Today we welcome Emma of Misener Family Harvesters! This family follows the harvest from the Texas/Oklahoma border all the way to the North Dakota/Canadian border!
I woke up this morning in my smaller-than-average sized bed, to the wonderful sound of rain hitting the camper roof. Although it was a day of taking it easy, there are always those few things that can’t get themselves done. The trucks need to be dumped at the elevator, fueling and servicing still needs attention. This may be a nothing-to-do sort of day, but trust me. This day is nothing like a typical day on harvest. My name is Emma Misener and I am a custom harvester. I work with Misener Family Harvesters, Elk City, Okla., where I work for my mother, Kristy and along-side my brother Dan.
In 1971, my father, Ron, started Misener Family Harvesters after serving as an Army Sergeant in the Vietnam War. A few years later he was hired by a neighbor who had just moved to the area. It was that job where he met the farmer’s daughter and the rest became history. Dad and Mom built a family and business, and both thrived. They began traveling south to the Texas/Oklahoma border with combines harvesting wheat from one farm to the next, working their way north to the North Dakota/Canadian border. Once wheat harvest came to a close, fall harvest began and they worked their way back home harvesting as they went. Their tradition still lives on today.
I was born on the harvest trail, raised on the harvest trail, and still live on the harvest trail. I remember taking along my crayons and paper in the combine, riding with mom while harvesting. By the time I reached 10 years old, I had already began to beg Dad to let me drive the big machines, and by then I’m sure he was ready to at least let me try. My first field of wheat I combined was 3.75 acres and I still remember what he said. “You’re doing an excellent job, but it looks like you’re chasing a snake!” I just smiled and said, “I promise I’ll learn to drive straighter. Will you please let me have my own combine?” I’ve been driving big green machines since.
As the business grew the family did, too. I am the youngest of six children. My older sisters Marie, Katie, and Elizabeth and my brother David, soon left and started families of their own. To help fill their void Dad and Mom decided to hire help. By the time I was 15 years old I was training hired men. When interviewing potential employees, one of the questions he asked them was, “can you listen to a 15 year old girl?” They always chuckled thinking he was joking, but Dad was very serious about it.
Two years ago in December, my Dad passed away. His love and passion for harvesting still lives on today in my Mom, my brother Dan and I. Mom, Dan, and I continue his legacy harvesting the trail where it all began. Mom still does the cooking and the business, with Dan and I helping her through it all. Although it is harder to go on without him, we still have the motivation he passed down to keep us all moving forward.
We are in blistery and rainy South Dakota finishing up our fall harvest, combining corn.
Our day begins at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast, followed by a trip to the elevator with trucks filled the previous night, and then head out to the field. Mom usually packs a lunch for us to take in the morning, and once in a while she will surprise us with hot lunch. We arrive at the field, fuel up the combine, and service it by greasing the proper places, checking the oil, and then do a ‘walk-around’ checking belts/chains or anything else that seems out of the ordinary. Then the fun part begins. Once we start harvesting corn we go until the elevator closes, and then fill everything one more time for a morning trip. Once the trucks are full we head home, clean up, eat supper, and get to bed. There isn’t much time for anything other than harvesting.
I love our way of life. I love the smell of the crops, the dust in the air, and the sense of accomplishment when a field is harvested. It makes me want to do it all over again. I’m getting the itch to get back home to warmer Oklahoma, but in two months I’ll be itching to get back on the road.
Our stops on the road become home. Every place is different and has its own unique beauty. The people we hire, the people we cut for, and fellow custom harvesters become family. Even the people at the grocery stores or gas stations say ‘Hey! When did y’all get back in town? We’ve missed you!’
It can be stressful and a lot of hard work, but I wouldn’t choose any other way of life. The U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc., go by the motto ‘we harvest the crops that feed the world’. This sums it up. I’m proud to be a custom harvester. We really do feed the world.
(L to R) Me, my brother Dan, my Dad Ron, and my Mom Kristy. This was the last family photograph before my Dad passed away. We were at the John Deere Fall Festival in Waterloo, Iowa celebrating antique tractors. My Dad loved restoring the ‘Ol’ Girls’ and went to every antique show we could go to.
We load our semis and move to our first stop on the harvest run. Most of the time we haul the combines because our stops from farm to farm are far enough away, that it’s cost efficient to haul them.
Other times, our farmers are closer together so we drive the combines from one farm to the next. It just depends on how far our farmers are from each other.
Cutting wheat in Oklahoma! We make rounds all day long in a clockwise motion so that we can always unload on-the-go.
We unload each combine one by one, then dump the grain into the waiting semis, where they then take it to the elevator.
My Dad was a very patriotic man; something that he has definitely passed on to me and the rest of my family. Every year, we put new American flags flying from each of our machines.
Every day of my life is a blessing. I love what I do and wouldn’t change a minute of it!
Thank you Emma and the folks from All Aboard Harvest for this great feature!!! If you’d like to follow along with Misener Family Harvesters during our summer harvest - visit www.allaboardharvest.com, or our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MisenerFamilyHarvesters . You can reach Emma at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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