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Custom Combine Tribute

USCHI Magazine Article 1

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USCHI Magazine Article 1
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Interview with U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc.

September 2002

We Were There, Then and Still Are Now!

What made you decide to do the Custom Harvest Tribute?

To be honest with you, it has always been a dream. This dream is so real. I could not leave it alone. One weekend, one of my daughters came home and I told her about it. She said, "Well Dad. Why don't you do it?" That was about four years ago.

What did you start out doing?

I first started contacting companies and associations for support. Last summer I talked to a friend, who is a business owner. And he thought my idea was great. He said that he would help. That was when I started looking for equipment. Once I had the equipment, I believe that we showed interested parties that we were committed to the project. This is how outside interest was generated.

What kind of equipment do you plan on restoring?

I am currently restoring my Massey-Harris A21 combine, which is the same old model as the first brigade. I will then buy an old pick-up and one 2-ton truck that has already been restored. Hopefully I can also get a travel trailer, too.

How many people are helping you with this project?

At this point, mostly myself with the help of my friends and family. (In fact, all of his children are playing active roles with the project. Bruce designed the logo. Shelly is helping with the PR work - letters and proposals. Lynda is in charge of the graphic design and computer work. Julie is the web-site designer. And Allyn and Kelli are helping to advertise.)

When is the expected completion date?

My goal is to have the combine completed for this year's annual convention at Topeka, Kansas. The engine is almost completely rebuilt. I am also concentrating on painting the machine now. So, I hope it will be done. Then in 2004, I plan to go on harvest.

How large will your crew be?

I have two friends that want to go. One has never been on a harvest but is already planning to go. Also, I am hoping that some of my family members can go. If it all works out - it will be a five-man crew.

What is your planned route?

Because I was born in Langdon, North Dakota, I plan to start the tribute there. The journey will begin by traveling the eastern edge of North Dakota into South Dakota. Then to Kansas, Oklahoma, and arriving in Texas in late March, early April - in time for the winter wheat harvest. The tribute will then continue along the north-central route of the wheat belt and return to Langdon, North Dakota.

Is this similar to the first harvest brigade?

When I made my route, I was not aware of the original route. So, when I found out what the original route was, I was surprised to see that my route on the way back is almost exactly the same.

What do you believe to be the main purpose of this project?

To commemorate harvesters, back then and now. I think it is important to educate people on where their food comes from. The important role harvesters play in getting our food to us.

What do you think the major difference is between harvest then and harvest now?

When I went on harvest, we did not have air-conditioning. And you don't sleep in combine trailers or in cars. When we were done for the day, we were so tired we just crashed wherever we could in the field.

When did you go on the harvest?

The first time I went on the harvest was in 1957. I went for four-years.

What were your responsibilities?

I owned two combines. It was easier to find work then. One time when I was moving south, a farmer stopped me and asked me to harvest his crops. So, we did.

Why did you quit harvesting?

Uncle Sam called me to serve my country. I sold my combines and truck and served in the US Air Force for four-years. There I met my wife, Pat, and we began raising a family. When the war was over, I was going to the harvest again. But instead, I returned to my old job at the farm implement dealer in Kindred, North Dakota.

What do you miss most-least about harvest in the past?

Well, I miss just doing it. There is just something about it - a feeling that is just hard to explain. To get in a bit wheat field and go is just awesome. I guess the one thing I don't miss is the wet weather. We would get days where we didn't know if or when we would get done. Also, the heat - I don't miss that! All in all, it was really fun. You meet a lot of great people. It was just a great experience.

What were some of the problems that you had encountered on the harvest trail in the past that you would not be now?

Back then crops were different then crops today. It will be interesting to see how the combine runs in fields today.

Interview conducted and written by: Jada Hoffman US Custom Harvest, Inc. September 2002

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