Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 4 in a row…

I work again tonight it ought to be interesting to see if its a full night as they promised or just a partial. Have had some ‘fun’ fields the last few shifts.

Saturday night we had 2 fields- a measly 8 acre that took about 2 hours to do and then a larger 20ish acre one. The 20ish acre one came complete with its own light show as a large lightning storm hit the area with something we rarely see in the northwest- Bolt lightning. I was unfortunately too busy driving/trying not to freak the crap out(I do NOT like lightning) to take any pictures of it as some of it was really beautiful.

Sunday we had 2 fields as well one that we finished up(it was fun because it was really dead throughout) and one that had the mother of all ditches. Normally when we encounter ditches they are along one or 2 sides of a field and really narrow but this one ran along the back 2/3’rds of the field was curvy, wide and deep. Thankfully I’m the queen of bin filling and was able to slide and shift my bin to the point that I was able to just make it off the ditch before having to dump and got myself an ‘atta girl’ from the helper.

Last night we just had one field that was a 'treat’ in and of itself because it had a couple of unique features- it had a tree and a well in the middle of it. Now while that may not sound real special its a pain in the butt. Especially when farmers plant right up to the tree/well/thing we aren’t supposed to run over. I took on the tree and then cleaned up the edge of the field and a couple of odd corner pieces that had to be chopped up as well. Got off early and came home.

For today’s video we have a sample of what its like to be in the cab for 12 hours. Literally all we have to follow is in front of us, the readout is the only *real* light in there. In the brief shot of my readout my barrel pressure is about 1800-2000 and my speed is 2 MPH(that is zipping right along actually).

I have some others and I hope to be able to snap more soon but I’m not making any promises as to snap videos requires relinquishing control of the machine to someone else and getting out of my cab.

Friday, July 10, 2009

So, another exciting season begins.

Tuesday was the opening night of pea season. This meant a couple of things- 1) its my 4th season overall, 2) its my 3rd season right seating(driving alone), and 3) that I have to train freshies(first year drivers).

Now points 1 & 2 don’t have much bearing on the first couple days aside from the fact I am the *senior* driver on the crew. I have the unique pleasure of having my lovely foreman from last season and on Tuesday night I made it clear to him that I had *CHOOSEN* his crew over everyone else’s because I like and respect him as a foreman and would prefer to be with him.

Point 3 has been the one that has been driving me most insane as we are on a second shutdown night tonight(last night was my night off but the crew ended up not running). Which means that I will have trained drivers on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and go back tomorrow and have to RETRAIN them again.

Now with the driver I had Tuesday night that will be fine. I had him left seating for about an hour before I let him drive and he caught on very quickly to driving. He was good enough that I felt comfortable booting him out of my machine and into his own machine(even though we had and continue to have only 2 machines) after about 3 hours. He did swimmingly well and I was quite proud of him.

I was actually comfortable enough that I felt okay going out and snapping some video of the peas falling off the podder chain into the bin while he drove:

The driver I trained Wednesday night was a little different. He was much slower to catch on(never really did actually) and really frustrated me. I had him left seat with me while I helped to finish up a field and even had him drive a little but he was very nervous and didn’t fully seem to listen to me or my instructions (I.E.- “Now you go to full throttle, that’s the rabbit”) . I demonstrated how to open a field, and dump and everything I could.

Then I put him in the driver’s seat and left seated with him coaching him gently through everything, prompting and guiding. I finally got up and went out on the catwalk for a while because he just was NOT getting it and I thought maybe if I got out of his hair he would have it click. Nope. So back into the left seat for another round of coaching and prompting, then down to the crew truck to help the foreman for a while.

As I was trial by fire’ing the driver he not once, not twice but at least 3 times couldn’t remember how to engage the harvester(pull up on the GIANT yellow knob) or how to idle down. I was in and out of the machine a few times but the last time I came back in, I asked him why he hadn’t idled down while waiting for the truck to pull up. He points to a button(not the throttle that is labeled ‘throttle’ and goes “well I was pushing THAT one and it has a rabbit and turtle on it” turns out he’d adjusted his reel speed(how fast the picking reel that pulls the peas in spins) down into the 150’s range(it was supposed to be up at 200RPM). I took over for a while, getting the reel speed back up and finishing the field(we were almost done).

Needless to say I am really hoping that tomorrow when we go in(as right now its about 90% chance we ARE working) that we have the Tuesday drivers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

So let’s try this again

Remember last year I worked harvesting peas?  And remember how I said I wasn’t going back? Yeah, that didn’t work out so well.


Tomorrow is supposed to be the start of pea season. It ought to be interesting considering as far as we all know there are no machines on this side of the state.


I’m once again going to try blogging a bit about work, and some of the ‘new’ and ‘fun’ things that happen.

There are a few things I do know going into the season this year-

  • the guy who I had the most problems and whom I was promised would not return this year? Is back.
    • However as soon as I found that out I raised a stink and requested not to be on his crew as I would NOT want to be forced to file a complaint again this year.
  • I requested the foreman I had last year as at least he knows me and respects me for what I am- a female driver. I don’t have to try to outdo everyone(doesn’t mean I still don’t do it anyway)

I will keep you all informed and bring back videos and pictures when I can!

So buckle up and hang on for the bumpy exciting ride!