Friday, August 12, 2011

Almost the End

I have one week left and then it's time to head back to Wisconsin! I can't believe the summer is almost over!

Well, we have started receiving more trucks which means second crop is starting. The tank yard is busier than ever. We have over 300 tanks full of the 2011 crop! We only need another 200 to reach our goal for the season. We fixed all of the machines last week, but now they are still causing problems when we are unloading trailers, but they always say things only break when you use them. I still can't believe that we have over 300 tanks full and that there are almost 300 empty yet.

This experience has been awesome! I have met a lot of people and have learned a lot about the raw product industry. I even met some of the people from the companies we ship to. I never expected to have learned as much as I did, but I learn something new every day about the company and the industry. I wish school started later so I could see how the season finishes. I would recommend this internship to anyone willing to work long hours and someone who wants to learn a lot about the cucumber/pickle industry!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Start of Second Harvest!

We finally finished the first crop only to start the second! Last night we started unloading trucks from the second crop and we had a lot of trailers brought over to the tank yard. We currently have 275 tanks full of 2011 stock which means we are half way to our goal. We are hoping to have all 505 empty tanks full by September 12th, which means my last few weeks are going to be busy!

Over the past week, I have switched from working days to nights to get the "full" experience and I have really enjoyed working both shifts. Not only did I get to collect samples during the day, but now I am unloading trailers and working with the cleaning crew at night. My responsibilities have changed a little, but I enjoy the night shift because I was finally able to see the yard full of trucks and the craziness that occurs. There are a lot of vehicles moving in different directions at night which makes it confusing to figure out what's going on, but I think I finally have the system figured out. I have also been able to work with more people on the night shift and have a bettere understanding of why we were in a rush to get tanks emptied, cleaned and ready for the new stock. I can honestly say I wish I would be here until the season was over to watch the last tank be filled and the last truck to pull out of the yard, but the season finishes around the end of October. This has been a great experience!

Did you know: The average American household purchases pickles every 53 days and more than 67 percent of all households eat pickles. That is a lot of pickles!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Keep Those Trucks Rollin'

Last week we dealt with the heat (reaching temperatures of 115 degrees), but this week we are dealing with less crop to harvest. We were averaging 20 trucks a night, but now we are closer to 5. This leaves us with a lot of down time. We are still averaging 12hours/day, but now instead of worrying about loads, we are worrying about collecting samples from the tanks and cleaning up from one busy harvest to prepare for the next one (it's about 2-3 weeks away)! We currently have 197 tanks full of 2011 stock. This doesn't sound like a lot, but when you have to collect samples from them everyday it wears on you. With having more free time at work, I have been able to meet the people in the other divisions. These people have traveled from all of the nation ot help us with the incoming trucks from harvest. I have also been able to see other parts of the company and roles people play to make it run as smoothly as it does. It really makes you wonder about how many people work behind-the-scenes in other companies similiar to ours. I can honestly say that I have learned a lot in the past few weeks and that this is definitely been an influentail experience.

Did you know: That pickles have been around for 4000 years. They grow in more than 30 states and the top producers of pickels are Michigan and North Carolina.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday... Why Does it Always Happen on Mondays?

So the season began and the trucks are flowing in and out of the yard. Today was like most days which start off with unloading trailers of "green stock" (the cucumbers from the field that have been sorted and cleaned) in the tanks. While trying to finish some paperwork for the green stock, the trucker that was preparing to load out of the tank yard said... I hit a tank! Not only did he hit the tank, he hit the stairs next to it and ripped a big whole in it. The brine was flowing out! Luckily for us it was just a brine tank and didn't have any cucumbers in it. So we had to clean up what was left of the stairs and the tank and we finished unloading our trailers into other tanks. The plus is that it was only brine, but it still made for a crazy morning. Dealing with 14 loads of green stock and 4 loads from the tank yard to send out is bad enough, but rupturing a tank makes it a CRAZY day! Of course it's Monday morning!

Did you know: At Hartung Brothers, Inc. in Bowling Green, Ohio we have 950 tanks that are 12 feet high and can hold about 1000 bushels of salt stock. Bowling Green is also home to a grading and washing facility for Hartung Brothers. That is why we get so many loads because we are the yard that receives stock from the field and we also ship out or tank all of that stock. There are also tank yards in Imlay City, MI, Uvalde, TX, and Portland, OR that belong to Hartung Brothers, Inc.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Let the Long Hours Begin!

