On a Personal Note

Published on: 17:27PM Aug 04, 2014

As most know, I attended the Farm Financial Standards Council annual meeting in Billings last week. This ended at about 11 am on Thursday and that afternoon, I got a tour of the Padlock Ranch which is about 400,000 acres of ranch land located in Northern Wyoming and Southern Montana. A lot of the acres are located on the Crow Indian Reservation which is where Custer's Last Stand occurred. The headquarters for the ranch is located near Dayton, Wyoming and the nearest city is Sheridan, Wyoming.

The headquarters is located right on the Tongue River which appears to have gotten its name from the local Indians who said the source of the river in the Bighorn Mountains looked like a Bison's tongue. The picture above shows a photo of the river. We took a tour of the ranch with Steven Severe, who is the Ranch's CFO and now treasurer of the Farm Financial Standards Council. He gave us about a 4 hour driving tour around part of the ranch. I would guess we only saw about 20-25% of the ranch at the most during the drive.

On Friday, I flew into Spokane from Billings and then headed over to the big down of Dixie, Washington (population less than 200) to operate the combine for my cousins for a couple of days. When you operate a hillside combine and are dumping grain on the go while on a hillside, you always lock the leveling system into manual. This prevents the auger from dropping down and hitting the grain cart as you dump the grain. When you are done dumping, you then put it back into auto and go on your merry way.

Well, of course, I was about ready to dump a load of grain and put the combine into manual mode. I then decided I could cut one more small patch on the steepest part of the hillside (probably about 35% plus slope). I, of course, forgot to put it back into auto mode and while going over to cut the last little patch, I suddenly felt the combine start to tilt downhill and slide about three feet down the hill before I finally realized I still had it in manual mode. As you can guess, this puckered me up a little bit, but I did not forget to put into auto after that. That occurred Saturday morning.

At about noon, we moved over to another field that had much better yields (I am guessing around 130 or so). There had been warnings about possible thunder storms. At about 5:30 pm, we had a first drop of rain and then suddenly lightning hit near us since we heard the thunder almost as soon as we saw the lightning. Well, you can guess, we high tailed into the shop area and my cousin's son spotted a lightning strike about 100 feet from our combines. We then saw about 10 fire engines go flying up the road to put out the fires caused by the lightning.

It seems that every time I cut wheat for my cousins, something happens. But again, this is my idea of a vacation. The photo above shows me cutting wheat down a 30% plus slope. The photos are always hard to tell how steep the ground is, but when you feel the rear wheels come up off the ground a little bit (since you can no longer steer the combine), it is steep.