SHELBY, Mont. – Around the coming-up-green farm fields at Welker Farms, yellow peas and spring wheat have emerged from the soil and are growing, finding a couple of rain showers along the way, as spring moves into summer in the north central region.
Bob Welker, who farms with his sons, Nick and Scott, said they have been busy scouting their fields and spraying for weeds over the past couple of weeks.
With a sunny day and warm temps behind him, Nick took viewers of the family’s YouTube channel (now more than 200,000 subscribers from all over the world) on the first tour of the crop fields.
Bob reported on the yellow peas that have found a place in the farm’s rotation.
“This Montec 4193 variety of yellow peas stands up well and the pod’s higher on the plant,” Bob said. “The peas look good, as they have in past years, but from here on out, timely rains are needed because of their shallow roots.”
The spring wheat was also developing well. Nick pulled up a plant to show the sturdy root system that was likely taking up soil nutrients.
“The spring wheat looks great and is in the three-to four-leaf stage, which means it is about ready to be sprayed for broadleaf weeds,” he said. “It appears we have hit the rain perfectly this year, so far.”
In several fields of winter wheat, where the dark green plants seemed to wave back and forth in the spring winds, the plants had good growth on them.
Nick and Scott had been spending long, warm days spraying, and at the end of a winter wheat field, a small group of tansy mustard weeds were spotted wilting.
“The Apache and Big Brute sprayers are doing a good job,” Nick said. “They’re going to be busy, getting a lot of work done next week, too.”
Meanwhile, the Welkers were busy moving grain out that was contracted for June delivery, and also clearing out other grain in order to be ready for the upcoming harvest.
Scott improved the road over the dam so they could move grain from one of the Quonsets.
“To get to the Quonset, the normal road goes below the dam, but water was seeping out of the reservoir, making it impassable for heavy-loaded trucks,” Scott said. He improved the road over the dam for hauling to bypass the soggy bottom.
Afterward, Scott hauled out several loads of grain.
In another area of the farm, Bob moved grain out of a bin using their grain vac, a blue Brandt 5000EX, which uses air to move the grain efficiently from the bin to the truck.
“The convenience of a grain vacuum over augers is the availability to remove grain from bins which don’t have unloading augers built in the floor,” Bob said. “It’s safer since the vac has no moving parts next to you while you are working, and the grain vac removes the dust while in the bin.”
Over the winter months, the Welkers always try to finish several projects.
Last winter, they restored a real beauty of a truck, recording it all on their YouTube channel. The finished truck is one that even people who aren’t all that interested in trucks gasp in wonder at.
In fact, more than 2 million people viewed the restoration videos, posting comments along the way.
“Scott saw the ad for this truck and we bought it for $1,800 with the idea of putting a 9-speed transmission in it that we had on hand at the shop,” Bob said.
It was a 1986 International 9370 Eagle that had been well cared for over the years. When Scott drove it home, many of the viewers watching that video posted that it was no ordinary truck.
“When the video of it being hauled home was posted, the YouTube channel followers told us it was a very special truck, an iconic truck, as the year of the truck was the last year the International Company was complete. The next year, Case Corporation bought International Company and dropped the truck line,” Bob said.
When Scott and Nick looked the truck over, they found it had a big Cummins engine and 440 horsepower, which was exciting.
“It’s a really classy, neat truck,” Scott said. They cranked it up and it ran.
“That’s awesome. It’s running, and she hasn’t been started up in eight or nine years. This is going to be a sweet rig,” Nick said.
The previous owner, Gary Wallace, from Vaughn, Mont., hauled grain commercially but passed away a few years ago. The current owners decided to sell the truck after removing the transmission.
“So we found a similar 13-speed transmission for $2,200 and repaired all the wheel seals, bearing, brakes, shocks, air bags, fifth wheel plate, and a new clutch for $3,700,” Bob said.
New tires were purchased for $4,000, as the old ones were rotten. The engine turbo was worn, so another $1,200 check was needed for the new one.
“We decided to renew the paint, so a local auto body painter, Ian Odden, with our help, painted the original color scheme, which was another $3,000,” he said.
The YouTube followers wanted the truck exhaust to be straight-piped exhaust (without any muffler), so Nick went online and found a company, Pypes Performance Exhaust, who made chrome exhaust for trucks.
“After viewing the restoration videos, they shipped us a set of straight stainless steel exhaust to us free,” Bob said. “We cleaned up the interior and had an upholstery redo on the seat, giving it a unique flare.”
The final revealing video was “hugely positive,” with many viewers wanting to buy the truck.
“That $1,800 spare truck we thought would be a cheap backup is now a showroom $18,000 truck,” Bob said.
The restoration video of Scott driving the restored International Eagle down the highway in a white winter scene was a jaw-dropping experience. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle recorded the slick brown and orange 1986 International 9370 Eagle truck with giant chrome exhaust side pipes booming along the road, with white all around it, a sight and sound that amazes everyone that sees – and hears - it.
“Gary Wallace’s family has been following the progress of their Dad’s truck online. They remember the amount of time he spent working with that truck hauling grain and the memories of riding with him on many trips,” Bob said. “They are planning to have a family reunion this summer and now would like to center it around their Dad’s truck.”
For more on the Welkers and for a video of the truck restoration, see their YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/WelkerFarmsInc) or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Welkerfarmsinc