Saturday, January 18, 2020

Final Post 2019 Harvest

View of the day-We made it to the end of the line!

The weather finally took a turn for the better and we were able to finally get the 2019 harvest done . We finished Oct. 25 it was by far the nicest day we had in along time. 

The farmer we work for had decided to rent a Case IH 9230, from the local Case IH dealer, to make sure we were going to get done. The other harvester he hired had 2 John Deere combines...they were broke down a lot, so much so, that the harvester sold them off and bought a Versatile combine.

After everything was finished up, Al cleaned up the combine at the farmer's place and the plan was to get it hauled home within a week or so. He then decided he was going to drive it home...it is about 110 miles so it would be a long drive with 2 big valleys to go through.

We left early on a Sunday morning, but by the time we got to the farm it was snowing and blowing, so Al decided we would haul it home instead. Then, because he could not get it hauled before we left for the toy show in Red Deer, he ended up driving to the farm of a former employee of ours. Aaron had worked for us over 20 years ago on the harvest run and was good enough to find us a spot by the bush to park, so that is where the combine will spend the winter.

We left for Red Deer for the show Nov. 4, got set up and the show ran Nov. 6 to the 8th. With the late harvest, low crude oil prices and poor economy in Alberta the show was not as good as last year...more people, but they were just not spending.

We got packed up at Red Deer in a hurry, since there was a big storm coming from the northwest, heading directly to Saskatoon...which was on our usual route home. After much deliberation, we decided to go home through Calgary...and it only added an extra 100 miles or so to the trip. 

We hit the road from Red Deer at 5:00 PM Friday Nov. 8 and pulled into the yard at 4:30 AM Saturday.  The drive was not bad...a little snow just before we got to Yorkton, but the divided highway was a bonus for the extra miles we had to cover.

It was a short stay at home as we had to batten down the hatches for our next adventure. We got packed up again and we left Nov. 10 for Moose Jaw, to attend a memorial for Marilyn's brother Brian who had passed away. Between all of the chasing around, Marilyn was able to use some of Brian's well worn tshirts to make memory pillows for the family.

After the memorial, the same day, we left Moose Jaw and started on our trip to sunny, warm, Arizona. After an uneventful...weather wise, at least...leisurely drive, we arrived in Phoenix Nov. 13. We got there so early, the place we had rented was not available for a few days, so we stayed at Al's brother's house in Maricopa. 


We have been going to every Arizona Coyotes hockey game since we have been here...nothing like NHL hockey in short sleeves! Marilyn's friend, Brenda, came for a visit and was able to take in several hockey games...she even got to see her Toronto Maple Leafs win this time. We took a drive over to Lake Havasu, it is a gorgeous place, which makes it a real tourist trap. Al calls it the Banff of Arizona.

Al's brother, Jeff, came down for a week, so there was a photo op at one of the hockey games we attended...they even made it to the big board!

We took a day trip to Yuma, AZ to visit with Marilyn's cousin, Jane and her husband, Bob. They had harvested with us a bit back in 2013 and if you check the link, you will see the self-propelled grain cart he built out of an airport pumper truck! After lunch, we went to a Mexican market...not in Mexico...Al refused to go to Yuma unless he had promises from all of us that we wouldn't take him across the border...his thought..."they kill people down there!" So we stayed in Arizona.

We did get to see a bit of cotton harvest, this year we stayed in a more urban area, so missed most of the action

Talking to people back in Saskatchewan while we were away, it sounded like the weather has been not that bad up there...well fear not, we will be there "enjoying" it with you, soon enough. We do not miss the snow...

We hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and are looking forward to a Happy New Year. We started the new year off with a drive back home to prepare for the beginning of the toy show year. Saskatoon is first on the list and as per usual, it is forcast to be -40º...which is the same in either language.

Tax season is upon us, so we will both be back at work for the long hours and the Yorkton Toy Show is on the horizon...

Have a great 2020!!




Tuesday, October 22, 2019

October 21, 2019

View of the day-It is, actually today and the end is somewhat in site.

