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Beet Harvest Day 2 – Slicker than Snot!

Beet Harvest Day 2 – Slicker than Snot!

Morning Conditions:

🌡️ Temperature: 49

🌧️ Weather: Gusty Drizzle and Rain

💨 Wind: 15-25 mph

Safety Meeting Instructions:

“It’s wet but if the farmers can get the beets outta the field, we’ll keep the lights on.” 🚜

“Our Piler”

A sugar beet piler.
Baby Pile

Today, we get to work on “our piler” with our crew.  That might not seem exciting, but it really is!

Yesterday, there were too many people and not enough to do.  For several hours yesterday, my only task was to watch the boom and make sure beets didn’t go above a specific line on the wall.  I did do a decent workout while watching beets line the wall.  Muck boots are better than ankle weights! 🥾

Today though, were outside on our assigned piler with only our assigned crew.  We each have enough to do to keep busy, but not so much that it’s stressful.

We learned we had Mona on our crew.  She was the first person we met at the campground and has an awesome level of positivity. 

Slicker than Snot Mud

A pile of sugar beets starting with the piler and factory in the background.
Neighboring Pile and Factory

Farm mud appears to have more slippery properties than other mud.  I’m not joking.  This shit is literally slicker than snot.

I’m getting used to shuffle stepping even wild shoveling mud. 

It drizzled a good portion of the evening last night and left slippery mud everywhere

And, lucky for us (haha) it began raining about an hour into our shift.  Thus, the mud that had slowly started to dry has become re-moistened. 

We did make friends with our skidskeer dude yesterday, so he’s helping us remove excess mud attentively.

Yesterday, I needed a flashlight to check the height of the boom.  I approached him with, “You look like a guy that comes prepared with your own flashlight.”

His face lit up and he zoomed over to his truck and back with a flashlight. 

Woman taking a selfie with 3 vans at the sugar beet harvest.
Waiting Out the Rain

After the first few hours of drizzle, the rain picked up into real rain. Our piler operator told us the piler would shut down and we needed to wait in our vehicles until further instructions.

Why does the Sugar Beet Harvest shut down for rain?

There are several reasons for a rain related shut down.

  1. The farmers can’t get the beets out of the fields easily. Their machines do not work as well going through the mud.
  2. Beets that do get out of the ground come caked in mud and excess dirt. The dirt trap on the piler can only shift so much dirt before getting clogged. If it gets clogged, the whole piler turns off and we get to get into it and shovel it out. (This hasn’t happened yet).
  3. Safety! The wetter it gets, the slipperier it gets. When its slick as snot and your safety glasses fog from your breath, accidents are more likely.

Waiting in the Van

As you’ve probably guessed, I’m writing these on my breaks. Karma is watching a Netflix mini series on David Beckham. We’re just hanging out with our mobile internet waiting for the rain to stop.

No one is complaining at the moment because we’re getting paid to sit in our rigs out of the rain. It’s a win-win for us workers!

The Day Shift Ends Early…Night Shift Canceled

Muck boots and jeans in watery mud at the sugar beet harvest where it gets slipperier than snot.

After waiting in our van for nearly 3 hours, our foreman drove his truck over to assemble at the indoor pilar.

We had a small stuff-explosion going on in the van and it took a second to quickly shift into drive mode. Our we rain gear hung all over the front seats , the kettle sat on the stove from making hot coco, and we had taken off those infernal jeans.

All 8 piler crews assembled out of the increasingly heavy rain inside.

Basically, the farmers couldn’t get the beets into their trucks without the trucks getting stuck in the mud. The “Ags” (agriculturalists) spoke to enough growers that they knew not enough trucks would come in.

Our instructions: we’re free to go and to not call the hotline until 8am the tomorrow morning. Thus, no overtime today and no night shift tonight.

Since the forecast tonight has nothing but rain and thunderstorms, they don’t know if the farmers can get the beets out tomorrow either. 🤷‍♀️

We’re used to the weather dictating what routes we want to take thru-hiking, but I had not deeply thought about how that affected farmers, truck drivers, and food processors.

A Free Afternoon

On the drive out of the job site, Karma and I made a plan. We knew everyone working the day shift would descend on 2 places: the showers and the laundry.

🚿 So, instead of driving to our campsite, we drove straight to the shower house. Because we thought ahead, we already had a shower backpack ready. However, because we live in a van, we only have one shampoo, conditioner, and soap. I dove into the shower house and got the very first shower.

In the 11 days of waiting for work to start, we experimented with different systems to get into, through, and out of the shower as fast as possible.

We put our system to the test today and it turned out A+! 🥳

I called Karma and handed him the backpack while I took the $15 hair dryer we picked up on the way. Normally, we don’t have the inverter capacity for a hair dryer. However, the shower house has outlets. No wet hair in the cold for us!

We capped off the evening hanging with our friends Bryn and Josh who we meet at Skooliepalooza earlier this year. Nothing like randomly running into each other with no prior knowledge of our whereabouts! It was the best surprise ever to come and already have friends! 😁

Evening Conditions (At Shift’s End)


🌡️ Temperature: 54

🌧️ Weather: Rain & Thunderstorms

💨 Wind: 15-25 mph

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