(Jim Shroyer) Good morning folks and welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer your host. And we’re in luck because we’re cutting wheat with a custom cutting crew from North Dakota. We’re going to be joined by Stephanie Osowski, and she’s going to tell us about her experiences on a custom cutting crew and all about the All Aboard Wheat Harvest that she blogs for. So stay with us, we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.
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(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer and with us, we have Stephanie Osowski from Grafton, North Dakota. So Stephanie tell us a little bit about Grafton. Where is it? (Stephanie Osowski) In the general shape of North Dakota, up in the square, we’re in the northeastern corner, about 50 miles south of the Canadian border. (Jim) “Aye”, do you hear that a lot? (Stephanie) Yes. Jim: So tell us, what’s grown in that area? (Stephanie) Well, primarily the ground is very rich. It’s very dark. So what farmers will do in the area is harvest a big, plant the big crops, so potatoes, sugar beets. Those are the cash crops. (Jim) High dollar. (Stephanie) Right. There’s some spring wheat. You’ll find some edibles like pinto beans, edible beans, soybeans, but mostly you’re going to find potatoes and beets. (Jim) And a little canola I’m guessing. (Stephanie) Yes, more, not necessarily where I’m from. That’d be more like within a hundred mile radius. (Jim) Right. Okay, so, you have been on this, on the harvest crew or harvest custom cutters for a while, so kind of tell us the history, not that you’re old or anything like that. So kind of tell us how you got into it, how long you’ve been on the harvest custom cutters. (Stephanie) Well, I’ve never not went on harvest. I will be 25 in August, and this is year 25 that I’ve been going on harvesting. (Jim) Oh my, so that’s right off the bat. I guess you helped to drive the trucks at that early age? (Stephanie) Yes, probably before I was supposed to. (Jim) Right, okay, so tell us a little bit about the crew. How many combines you’re running and that sort of thing. (Stephanie) This year we have two combines down with us. So we have the supporting equipment to go with that just truck-wise. We had a Tri-Axle and then we had two semis down. And then, we also, we didn’t bring grain cart just because grain cart is one more person, one more vehicle just. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s just more to bring down. (Jim) Right. Okay, so where do you start and then where do you go from here? (Stephanie) We start about 50 miles from Texas in southern Oklahoma, in Hobart, Oklahoma. And we work our way north, to about north central Oklahoma, just north of Enid and Jet, Oklahoma. (Jim) Oh yes, Jet-Nash. I know the area. (Stephanie) Yes, friendly, lovely people. But from there we go– we had a new stop this year. We went around Anthony, Attica, Kansas. (Jim) Right along the border there. (Stephanie) Yes. And now we are here in Lyons, Kansas. From here we go to Saint Francis, Kansas. And then from there we go to Big Springs, Nebraska. (Jim) Right. (Stephanie) And then we go to Hemingford, Nebraska and then we go all the way home. (Jim) All the way home. So what do you do when you get home then? I mean what are you — you won’t be cutting wheat because you said there’s not too much wheat in your general area. (Stephanie) There’s enough to keep us busy. Don’t get me wrong. There’s enough, but what happened last year, if this year is anything like last year, we got home on a Thursday and we were cutting barley by Saturday. (Jim) Oh my. So not much down time? (Stephanie) No. (Jim) So I hear the combine coming. It’s going to unload. So I think we better take a station break right now. (Stephanie) Sounds great. (Jim) And you folks stay with us. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.