There was not a lot of harvesting done after the snow, we went back to Yorkton for, what we hoped, was a few days. We got a few things winterized and parked away for the season and Marilyn went back to work at Staples until the weather turned around.

Thursday, Oct 2, Al had gotten a letter from a toy collector that was wanting to get rid his collection. After checking over the items on the list, Al decided it would be a good investment. It worked out that we still had to wait on the weather, so we made a road trip to Altona, Manitoba to pick up the collection...just a 1000+km round trip.

Friday, October 3, Al had hopes of combining, so he went back to Kipling. He had picked up an aeration fan in Yorkton for his brother-in-law, Kim from Carlyle. He met up with him to make the drop and by the time he got back to the field, it started to drizzle. No harvesting again.

Saturday, October 5, The next day was another cold and windy day with no combining. Since we weren't going to be using the straight header any more, Al got it all cleaned up...but not washed.


Sunday, October 6, they finally got going and had a pretty good day in the canola. Marilyn was still in Yorkton working, thinking about going back to the camper, if the weather held.


Monday, October 7, the guys were hard at it combining as much as they could again. Back in Yorkton, Marilyn got a phone call from her sister, Marg, that their youngest brother, Brian, had passed away suddenly from heart failure. He had just turned 55 in June and had no history of heart problems. It was a shock.

Tuesday, October 8, more combining, but this time they were trying to get ahead of the weather that was forecast to be on the way.


Wednesday, October 9, we woke up to snow and wind...pretty much blizzard conditions. We were going to have a few more days off, that's what 6 inches of snow will do...not what anyone wanted.

Thursday, October 10, Al and his toy buddy, Mike, took some of the toys he had bought to meet a buyer in Indian Head...already there was a turn around for the collection. Marilyn was back at Staples, since we were at home.

Friday, October 11 with more snow in Kipling, and not even an estimate of when we could get combining again, Al decided to get our hauler to take the combine up to Canora, 200km north of Yorkton. They didn't get near the moisture that we had in Kipling and we had worked up there in the past, so we had to do something to keep going.

Saturday, October 12, the Canora crew were able to combine and covered a lot of acres. With three New Hollands, one John Deere and Big Red, there was lots of horsepower, but no grain cart here. No matter, the truck driver would chase over to the combine and pick up on the go.

Marilyn and her sister drove to Moose Jaw to have a Thanksgiving lunch with their mom and dad. Their oldest brother, Tim and his wife, Naomi had come from Calgary and brought their brother Brian's wife, Christine. It was a day of being with family and realizing just how short life can be. Brian lived every day to the fullest and his sense of humor and amazing guitar skills will be greatly missed.

Sunday, October 13, more Canora combining. With the camper still at the farm in Kipling, the 45 minute drive from Yorkton cuts into the productivity...not that you could get an early start anyway.

Monday, October 14, Al was having air filter problems...having to stop and blow it out more times than he would like to. It rained in the evening, shutting down the machines around 8:30pm. 

Tuesday, October 15, we picked up a couple of new air filters, hoping that would solve the problem. Al had talked to one of the service guys at the dealership and he suggested we take a look at one of the exhaust pipes to see if it was plugged. We did just that when we got out there and boy...was that the problem. After cleaning it out, there was never another issue with it.

Wednesday, October 16, a bit of rain put the kibosh on combining, so Al had time to put the dozer blade on the tractor...it went back on a lot easier than it came off. 

He also went to do something that he had watched a lot of customers do over the past 30 years of harvesting. 


He went to watch our land renters combine our canola.

Thursday, October 17, the guys got going around 1pm and after a long day, whittled it down to one more day to finish.

Friday, October 18, Marilyn drove Al to Canora for the last day of combining. They finished in the early afternoon, then Al started roading the combine back to Yorkton. The plan was to have it hauled back down to Kipling, but the trucker was busy hauling other equipment, so couldn't do it.

Saturday, October 19, a day off as the trucker was still busy. They did manage to get the combine loaded just at dark, ready for an early start on the road on Sunday.

