First Time at the Beet Harvest – Days 19 through 21

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

When I pictured these blog posts I really thought they they would be short little paragraphs per day with a weather report and me saying how tired I was in a variety of ways. That has obviously not been the case, as interesting things keep happening. My biggest problem has been finding the time to squeeze in writing about it, so this is another 3:30am posting, and bear with me if it’s a little jumbled.  Overall all of the happenings is a good thing because the job is definitely not boring.  Tedious at times yes, but rarely boring.  So the next thing that happened is about mid-day on Monday we found out that the teams were going to be switched up a little.  Folks are starting to leave for other jobs or obligations, or for whatever reason, and the supervisors need to fill in the gaps.  These choices were definitely done with some thought, and we were told that Marie and Marvin would be moving to Piler 6 and Bridget (Robert’s wife) and one of the ventilation team, Austin, would be coming to work with us.  Obviously we were sad to see Marvin and Marie go.  We have great teamwork happening and our communication was outstanding, but it was good that Bridget and Robert would finally be working together, plus at least Marie and Marvin would be with our friends Jim and Judy on 6, and they also got to stay together.

There wasn’t much time for everyone to adjust though, as we came in Tuesday to the operation in full swing already (that doesn’t always happen, sometimes get 15 minutes or so to saddle up and settle in before the first trucks show up – Lee) with a full line of trucks waiting behind the two that were on the piler already, and we seriously did not have one break in the truck traffic all day.  Since they allow every team to develop their own methods and style, it wasn’t surprising that it was a bit of a struggle.  We do things differently than they do on Piler 6 and Lee, Robert, and I were scrambling to teach Austin and Bridget our method, while we were simultaneously running the operation.  So the morning was incredibly frustrating and both Robert and I worked our asses off, training and working at the same time.  Lee got as frustrated as I have seen him, and we were both pretty short tempered by lunch time. (Not anyone’s fault, but it takes time to develop a way to communicate with people, and when we swap out a couple of them, the “vets” have to be patient while the new folks get up to speed, and the new folks have to learn something new, all on the fly, and with no real breaks to review and assess. – Lee) 

That is one of the downsides to allowing each team to do their own thing. I get it.  People really like the more relaxed set of rules (versus an Amazon environment that is super rigid), but when there is a switch-up, to some extent you have to start all over with team dynamics.  As much as I appreciate the freedom, I have given this a lot of thought and I do think a few things should be standardized across the yard.  First off, the signals with the truck drivers should all be the same.  They visit different pilers all the time, based on line lengths, and the variation must drive them crazy.  Someone should poll the drivers on what hand signals they would like to see and then everyone should be trained on the basics in orientation.  (What Tracy doesn’t remember is that they did give us standardized hand signals for the drivers in the first day orientation, but let’s face it, older people are more inclined to do what they’ve always done, and not what they were told one time in a brief training class. Especially people who are backing up and helping to back up motorhomes and trailers all the time. They just revert to their way of doing it. I think it says a lot about the drivers that we manage to not end up with trucks upside down or dumping beets into other trucks, frankly. – Lee)  I  honestly don’t remember the hand signals from orientation at all.  I think they should give us a handout with our orientation packet that we can refer to later – Tracy

Secondly, we should all have the same rules on when the piler is moved back.  In the beginning we were given very basic instructions on “not burying the boom in the pile” and then everyone had to figure it out on their own.  The reason it is such a big deal is that the booms have sensors on them and when they get to close to the beets the entire machine shuts down, and a supervisor has to come and either walk out on the boom to reset it, or worse, if it gets buried, they have climb up the beet pile and dig it out by hand. All the while with trucks waiting. Even worse, if you have a truck or two trucks on the piler in the process of unloading, so they can’t even pull out of the line to go to another piler.  It is a completely avoidable work shutdown and one that Lee is adamant we never experience again after it happened a couple of times early on.

