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What's it worth?


old man emu
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Just a quick question directed to our members on the Land.

 

I'm not likely to get any of my regular bus driving work for a few months, so I was thinking of throwing my hat into the harvest worker pool. I can get work up at Gilgandra where I have family to give me room and board. I was wondering what the money was like for either a truck driver or field bin driver. I wouldn't mind getting into the header if I could get some instruction.

 

Can any of you grain producers tell me what those jobs pay?

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OME - The article below says $30 an hour for header drivers. I'd expect truck drivers or field bin drivers would be on less money.

 

Agricultural work is rarely well-paid work. But the stress levels are usually lower than city work, and traffic congestion is non-existent.

 

Header drivers are picked for their carefulness in driving. With headers running into many hundreds of thousands of dollars today, a farmer can't afford to have them damaged.

 

The huge width of combs fitted today require exceptional care in operation. You can't afford to hit the ground with them, let alone pick up a rock or stump. And fire is a permanent threat that you must be 110% alert to, for any signs of it starting.

 

It only takes one failing bearing to overheat, or excessive trash buildup around the many moving parts - or around the hot parts of the engine - and you can have a serious fire within a minute or two.

 

https://www.thechronicle.com.au/business/work/high-paying-australian-jobs-bosses-cant-find-staff-for/news-story/8928264683f55edd23d3f76c9f3f7112

Edited by onetrack
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I recall the content of that story being on social meeja. There was a comment of workers being paid $600 per day, which I found astounding (and did not believe) $30/hr seems and FAQ rate, comparable with the rate I was getting for driving a bus. 

 

I was supposed to do a driving job next Thursday, but it fell through as there were not enough people interested in taking the trip.

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ome, there's one thing to bear in mind if you haven't had anything to do with grain harvesting. You might not know if you are allergic to grain dust, and if so, by what degree. If you are over sensitive to it, the only alternative might be to not do it. Even with modern air conditioned cabs it's hard to avoid completely.

 

The only problem I have with it is bad itchiness, but a mate of mine reacts similar to a severe asthma attack if he goes anywhere near it. And that's wheat; I'd hate to see him go anywhere near hybrid sorghum. When I was a young bloke we didn't have cabs and used a cornflour type of powder to try to clog our pores so the itch wouldn't be as bad. Nowdays, if you only get a slight itch, you would probably handle it ok with the quality of cabs around now. It doesn't bother some people; for others it can be like sanding fibreglass.

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I've done wheat and barley with tractor pulled machines, and I've worked in feed mills. The dust only makes me itchy. The worst thing I found was being speared by the stalks as you jump down to clear the comb. It doesn't help, either, to be wearing shorts when your legs have been in jeans all winter. Sunburned legs  and wheat stalks don't make a pleasant combination.

 

The next thing after the harvest is ploughing in summer for the winter crop. Gives you boogers like bricks. (Isn't it strange that it seem only the Yanks have a word for dried mixture of mucus and dust?)

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1 hour ago, old man emu said:

I've done wheat and barley with tractor pulled machines

That must have been a while ago. My grandfather was using a tractor drawn header through the sixties, but we had a self driven petrol engine Oliver from about '61 onward. When the grandfather passed away, his headers were still in the shed. One was an early horse drawn stripper, another was a horse drawn machine with a sliding knife and the other was the later tractor drawn one. The headers and a couple of sulkies went off to a local historical organisation.

 

It would be interesting to drive one of these new machines. It would be like a space ship compared to the old ones.

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A mate of mine had an air filter with a spherical head-fitting that made him look like a spaceman. I can check ( ring him ) about how it worked over the years if anybody is interested. It was used for harvesting on the Eyre Peninsular.

I agree that there is not enough margins these days in farming to pay the right wages for good quality people.

Once I visited an Australian demonstration farm near Benghazi in Libya, where they had just had a head-on collision between two self-propelled harvesting machines in a paddock. The drivers were Sudanese because such work was beneath the dignity of most Libyans.

Best wishes to you OME.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The alternative is New Start at a couple hundred a week. In the local area there are hundreds of young people learning how to sleep in all day while over-70's are out there in the paddocks. I'm one of the silly over-70's.

It's hard to blame the young people....  they did not make the rules or set the prices. There is not enough money farming sheep to pay the minimum wage plus on-costs.

Turbs says I should find something much more lucrative, but I'm not clever enough.

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I haven't driven a header for 60 years and in those days it was called a combine (harvester), the big thing apart from what is mentioned above was to keep the flow through the drum constant. That is why they had constantly variable transmissions. Speed up and slow down while keeping the motor speed constant. Rather like a constant speed prop.

I remember when we got to the last swathe in the field we used to collect all the rabbits that had fled ahead of us. Even as vermin it was not nice to see their legs chopped off, so we would kill them as soon as we could.

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