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Day 0 – Orientation & Training: The Waiting Game

Day 0 – Orientation & Training: The Waiting Game

Campground Arrival 🚐

Karma and I received an arrival date of September 20th in North Dakota.  Neither of us have ever been to North or South Dakota, so we decided to swing south before checking in.

We’d been told to bring two weeks of food because the only thing close to the campground was a Love’s gas station and a Taco Johns. 🤷‍♀️

When we got here, we learned we were in the first wave of arrivals.  They would bring in a certain number of people each day to stagger orientation and training.

What we didn’t realize was there is nothing to do here.  🤦‍♀️

Our campground lay smashed between the job site and an interstate with a railroad. 

We snagged a great campsite close to the amenities and started our van chores: gathering the trash, changing our toilet coco coir, filling our water tank etc.


The next afternoon, we had orientation.  This consisted of filing out a lot of paperwork that I swear we already filled out online.

We also received our hard hats, reflective vests, work gloves, and three shades of safety glasses. 🦺

They capped it off with an overview video of what we need to know before we go onto the job site. 

Training Part 1 🌧️

The day after orientation, we went to training. 

We had heard that the beet harvest is subject to the weather, but we got a crash course in it. 🌧️

Training had a fine mist everywhere and overcast skies that sprinkled on and off.  No beets could be piled or pre-piled to show us how the piler worked.

We got a walk around and quite a bit of theoretical explanations in the meantime.  They showed us how to clock in and out and where we needed to be when we needed to be there. Then, we waited…4 days.

Training Part 2

🚛 We got a call asking us to come in for training with trucks for the following day. 

Let me tell you, it made so much more sense when you could see it actually happening!

The whole agricultural storing of sugar beets for processing is wild.  So many different elements move at the same time.

They allowed us to stay for the whole pre-pile shift which helped us really understand what the heck we signed up for.

Karma even had the opportunity to get into the Piler Operator booth and learn a little about that position.

To cap off the shift, we got to learn the “lock out” procedure to clean the piler.  To ensure that the power to the machine is off, each person has a lock that they secure to the power handle in the off-position. 

Then, we got to scrape sticky mud off of the piler machine.

Shift Assignments + An Extra Pre-Pile Shift

We definitely started to feel left in the dark. Sitting in the campground waiting for a call was fine for a few days, but with little to do…we became restless.

Anything to do that seemed interesting to do was hours away. Gas money adds up in a van, so we didn’t see the point of pointlessly burning gas just because we were bored.

Luckily, we got a call to come in and “pack a lunch because we don’t know how long we’ll keep you.”

And wow…that statement was true.

Just shy of 15 hours after we clocked in, we clocked out. The day shifted from moving a piler several hundred feet to sitting in a factory watching more videos, to a Q&A session, and finally to pre-piling some beets!

Seated in the conference room, we FINALLY learned what shift we would get. Karma and I requested days because to heat our van, we have an extension cord with a mini space heater we’ll plug in at the campsite. We worried about our pipes freezing while the van sat during a night shift.

Miraculously, we lucked out and got THE DAY SHIFT. 🥳

They also told us to come in at 7am on Wednesday after calling the hotline.

Waiting in the Campground & “Stay Pay”

Man walking down a dirt road toward a corn field at a campground waiting for the sugar beet harvest.
Daily Walks Around the Campground

Neither of us are campground dwellers – we’re in an off-grid van that we built out ourselves.  So, campground life is an adjustment to say the least!

There is definitely one kid who thinks the best way to get attention is by screaming at the top of their lungs.  This seems to happen consistently.  However, with the door closed and Netflix on, we don’t really hear it too much though.

Until the weather gets into the appropriate temperatures, we basically hang out waiting for a phone call or text. 📲

Once everyone went through training, “stay pay” started.  This is where they pay us 4 hours of work to stay here waiting for the harvest to start.  It’s a way of ensuring that we don’t leave when we get bored.  And let me tell you, this whole campground is starting to get bored.  The gossip is taking on a whole new level.

All in all, we’ve gotten a lot of small van projects done and Netflix watched while we wait.  However, it’s not really our jam, so we’re hoping work starts soon!

Until Next Time

They say we’ll start work tomorrow, Wednesday the 4th, but to call their hotline before we leave the campground. 

Stay tuned!

Start back at the beginning here.

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