Finally, about 3pm or so we all settled in and everyone relaxed a little.  I will say here that the absolute best part of the day was now that the ventilation crews are done, Russell is on the bobcat full time. I am not overstating when I say that more than anyone else Russell has made this experience more pleasant for me.  He is technically proficient on the bobcat, but more importantly he is constantly working in it. (Bullshit. Lots of people are technically proficient. Russel is an artist with that thing. It’s like he was born in it. – Lee) Since Piler 3 is always having problems and the other Bobcat practically lives down there, Russell is covering the other 5 pilers.  That’s a lot of ground to cover, but not only did we see him several times during the day, but he also kept our area very clean.  Since everything else was extremely chaotic (and it was a very muddy day) having a clean area to work in was such a blessing.  Truly.  About 3:30pm, I finally walked down to him and thanked him for everything he has done.  I got a little gushy about the whole thing since I was having such a rough day, but he handled it with grace.  Really that guy is great and at 33 seems to be able to communicate easily with both the older and younger groups. (I think it’s worth mentioning that he also has a truly epic bright red beard, and I don’t even like beards. – Lee)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

For those of you wondering why this is all taking so long, I did get a little information from one of the larger farms that we see every day.  Danielson Farms has the nicest truck drivers, so I asked a couple questions.  According to the driver the farm has around 900 acres and uses 7 truck drivers for the harvest.  Each driver makes around 10 round trips in a 12 hour day. When I asked how long it would take to harvest the fields (with no weather delays), he said around 21 days.  Wow!  Let me do some quick math here and that is 1470 truckloads of beets from one farm.  That’s a crazy amount of beets.  It sort of answers one of the questions I have has as we traveled the country. We see lots of farmland, but I always wondered how it could possible be enough to feed everyone.  I had no clue the fields could produce that kind of volume, fascinating. (It also helps to keep in mind that throughout this process, our piler yard, which is one of SIX locations, gets around 1200 truckloads a day. And the harvest is typically 14-20 days. We are generally doing 200 a day on our piler alone. And with almost no exceptions, that’s nonstop. So in a 12 hour day, we’re doing 16 trucks an hour, which is a truck about every 4 minutes. Someone mentioned to us on the first day that all together it’s about 13 million tons. That’s the scale. – Lee)

It was cold again today, in the 40’s, but we started out great as we got Russell!!  He was taking a bobcat break and worked on our piler.  Since he had never done any of the jobs before I got to train him, and of course he did great on them all.  Our communication as a team was really solid, which was a good thing since Piler 4 was down and we were steady busy all day. Bridget and I were communicating well, and she did an excellent job watching the boom, which was great for me because I didn’t need to worry about it hardly at all.   Oh, and I have lost 2-1/2 pounds and I am pretty psyched about that. (I appear to have found it. – Lee)

Russell backing up trucks. You can see a hint of that epic red bear

Russell backing up trucks. You can see a hint of that epic red beard

Remember the other day I was talking about ventialtion pipes? Well to give you an idea that's how far we have traveled (with night shift also) since they stopped laying those pipes. Amazing

Remember the other day I was talking about ventialtion pipes? Well to give you an idea that’s how far we have traveled (with night shift also) since they stopped laying those pipes. Amazing

Me holding a pretty big beet. We haven't gotten any of the huge ones, and they aren't normally this big, but I can lift this one with two hands and I am not even that strong. It's an excellent upper body workout

Me holding a pretty big beet. We haven’t gotten any of the huge ones, and most of them aren’t close to even this big, but it’s worth saying I can lift this one with two hands and I am not even that strong. It’s an excellent upper body workout