(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm, I’m Jim Shroyer and Stephanie Osowski didn’t run off during that station break. So Stephanie, let’s continue the conversation we had about the crew, the pricing mechanism. So who all do you have with you on this excursion? (Stephanie) Well, it’s me and my younger brother, Brandon, and my dad, Bob, and my mom, Laurie. And then we have a South African named Peter. (Jim) Peter, okay, so there’s your crew. So what about, you’re mainly driving the truck, but if Peter or Brandon get tired of driving the combine, you can step in. (Stephanie) Right. (Jim) Everybody can. (Stephanie) Right. (Jim) Everybody can drive, your mom. (Stephanie) Yes. No we‘re actually. (Jim) You’re utility fielders. You can play any position. (Stephanie) Yes, we all are. The only thing, Mom won’t drive a truck. (Jim) Okay. (Stephanie) Mom had some mishaps back in the day, when she was the main hired hand and she’s sworn off truck driving. (Jim) Okay, fair enough. Mom was happy, okay. (Stephanie) If Mom ain’t happy, nobody is happy. (Jim) Right, something like that. Okay, so tell me a little about when you leave. How many acres you might cover during the course of the year? (Stephanie) We try to do a little bit — what we’ve been seeing these last few years is 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 in the south that we can cover. And then we try to do exactly that amount while we’re home as well, between the wheat and the fall crops and everything that we can do in those months. (Jim) And you have a farm as well? (Stephanie) Yes, we just have a couple, like 400-acre farms. (Jim) Okay. So tell me, now a lot of our audience are mainly producers. So they’ll understand the cost that you charge. So kind of give us a ballpark for the non-producers in the audience, what it cost to, what you charge per acre, per bushel, that sort of thing. (Stephanie) Okay. We do kind of three different equations to figure the one big amount that we will give at the end. (Jim) The grand total. (Stephanie) Right. And that consists of overage. So anything over 20 bushels in your field, then we get a little extra just for the wear and tear of the machines. And just the amount of, just the extra weights of, the higher tax weights of the fields or the yields. And then we have a harvesting amount that we charge just for straight, for harvesting the field. (Jim) Just the per acre basis. (Stephanie) Right. (Jim) Okay. (Stephanie) And then we have a hauling fee. (Jim) Okay. (Stephanie) So overage, harvesting, hauling. (Jim) Okay, I see that. So again for the non-producer or non-ag audience here, why would someone want to hire a custom cutter to cut their wheat fields or corn or what have you? (Stephanie) When the general, in an agricultural year, the amount of time of harvest takes is on average a week, maybe, in a certain area. So farmers, producers think to themselves why would I buy this big expensive machine for a week long of work and then it sits in my shed for the rest of the year. (Jim) Right. (Stephanie) But they still have to maintain it. They still have to buy the parts. They still have to actually own it. They have to have somebody run it. So that’s labor, if they’re not going to run it. (Jim) Exactly. Well if they’re going to run the combines, somebody’s got to run the trucks. (Stephanie) Right, so in any event it is labor, no matter what the labor is doing. So they see us as that’s okay, they’re coming through. We’ll just pay them this amount, which is a fraction of what you pay for the actual machine, and then it’s done. And you don’t have to worry about it. (Jim) Okay. The down side would be of custom cutters; you can’t be there when producer wants you because you’re 150 miles south. (Stephanie) Right. And this year has been particularly difficult. (Jim) With all the rains. (Stephanie) Yes. (Jim) With all the rains in Texas and Oklahoma. (Stephanie) They’re still cruising in Texas today. (Jim) Oh my. Well hang on, we’ve got to take break here. (Stephanie) Okay. (Jim) Folks, stay right with us. We’ll be back after these words from our sponsors.
(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. With us, we have Stephanie Osowski, a custom cutter from North Dakota. Stephanie, tell us a little bit more about the actual being in the field. What’s a good day? And then I’ll ask you what a bad day is. So what’s a good day, cutting-wise, when you get started, I mean. (Stephanie) No breakdowns, that’s a good day. (Jim) That’s a good day. Does that ever happen? (Stephanie) Don’t jinx it now. It’s been okay. (Jim) I’m sorry. (Stephanie) A good day with two combines, we can cover anywhere from 200 to 300 acres, but that’s in perfect conditions, mind you. That is flat grounds. That is no terrace. (Jim) No terraces. Now we’re in a field that’s chopped up with lots of waterways. (Stephanie) Right. Yes, so that would be, the humidity is not too bad to make straw tough for the thresh, stuff like that. (Jim) Sure. So what’s a bad day look like? (Stephanie) Well, I’m trying to think of a day, because it’s usually I would say we got stuck, or we had a big bad breakdown, but with one combine it looks worse. I’m used to having one combine to where the combine’s broke. Everything, you’re done, you can’t move. (Jim) Right. (Stephanie) To where this year we have two, so we’re able to keep going while the other combine is being fixed. So I really can’t complain. (Jim) Okay. Stalks are breakdowns and. (Stephanie) Now you’ve jinxed it. You’ve ruined it. (Jim) So tell us a little bit about the combines you’re running. How many bushels you cut, 35 and 40-foot headers? (Stephanie) Yes. Our new hauling combines hold about 300 bushels in the hopper. And then what we like about it is the cab. The cab is very user friendly. The up is up, down is down. Sometimes they switch that in some models. And all the buttons are very easy. Well the thing is just easy to use. It’s a very spacious cab. It’s comfortable. It doesn’t, they’re not complaining at the end of the day that they’re stiff or that they’re anything like that, except when the AC goes out. Talk to Dad about that. (Jim) Okay. Stephanie don’t go run off. We’ve got to take a break here. Folks, stay with us we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.
