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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sugar Beet Harvest - Day # 19 - And then there was ONE

The windchill factor on Friday, October 18th, was 17 degrees......we are both so thankful we were not working the day shift.  For the first time in a week the day shift was promised a 12 hour shift, but starting at 8 am instead of 7 am.  Our start time was the normal one at 7 pm.

I spent the better part of the morning organizing the trailer for departure.  To make it more hospitable inside the trailer I ran a couple of extension cords over to one of the power pedestals and plugged into a 20 amp outlet.  I plugged in the heater, turned on the lights and had tunes playing in my sanctuary for the first time in 2 months.  Within a few minutes the heater had the inside of the trailer feeling comfortable, and then I began to put away the bikes, and other stuff that had exploded out of the cabinets over the past two months.  It was enjoyable to spend time in the trailer, which has become my "garage" on the road.  There is always something to do in there, and the time passes quickly.

As you know, we haven't worked a 12 hour shift in over a week, and Thursday was no different, but we were hoping Friday and Saturday nights would be 12 hour shifts so we could close out our stay here with two good money days.

Our plan before we went to work Friday evening was to leave Monday morning after completing our last shift Saturday night/Sunday morning giving me time to finish cleaning off the coach, and getting a good "day's" sleep, however, when we reported for work Friday at 7 pm we found that once again the trucks would not be running all night, but would stop at 8 pm meaning another short night.  We were also informed that this would be the case Saturday evening as well.

Once again there were only two pilers running all day (FP2 and 4), so we (Dallas and I) were assigned the task of cleaning one piler, but with one caveat......they wanted us to clean what they call the "cross belts".  The "cross belts" pick up the sugar beets from the hopper after they are dumped by the trucks and then move them up to what they call the "incline conveyer".  The "cross belts" had become extremely muddy, and as a result were not picking up the beets quickly enough resulting in the hopper overflowing.  The day crew had already stopped once during the day to clean these belts, but by 8 pm they were pretty clogged up again.  Normally Dallas and I can clean the other areas of the piler in about 30-40 minutes.  This added task added about an hour and 40 minutes, and it was hard.  We didn't start cleaning until 8 pm when the day shift finished, and the trucks stopped coming, and finally finished about 10:15, by which time I was soaked with perspiration.  It's amazing how you can sweat so much when it is 35 degrees outside.

Once we were done I retrieved TLE from the warm, well lit, comfortable Scale House where she had spent the early evening reading a good book, and we headed home.  On the way we decided that since we would be working another abbreviated shift Saturday night that we would get a good night's rest, and then leave Sunday before Noon time.  This works out well as we are heading for Bozeman to hook up with our friends Jeanne and Chris Callahan whom we met in Indianapolis.  Jeanne writes a blog called Have Bus, Will Travel which I enjoy reading.  At any rate this will give us three days to drive the 500+ miles to Bozemen instead of the two we had budgeted.  We'll arrive there Tuesday afternoon and spend a day with them before heading the final 99 miles to Fairmont Hot Springs Resort.

So, at last, as I sit here depressing the keys on my laptop, and watching mostly coherent thoughts make their way to the "page", I can say with the utmost confidence...... "And then there was ONE".......just one more abbreviated shift tonight and we will, once again, be one our way to new adventures.

I have been asked often over the past 3 weeks by readers, friends, and even co-workers here at Sidney Sugars "will you do this again?".  Right now it's about 50/50 that I will.  Of course, TLE loved this job, and would do it again in a heartbeat, so the question remains for me to answer.

All in all it has been an interesting experience, and that was part of why we chose to work the sugar beet harvest....for the experience.  We have met some interesting people, and learned a lot about agriculture in this little corner of the world.  We have helped process tons of sugar beets into enormous piles where they will be gradually hauled off to the factory where they will become sugar.

Over the next 3 weeks we will gradually wend our way homeward where we have not been in almost 2 years.  Of course that means there are still 3 weeks of adventures before we park for a couple of months, spend time with our kids and grand kids, and then head off again after the first of the year to see new things, and seek new adventures.

Thanks for stopping by!

Moonrise around 7:08 am on our last full day here in Sidney, MT

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