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Goodbye to Old Grey

6 Mar

Old Grey has been on our farm for 22 years.  22 fertilizer seasons of running around loaded down from field to field.  22 summers of hauling grass seed, clover, wheat, even filberts on long hot days.  22 years of wear, tear, washing and waxing before each season.

I realize it might seem silly to have an attachment to just a piece of equipment on our farm, but silly or not, I was sad to see her go.  Maybe it’s because I always think back when I was a kid and that steering wheel seemed so big!  I can perfectly imagine it’s what Hoot is thinking right as I took the photo below! Or maybe it’s the memories later, sitting in the driver’s seat of Old Grey, learning how to drive a semi, while dad sat in the passenger side and told me to “Take it easy on her!” and inevitably cringing while I grinded every gear heading down the road.  Old Grey is the truck that didn’t have the get up and go of her new counterparts at our farm, but I’ll be dammed if she didn’t always get you where you wanted to go….eventually.We bought a new truck that is currently being put together, painted up all pretty and shiny.  She’s newer than Old Grey by a long shot, has more horsepower, and will be a great addition to our farm.  When we bought her and made the decision to sell Old Grey, it was the end of an era.  This is the first large purchase that Matt and I have made since buying the farm from my parents.  In a way Old Grey represents the past generation on our farm and the transition to the next.

So while Hoot was farming with me on Friday, we went to say our goodbyes.  I gave our boy, generation number 4 a chance to stand on the seat and pull the horn one last time, just like I did growing up.

Obviously Hoot didn’t quite feel as sentimental as me, he was just excited to go see the combines haha! But regardless I said my thank yous for being such a great part of our farm, and for always getting us where we needed to be….eventually.

Hazelnut Harvest & a New Harvester (for a day)

17 Oct

Well we got all our filberts (hazelnuts) in before the monsoon weather hit this past weekend.  It was a good reminder that not all harvests go as smoothly as they have the past three years with only dust to complain about…mud is much worse!  But we got all of our orchards picked up twice, so I’m not complaining one bit!


The process of harvesting is no small task.  You have to first wait for the nuts to fall on the ground naturally (no tree shaking around here).  Once down a sweeper goes up and down each row twice.  It sweeps the nuts into the center of the trees one way and blows the nuts out from under the tree the other way, making a windrow between the trees.  


A harvester pulled by a tractor then strattles that windrow, and using a belt pick up system, the nuts are pulled off the ground into the harvester. 


The nuts are then go over a dirt chain to let dirt fall through the cracks, through a fan that sucks out leaves and blank shells, then finally into a dump cart. 


We then unload the dump cart into totes to be taken to the truck loading area.  

Hazelnut Cart Unloading 2016

The full totes are then lifted into the truck and dumped, using a hyster with rotator forks.  

After they leave our farm the hazelnuts are washed and dried at a processor.  This is done in 8 days or less so as to avoid any mold growing.  Once the nuts are dried, they are preserved and can be bagged for storage.

Like I said, harvest went well for us this year, but it’s always interesting to see what is new out in the world for harvesting equipment.  So when I was asked if we would be interested in trying out a new all in one harvester the answer was simple. 

The next day Pape Machinery brought over a Monchiero Harvester.  We were pretty excited to try it, mostly because it takes the multitude of steps I described above to get the nuts from the field to the truck, and shrinks them into an all in one machine!


This harvester sweeps and harvests, and once we got it all set right, it did an excellent job!

Here are a few photos I took of the machine in action, along with a video.  


Monchiero Harvester 2016


Monchiero Harvester Unloading 2016

One big upside I can see to having a machine like this is the ability to just go and start harvesting.  There is no waiting around for a sweeper to get an orchard prepared, no hesitation about how many rows you should sweep ahead of the harvester, it just takes a lot of the second guessing out of harvest.  If you get a window, it would only take you and one other worker to get the job accomplished.  Today on our farm it’s a 4 man job to get our harvest done, taking valuable time away from other fall work like planting and soil preparations.

A big thank you to Pape Machinery for bringing out such a great machine to help us finish up our harvest!

For more hazelnut harvest photos and videos check out some of my past posts. 

Wheat Field Fire

30 Aug

We did have some small amount of excitement this year while harvesting wheat.  It was the perfect storm in many ways, mostly in good ways thankfully!

It was on one of those really super hot days we have been having here at the tail end of summer.  Probably in the high 90’s and we were two rounds into a field of standing wheat. Hoot had just climbed in the cab with Matt and I to make a few rounds (to make sure we are doing it right of course!) and as we turn the corner in the combine he starts to yell and point, “Burning Mommy!”  And sure enough I looked to where he was pointing and saw flames 15 feet in the air….chaos quickly ensued.  “Fire!” over the radio, meanwhile one of our guys saw the flames and was running to his rig to get extinguishers.  Equipment driving out of the field as fast as possible, a call to 911…it was all very crazy!

Here are the things that went wrong…our best guess is that the sickle bar hit a rock and caused a spark, which caused the field to start on fire very quickly.  The wheat is incredibly dry when we are harvesting so it doesn’t take much for fire to start and spread very rapidly.final

But here’s what went right.  Firefighter Hoot was on scene and spotted the blaze quickly!  We had everyone there!  Both truck drivers, my dad, Matt and myself were all miraculously in the field at that moment.  90% of the time it’s just the combine driver and maybe a truck driver, not much for manpower.   The wind was blowing away from the standing wheat so it spread the fire as far as the headland and then stopped.  We had plenty of fire extinguishers and the guys moved fast to wet the standing wheat and put out small spot fires.  It was a great job done by everyone!final-2

We were lucky that day, this whole thing could have been a very different story if the wind had shifted, if it had happened just 30 minutes before…really the what-ifs are endless.  I have never harvested looking back in my mirrors so much in my life!  It was also a little nerve wracking harvesting next to the burned area on the next round, I am pretty sure I was holding my breath!  final-1I can honestly say this year I was glad to put the combine away on the hottest days that were yet to hit a few weeks ago.  Here’s to hoping that never happens again, and if it does, we get all the things that “went right” again!

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