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Beet Harvest Day 20 – The End Of The Harvest

Beet Harvest Day 20 – The End Of The Harvest

Morning Conditions:

🌡️ Temperature: 46 degrees F

☁️ Weather: Cloudy, Overcast

💨 Wind: 10 – 15 mph

The Last Safety Meeting

Lots of padlocks locking the power to a sugar beet piler in the off-position for end of the harvest cleaning.
Safety Lock Out

We gathered at 8 am by the time shack. This allowed us a half hour of extra sleep in the morning!

A collection of people from both day and night shift as well as from north, middle, and south convened for a few extra hours of work.

Because one grower struggled to get the last of the sugar beets out of his field, the last two pilers did not shut down until 7:20 pm last night.

Thus, this morning, those two pilers needed a deep clean. End of the harvest, here we come!

We Deep Cleaned Piler 7

They divided us into two groups of 10 and we got to work. We locked out the piler so we could get all up in it. This is their safety procedure to know how many people are cleaning and to ensure that the machine has NO power.

Last night’s rain made today’s task a little more difficult. It made the caked on dirt into sticky mud.

We started on the top of the piler, so the dirt fell down. If you clean the bottom first, you’ll have to clean the bottom a second time after you dump all the muddy grossness down.

Karma and I headed upward with another crew member and got into the dirt return, on top of the dirt screen, and into the dirt hopper. Our coworker called them each “their own little show of horrors.”

The three of us noted the utter lack of enthusiasm by anyone else to climb up and into the messiest spots. 🤷‍♀️

The Nitty Gritty

Basically, we used all sorts of flat shovels, hoes, and hooks to scrap caked on mud off the piler.

We crawled all around in it getting all the nooks and crannies. While they get locked out and cleaned about once a day during the main campaign, they clean only the essentials. This was EVERYTHING.

The end of the harvest means the deepest of deep cleans. Our foreman reminded us that the deep clean actually represented the first day of the next harvest. The better we clean it, the better access the mechanics have to fix and improve it for next year.

I helped another coworker with the area underneath the wheelbarrow and that had the stickiest mud off all. I swear, the more mud we pulled out the more we found.

Finish Before the Rain

The afternoon forecast showed rain on and off all afternoon. We all wanted to finish beforehand. No one wanted to get soaked. Even the Ag didn’t want us out there in the rain because it becomes significantly less safe to clean when it gets slippery.

Right as we loaded the tools hooked on the piler in the foreman’s pickup, we felt the first drops of rain.

We waited in our vehicles for a little bit until the others finished Piler 8. I played a full game of wingspan on my phone.

Then, we headed back to the time shack and had a quick last chat and turned in our locks. We all said goodbye in the drizzle and headed back to the campground. And that was that…the end of the harvest. But, just like a mountain, we still have to go down (or beat the snow out of here).

48 Hours to Leave

Once they release us from work, we have 48 hours to leave the campground.

We opted to shower first since we had mud everywhere. I felt like my hair had a large amount of dirt in it.

Then, we started some clean up chores: laundry, water fill-up, cleaning the stove (miiiight have overflowed oatmeal 3 times on it…) and a few other chores.

Mostly, just wiping everything down. Having to bring our van to work every day is not the cleanest. We contained it about as best as we could…but, this dirt gets everywhere.

How Are You Getting Around the Storm?

Since this job depends on the weather, everyone here has become hyper aware of every nuance in weather.

Starting sometime on Thursday here, the temperature will plummet and it will snow. ❄️

The most common question has become, “how are you getting around the storm.”

Currently, most people plan to head south, at least into South Dakota and then figure it out from there.

We plan to head west, but the Rocky Mountains have a cold front coming through. We’ll be fine in the cold, but we worry about our pipes freezing. We have a small space heater, but it depends on AC power and we’ll kill our batteries (200 Ah Lithium) if we use it all night on our inverter.

So, we’re weighing our options and seeing if it’s worth it to spend extra gas money going further south or if it’s better to grab a few KOA spots with hook ups. We have two routes in mind, but we’ll check the forecast radar tomorrow to pick.

For now, we’re stoked we made it all the way to the end of the harvest.

Afternoon Conditions:


🌡️ Temperature: 53 Degrees F

🌧️ Weather: Overcast, Intermittent Showers

💨 Wind: 10 – 15 mph

Beet Harvest Day 19 - Climbing the MASSIVE Beet Pile

Monday 23rd of October 2023

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