going solo

Yesterday, I undoubtedly earned my keep, in my opinion. Grandpa had to head to Manter yesterday morning to drive combine since Lloyd was gone to his great grandma’s funeral. The crew was close to finishing the job in Manter and need to get to our next stop in Chappell. The last few days were hot and the wheat is ready to go. With grandpa gone, our crew was quite slim. Blake was in the combine and our farmer, Gilbert, drove truck for us.

For lunch I took out the sour cream bacon chicken and rice. I thought it okay but the guys liked it. I don’t mind cooking but I find it frustrating trying to keep the meals warm. I think we are going to invest in a nice warmer like Blake’s mom has. It takes a lot of the stress out of hauling meals. We aren’t split up all the time but it would be nice for when we are and for fall harvest as well.

When I found out that grandpa was going to be gone, I told Blake that I could ride along in case Gilbert got tied up dumping and Blake needed to take the other truck in. That way, I could drive combine while he was dumping and keep the machine rolling. The morning had gone well so Blake didn’t think he would need me but I decided to ride for a bit anyway.

Gilbert took a few loads in and then needed to run to do something. Blake finished loading up the first truck and since Gilbert wasn’t back yet, I told him I could drive combine so he could dump the truck. (The other truck was empty but it is a decent ways to haul in the truck so it takes about an hour. If he would have waited, both trucks would have been full at the same time so the combine would have had nowhere to dump on, leaving it idle.) Blake took me up on my offer and nervously, I embarked on my first solo round of driving combine. Three rounds later, Blake was back and the combine and I had survived. It may have taken me a little longer to do each round and it definitely took me a lot longer to dump but at least we kept the thing running.

Part of the reason it took me a lot longer to dump is because it was blowing like crazy yesterday. Not only was it 100 degrees but the wind was blowing 30-50 mph depending on the time and gusts seemed every bit of that if not more. Although it is nearly impossible to be completely spill-free with winds like that, it’s even more difficult when you’re a newbie and not 100% sure of yourself. I never heard any complaints from Blake so it must have been fine.

When Blake got back I rode with him for a while longer. I know I should embrace this quiet time but it is kind of boring when you’re completely by yourself in the campers. Most of the other harvesters are gone from our lot and even if they were here, I’m not quite the social butterfly I used to be. I feel I may have maxed out my calls to my mom and sisters the last couple of days. Being “bored” won’t be an issue next year and I’m sure I’ll look back and think of how relaxing it was so I should really try to appreciate it now.

It turned out that it was a good thing that I stayed with Blake. Something else came up for Gilbert and he had to go for a bit again, putting Blake back in the truck and me in the combine. I had a little glitch this time around, I hit the wrong button for my reel (the thing that goes round and round and have the little fingers that push the wheat heads into the combine) and so it was a little too far out. When your reel is too far out, the wheat field looks similar to a yard that was mowed with dull blades. Every once in a while, you’ll have some tall guys standing. Although this doesn’t amount to much bushel-wise, it looks like a completely unprofessional job. Blake came to my rescue and trimmed it up a bit when he got back. Other than that, it was problem free.

I didn’t get back to the camper until 10:30 and my lunch dishes weren’t done until 11:30 or so. Granted, I did some other things around the camper as well. Blake got home just after I wrapped things up and we didn’t go to bed until after midnight. I had been pounding fluids the last couple days and definitely noticed when I had to get up not two, but three times to go to the bathroom. Annoying but way better than lazy-fying headaches.

This morning, I slept in a little later than normal. Between the heat, wind, late bedtime, and getting up so many times in the night, I was tired I guess. When I started making lunch, I thought I was making enchilada hotdish for four people. Grandpa was going to be helping the other part of the crew move north today so he wasn’t going to be at lunch. The reason I was making enchilada hotdish is because my husband loves spicier foods but grandpa can’t eat them because he gets terrible heartburn. Just as I was going to start putting the hotdish together, I was informed we would have six, grandpa included. I ended up just making bbqs since those are fast and he can eat them. When I got up there, they had already unloaded the grain cart and so the timing worked out fairly well. After lunch, grandpa and Andy headed back south to load the combines and get going on the trek to Chappell.

Leigh (Blake’s mom) stopped in today. She and Lloyd were pulling campers and were ahead of the rest of the crew. I lost track of time somewhat so the crew ended up getting pizza tonight. They haven’t had pizza at this stop yet so it worked out fine. Also, the baby felt like puppy chow earlier so at least they also got a little treat.

When I got out to the field, Gilbert had some friends from Colorado who were riding with him and Blake. They were very nice people and nice to visit with. I got back to town around eight and got Steve (our grain cart operator) a motel room. We don’t have the bunkhouse with us and though we have an extra room, it’s kind of turned into our office/ pantry/ catch all (and currently housing our old stove until we have time to get it to the dump). On top of that, it’s important to us to have our own little space. It helps Blake unwind after the long days he puts in and I look forward to that time of day as well.

I realized that I’ve been lacking with pictures so I’ll try to get some tomorrow. Blake should be finishing with Gilbert tomorrow or early Friday and on to Stan’s we go. When we finish with Stan, we will be finished with Tribune. This will also wrap us up with Kansas and one-half of our stops. Additionally, by the time Blake and I meet up with the rest of the crew in Chappell, they could have a good chuck of that done. We are moving right along!

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Look guys, no passengers!

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I’m a little scared but I did it!

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Puppy chow. Another perk of having a stove: making treats!

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2 responses to “going solo

  1. Proud of you, kiddo. Care for a suggestion? No? OK, I’m gonna tell you anyway. Inverters don’t cost very much and you could plug a crock pot or any electric heating device to keep the food warm en route to the crew.

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