(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm, I’m Jim Shroyer. And with us, we have Stephanie Osowski from Grafton, North Dakota. And Stephanie, you left home a few weeks ago with your family. I didn’t mean this to make you sound like a hobo or anything or they kicked you out of the house. But you headed to, over in Oklahoma. So tell us a little bit about what the yields or our test weights were down there. And then you went out there in Enid, and Anthony, Kansas, and here at Lyons and Rice County. So kind of tell us the history that you’ve been seeing since you started. (Stephanie) Well, in the winter, we talk to all of our farmers… (Jim) Okay. (Stephanie) …just to get a feel for, are you having the same acres as last year; how does it look; how is your rainfall; how is your—how’s everything; how are conditions; everything like that. (Jim) Right, right, so you are here and some pretty bleak stories early on then? (Stephanie) Yes [laughs], but that is the farmer fashion. (Jim) Yes. Stephanie) You’d take–you think the worst and anything better than that is—(Jim) So you don’t want to build expectations too high? (Stephanie) Yes, right, right. That whole shoot for the moon and you’ll end up for the stars, farmers don’t have that. (Jim) Right, right. [laughs] So tell us about the yields. (Stephanie) The first stop we saw kind of lower test weights, 56, 57, 58-pound test weight. And the yield there weren’t too bad, about 30, 30-40; anywhere in there. (Jim) Which is not too bad for that area. (Stephanie) That is not too bad for that area. And then from there, our farmer actually, he saw the best crop that he has had in 15 years maybe. (Jim) Yes. (Stephanie) He had about 40, 45 bushel. (Jim) That’s up in that Enid area. (Stephanie) Yes. (Jim) Jet-Nash, okay? (Stephanie) Right. And then from there we went to, like around, between Anthony and Attica, Kansas. (Jim) Yes, yes. (Stephanie) And those farmers as well, they’re telling us, oh, you know 30, 35 would be okay. 50 bushel, 40 bushel. (Jim) And how about the test weights? (Stephanie) Test weights were 62, 63. (Jim) Yes, that’s, I always tell anybody, everything over 62 bushels, get a gallon of milk jar and put it in, put it on the mantle because those are hard to come by. (Stephanie) Yes, pretty. (Jim) Yes, they’re very pretty, very pretty, pretty wheat. (Jim) Okay, so how about what are you hearing here in Rice County; or seeing here in Rice County? (Stephanie) Well, we’ve always said this, there’s something about this area; they just hook the rains; and they get good conditions; and they always pull off a good crop. And that is the same for this year. We did, I would say this piece just behind us; we did about 70. This one is maybe 50, 50-60; somewhere in there. But our farmer here, he usually averages 60 bushel, 65. (Jim) Okay. So that’s his farm averaging. You’re right. He’s doing a pretty good job. (Stephanie) Yes, he does a very good job. (Jim) Test weights? (Stephanie) 62 and a half, 63. (Jim) Wow, that’s– (Stephanie) On the mantle; put it on the mantle. [Laughs]. (Jim) Well, this is one of the better wheat years that I’ve ever seen in a long time like you said, 15 years or so. So, how does this, stack up to more recent memories from the South to North? (Stephanie) Really, it doesn’t vary too much. We’re pretty lucky all of our farmers are pretty good at what they do. They have, I mean, down a lot of times, though, it’s not their fault even. (Jim) True. (Stephanie) The first stop last year, they had no rain, it was just dry, barren, nothing. (Jim) I remember. (Stephanie) Yes, and there were people, like insurance agents coming out, and telling these farmers like this is a total loss. You’re not going to get anything. And he still made about 10-15 bushel. So this year, doubling that is fantastic news for everybody. And then our farmer at the second stop, I told you that was his best crop that he had seen. But last year he did probably 30, So still not devastation, it’s still okay. (Jim) One question that I want to ask you that I should have asked you in the earlier segment is, are these the same producers you come back to every year? I mean, if you’ve been coming to this farm since you were nine months old? (Stephanie) Maybe not nine months, I would say between five and nine years old, probably. Because the last stop that we were at, in Jet-Nash area 28 years. (Jim) Hang on. We have one more segment to do. Folks, stay with us, we’d be right back after these words from our sponsors. See you in a minute.
