Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Scenes from a Grain Elevator

It's late September and that means Harvest. I'm a Harvest Widow. DR is never home. Oh he's here to sleep and that's about it. I mean the poor guy is in such a hurry he doesn't even eat here! There's been nights when he doesn't even get home until after midnight but he's always at work before 7 the next day. Poor guy!

Harvest not only makes temporary widows out of wives but it also makes children fatherless. Temporarily anyway. I've been making the effort to load up the kids after school a couple times a week to see DR just so they don't forget what the other looks like. Plus we've been bringing in dinner to the office girls and crew, when we come, who seem to enjoy it so we're going to keep bringing dinner until harvest is over.

There are a few things about grain elevators during harvest that are certainly scenes of the season. There's always a flurry of activity everywhere; in the office, outside, on the phones. EVERYONE is super busy with multiple projects and tasks. In never fails either that during harvest something major always breaks down at the most inopportune moment. I've seen DR making flying trips for motors for grain dryers and grain legs. Today he had to go pick up a new time clock for the employees because theirs broke down. Last week he had an employee who had a car accident, while on the job, and per company policy DR had to take the guy for mandatory drug test. It's been so busy that DR has brought in company employees from Nebraska to help out with harvest! Needless to say when the kids and I do make it into the elevator we don't stay long because we would just be in the way.

But for the few moments we are there it's surely an interesting scene. There are always trucks waiting to get weighed and to get dumped. You only see truckers waiting during harvest. Truckers don't like to wait, oh no. And they sure don't like to get the run around either. Truckers are known to be a little.....let's say grumpy. Yeah, they can be pretty grumpy during harvest. This is what these guys do all day long; drive to the field, pick up grain, drive to elevator, dump grain....again and again and again.... I'm glad I don't have to deal with the truckers. (Sorry Purse Gurl!)

My favorite thing to watch at the elevator is the ground pile going down. Now I grew up in northern Indiana and had never seen a ground pile of corn before I married DR. They are much more prevalent the further west you go. I've seen small ones in southern Indiana and larger ones in Illinois but this is definitely the biggest ground pile I've ever seen (at an elevator anyway).

When farmers haul in corn it is tested for moisture levels. If the moisture percentage is too high, in the upper teens or  twenties, then the grain has to be put in a grain bin and dried down. A process that's expensive and a real pain. If there is too much moisture in a grain bin then the corn can mold and bad things happen. (Especially bad things happen to DR's happy go lucky mood!)

But if a load of grain is tested to have low moisture percentages, 13 is ideal, then the grain can be stored on the ground and can free up some much needed space in the bins. If the ground pile does get wet then it probably won't get to levels that are too damaging (usually).

The barricades are like a series of short walls about 3 or 4 ft. high and are placed in an oval shape. These are only meant to keep the bottom of the pile in place. Trucks head over to dump at the pile and the grain is shot moved to the top of the pile. 

Once the oval is filled the huge tarps are strapped over the pile to protect the grain over the winter. Eventually the grain pile will get picked up, usually over a long working weekend in the late winter or early spring. Some may be moved back into bins or trucked off to processing plants or feed lots.

This grain pile probably  isn't even a quarter of the way filled. Like I said this pile is going to be big. It has the capacity to hold 800,000 bushels of corn. WOW!!!!

Scenes from a grain elevator are always changing and if I'm stuck being a Harvest Widow this fall, well then, at least I have some interesting harvest scenes to keep me entertained!


  1. How are the moister levels out there? Both corn and beans are VERY dry, probably more dry then we like, and much drier than it ever got last year!

  2. It's been fairly dry, there's been some as low as 13, but I know there's been some wet stuff coming in too in the low 20's. Without asking DR I'd have to guess it's normal. They don't do hardly any beans out here so they've mostly been dealing just with corn. They have some milo coming in but I don't hear much about it. If I find out any more details Lana, I'll let you know!


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