Misener Family Harvesters ready to begin hard work
By Emma Misener
"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."--Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)
I can't help but think this Teddy Roosevelt quote applies to the hardworking American farmer, as well as hardworking American custom harvesters, and that's exactly what I am. My name is Emma Misener of Misener Family Harvesters. My job--rather, my way of life--is what makes my work worthwhile, and being part of a group that "harvests the crops that feed the world"--well, that makes me proud.
During the 2010 harvest I had the opportunity to share my livelihood with All Aboard Wheat Harvest followers as a guest correspondent on the tour blog, and this year I'll be sharing my journey with the readers of High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal each and every week. I'm excited to get to know all of you, just as I'm sure you're interested in knowing how I got into the business.
My father, Ron Misener, started Misener Family Harvesters in 1971 in Troy, S.D., after serving as an Army Sergeant in the Vietnam War. In 1975 my father was hired to help out on a farm where he met the farmer's daughter--and the rest is history. In 1976 Kristy Green married Ron Misener and our family got its start. I am the youngest of six, and Marie, David, Katie, Elizabeth, Daniel and I grew up on the floor of a combine with our paper and crayons, falling asleep behind the tractor seat after being hypnotized by the hum of the machines.
It was 1997 when Dad took two of our three combines south to Stockton, Kan., with my brothers and started the first year on the road. In 1998 it became a family affair.
I was just 10 years old when I finally got to drive. I suppose he finally got tired of my telling him it was "just like mowing the lawn, except with a 30-foot head." By the time I was 15 I was appointed to train the hired men and be a field manager. When Dad did the hiring he always made sure to ask one very important question: "Can you listen to a 15-year-old girl?"
In 2000 the family relocated to Elk City, Okla., so we would be closer to where our harvest begins. We usually start toward the end of May in Gotebo, Okla. Our harvest has started in the same town, with the same customers every year. From Gotebo, we move back home to Elk City and then up to Kansas where we make stops in Mount Hope and Oberlin. From Kansas we head to South Dakota, making stops in Gregory and Troy, and finally ending our wheat harvest run in North Dakota near Rolla. We don't stop there though; we continue fall harvest in Rock Rapids, Iowa, before heading back to South Dakota for soybeans and corn near Worthing and Dell Rapids.
Our crew is primarily family, but we hire four to six people. We run no more than five John Deere machines in Oklahoma and Kansas. We own eight machines, but three are left in the north to minimize travel on roads and to save on fuel. We have a grain cart pulled by a John Deere 4650 tractor, four semis and all the support equipment we need to operate. We also have three travel trailers for life on the road. To make life a little easier for my mom we have cargo trailer. This is where we keep three deep freezers, washing machine, pantry, generator and a grill. These trailers are pulled by our signature "Forest Service Green" vehicles.
This year harvest will be difficult. It's the first one without my father, who passed away Dec. 7, 2010. We have been faced with many challenges since his passing, but are determined to keep his legacy alive and to keep his way of life a part of ours. He is greatly missed, but I know he's with us leading us down the road.
Emma Misener can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.