Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Learn Something Today or...My Perspective on Hauling Grain...

As I hoped to, this blog is written to tell about my life in Kansas - now that I have moved from the big city and now that I am again a career artist.  Hubster is involved in being "farm help" during harvest each year.  I rode along this morning and will take you through the process of "hauling grain to the co-op grain elevator".

Many grain trucks are older heavy duty trucks with the capability of lifting the bed to dump grain out of the tailgate area.  Today we are hauling harvested corn.
The Co-ops each have their own set of standards for each crop, for each season.  It's mostly based on the moisture content in the grain.  Each establishes a "benchmark" (boy, where have I heard that word before??)  Today's content in the our corn is 17.9%.  Much higher and they won't take it, so harvesting is begun or put on hold, based on that figure.  Like yesterday, in the early afternoon this 'corn harvest' was in full swing, but as the day progressed, the moisture content went up, so they stalled for awhile, then got back to it later in the day.   The 'combine' dumped it's grain into two trucks for the night and they were kept under a cover til morning when they could get to the elevator...also, some elevators aren't staying open very late yet. 
So this was a run of some of that overnight kept corn.

Blurry photo, as I was bouncing around in the cab of the truck. This is the shack where they probe the crop.  You drive onto the scales and get a weight while you get a probe.  If the moisture is ok, you drive off and onward to dump the grain.  (This time of day was not as busy as they CAN be...sometimes, there are lines coming off the highway and then lines waiting for each part of the process.) As you can imagine, this slows down the forward progression of the 'combines' are back in the field, waiting to dump another bin of crop.

This long bed, tractor/trailer is capable of dumping the grain into the grated auger from beneath it's trailer.  There are just as many of these as there are the smaller trucks like we are in.  The grain is augered into the big round elevators you see in the background. Sometimes the elevators make a lot of noise, they turn on fans at the bottom of the elevator to help dry the grain a little more.  Eventually the grain moves on by truck or traincars - imagine how many things are made with corn. 

As we drive onto the grated area, the co-op worker opens the doors on the back of the gate, it falls for a little bit and then the worker tells the driver to lift the bed.  This let's the grain fall and empty.

There seems to be a little more precision to this, than meets the eye.

We have turned around and are headed back to the scales to weigh the empty truck. Someone does some math, I believe...

So this is what the "probe" looks like as it goes into the corn.  This arm is a vacuum and send some corn into the shack, where it is put into a contraption that reads it's moisture content and then you get the OK to move on.  Again, a little blurry...but you get the idea.
So after you get a "ticket" of what you delivered, you are off to do it again.

Later today, I am headed to Downs, Ks. to participate in the Art Walk.  Hope it doesn't decide to rain - for either one of us. 
ONE MORE TIDBIT OF INFO I LEARNED THIS SEASON...hubster was commenting on the amount of rats, rabbits and deer that go running from the fields where the harvest is going on...makes me think - "be really aware of deer cruising out on the highway - running from what must be very frightening for them."


Mark Bridges said...

That looks interesting. How much corn was in your truck?

Ellen said...

A whole lot more to it than popping some microwave popcorn. We need to be so thankful for those people who work so hard for our food.

Pattie Wall said...

How much corn? There was 362 bushels...21,320 pounds. There is an understanding in farm country..because these trucks are so heavy - if you meet one on a dirt road driving a car or an empty truck you must yield so that the heavily laden grain truck doesn't veer off the crown of the road. They roll fairly easy, once they hit that soft shoulder with that kind of weight. Occasionally, you will see a mountain of grain where someone cut a corner too close - or someone flipped into the ditch. Not fun.
Ellen, they work very hard, it's true. Overwork during this season. They will work WAYYY into the dark, cold night. Milo harvest is next. It's already frozen and quit growing but needs a few extra dry, sunny/warm days...better be soon, before it snows and lays it over - then you are out of luck.
(hmmm, am I starting to sound like a farmer??..)
BTW, don't feel sorry for me, while he is out doing harvest work, I can be found in front of my easel...nya...nya...nya!!

Karen Hargett said...

We are so blessed in this country - thank you for sharing and thank you farmers everywhere for all you do.

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

This is fascinating to me. First, I guess I never realized that what we 'harvest' is actually 'home' to a lot of creatures, but also - my studio is in a converted grain elevator building! All along the walls there are the beams which separated the different lots of grain, and the big tower above, where the landlord now lives in a loft-style apartment... but to see how it works today - fantastic! Thanks for sharing!