Sunday, October 20, got the combine hauled to Kipling and started right in. Had a pretty good day, considering one of the combines had not showed up. Marilyn had to work at Staples and decided to wait until Monday morning to drive back to Kipling.

Monday, October 21, the crew got started combining early, then Marilyn showed up early afternoon with lunch for Al. Another long productive day...and another combine showed up. A Versatile, no less. 

It's dang cold in the camper, the water freezes up...but, there is light at the end of the tunnel..

Monday, September 30, 2019

September 30, 2019

View of the day-This morning...didn't last once the sun came up, but it turned to more rain for the rest of the day...

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

September 25, 2019

View of the day-Combine drivers in training.

It did not rain on Wednesday, but there was a heavy dew and lots of clouds. There was only about 75 acres done, due to the dew and the high moisture of the grain. A short day.

Marilyn took advantage of the down time to try to get her basic pilot license for the drone. Transport Canada had implemented this requirement effective June 2019, and everything was online for it. The test was 35 multiple choice questions and the pass mark was 65%. There were so many vague areas to study up on and since there was only a $10 fee to write the exam and you could take it as many times as needed, she decided to "wing" it and just take the test. This would at least give an idea of what to brush up on. The test results are given directly after completion...Marilyn got 62%. So close.

There was a 24 hour wait until you could retake the exam, which gave enough time to do some actual studying. Even knowing some of the questions, it was kind of tough to find exactly what they were looking for. It didn't help that some of them were regarding things a professional pilot flying at 30,000 ft would need to know. 

After the 24 hour wait, she sat down to rewrite the test, with the help of three technical manuals and old buddy "Mr. Google". Only one of the questions was the same from the first go round, but this time she passed!


Thursday there was heavy fog along with the dew. The sun did come out and the wind picked up...it was looking promising, but the grain would not cooperate...never got below 18.5% moisture. Another day idle.

It rained overnight, so we both went to Yorkton. It was Marilyn's weekend to work and Al needed to do some toy rearranging. He had gotten a shipment which had been dropped at Minute Muffler so with that load and the bunch we had brought back from the North Dakota run, there was some rearranging to do.

The big Red Deer toy show is coming up in November...let's hope we're done combining by then...so we needed to make room in the trailer. We got most of them priced and repacked in the boxes, so Al would be able to work on the trailer on Saturday. He would have time, since it rained again out at the field.

Saturday, Marilyn went to work at Staples and Al finished pricing and loading all the toys into the cargo trailer. We should now be ready to combine to the last minute and just hook up and go. Let's hope that's not what happens.

Sunday, Al went back to Kipling and they got a late start around 4pm, at least it had gotten down to 16.5% moisture. There were only three machines running, but they still were able to go until around 11pm.

Monday, Marilyn had a theatre meeting in the evening, so she stayed in Yorkton and worked and extra day. The rest of the crew were able to start combining around 9:30am and combined straight through until 1am. Finally some action!

Tuesday, Marilyn came back from Yorkton, but not soon enough to get a picture of Al getting stuck. He wasn't the first one of the day, they all took a turn, but it didn't take long to get them out once the cart was unhooked from the tractor. They finally finished the spring wheat.

This brings us up to today. We got an early start by swapping out the headers and getting the straight head loaded on the high speed transport trailer...we're done with it down here...we think. We got the combine serviced and fueled, then waited for the parade to start out to the canola field about 10 miles from the yard.

The first field got all the kinks out...a new crop to get the settings just right. It was also a nice change to just follow the swath and not have to pay attention to the far ends of a 35 ft header.



It was a windy, dusty day...so bad that it was a good thing they could use autosteer when picking up going east. You could hardly see the swath! There was also a threat of rain for the better part of the day and we did get a sprinkle, but not enough to put the brakes on. The worst of it seemed to just brush by us to the south and by 5pm there were hardly any rain clouds in the sky.

Al's brother Jeff came down with his weigh wagon to see the yields of some of the seed he had sold this farmer. Once all the results were all tallied, he jumped in with Al for a catch up session.

