Roland crew moves south, deals with travel delays
Tuesday, June 11
Since I was unable to help with the move down south, I received play-by-play reports from the crew about their adventures on the road. The start of their move went smoothly until around Wauneta, Neb. There, they were surprised to meet road construction, where work was being done on a bridge. When moving a harvest convoy the last thing you want to see ahead are orange cones, stopped traffic and road construction equipment. Talk about a headache! This is simply because we have such long and oversize loads that it is often difficult to fit through many construction areas or to get our large rigs turned around if need be. With that being said, it was quickly determined that there was no way our oversize loads would be able to fit through the narrow one way bridge. Luckily, they were able to get the convoy turned around and rerouted themselves to a 58-mile detour to avoid the mile and a half of bridge construction. They safely made it Colby, Kan., that evening with no more problems.
The next morning, the crew encountered more unforeseen delays in Colby and got a late start. The next stretch of the trip went fine until around the northern border of Texas, where one of the combine trailers blew a tire out. Fortunately, they were only a few miles from Perryton, Texas, so they limped the trailer to town, where the tire could be repaired. When moving a convoy the pilot car is responsible for calling out any old tires on the sides of the road. (We call them “alligators” due to the look of the tire tread alongside the highway.) We do this so the rest of the crew isn’t wondering if that blown tire came from one of our rigs or if it was there previously. The person at the rear of the crew is then in charge of calling out any “alligators” that were not acknowledged by the pilot car, so we can get the caravan pulled over to investigate which tire was blown, how badly it is damaged, and what the best solution to the situation is. Oftentimes, it is difficult for the driver of an oversize load to know if he has blown a tire so it’s essential for the crew to follow this process.
Roland Harvesting stayed in Perryton that night and finished their journey the following day with no complications. The convoy pulled into their destination near Altus, Okla., around lunchtime and quickly unloaded the combines and hooked up the headers. As fate would have it, they were only able to get a truckload and a half of wheat harvested before it began to rain. The next day the crew sampled throughout the day in hopes of getting going again, but had no such luck. They also made minor adjustments to the combines and headers to finish polishing up the machines after a long winter of sitting. The next two days Roland Harvesting was finally able to get some long, successful days of combining in. Getting in the groove of harvest is always a great feeling! Last night, more rain showers came through the area, dumping over a half an inch of moisture on the fields. Sadly, with heavy rain like that, there will be no harvesting done today. (However, the rain is certainly welcomed by the locals, since they have experienced such extreme drought the last few years.) The crew hopes to get started again tomorrow, and the weather seems to be in our favor. The 10-day forecast is calling for hot, sunny days with 100-plus-degree weather, which are ideal harvesting conditions for us!
Saturday, June 15
Last weekend our crew encountered many rain showers and were shut down for a couple days due to the high moisture of the wheat near Duke, Okla. Since that time, the weather has turned very hot, making for long work days in the field. Roland Harvesting has been able to cut for many consecutive days in a row, making this week very productive for us. Due to the lower yielding wheat, the combines have been able to go over a large number of acres in a fairly short time. Yields have improved a bit, with certain spots making up to 25 to 30 bushels per acre.
We have faced the challenge of working in many small towns around Altus, Okla., which means commuting several miles to and from the fields everyday. Although the wheat was gold, the crew embraced their “green” side, as this stop was quite a learning experience for many of our rookie crew members. If all continues to go well, the crew should wrap up in the next day or so and head north to our next stop near Enid, Okla. Mom and Dad are tentatively planning to leave from home and meet the boys there with the grain cart, camper, and other combine.
Megan Roland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.