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Today was another busy day at the beet harvest.  I have been saving a post on port-a-potties for a slow day, but we simply haven’t had one yet.  It started off cold, in the 30’s, and we had freezing fog all morning.  One of the experienced truck drivers said we have had very unusual weather this year and it stayed foggy until 11:00am.  The fog made it cold and it was a damp cold, so it was tough to remain cheery.  I did break out my super cute cat hat though and had a fun time with it as the ears stuck out from under the hard hat. We also had quite a long break early on when the piler boom starting smoking.  Part of the piler had started to get clogged with mud, and there was too much weight on the boom, so it was just sitting there while the motor drive belt was spinning, but the conveyor wasn’t moving. Thankfully Lee saw it right away and shut the motor down so there was no damage done.  I sat in our truck, across the lanes so folks would know we were shut down, and soaked up the heat.  That helped a lot. After we got up and running again, and things slowed down a bit, Russell came over and learned how to be an operator from Lee.  Lee’s system is a darn good one in my opinion, but pretty complicated, but Russell is a smart guy and picked it up right away.

This hat made people smil and incidently was extremely warm. I really had to jam down the hardhat though to get it on :)

This hat made people smile and incidentally was extremely warm. I really had to jam down the hardhat though to get it on 🙂

So we were jamming right along when one of the foremen told us our beet pile was actually getting a little to close to the sugar shack. (Keep in mind that we are all in a giant rectangular dirt  field, and we started at one end, and when the pile gets too close to the boom, we crawl back 3 feet. Every day we get a little closer to the sugar shack, which is just a fancy name for the place we clock in and out and can take breaks. – Lee)  We were way in front of the other pilers and actually in danger of our truck line cutting off access to Piler #1.  He asked if we could really “tighten” the pile by waiting until the very last second to move back to get every beet we could into the small amount of remaining available real estate. This means letting the pile get much closer to the boom end than we ever have. Now, Lee hated this.  After a random beet bounced and smacked our sensor and shut us down in one of the first few days, he has always played it safe and we move the piler back when there is a safe margin. (They also welcomed us by saying “Hi! Welcome! Don’t bury the boom in the pile.”  and “Here’s where you clock in. Don’t bury the boom in the pile.” Clearly this is important to them. – Lee) I like to push that envelope though, so I was excited about the challenge, and since we had direct orders from a supervisor, Lee couldn’t argue with me about it.

Well, about 20 minutes in to this new and improved process, of course a beet bounced wrong and smacked the sensor,and we were shut down.  (See? 18 days of working and this didn’t happen. I told you it would all end in tears. -Lee) It’s not really a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but we do have to make the truck drivers wait while a supervisor climbs up and sets the reset switch.  Tyler drew the short straw, but he was really cool about it and so merrily I continued.  Things were going OK for awhile and then Tyler came up and said they had some extra folks (Piler 4 was down) and wanted us all to take a 30 minute break in the afternoon.  Well sure, I’ll take an extra break, but while I was switching with Robert and trying to explain the break schedule change, I ran the boom into the pile.  Now this is more serious, as hitting the pile with the boom can cause permanent damage, and at the very least you end up with the boom end covered on all four sides by beets which have to be dug out by hand. (Remember, they’re heavy, slippery, oddly shaped, and muddy. And the supervisors have to climb 18 feet up a 45° hill of these things, and then dig the boom out by hand. This is why they don’t want you to do this. – Lee) .  They call it “burying the boom” and it is something we had never as a team done.  And boy it was buried.  I went on break and it took two foreman and a couple of helpers about 30 minutes to get it unstuck.  Thankfully there was no permanent damage, but Lee definitely had an “I told you so” look on his face, even though he was smart enough not to say anything.  OK, so maybe we were getting too close, so we backed it off a bit and tried to strike some middle ground. (Update:  I notice no snarky comment here…see smart man – Trace)

