Thoughts from a Harvester (not a HarvestHER)

After reading a post recently on Facebook, I started thinking, “What have I learned from harvest and why do I do this”?

I thought I would jot a few things down. I figured it might help me understand more of why I do what I do. A kind of therapy, I guess. I have something here that I know I can add to as time goes on. Something I can look at when needed as a reminder. The learning never stops, the list will always change – probably daily – and get longer with new experiences, right? It makes you stop and think about the crazy life we love.

WHAT HARVEST HAS TAUGHT ME…in no certain order, of course:

To do an excellent job for your customer. Their happiness and a good job finished will give you the ultimate satisfaction. Be a part of their farm plan to help make them profitable.

Teach a few guys each year what I know about harvest and life. Hopefully, it helps change their lives so they can be the best at what they do, no matter what that may be. To build life-long friendships with many kids from another part of the world who come to the United States knowing nothing about what they’re getting into. Maybe being that Dad to them – if they need it.

Greet your employees (and anyone) each day with a hand shake and a “Good Morning”!! Everyone’s day starts better this way! Say “Please” and “Thank you”…it’s respectful and polite. I learned these two items of real importance from the gentlemen fro South Africa!

Never expect your employees to do something you wouldn’t or couldn’t do yourself. But try hard at all things!

To run the combine (it’s about doing the best job with that machine) and do a better job than the next guy! My competitive side I guess! Doing with that machine what my Dad taught me and making it better.

Don’t let others try to tell you how to run your business…they may have alternative motives.

Visit with the people that have become good friends or acquaintances over the past 5 decades. They won’t always be here. People that have seen me grow up from a little boy, to me seeing them age or ripen like the wheat, to seeing them pass on, like harvest! I’ve never thought about it that way before until now. Some go too soon and it crushes the hopes and dreams of family and friends, while others live their full life like a crop aging to harvest. Those of us that have grown up doing this have sprouted, have continued to grow and age, have been taken care of by the Lord and will someday be a part of the Lord’s ultimate harvest! Strange way to look at it, I guess, but true!

To help another good harvester get a job. This is satisfying – especially if they appreciate it! Some will…some won’t!

Never do it for the money. You’ll find yourself rushing through the job and a poor job will spread like wildfire in this business! Money you EARN pays bills and helps you become a more giving person. Greed will create a person you don’t want to become and lead to a poor reputation, as well as self destruction. Take it one acre at a time and reap all that has been sown. You’ll feel better at the end of the day! You know, “An honest day’s work”!

Breakdowns, accidents, injuries and bad days will happen but how you react and face the situation will show your true character. Many times in the past, I didn’t do well. I failed miserably!! The Lord has helped me improve on this!!

I’ve been learning over the past 5 years that I’m NOT in control; faith in God is a must! I have to ask for His help with handling the stress, the anxiety, the fears and the worries! I also thank him for EVERYTHING! He gives me what I need…that’s all I ask for. Without a really TRUE friend, I wouldn’t have learned this! He’ll keep the work in front of you if you let Him be the one in control.

A true friend will make your world a better place – all of the time.  I don’t have family with me at harvest time. Quite often a daily chat with a true friend that has an understanding of what I try to do each day HELPS me get through the struggles each day. I hope I’m that good of a true friend to others! True friends are priceless. There’s no replacing them. They’re a gift from God! They know that sometimes your life is in the pits and they do what they can to pull you out of that hole. They’re awesome!

It’s taught me about trust – know when to walk away! Very few people you meet will be a trusted friend. Trust wisely! Make good choices!

Think about what you’re going to say before you say ANYTHING!! Very important! (I have a hard time with this.) Don’t yell! (Getting better at this! A lot better!) Remember, if you’re tired, they’re tired too!

Each spring we prepare for harvest much like the birth of a child! We get everything ready for its arrival and then it’s here and we do our best!! Harvest goes fast, like life. When it’s over for the year it’s actually depressing, like losing someone you love! You mourn that it’s over and you celebrate the season, the new and renewed friendships, what God gave us.

And it’s okay to cry!

04/29/17 – Hodgeville, Saskatchewan Canada

Aneroid, Saskatchewan Canada

Dana Petersen – L. Petersen Farms

Pre-season? Post-season? Harvesters in Saskatchewan are not sure what season it is.

