Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mark Anderson - Anderson Harvesting LLC

Good Morning! Today we welcome Mark Anderson. Mark is the owner of his very own harvesting business!

Greetings everyone, my name is Mark Anderson. I’m twenty-seven years old and run my own custom harvesting operation in Western Nebraska also known as the Panhandle of Nebraska. My business is headquartered out of Bridgeport Nebraska, a town of about 1,500 people where I went to high school.

I have always had a passion for farming and I’m sure that comes from my family’s history in the business. My great-great-grandfather homesteaded along the North Platte River in the late 1890’s in an area South-east of Broadwater, Nebraska. However, when he settled in the area the town of Broadwater had not been established yet. Broadwater did not come into existence until the railroad came through in 1909 and was on the north side of the river.

In those very early days, my great-great-grandfather had to travel via horse to the town of Sidney, Nebraska, about 40 miles south. I can’t even begin to imagine what things were like in those very early days. Over 100 years later the original Homesteaders dead hangs in my grandfather’s office and the land is still part of the family’s farm, ranch, and feedlot operation. Today the family operation is run but my grandfather, my dad, and my uncle. Two of my brothers, one cousin, and I are also involved with the family business.

After I graduated high school, I went to a technical college in the Denver, Colorado area. For about five years I lived and worked in the Denver area. I spent about four years working a corporate job which was a very good learning experience for me, but it was obvious to me that I missed the farm. Growing up I watched my grandfather dad and uncle make the big decisions for our operation over coffee every day. I was never able to grasp the seemingly endless meeting process it took to get equivalent decisions made in the corporate world.

In 2009 one of the individuals that had been cutting silage in Western Nebraska retired. This was the opportunity I had always been looking for. With a loan from my dad and John Deere I started Anderson Harvesting.

Growing up in the area helped me get on my feet because I knew most of the feedlot operators in the area. The first few years were definitely a learning experience for me. Learning how to manage people as well as my time took some time. I had taken classes in college related to time and people management, but nothing really prepares you for managing both in harvest. Those of you in agriculture I’m sure can relate to what I’m saying.

In 2011 I added a second forage harvester to my operation which brought on a completely new list of challenges. I soon found out that trying to manage one machine from the cab of another was a brand new game. I still enjoyed all most every minute of it because now it was a new level of logistics management. Plus both machines were always in different locations.

In 2012 my business continued to grow and I upgraded my original machine to my first Claas forage harvester. With the onset of the drought that we are still currently suffering from the demand for silage was incredible. For the first time since I started the business I had to turn work down. I never thought I would utter those words,“I’m too busy.” I had lost jobs in the past because the competition got there first, but never had I told someone that I couldn’t get there.

Last year was the first year that I really ever had a major problem with one of my forage harvesters and over the course of a week I had a major problem with both of them. On Monday my machine had a bearing failure. Not that uncommon on these high horsepower machines. By Tuesday the issue was resolved. Tuesday night as I was relocating my machine a piece of weather stripping went through the radiator fan on my machine taking ever blade off of the fan. Buy Wednesday night we had a new fan installed and got back to work on Thursday. Friday my machine had an engine failure and had to be shipped back to my dealer for repair. Sounds like a rough week, but unfortunately, the week wasn’t over. On Saturday my second machine fell in a sinkhole and broke the front axle. It too had to be sent in to the dealer for repairs.

In the course of two days I had gone from two machines to only one. I still had my second machine from the year before and with the help of my dealer, I had a loaner machine by Sunday to replace mine. That week was probably the most trying week I have had since I started this business. Looking back now it’s funny to laugh at it and smile knowing that we made it through.

A typical day in harvest begins around 5-6 in the morning. Having serviced the machines the night before we normally like to be in the fields cutting by 7-8 a.m.. Most of my mornings involve calls from customers wanting to know when we’ll be at their place and truckers trying to figure out how to get to the next field. By mid afternoon everything settles down and a natural rhythm to harvest sets in. The trucks are all in sync and everything just flows. This is the time of the day I absolutely love. The main reason I wanted to be in this business, to drive forage harvesters. At the end of the day the equipment is blown down, fueled up, and service ready to go again the next day.

The one thing I hope people understand about my operation and farming/ranching in general is how much time, effort, and money people in these business have to devote to their operations. Ranching especially is a year round job. There are no holidays, sick days, or vacations. The livestock have to be cared for by someone every day. The work involved in raising a successful crop, be it food or livestock, is tough work. It commonly involves long hours and tough conditions. It has to be done in the heat of summer and the cold of winter. The money involved in agriculture is also a factor. It takes large investments every year in the hope that it pays out in the end.

I really hope that by telling our stories that we can give people a better understanding of where our food comes from and what it takes to get it to your table. That’s why I’m proud to share my story in hope that it gives you a better picture of modern farming practices and encourages you to thank a farmer when you have the opportunity. Thank you for reading.

Thank you Mark for a great feature! We wish you much success! You can learn more about his operation by checking out his Facebook Page , Youtube Channel and visiting his website.

How are you involved in agriculture? We want your story. YOU could be the next FOA feature! Contact us today!

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