SHELBY, Mont. – Many will argue that early fall across Montana is the state’s most glorious time of year. Up along the Canadian border, acres and acres of freshly harvested grain fields stretch on nearly as far as the eye can see, signifying that soon all the fields will be processed and harvest 2020 will be complete.
For Klayton Lohr, a 25-year-old farmer who works his family’s land around Shelby, harvest has been nothing short of a marathon. The young farmer began his harvest escapades in early August and after about a month of being behind the wheel of either a combine, a truck or a grain cart, he is pleased to announce the end is in sight.
“We finished cutting my stuff on Sept. 5. It was good to be done,” Klayton said with satisfaction in his voice.
Harvesting this year wasn’t just about hard work, as Klayton got to have a little fun when he was able to demo a brand new, New Holland combine.
“They’re really good machines, no doubt about it. They are meant to cut a lot of grain in a hurry,” Klayton said about the combine.
Like a kid with a brand new toy, Klayton thoroughly enjoyed testing out the new combine, and even though he would love to have one, it can be hard to justify a $600,000 machine when wheat is hovering below $5 a bushel. Klayton laments, his tried and true John Deere combine will just have to make it another year.
After wrapping up harvesting of his own durum, Klayton turned right around and didn’t even skip a beat because he and his combine where back to work harvesting spring wheat for a neighbor on Sept. 6. He did receive a break just one day later on Monday, Sept. 7, when a big rain storm hit, dropping nearly six-tenths of an inch of rain.
“I didn’t cut grain at all that week I guess, until Saturday,” Klayton reported during a phone update on Sept. 14.
Again, don’t be fooled and think a break from cutting meant Klayton got a break from farming. Oh no, between Sept. 9-11, Klayton kept himself busy hauling loads of his 2019 grain crop to the elevator in Great Falls. If he isn’t busy filling his bins, it’s a fair bet he will be busy emptying them. And besides, if he ever gets too complacent sitting in the cab of an air-conditioned combine, a few days of shoveling grain, which Klayton respectfully calls “grain bin aerobics,” usually does the trick.
After this last push of grain hauling, Klayton estimates he only has two loads of his 2019 grain left to deliver. Just in time for him to start running loads of his 2020 crop.
He figured he would be done with his custom combine job by Sept. 14, or shortly thereafter. Next on the docket would be spraying another round on his chem-fallow. The task of spraying is somewhat arduous, so Klayton was kind of looking forward to winter because that means he can park his sprayer.
“It’s pretty easy to say goodbye to that girlfriend for a few months,” Klayton chuckled.
After spraying is wrapped up, Klayton will have to shift his attention to the 590 bales of hay barley he swathed and had a neighbor bale earlier this summer. He plans to borrow a hay probe from the county Extension office so he can get a nitrate and feed value reading on the bales. Then starts the fun job of marketing and selling all that hay.
If it is not one thing, it is certainly another for Klayon Lohr and his farming operation. Harvest may be wrapping up, but work never is truly complete for a Montana farmer. If you asked Klayton, however, there is no other life he would rather live.