The next thing we found out was that we had run out of room and at 5pm they were shutting our piler down for the day.  Their plan was to bring trucks in overnight to take beets away, so we would have enough room for us for what they think will be a heavy weekend, and to get us through to the end. This was pretty exciting.  Just to be clear, I know this is no way a race, and safely processing trucks is THE most important thing.  But we were all pretty excited and I felt in some way we had “beat the beet yard”.  I celebrated by singing “We beat the beets” as the last truck went through and there may have been some spontaneous dancing.  I wasn’t the only one, Bridget was pretty excited also, and we all posed for a group picture in front of our finished pile.  I know goofy, right, but these are long days and it was quite the feeling of accomplishment. (I get it, too. Even though some of the pilers break down more than others, and we didn’t all start at the same time, we are still quite a bit farther down the field than everyone else. I’m proud of us. But I did not dance, because I do not dance. – Lee)

If you look at the end of the row you can see the pickup trucks they had blocking our aisle so no more trucks came

If you look at the end of the row you can see the pickup trucks they had blocking our aisle so no more trucks came

Lee, me. Bridget, and Robert. I am sorry we couldn't get Marie and Marvin in the shot as obviously they were a huge part of the accomplishment, and the night shift jammed out several nights with lots o' seriously hooray for all of us!!

Lee, me. Bridget, and Robert. I am sorry we couldn’t get Marie and Marvin in the shot as obviously they were a huge part of the accomplishment, and the night shift jammed out several nights with lots o’beets…so seriously hooray for all of us!!

After we shut down, we moved the piler back the length of itself to give the trucks room to get in during the night, and then we met everyone up at the sugar shack and we all had a safety meeting.  I was glad to see they had one, because folks are getting tired, and a little lax about safety, so it was good for the supervisors to reinforce it’s importance.  They encouraged everyone to slow down a little, be extra careful, and take more breaks. They also thanked us for doing such a great job.  It was really nice.  Oh, and there was pizza. Lots and lots of pizza, which was fantastic.  It was a good day right before what looks like a very long weekend, and I promise I will write about the porta-potties soon.  I know you can’t wait.

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First Time at the Beet Harvest – Days 7 through 9

Thursday, October 6, 2016

We called the hotline at 4am and they said they would reevaluate at 10am.  At 10am we were told to come in at noon. The temperature rose from 37 degrees in the morning to 40 degrees at 11:15am when we left to go to work, but unfortunately the wind, which had died down, was going again strong, and it was very cloudy so there was zero sun to help. I wore two pairs of socks, and  heavy thermal pants under jeans, heavy thermal shirt, tshirt, flannel shirt, and a winter coat I picked up at a thrift store on top.  I also had a pair of winter gloves, earmuff headband, and head scarf.

The first two hours went very well.  The sun was out a little and we were super busy which helped keep us warm.  Then the temperature dropped to 36, the sun went behind clouds and it felt colder and colder.  If you have ever skied you know the feeling.  Starts out OK, and then you get colder and colder.  As with skiing it’s all about keeping the hands, feet, and face warm.  What I learned is that two pairs of tube socks wasn’t enough in the boots, so tomorrow I will try a thicker outer sock.  The gloves were not 100% water proof, and they did get wet from picking up the beets.  Taking an extra pair of under gloves tomorrow.  My face scarf, which works great for ear and neck coverage not so much for the whole face.  The safety glasses don’t help and I was constantly adjusting and readjusting the whole day.  My ears did stay warm though, with the earmuffs under the head scarf. And everyone was having a pretty good time, early on at least.  Robert’s wife Bridget was with us and we were jamming through trucks.  Marie in particular has the best attitude.  She reminds me so much of my friend Linda.  She was dancing throughout the day and almost always had a smile on her face.  (Of course she was dancing, there was a good beet. – Lee) Her positive energy is contagious.