Typically at the end of April, farmers in Saskatchewan have usually started planting or are thinking really hard about it. As for L. Petersen Farms, we are back in the field…once again…but it is #harvest16 that we are still working on!

Patient kiddos waiting in the field.

Today, Saturday, April 29, this HarvestHER was to take the kids to a badminton tournament in a neighboring town.  On the way home, we stopped to check on #harvest16.  Today, we are harvesting corn that was left out all winter and conditions are now finally favorable to harvest this crop!

I guess meals in the field will start tonight!  Happy harvest…or happy planting! Enjoy whatever season you are currently a part of!

04/28/17 – South Heart, North Dakota

Nancy Eberts – Eberts Harvesting, Inc.

Another day almost to a close. The crew is working together (as I snapped a few shots) on last item of the day…getting corn planter ready! I think everyone is ready for our planting season to be over and harvesting season to start!

Crew Eberts

JD and Dylan

Josh and Myron

West of our house. Who doesn’t love a sunset?

BBQ Ribs for supper.

The beginnings of butter noodles!

04/27/17 – South Heart, North Dakota

Joe S

Nancy Eberts – Eberts Harvesting

In 2003, we hired a young man named Joe and we were excited to have someone from Maine USA on our crew!

Way back in 2004, when Joe was working for us. He is sitting toward the back and Evan is in front. They are watching tv in the camper. Always serious – even when relaxing!

Last week, Joe came from Maine and, truth be told, we still get excited to see him!

Joe worked for us for three years from 2003-2006. He was a part of the summer and fall harvests and one of the few who was able to do the Nebraska and North Dakota fall harvest.

Joe’s first couple of fall harvests were in Nebraska. He also was able to be a part of our fall harvest currently in North Dakota. This was taken in 2006.

Our friendship has only grown! He has made it back many times (sometimes we’re lucky that he brings Casey along) and there is usually…well…okay, almost always grease involved! There have been weddings, as well, that he and Casey have come back for!
Since he has been here, we have had snow, rain, wind, sun, frost and fog…pretty much all the seasons! In, yes, less than ten days!
He leaves Saturday and we couldn’t be more grateful for all he’s done.

Miss Casey

He is simply a blessing!

Joe swapped a CAT C12 engine with a worn out cam shaft for another CATC12 engine. This is no small task and everything went well…he nailed it!

It’s running!!

This wasn’t the first time. Last fall, he swapped a C15 engine with a 3406E engine!

Again, nailed it!

Last fall when Joe and Casey came out and he was ‘motorin’.

Joe’s work ethic and ability is no surprise to us. In Maine, he is a shop foreman. He has a crew of three other guys that maintain twenty two semi units, seven dump trucks, thirty three semi trailers…live floors, low beds, dump trailer, chip trailers, flatbeds…thirteen excavators, three horizontal grinders, seven wheel loaders, two rollers, a dozer, and thirty one vehicles.
It’s no wonder he calls this a vacation!

He is even humble enough to stay at the Ritz (aka Myron’s and my camper) and appreciates the meals!

Again, we are blessed.

I texted Casey today and she was worried that he wasn’t earning his keep.  I told her if we could rope the moon, we’d give it to him! So many young men and women over the years and Joe is simply one of the best.

He even helped Mason build a play set while he was here for Maci’s 3rd Birthday!

Marv, Brent, Mason and Joe “building the park”. 

There’s always stories, memories and laughs. Joe manages to somehow let the current crew know that they have it made!
Those conversations usually start out with, “Back when I was here…”

This is what harvest is all about – forming lasting friendships!

My hope is to highlight several of these this year as we keep in touch!
Stay tuned!

04/25/17 – Burlington, Oklahoma

Anders, Marti and Miquel discussing farming (Catalonia, Spain).

Amanda Buus Thomsen – BT Harvesting

A peek at Spanish Agriculture

Before our harvest prep really got going this spring, my harvester and I decided to take a trip to Denmark to see his family.

We hadn’t been back there in two years, so we were a bit overdue. It was very nice to spend some time with his family and friends and celebrate our nieces’ 7th birthday.  We were also able to have sort of a reunion dinner with our former Danish employees. We really enjoyed spending the evening talking to the guys.  It was especially rainy on the west coast of Denmark while we were there so I don’t have any pictures of his dad doing field work, but they do raise canola, beardless wheat, oats, barley and rye. Hopefully next time we’re there the weather will cooperate a little better.