The wind dropped ever so slightly, which didn't help the dust situation...now it just hung in the air. No matter, they kept on going, especially since there is rain in the forecast for tomorrow.

And the "S" word for the weekend...that's right...snow...





Wednesday, September 18, 2019

September 17, 2019

View of the day-A few final repairs before getting a late start in the spring wheat.

It was another hot day, unfortunately it was very humid. It was foggy in the morning and it never burned off until almost noon and even then there was a haze that wouldn't take off.

The guys got moved out to the field to start around 3:30pm...a later than usual start time. They were still able to clear close to 300 acres before shutting down around 10:30pm, when the humidity got back up to over 80%.

Lightning to the south and weather warnings tonight. Let's hope it goes around us...

Monday, September 16, 2019

September 16, 2019

View of the day-Finally, a perfect harvest day!

There was some oats combining on Friday...an early start for a change. A nice day, but it was slow going. Marilyn was on Staples work detail this weekend, so after getting Al's lunch out to him, she was off to Yorkton.

The guys had a good day combining, they wanted to get as much done as possible before the predicted rains came after the weekend. Their Saturday was another productive day on the oats...they actually got it finished and on Sunday, they moved back over to the winter wheat.

Monday, they got about 10 acres each done before the rain finally hit. Since it was raining anyway, Marilyn stayed in Yorkton to work some extra days.

Tuesday had more rain, so Al decided to go back to Yorkton to get a few errands done and get caught up on the latest gossip. Marilyn continued working as long as it rained.

Wednesday, Al got some yard work done...it hadn't rained in Yorkton, but down where the combine was...well, that was a different story.

More rain, so Thursday was road trip day. Al decided it was time to take a run down to Kenmare, ND to pick up some boxes of farm toys that he had bought over the past couple of months. Also on the "to do" list was to get our annual hats from the CaseIH ProHarvest crew, which were parked at the dealership in Stanley, ND.

We went to Stanley first, but since it had been raining, the guys had stayed in Minot...no one was in the field, for sure. They had the hats with them, so we took a slight detour and drove the 60 miles to pick them up.

We left Minot and stopped in Carpio to pick up the boxes of toys. It was a good thing we put the tonneau cover on the box, because the back seat was packed to the ceiling and the overflow had to go in the box.

We had a short stop at the John Deere dealership in Kenmare to finish a transaction or two with Pete in parts...he's our toy contact down there. After that was completed, we were on our way back to Yorkton with our treasures.

Friday, Al went back to the camper to wait out the rain...Marilyn stayed back in Yorkton and worked again. When Al had checked the rain gauge on the combine, it showed a total of 2.5 inches over the five days. Without any sun or heat, it wasn't going to go any time soon...and there was another shower over night which added another 0.2" of rain...more brakes on the winter wheat.

Saturday was a cleaning day for Al...rads and filters. Marilyn came back to the camper, done work for the week in Yorkton and ready to start combining...whenever the weather cooperates.

Sunday was an amazing day, weather wise at least. It was hot...a high of 28ºC/82ºF...hot for here, at least. But, there was no combining. With no wind to help dry down the wheat and the other combiners back in Regina and out Wroxton way, the farmer figured by the time they got out to the combines, there wouldn't be much combining time. It would give the grain another day to dry down.

Today, was "go" day. It was even hotter 33ºC/92ºF, but this time there was wind. We went out to the combine at 10am to get some servicing done and by 11 am the dust was flying.

Although the dust was flying, there were spots in the field that were a surprise to us. thankfully the grain cart was there to make sure we didn't have too big a load on, so no one got stuck. The tires did get a bit sticky, though. The combines went until 9:30pm and finished the winter wheat...finally after almost a month since starting on it.

Marilyn left the field just around sunset and passed by another farmer doing some pickup work. The swather cutting and laying a swath ahead of the two combines. This meant they didn't need a straight cut header, they could just pickup the fresh swaths.

Tomorrow is supposed to be another hot one...