So, we were all cold, but it wasn’t nearly as miserable as I thought it would be.  The wind itself I could barely feel because I was so layered up.  I say this though knowing full well it was half of a day.  What this looks like for twelve hours, still don’t know yet, but Catherine (our agriculturist) says this is as cold as it can be, because any colder and the beets start to freeze in the trucks. Tommorrow we are expecting a late start around 8am, but still have to get up at 4am and check the message.  That is one of the downsides of all this.  At least one of us is awake at 4am and we are waiting around when we go in late.  So essentially we were in “work mode” for 12 plus hours today, but only got paid for 6. -Tracy

(That last part really bothers me. I get that they don’t know until they know, and I don’t mind being told I have to call a number at a time to find out. But to call that number and hear yesterday’s message is not cool. If the message isn’t updated, then you’re just calling and calling. You can’t go back to sleep if you’re doing that. Or it could be that that’s just the thing I’m choosing to fixate on to vent my annoyance at all the things I can’t control that are making me crazy. – Lee) 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Woke up mildly sore all over, to a 6am start with 34 degree temps. Luckily I slept well. We stopped and got gas on the way home last night then I showered, then ate some chili, watched a half hour comedy, and went to bed.  The problem with that kind of schedule is that it’s very hard to get anything done. We need to stop at the store on our way home tonight to get some essentials, bread, eggs, etc.  It was cold this morning, 32 degrees, but the message said be there by 6am so we were.  I was doing dishes though at 5am just so I wouldn’t have to deal with it on the way home.  It was super cold and slow and the way I dealt with it was to sit in the truck as often as I could.  We only had 1 truck the first half hour, so that was easy, and then the piler had a small mechanical issue and once again I was in the truck.  It works because we are parked right next to the piler and I watch the rear view mirror to see when a truck is coming in my lane and I am in position before it ever gets there.  I also made sure I took my 15 minute breaks and took my half hour lunch in the “sugar shack” break room, which was very warm.  I made it through and again was cold but not miserable.  Stopped just short of that.  I am sore though.  Pretty much everywhere.  But again, it’s bearable.  Oh and did I mention Marie counted 14,0o0 steps with her watch.  This is one heck of a workout plan. 

For one glorious hour the sun came out and it was like a party.  It never got above 37 degrees, but it felt so much warmer when the sun was out.  Thankfully everything else was really good.  Our team was doing great and every foreman and supervisor  came over at least once to compliment us.  We processed 90 trucks (which is a lot) and really were functioning so well as a team. Everyone was covering for each other and looking out for each other …it really was great. One of my major complaints was when they put us all together we knew the jobs, but it was up to us to figure out all the team dynamics.  That is a lot to ask of people under pressure, and thankfully it has all worked out for us.  Mainly that is do to the fact that everyone carries their own weight and we all talk about the process…a lot.  I will say both of us really feel good about the work.  There is a definite sense of satisfaction.   Keep in mind though I an Gen X, Midwestern, and of German descent.  As Lee says working hard is almost a religion with me, lol – Tracy

Saturday, October 8, 2016

I woke up at 3am after a restless night.  Dreamed a lot about beets last night so it feels like I didn’t even get a break.  I decided to get up and do the budget post, walked outside to smoke and it was snowing.  Awesome.  That was sarcasm, btw..I’m pretty tired not sure if that came through. As I was doing the budget it turned to rain.  Not sure that’s much better.  I am sore, I am tired, and Lee said he’s starting to get sick.  Once we were fully awake and well on our way to getting ready and getting out the door, we found out we wouldn’t be going in until 8am.  The extra 2 hours is a good thing, except it’s not.  We lost 2 hours of OT pay because Saturdays are OT all day, and we are just sitting here waiting. I did lay back down and managed to nap for 20 minutes or so, and Lee said he was glad to have the extra time since he wasn’t feeling well, but overall I would say I am not a fan of being “on call” without getting paid.  We did find out later that the night shift was sent home early because trucks were getting stuck, so that actually made me feel better. 