We were able to find some super inexpensive flights to Girona, Spain, so we arranged to see one of our former employees, Marti.  We hadn’t seen Marti in 2 years so it was nice to catch up with him and see his country. Catalonia (the northeast region of Spain that is bordered by France to the north and the Mediterranean to the east) is breathtakingly beautiful.  It is very different from what we are used to, but, thankfully we traveled there to see something different!

Besalu, Catalonia, Spain. It really is that beautiful in person!

The house we stayed at while we were there was called Cal Santu. A beautiful place set just outside of town. We would highly recommend this house to anyone visiting the area!

First, their fields are pretty small.  And I don’t mean like a short 40 kind of small, I’m talking like a half an acre small.  A really large field would be about five acres in size. It seems crazy to think that they would have fields this small, but it is a pretty small country with a lot of people, so space is limited.

A terraced canola field.

The size of a typical Catalan field.  We saw fields smaller than 1/8th of an acre and a field as large as five acres.

Marti explaining Catalan farming practices to Anders.

We visited Marti’s boss, Miquel, and saw his farming/custom farming operation.  He farms 250 acres and custom farms around 2,000.  Those 2,250 acres are spread out amongst 300 to 400+ fields.  (A 40’ head would make short work of some of those fields!)  Fifteen tractors, two combines and several slurry tanks round out his farming operation.

Four of the five combines that Marti’s boss, Miquel, owns.

Walker combines are a common site in Europe.

Miquel also has a 700 head feedlot that is regarded as a large feedlot for their area.  Their feedlots are quite different from ours in the fact that they are all open-air and under a roof.  Their facility was pretty clean and all their cattle were in very good condition. It was a pretty impressive set-up!

In Catalonia tires can’t be used on top of silage pits because of problems with standing water and mosquitoes.  Instead, they use gravel to weigh the plastic down.

The outside of one of the feedlot barns.

In 1997, due to the BSE crises, the EU mandated that all cattle have the same tag in both ears as one of the ways to help ensure traceability from birth to slaughter.

Cows lined up at the feedbunk.

One of the two open-air barns at the feedlot.

We also visited Marti’s grandparents, Joana & Miquel and I absolutely loved their house!  Their “basement” was actually where the livestock lived up until about 40 years ago.  Homes were built this way so the heat from the animals would rise and help warm the main floor where the families lived. The stalls, gates and feed bunks were all still there, waiting to be used. Joana & Miquel lived on the main floor and years ago, the top floor was used to dry and store grain.  You would never find a home like theirs here in the States. Marti’s grandfather, Miquel, also has around 600 head of hogs. Sadly, the barns were being power washed that day, so we couldn’t go through them.

Marti’s grandparents, Joana & Miquel’s house.  Stone houses are the norm in Spain.  You won’t be able to find a stick built house there.

At the end of Joana &Miquel’s house is an area for storing hay and straw used for the livestock that were housed under the house (in the “basement”).

In addition to the stalls, there is also a faucet/sink for watering livestock.

Stalls, complete with feed bunks, hay feeders and stall doors.

Since livestock are no longer housed on the first floor of the house, it is mainly used for storage. In Catalonia, it is common to take the cut side of a tomato and rub it on bread that is used for sandwiches or served with dinner. Here Miquel uses one of the larger stalls for drying and storing tomatoes.

We then went to tour the chicken farm that Marti’s mom, Gracia, and uncle, David own.  Their three barns hold around 18,000 chickens each, so they have a total of about 54,000 birds that they feed, water and care for.  Those are pretty similar to what we would see here in the States – very automated.
Our time in Catalonia was complete with a quick trip to Barcelona, visiting beautiful places you only see in pictures and a cookout at the home of Marti’s friends, Quim & Mariana.  Thank you to Marti, Edu, Gracia, David, Ivona, Miquel, Quim, Mariana, Joana & Miquel, Jordie & Julia for a wonderful trip and letting us peek into your farming operations!
The beginning of our Catalan feast!
Everyone that made our trip to Catalonia amazing! (We were only missing Edu that night)
Now, it’s back to our reality! We had all of our guys fly in last week, so we’ve been busy in the shop, getting Social Security cards, bank accounts set up and ready for CDL tests.

I hope everyone’s year is off to a good start.  We’ll be hitting the road before we know it!