(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm, I’m Jim Shroyer. And with us, we have Stephanie Osowski from North Dakota, on the Custom Cutter crew here in Rice County. And it looks like to me, here we’re going to have a rain delay. Looks like hearing about it… (Stephanie) You were just all about jinxing things today. [Laughs] (Jim) I’m sorry about that, but, looks like within the hour you’re going to have some moisture coming in from the West there. Stephanie, tell us a little bit about this blogging you’re doing with High Plains Journal, All Aboard Wheat Harvest. (Stephanie) This is my fifth year writing for All Aboard Wheat Harvest. In total there are about—there’s four of us writing and then there’s one guest blogger that writes as well. (Jim) Okay. (Stephanie) But I write just, basically what they want is a day-to-day account of what is like to be in a harvest crew; the ups, the downs– (Jim) Just kind of what I was asking you? (Stephanie) Exactly, the yields, a lot of people asked for protein just to check it out, obviously the quality of the wheat. People love it when you’re stuck, though– people loved just hearing– (Jim) Just like going to a hockey match, they want a fight. (Stephanie) Yes, yes, that’s a good way to put it [laughs]. From Hockey Town, you’re speaking to me. (Jim) Okay. So what kind responses have you had about broken down or stuck, and–or just in general? (Stephanie) Mostly people just– you can comment on the blogs or you can email me. Or now with all the social media with the Facebook. There’s so many ways you can contact me. A lot of people will just comment and say, I’ve been there before; and, yeah, I knew, I hope everything was okay, I hope nothing broke down”. People are very supportive. And people are very—more people follow it than I ever would have imagined when I started. It’s crazy like even Peter got recognized the other day at a gas station. Somebody recognizes us. (Jim) He’s a star because he’s on your blog? (Stephanie) Yes, seriously? (Jim) He’s famous [laughs].So, how did people follow you then, or–and the other crews? (Stephanie) The website you can go to is allaboardharvest.com. (Jim) allaboardharvest.com, one word? (Stephanie) Yes, yes. And likewise, the Facebook pages www.allaboardharvest.com. (Jim) Yes. (Stephanie) They have a Twitter account as well. If you have harvest photo that you want to share, you can use #aawh16, and you can share your photos with us as well. (Jim) That’s good. (Stephanie) I believe they have a contest, actually. So if you’re a good photographer; if you want to be in the calendar, go take some pictures and you can submit them. (Jim) Well, Stephanie, I really appreciate you taking time that, I thought, you’re fun to talk to and I really appreciate you’ve taken the time and I hope you, knock on wood, you don’t have rain delay, and– (Stephanie) You better knock on wood. [Laughs]. (Jim) I hope you get a good harvest all the way back home. So, thanks for being with us. And you folks at home make sure you watch All Aboard Wheat Harvest and watch Stephanie and her crew. And thanks for being with us on this, That’s My Farm. And we’ll see you next week about the same time on Friday morning. See you then.
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