The day was much warmer, but also a muddy mess.  Again we did amazing, processing 186 truckloads (large trucks count as 2).  The beginning of the shift was awesome, very slow and we all had lots of downtime.  One of the truck drivers told Marie that the smaller farms could “pick and choose” their weather to harvest, but the larger ones had to go 24/7 to get it all done.  So we were just seeing trucks from the bigger outfits.  As the day wore on though it got busier and busier and the mud was definitely a factor.  The beets come in muddy on days like today and they stick to the inside of the hopper.  You have to take this long scraper and push them down and man that’s hard when the mud holds them like glue.  Robert and Marvin did most of it, but I tried to help some.  I liked learning about backing up the trucks, that was really fun…but the scraping was pure murder.  I was breathing pretty hard trying to get that done.  Overall though I feel better.  I even had enough energy to make dinner when we got home. Oh and we did 12,000 steps today! – Tracy


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First Time Working the Beet Harvest – Orientation

Monday, September 19,2016

By design we arrived at the Bagnell RV Park  very early, because we wanted to be able to change our spot if it was a first come, first serve situation.  We lost an hour to time zone crossing the border and now we’re settled into Mountain Time for the duration.  The campground is pretty small and being an “in town” RV park, it’s hemmed in on all sides by roads and businesses.  Our site did have 50 amp (a big concern for us while the furnace is broken) and also backs up to a road.  It definitely has a trailer park feel with many permanent units people are living in and a general rundown appearance.  Honestly it didn’t bother me because I had pretty low expectations, but the folks a couple of spots down in a very high end Class A seemed a little agitated.  We are supposed to have cable (currently not working although I was told a repair man would be coming today and he showed up less than an hour later and now we have 50 channels), supposed to have WiFi (we can’t get it to connect, but that may be on our end), and we have a lovely view of the giant trash cans across from us. Seriously though, we are here to work and sleep, so the only things that concerned me were a neighbor with a permanent structure and a barking dog, and the road noise. There are rumble strips on the road very near us and since people refuse to slow down that noise will probably be a permanent fixture and anything that interferes with sleep will probably be a big deal.  On the plus side, there is both a McDonald’s and a Pizza Hut within walking distance, and there is a very nice full size grocery store in town.  We also have 4 bars of ATT 4G.    The camp host (associated with the beet harvest operation) was very nice and was slightly apologetic, but again, we weren’t expecting much, so I went out of my way to thank her for her help.  It’s not her fault.  We were thrilled the RV park has mailboxes and accepts packages, so with a $25 refundable deposit we got a box and a key. Folks have been wanting to send us stuff for a while, and I have a couple birthday presents coming my way!  Our information packet says we have a paperwork meeting at a nearby hotel tomorrow at 1pm. So that’s what we will do, and get some information about what shift we will be working, and what our jobs will be. Our next door neighbor Juan is really nice and he has done the beet harvest four previous seasons, so that is encouraging.  He says we will have fun.  I hope so.  – Tracy

Lots of beet fields

Lots of beet fields

The campground

The campground

Our front view

Our front view

Our back view. Despite the rumble strips cars go flying down this road right outside our windows

Our back view. Despite the rumble strips cars go flying down this road right outside our windows

After getting set up we took a little tour of the town to try and acclimate ourselves.  It didn’t take long.  It’s a typical small town farming community, and it’s also the county seat, so it did have a Main street and a couple of other business areas.  We stopped in a store called Shopko Hometown  (which is like a mini Kmart) and found my Corelle dishes pattern on sale for 40% off!!! We originally only bought 6 of everything and occasionally when we have larger dinners I don’t have enough plates.  Plus, they had a serving platter in the pattern which I had never seen.  Score!!  We also decided to go ahead and buy a new Igloo ice machine.  Ours has not been working well for awhile (we have owned it three years) and they had one on clearance for $139 which was actually cheaper than what we had seen online. We found the bank, grocery store, a Mexican restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, hardware store, car parts store, and they even have a local Ford dealership which is great, because we need another oil change. We went into the car parts store and bought some cheap seat covers for $24.99.  Everyone says you get very dirty doing this job, so no point in messing up our upholstery.  We also stopped at M3 Meats.  We love local butchers, but this was more of a processing center and they don’t have a storefront.  The clerk came from Alaska though, and when she found out we had just come from there she went in and checked their freezer.  We bought some great looking local Montana ribeye for $12.99 a pound.  Can’t wait to try it out.  Just to be clear, this isn’t really a butcher shop, but they do sell meat if they have it, and are planning to expand and add a small storefront in the next couple of months. I really liked the whole vibe of the town.  Everyone we met was very friendly and it had the small town feel of where I grew up.  – Tracy

