Schemper begins second season as correspondent

Hello, harvest 2018. I am Janel Schemper and a third-generation custom harvester. Harvest has been a part of my life forever. Trucks and combines is my middle name and Princess Kate is my nickname according to my AAWH followers. 

I look forward to the harvest every year but it’s tough to find motivation for harvest this year. With all my years of going on harvest experience, I can tell you that no two years are the same. This year we are struggling with a drought down south. Far less acres and low yields is not what I want any harvest to be. All I want to do is run the combine and fill some trucks, hour after hour, day after day. Harvest for me is supposed to be super busy and forward moving and that’s just the way I like it to be but it doesn’t always work that way. Mother Nature plays a huge role in our custom harvesting operation. My mom, Carlene Schemper says that in her 45 years of harvesting she’s never seen it look this bad going south (Nebraska to Texas) for harvest.

Harvest has become a family tradition for Schemper Harvesting. Our business was started in the 1950s by my grandpa, Jerry Schemper. I can remember my dad, LaVern Schemper running Gleaner combines for a long time. He briefly switched to Case combines before purchasing the John Deeres I grew up operating. Our harvest run starts in the Frederick, Oklahoma, area. We’ll journey up the central Midwest states, harvesting wheat fields in Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota. We’ll also harvest chickpeas, lentils and canola in the northern states on our harvest run. Our fall harvest is at home in Nebraska where we will harvest corn and soybeans.

Going on harvest is what I’ve done my entire life. Our harvest stops remain pretty consistent year-after-year but occasionally our harvest route does change. Farm and land ownership changes hands and that’s just the way it is sometimes. I do look forward to seeing our harvest friends along our harvest route every year. I’ve always felt fortunate being a part of a custom harvesting family. I did miss all of the home activities that most kids enjoy but I made up for it by creating my own. 

My friends at school would sometimes give me a hard time for being gone all summer long and I’d get asked lots and lots and lots of questions about harvest and I’d do my best to answer them. Overall, you’ll never fully understand the harvest unless you experience it for yourself. I got to attend bible school in Oklahoma and church in towns on our harvest trail and it was quite wonderful. I also took swimming lessons in Coldwater, Kansas, which I loved.

I have seen a lot of country and traveled many miles. I do believe that summer and fall harvest is when this country’s true beauty really shines. I have a phone full of harvest pictures and can’t believe how many beautiful sights and sunsets I get to see through the windshield. It truly is amazing. Harvest has taught me the value of time because it is seasonal work. We’ve got to work hard when we’ve got the opportunity because there’s a time frame to get the crop harvested before the weather damages it. By being a harvester, I’ve gained a strong work ethic and have the ability to handle any work that needs to be done with a can-do attitude.

Harvest has taught me responsibility and dependability, too. We count on the farmers for the work just as much as they count on us to be there to get the crops harvested on time. I have learned to accept and do my job well and to not ever complain about work but be glad for the opportunity and ability to work. We do our best to keep moving forward as efficiently as possible even when it requires working well into the night.

When the conditions are right that is often what we have to do. I have also learned all about patience through the custom harvesting business. It sometimes seems that we are in the “hurry up and wait business.” We may push hard to get to our next job or field and get started harvesting only to find out that the crop is not quite ready yet or a rain shower (or hail) beats us to it. One constant is that we always do the very best to our ability. I am dedicated to the American harvest. Please pray for the harvesters. I have a feeling that for at least the first 30 days of this harvest it may be a rough road. 

Janel Schemper can be reached at [email protected].