in a bankout and
Troy running his truck.
We finished up the field from last night and cut three more fields
even farther east. Daves green bankout wagon lost the PTO gearbox
and Mike rented another bankout wagon to finish harvest. It has
a huge auger in it and can really unload wheat!
The crew cut after dark a bit opening up the next field. Pictures
from Mission showing the truck situation 1, 2, 3. Barb cruises by in
her Freightliner, just leaving Mission. The guys at Mission started
having the long haul truckers weigh at the ArrowHead truck stop
just up the road, and then come in to dump, saving a lot of time
weighing on the small scale which was technically illegal anyway.
The line got better later, and wasn't nearly as bad the next
The guys were able to finish up the field they started yesterday
by nightfall and I took the last load into Mission at about 9:30pm.
We should be finished tomorrow by 10am or so, having just one
small field left to cut. Picture of Tony at Mission cleaning up the grain
pile, I'll try to get a picture of the pile next week when it
will be at it's peak. Mike did some dozer work (1, 2) on the ditch
that the bankout wagons had to cross to reach the trucks. Mission
was a lot better today. Later in the day there was still a good
wait but folks weren't parked out in the street. Thankfully there's
a store close by that we can stop at on the way out for something
Harvest is over! Corey and Alex cut the last small test plot
and just barely filled up my truck. We parked equipment and they'll
have to figure out where to dump my truck as there's a hodgepodge
of wheat in it, and it can't go to Mission. We had a nice pizza
party at the ranch and everyone pretty much split as it was so
hot out. Picture of Corey cutting the last field, folks
at the party, and the harvest crew. All told, the
truck drivers each put better than 2500 miles on their trucks.
I'll have to get a total on how much wheat we actually hauled,
but it was substantially more than last year. I keep debating
on whether to ask the boss if I can drive a bankout wagon but
really enjoy truck driving.
Epilogue: I stopped by Mission today to see how big the wheat
pile has grown. It's pretty impressive. It's grown from a bar
asphalt pad to this and then to this as of today.
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