The residential streets are nice

The residential streets are nice

Our temporary seat covers

Our temporary seat covers

Picked up 4 of these beauties. Hope they taste as good as they look

Picked up 4 of these beauties. Hope they taste as good as they look

The nice strip mall in town

The nice strip mall in town.  The main street is a little rundown

My new ice machine

My new ice machine

And the serving platter I have been looking for forever!!

And the serving platter I have been looking for forever!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Well the first night sleeping with the road noise was ok.  With fans on, I only heard a truck once, but again this was at night the road was much busier during the day.  This probably wasn’t an issue for most folks because their bedrooms are in the front, but ours is in the back so keeping an eye on it.  It may turn out to be a complete non-issue because we will be so tired, and otherwise I like our site because it is wide, so for right now we are going to stay where we are.  Will see what happens.

Our orientation was at 1pm at the hotel next door.  They had rented two small rooms and one had chairs and a TV and the other a couple of desks.  The room was full with 17 people and they walked us through filling out the paperwork.  It was pretty extensive and afterwards we went into the other room 4 at a time and presentation our ID’s for more paperwork. Then we watched a training video and walked through a short quiz.  We were told we would be paid at the end of the harvest for a two hour orientation but it ended up taking 3 hours.  Not sure if the pay will be adjusted or not.  We also found out that the lowest level helper this year would be making a base rate of $13.35 (32 cents more than last year) and for other jobs the base rate was $14.27 or higher.  Unfortunately we were still not told what our jobs or shift would be, but we were told that our site would be Sugar Valley. We were allowed to request day or night shift and we were told our foreman would take our preference and our job preference into account.  Whether or not that is the case, we will see.  I know the folks who come back for a second year all get to pick their jobs, shifts, and locations and I would imagine we will all take what is left.

What surprised me the most was the age range of the people in the room.  Over half were in their 20’s or early 30’s and the oldest of the rest of us was what looked to be a pretty healthy 70.  The kids were fun.  Some had RV’s but most lived in worker housing (bunk style trailers) provided by the harvest. Most of the people here knew someone well who had done this before, so we heard some secondhand information, but until it’s all official I am not sure I trust it.  We did find out that our trucks would be parked close to the sites and we could bring food, extra clothing, etc and it would be accessible to us during the shift.  Overall for me it was fine.  It did run a little long, but it was a large group and I actually thought the safety video was pretty good, from a content standpoint at least.  Looking forward to getting to the training on Thursday and seeing how that goes. Oh and I know I am saying we will see how it goes lot, but honestly there isn’t much point in speculating.  In my mind at least we have done as much as we can to prepare getting all worked up isn’t going to help.  – Tracy

Wednesday, September 21, 2016  

We had nothing scheduled for today and briefly talked about visiting the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which is an hour away, but it was both cold and rainy.  Instead we both worked on housekeeping items that had built up.  I did spend several hours on learning Adobe photo shop for my recipe book and Lee spent some time on the phone with the nonprofit he used to work for, helping them with their annual report.  We didn’t mind the extra downtime at all, but I can see why some folks might be annoyed with the downtime.  Since we have a free place to stay and things to get done, it is fine by us.  It actually have been hard to come straight from Alaska and jump right in, so we are grateful for at least the first couple of days.  Tomorrow we have training at 9am and hopefully will find out our shift.

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