combine driving, a tornado, and more

Some days when it’s time for me to blog, I have to think, “Hmm, what should I write about today?” Today is not one of those days.

This morning, Blake’s service pickup got ran over to Johnson to get the new rims put on. Typically, this is something Blake would do himself but with ripe wheat to cut and other stops to get to, it’s something we needed to have done. Since the new rims aren’t ford rims, the lug nuts wouldn’t fit the same so when I picked up the rims, I also had to pick up a lug nut kit. The kit was left in Manter this morning so I had to run those over so the rims could be put on. Thankfully, the pickup is finally finished. It may not be in our possession but it is finished.

Shortly after I got back from Johnson, Blake called me again. Lloyd, one of the hired guys who is actually from Manter, found out that his great-grandma is very ill so he was going to go say goodbye this afternoon. It is a good thing the crew was only a little north of his home town so it was possible for him to go. However, we were going to be short one combine operator. I told Blake that I would stay out there after lunch and try to drive combine again.

After lunch, Blake had to change a fuel filter in the combine. The Pro-Harvest team had given us an extra fuel filter so that when the alarm went off, we could take the old one off right away and put a new one on. They wanted the old one to do testing to it so they could figure out if the fuel filter was bad already or if there was a glitch in the combine’s computer system saying it was bad when it wasn’t. Holy (insert any word you wish here), it was hot out. I don’t handle the heat very well but have done okay this summer so far but today, I was not feeling it. Thirty minutes later or a little more, we were finally back in the air conditioned combine.

I watched Blake cut for a while and decided I thought I could do it. Mike, our farmer, does no till farming so he likes his wheat stubble 8-10 inches tall ideally. Other than that, the wheat was standing straight up, the straw wasn’t very heavy, there were no terraces in the field, and you could use auto steer the whole time. Piece of cake. The field we were cutting on at the time was 1 mile x approximately 1/3 mile, equalling around 200 acres of pure back and forth greatness. It is seriously WAY easier to combine here than Sentinel.

When that field was done, I had Blake get back in the driver’s seat and I hopped in the pickup to move to the next field. By willing to try to help out where I can, I feel like I’ve got a little leverage to negotiate what I will and will not do. I will not dig stubble out of the header, I will not climb on top of the combines for anything, and I will not road the combines. Really, my will not do items are all for the safety of the baby and others. (I shouldn’t breathe in too much dust and your balance can be off when you’re preggo at times.) When we got moved, the field we were cutting on next was where an irrigator was located. The irrigator basically makes a circle so the corners of the irrigated field would be empty but most farmers will plant something different there. Quite often, corn will be irrigated and they will plant wheat in the corners. In this instance, wheat was being irrigated but there was a different variety of wheat in the corners that was ready to be cut. In addition to the corners, there were 80 acres of wheat that went along with it.

I started cutting again when we were on the 80 and since the trucks were getting backed up, Blake and I thought it would be fine if he would take a truck load in and I would fly solo for a while. He was preparing himself for at least a couple phone calls with questions. We heard some chatter on the radio and then noticed a tornado was in the ground straight west of us. I actually was not panicking until no one else thought it was imperative to hustle up.

I’m not sure it’s going to do anything more than that.

It’s not moving very fast.

Think we should head in?

Pregnant lady people! I’ll leave you all in the field if you don’t hustle up. Okay, it never crossed my mind to leave them in the field but maybe I should have? Once the combines got up to the pickup and truck, then we had to dump the wheat on the truck and tarp the wheat. I was fine at this point because I could see the tornado and everyone was in the same relative vicinity. What was creepy is when the dust got so bad that you couldn’t see anything. Anyway, I was standing by the pickup ready to go so I snapped a few pics while waiting for everyone else.

I had Blake’s phone during the tornado fiasco and noticed that Gilbert, our farmer in Tribune, called. Blake didn’t call him back on the way back into town but Gilbert called Bruce right when we got into the camper to eat. Apparently, his wheat is ready – now. We knew it was ripening but were planning on heading up there Sunday to be ready to cut by Monday with one combine. Now, the plan is that Blake and I are going up tomorrow. Blake will drive combine and Gilbert will drive truck for a couple days at least. Once Lloyd is back, grandpa will probably come up there to drive truck.

Blake and I got the camper pretty well moving ready. It won’t take long at all for us to pack up shop tomorrow and we’ll be off to our third stop on the harvest run. The best news we got all day was that one of our custom harvesting friends looked at our fields in Chappell and he thinks it will be about ten days. We still have a lot to get done in ten days, about 3500-4000 acres but it’s definitely better than bring ready a week from yesterday. Really, every day counts. (I am fighting off the urge of adding a really cheesy line about making your day count but it’s been a long day and I’m exhausted!) I can’t believe it’s Friday again tomorrow. Hope everyone has a great weekend ahead!

The fields go on forever here.

Cutting out the darker variety of wheat around the light, irrigated wheat.

Blake, Bruce, and grandpa Lee all operating combines today. This rarely happens as usually at least one of them is driving truck.

We’ve got a twister!

Nice and blue to the north.

This is not the glare off the window. This is a Kansas dust storm. The wind was changing directions like crazy.

The really bad winds started getting past us, this is what a dust storm looks like from the distance. Whole new level of respect for anyone who lived through the dirty thirties. It had to be awful.

Ready to roll out in the morning. Well, once we lift the jacks and hook it up to the pickup, our home on wheels will be literally ready to roll.

A zoomed in version. Blake looked it up and it was about ten miles away. Close enough!


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