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Beet Harvest Day 4 – Whereby Trucks Get Stuck

Beet Harvest Day 4 – Whereby Trucks Get Stuck

Morning Conditions:

🌡️ Temperature: 36 degrees F

☁️ Weather: Mostly Cloudy

💨 Wind: 5 – 10 mph

We Get Our First Taste of Cold

Two van lifers making money at the Sugar Beet Harvest
Morning Meeting

We started our shift at the time shack stretching at 36 degrees F. Yikes! It wouldn’t have felt quite so bad if it wasn’t just 87 degrees less than a week ago.

Last week at 87 degrees we went to bed with only the sheet and a wet wash cloth to cool us down. In stark contrast, last night we had two blankets on and an extension cord to the campsite hook up for a mini space heater. We didn’t keep the heater on at night, but put it on immediately upon waking up.

A Morning of Pacing

Depending on the area, 1/4 inch to 1 inch of rain fell over the day and a half shut down.

Thus, the farmers had the added challenge of thick mud in their fields. They can only do so much to get the beets out of the ground in those conditions.

At our morning meeting, they warned us it would be a slow morning. However, I didn’t expect it to be that slow.

A few trucks came in before 10 am and they all chose the indoor piler. All of them wanted to turn around on concrete.

We didn’t get our first truck until 11:25 am. That’s 3.5 hours into our shift.

With the morning temperatures in the 30’s, I made a figure 8 loop of pacing on one side of the piler. From thru-hiking, I knew if my muscles would get cold and stiff if I only stood there. So, pacing worked great…along with toe warmers.

5 Trucks Get Stuck in Mud and Need a Tow

Truck tracks in mud at the beet harvest.
Some Mud

Not one, but 5 trucks got stuck at our piler trying to turn around. The first few trucks made it over the soft mud ok. But, with each truck, the grooves got deeper and deeper.

Soon, truck after truck started to get stuck.

If a truck gets stuck, we have to call the foreman to come with a loader and tow strap.

It became drastically apparent that some truck drivers knew how to get pulled out and others just did not get it.

After #5 (a more argumentative trucker), our foreman put cones on the sides and told us to make the truckers back out.

3 Trucks Tap Hit the Piler Backing Up

Apparently, you do not need a CDL to drive 62,000-110,000 pounds of beets in a dump truck in North Dakota. Who knew? 🤷‍♀️

You should have seen the look on some of the trucker’s faces when we told them they had to back out!

One truck tapped the piler right off the bat. Our foreman had to come take pictures.

About 20 minutes later, a second truck wedge stuck himself in the piler. This one actually needed a tow out forward, then re-back up with very specific help backing up from the foreman. It was the baby dump truck, too!

As the foreman began towing out that guy, I began yelling stop and crossing my arms at the trucker on the other side. Did he see or hear me? Of course not. Our piler operator did though and got him to stop. That is, after he broke his air break off. 🤦‍♀️

No photos for the carnage because we can’t have our phones out while we’re on…only on breaks.

Karma and I Take Charge of the Boom and Shape the Pile

Beet Piler and beet pile.
The Piler (And Baby Pile)

All day, Karma and I worked the boom. That’s the giant thing attached to like 6 pulleys off of the front end of the piler – the thing that makes the pile.

We got some instruction, but it was definitely more of a feel than anything. You had to do it to get it.

However, our foreman told us it was a pretty pile, so we felt good. The photo above is from the beginning of the day before we got the hand of it.

Now, the night crew can’t screw it up! (My hopes are not high on that).

Evening Conditions


🌡️ Temperature: 47 Degrees F

🌥️ Weather: Partly Cloudy

💨 Wind: 10 – 15 mph

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