Housing the crew
Part of our model crew’s story will include where the employees will be staying when the combines are not rolling. All harvesters provide some kind of housing for the crew or build in a housing allowance into the salary. For harvesters hiring international help by the H2A work visa, the law requires providing housing for the workers.
Travel trailers are typically used in the crews I have seen. One or more for the crew and one for the owner of the crew. On occasion I have heard of the cook, if female, having a travel trailer. Providing a travel trailer (or one of the options below) allows harvesters to house the crew in very remote places.
One variation to travel trailers are converted semi vans and refrigerated trailers into living quarters. This is a great alternative as these trailers can be pulled with existing trucks, can be outfitted with commercial stoves, washers and driers for the crew to use. There is no fear of overloading these trailers.
Crews using converted van trailers include; Ask Harvesting, Gossen Harvesting, L Petersen Harvesting, Wrights Harvesting, Froese Harvesting and Thacker Harvesting.
Haynes Custom Harvesting built their own 70′ bunk houses starting with step deck semi trailers and building a mobile home on the trailer.
As of this writing, there are no good-looking travel trailers in 1/64 scale. There are 5th wheel travel trailers in other scales, but look very goofy when hooked up to 1/64 pickups. A few custom builders make travel trailers out of wood and styrene plastic, but the market is not reliable. The custom trailers I have seen come with slide outs and decals like the real ones but again, are hard to get. There is a great looking 1/64 scale motor home that takes on the look of a tour bus. This is an option, but I have not seen any harvesters using a motor home like this on the harvest run.
The easiest way to house our crews in the 1/64th world at this point is to convert a 1/64 scale van. Usually these trailers can be bought pretty cheap and outfitted with doors and windows from the model train world. This allows us the ability to house quite a few people and add a great piece to our fleets.
One option I saved for the end of this chapter and the absolute simplest option to house the crew is to put them in hotels. Danielski Harvesting does this with their crews. One fellow on the Danielski team I spoke with said he liked the hotel option as it was clean and restaurants are close. When the day is done, he arrives at the room, cleans up and can go straight to bed or to the restaurant without some sort of the work associated with RVs.
Rockin H Harvesting has taken the hotel route until good-looking travel trailers can be found. I have thought off and on to use a semi van but have not acted on that idea yet. Plus we cut near towns with hotels.
Harvest is over
I hope you have the confidence and the knowledge to begin building your own harvest crew. With the knowledge of what working harvest crews are using for machines, your story can take on new meaning and your imagination can run wild as your models hit the wheat harvesting trail.
Now that you have learned what happens in both the real world and model world. I ask you to do one thing: Share what you have learned with friends who have the same interest. Follow the harvesters on Facebook and the web to keep up with the men and women who help bring our food from field to table.
It has been a great pleasure to write this book for you. I have loved wheat harvest for as long as I can remember. The hustle and bustle. Beating rain storms, the smell of diesel and chaff. Seeing big machines move down the roads and open a new field. The satisfaction of seeing the last corner cut and the tarp rolled over the final load.
This is harvest.