|Yet another harvest season is
here! I'm working for Barnett & Rugg in Athena, Oregon again.
B&R is a fairly large outfit and harvests with three JD combines
(one is a new STS), two Cat Challenger 85C's with bankout wagons,
and five semi trucks with 40 foot grain trailers. We should be
cutting about 5,000 acres this year.
The fields we are harvesting are located around Helix, Athena, and Adams, OR. The area is located in the NE corner of Oregon, just south of the Washington border.
Check back daily to see what we go through getting ready for harvest, as well as what we go through getting harvest done. Click the dates below to view the journal entries.
Update: We did start cutting today around noon. First field is the Stockman piece, north of Helix. You can see a small town named Touchet from where we were. The Stockman piece has had a number of windmills installed for power generation. Each is capable of 660KW at rated speed. For size comparison, here's a shot of Troy driving his truck in front of a windmill. I think the rotor diameter is something like 180 feet. Harman is driving truck this year to help out. He's driving the cab-over International that Troy rebuilt over the winter. Picture of Michael running one of the Cat Challengers and a bankout wagon behind one of the windmills. These four windmills weren't there last year. All the green you see was a wheat field that we cut last year.
Pretty normal day today. Got in three loads as the crew is cutting on some very steep ground and can't run nearly as fast as on the level areas. Tomorrow they'll be back on the level ground and production will be back up.
started in on the Dudley piece first thing. It was VERY hot today,
topped 100deg F, and there was almost no breeze. The guys were
making very good progress cutting from the inside of the field
out in a circular pattern. As the John Deere 9750STS cruised
by, we smelt something burnt. Mike hopped in his truck and checked
on the various combines. I had my portable CB with me and Troy
and I were kicked back in lawn chairs trying to stay cool. Over
the radio, Cory asked if we were there and that he might need
a fire truck. I jumped on the JD 9400 wheel tractor and hauled
butt down to where he was, with a disk in tow. He and Mikes son
were able to put out the small fire that started. The combine
had died on Cory twice and the second time he climbed up into
the engine compartment and saw a lot of burnt wheat chaff, and
heard a faint crackling noise. That was the beginning of a fire
down on the ground. He worked fast and got it put out. There
was an 8 foot wide black spot under one of the rear tires. They
washed out the back of the combine well and moved it over to
some plowed ground to work on it. A few hours later, with some
new parts, it was back and rolling again. That was far too close
a call for anyones liking.
said that whoever wanted to work on Sunday could. The crew started
cutting around 7am and we closed up around 3 in the afternoon.
It was hot but there was a breeze that made it livable. I jumped
on the JD9400 wheel tractor and disked around the edge of the
field near the houses for a fire break in case anything happened.
Larry got one of the 9600's stuck in a mud hole from a crop circle.
The wheel tractor was able to pull it out at idle in first gear.
That thing is a beast. It's also sweet to drive.
The two 9600's finished off the Nelson ground and we moved North to the Steen's. I drove the wheel tractor over, and the bridge that we had to cross was necked down to one lane of traffic in each direction. Luckly I didn't run into any other traffic as I moved across the bridge as quickly as I could. We were still hauling into the farm grain silo's, so the road trips were relatively short. Later in the day, Casey's 9600 got a flat tire from hitting a tine off a field plow that had snapped off and sat in the dirt. The tire guys were still working on repairing it when the crew headed home.
After the headers were reconnected, the crew cut the spring wheat that was left at the two Athena fields. One was across the highway. After that, everyone moved back to the farm and started cutting across the road. After 7pm, Larry and Harman cut after dark, when the crew retired for the day.
There is a field right next to the farm and it was cut today. Larry and Harman had opened it up the night before. The guys got cutting and knocked it and another field next to it out quickly. We then moved back down the road to a field on the way to Adams. Larry and Harman again cut after the crew took off for the night.
After finishing off the field from last night (Larry and Harman cut until the semi's were full), the guys finished off four corners around a crop circle and then moved to the next field. They made very good progress on it and finished it in about five hours. On to L Quarter. They got about half of it finished by nightfall, when Larry and Harman again came out and cut. I ran bankout wagon again and unfortunately got too close to my truck when unloading and dumped wheat off the backside. I didn't see it till it was too late, and got to shovel it up the next day. What a lame start to your morning :-)
the tiny bit of L Quarter field that was left and moved to the
LaCourse fields that comprise three different locations. They
were all around the farm grain silo's, but we hauled everything
in to Mission. The combine drivers saw a number of deer beding
down in the wheat before they cut it.
thing in the morning, we moved SW to a field called Long Quarter
and the combines started cutting. The haul road is a fairly long
gravel road than changes to asphalt before merging with the highway.
