So we finally got cutting! I know, after weeks of waiting the weather and the wheat finally decided to work together and give us something to do.
The first day was slow, it was mid afternoon before we finally got some combines rolling and wheat cut. But what an achievement, it was great to see all the training that the new crew members received being put into action.
The excitement was clearly visible on the faces of all, but also a few nerves kicking in.
First came the moisture test, a quick scoop of some wheat and the trip to the local elevator to get a moisture sample so the calibration could take place. Then a thumbs up, it was good to go.
The first wheat being Rocky Wisdom's, then Mollye & Ray Hatfield. What a pleasure it has been to be cutting their wheat. Its been a great experience being back hauling their grain. They, as well as all of JKD's Customers make you feel very welcome and show their appreciation for the job that's being done.
So with that in mind, I best do what I do best and show a few photos of the last few days cutting
So Friday 20th may was the 3rd day of a 4 day rodeo that is the Santa Rosa Roundup that's been going annually for 71 years.
I was lucky enough to go back in 2014 when I was on harvest with the JKD crew but I had a night without the camera. Luckily this time I knew what to expect and so the camera was charged and ready to roll for the event.
As we approached the rodeo ground it was amazing to see everybody stop for the national anthem, men, women and children stopped where they were no matter what they were doing, hats were removed and many people held their hands to their chests while becoming one united choir to sing the song of their nation. I too took part and felt a great sense of pride even though I'm not an American citizen, to be a part of something that means so much to so many sends a shiver down your spine but also you get a warm feeling.
As we (the crew) entered the rodeo grounds their was a heavy presence of cowboy attire (mainly hats) chequered shirts & wrangler jeans, a common sight but everybody looked smart and dressed for the occasion. Below the grandstand their were food stands, merchandise stands and a bar. The smell of candyfloss seemed to linger in the air taking away the smell of soggy soil and grass.
After stocking up on food and beverages we headed into the grandstand which consisted of wooden benches/steps, a real classic design. The stand was 90% full which was great to see as well as seated areas around the arena. As the sun started to set north-west of the arena the activities were well underway.
There was a fantastic display of horsemanship as cowboys and cowgirls put on a fantastic display of skill and entertainment. The Palomino club was also a pleasure to witness, such grace & discipline, and it was great to see the mutton busting too! The bull riding was a great show, something we don't see in the UK so it was great too see this first hand, well the whole display was something spectacular. A huge credit to all who put it together and organised the event.
I look forward to doing it all again next May!
So after we arrived in Texas we had a shower of rain that night, so progress the next day was steady, unloading equipment, displaying it around the yard and starting to prep ourselves and kit for the harvest.
The wheat looking a golden brown colour surrounds the farm for miles but there are still green patches in there. However we might get into some wheat in the next couple of days if the weather holds off.
We are currently sat under another big lightening storm working its way North east over us. The lightening is stunning, such wide open skies and landscape being lit up in one giant flash, watching it fork across the sky is just mesmerising, the power and sheer beauty of it sends shivers down your spine.
It's taken a little time but we pushed hard and now we are ready for the 2016 harvest.
We loaded up the last of our equipment in Colby on 12th may and headed for Texas on Friday 13th. Of all the days to be travelling if your superstitious, we even had a 13 vehicle convoy.
The journey took a little longer than expected, 13 hours driving to complete 460 miles. 5 oversize loads, 3 campers and a diner, 3 hopper bottoms and the van pulling the jeep.
We had a strong side wind that really held things up, making the trucks work harder and creating interesting driving conditions for the guys pulling campers, or 55ft sails in their eyes!
Its the first time I've pulled the detach before with a combine on and it travelled very well, very little roll into corners which allowed me to keep a decent speed and little hassle loading and unloading.
We stopped off in a little town called Arnett for lunch again, at a smart little diner where your always made to feel welcome by the local.
And then finally at 7:30 we pulled into Lehman farms just south of Vernon, TX.
6:50 pm on Sunday 8th may I received a text alert on my mobile saying there was a Tornado warning in this area for the next 30 minutes and that everyone was advised to take shelter immediately. Being a true brit and having never experienced this before I walked to the door on the shop where I was working on my truck and looked outside. Dark grey skies loomed over head and the wind was picking up a little but I took little notice as I couldn't see any flying cows or cars like you see in the movies so I continued to work on my truck.
No more than 30 seconds later I get informed that there was a tornado touchdown in Levant, a little town about 10 miles west of Colby. So now a little bit of panic set in but so did curiosity and excitement and instead of focusing my efforts on getting to a more secure location I reached for my camera and went for a walk to the west side of the yard in the off chance that it would head our way and I could snap a quick photo.
There was a real chill in the air as the wind was blowing like hell, mad because no more than 20 minutes before it was bright sunshine and a pleasant temperature to be walking around in shorts and t-shirts.
Over at Levant they had had a hail storm where the hail was around the size of dimes (5p's) some bigger.
I didn't get any photos of the tornado as it didn't pass close enough but I sure caught the storm and lightening surrounding it.