Runs to Mission should have been short, but the second run I
made, I ended up at the end of a LONG line. Actually parked out on the
main road until the line moved up. One kid was driving a beat
up old Chevy
that didn't have a tilt bed on it, so the larger of the two scales
had to tilt it up to dump. After it came back down, the guy couldn't
get it to start so four of us drivers pushed him off the scale
and when he dropped the clutch, it fired up. Later in the day,
he was back and the exact same thing happened. Bummer. The small
truck side of the pit wasn't able to accept grain for a while,
so the smaller trucks would weigh, and then drive down to the
main grain pile, dump, then come back up to finish the weigh-out
Polished off the third field from yesterday and then moved about five miles north to a field (called Ralston) behind Adams, OR. The first field had an alfalfa crop circle in the middle, with wheat growing in the corners. The crew knocked that field out pretty easily. The 9750 has been having intermittant overheating problems, and it's still being worked on.
Woke up to the sound of rain and called the boss. He said come on out and we'll see what the field looks like. Turns out almost no rain had fallen in the field, even though it's only five miles away from my house. South Ralston was finished yesterday, and today we cut North Ralston and Waters. The crew was really humming, cutting went well. The guys packed it in at 7pm, and then Larry and Mike ran the combines to finish the Price field, with Troy and I driving bankout wagons again. Fun stuff, dusty as hell though. There were tons of pheasant hens running around out in the field. The wheat was somewhat stunted, and had to be cut very low to the ground, leaving perhaps three inches of stubble. Being as how it was Sunday, trips to Mission went very quickly as only a few other farms were cutting today.
One of the combines had a hydraulic hose go bad and Cory's 9750 lost the bearing that the eccentric shaft rides in. That shaft shakes the sieve and chaffer in the threshing unit. Those got repaired and then it was moving time. We're down to cutting a couple fields east of the ranch. While the truckers waited at the ranch for the combines to show up, a different crew was across the road cutting another field. I hauled three loads of "seed" wheat to the farms grain bins and it will be re-cleaned and treated later. The other guys hauled wheat to mission. Casey cutting the seed wheat, the other two combines working a sidehill. Things were going well until Cory's combine ate itself. The sieve and chaffer were both damaged when the sieve broke from metal fatigue. Sieve with Mike pulling the brackets off, and the chaffer. Picture of the inside of the seperator with the parts removed. John Deere included a set of built-in work lights for when you're up inside working. Very handy. Picture of Troy, Cory, and Michael checking out the situation.
It rained pretty hard last night so we got off to a slow start. Mike and a couple of us finished putting the 9750 back together and buttoned up. Alex cut a test strip in the wheat for a sample. The grain tested about 3/4 of a percent under what Mission would accept so we were rolling. It was slow going until the weather warmed up a bit and the field dried out some. Good progress was made until both Casey and Alex' 9600 combines had sickle drive problems. As those were being repaired, some very dark clouds rolled in from the SW. One of the guys reported that Hermiston had 2" of rain fall in short order. It was near 7pm and as we started to pack it in for the night, the storm hit full bore. I managed to tarp up with a full load before the rain hit. Picture of the clouds, and one of some lightning. We were right in the middle of the storm with lightening strikes all around. Neat to watch, but not conducive to getting harvest finished. It started to downpour and I cruised back to the farm and opened the shop so Troy could park his loaded truck inside without having to tarp it.
After the weather from last night, we didn't cut all day. I hauled the load in my truck to Mission and when I got out to the field, Mike said it was a no-go. Checked in at 2pm and he said maybe tomorrow. Spent the afternoon visiting the Reeders (I worked for them in 2000 and 2001). Was nice to talk to them again. Hopefully we'll be rolling tomorrow.
Things were looking up. We took a sample cutting in the morning and it was at 12.5% moisture. Mission said they'd take it without penalty, so we were rolling! We have three fields to do. One of them was fairly steep, as show by picture 1 and 2. Shot of Michael coming down the road with a load of wheat on. I took that road behind him to get to Mission. The Kenworth pulled it easily in 4th at about 16mph. Troy lounging around waiting for a load, Barb's truck is in the background. She had the day off. After we finished the first two fields, we went back and cut a research field that the OSU research folks had cut samples out of. It all went in my truck and may get hauled to Hermiston tomorrow. That last field was cut at dusk, and the sun was pretty (1,2,3).
is officially finished! BBQ for the crew will be next Monday.
Overall it was a good harvest. We cut a little over 5,000 acres
in 22 days with three combines, two bankout wagons, and four
trucks. There was a late start one day and one full day off because
to sign my guestbook!