Harvesting started out slow, but now things are getting into full swing. With the beginning of harvesting includes new responsibilities to add to our every day tasks. I work the day shift which means I get to enter in all of the information for the new tanks, get samples from the new tanks and finish all of the paperwork from the night before. It's awesome that the company allows us to take on a lot of this responsibility and is helping us learn how the company runs. The other great part of working during harvesting season is getting to meet so many people. We have people that help us keep the trucks flowing easily through the yard and these people traveled all the way from Texas.

The first few days were slow, but we are slowly picking up steam. We have about 30 trucks coming from the fields tonight and we are expecting more and more to be coming in during the week. This makes for long hours and lots of paperwork! All in all, I have learned a lot and get to spend a lot of time outside. Now if only the weather would cooperate and cool off just a little to make it not so hard to work outside!

Did you know: If it weren’t for pickles, Christopher Columbus might never have “discovered” America. In his famous 1492 voyage, Columbus rationed pickles to his sailors to keep them from getting scurvy. He even grew cucumbers during a pit stop in Haiti to restock for the rest of the voyage.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ready, Set, HARVEST!

So yesterday started the harvesting season! We only had a few loads come in to test the crops, but we are slowly picking up speed. This week was crazy! We had an average of ten loads a day and of course something always has to go wrong when we are that busy. On Thursday, one of the guys hit a full tank with the axel on the tractor. This meant that Friday morning, the first truck to load had to be from that tank. It took three hours to load the truck! This left crabby truck drivers sitting around waiting to be loaded in the office with me. Fortunately, after we were done with that load the others only took about 30minutes. We finished loading all of the trucks a little before 4pm. That made for a long day.

With the start of the season, we split our crew in half so that two of us are at the yard during the day and the other two are there at night to load tanks. It makes it difficult when we have problems with the pump, but we will work through it.

Did you know: Heinz® Ketchup retired the pickle from its label after 110 years. The gherkin pickle was featured on Heinz® Ketchup labels since the 1890s. Now Heinz has switched its label to the tomato.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's Gonna Get Busy!

It's the time of year when farmers are in full swing. Well, at Hartung Brothers, Inc. in Bowling Green, Ohio we are preparing for the harvesting season to start! In the tank yard we are trying to get the tanks empty, clean and adding brine so that we are ready! It has been a long couple of days with trying to get as much done before the season as we can. The plan is to start harvesting some time late next week, which means that my work schedule switches from mornings to nights with longer hours. The to-do list is long, but with each item getting checked off it brings us one day closer to harvesting. Let's hope for a good season!

Did you know: July is National Pickle Month! This holiday is set aside for people who appreciate the pickle. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

End of Week 5

Well , the first five weeks are over and I can't believe it! It seems like I just got here, but I've been here for a month. This week was a week to test patience and communication. We had two load rejected due to a low CAS, but that wasn't the issue. The issue was trying to explain to the company where the product ended up (back in the tanks it came from). We had more calls and e-mails about "problems" that didn't exist than we had since I've been here. These calls and e-mails lead to taking time away from work to explain to the company what happened even though they had the paperwork in front of them. All of that set aside, I had a great week. I was able to work in the office and set up loads for the week. I also did a lot of the chemistry for the new tanks and I learned how to grade tanks CAS. These things will help me when the harvest season starts. I can't wait! We start working longer hours next week to get ready and let's hope for less confusion!

Did you know that Berrien Springs, MI has dubbed itself the Christmas Pickle Capital of the World?  In early December, they host a parade, led by the Grand Dillmeister, who tosses out fresh pickles to parade watchers.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What a Way to End a Week!

So we start work at 5AM... at least we're supposed to. Unfortunately we had to give wake up calls to a few of our co-workers so we could start pumping because we don't know how. We had nine loads today and almost everything went off without a hitch after we got started. I can't believe I have been here for four weeks because it seems like I just came to Bowling Green. I have learned a lot about the industry and can't wait for the season to start to see the hectic and crazy tank yard! 
Did you know: In 1985, Steven Trotter became the youngest man to conquer the crest of Niagara Falls in a pickle barrel. Actually, it was two plastic pickle barrels surrounded by rubber inner tubes. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's Been Crazy

So the past few days have been crazy! Last week I had to go home for a family emergency, but I came back and what a way to start the week... the pump broke. We were supposed to ship 10 loads yesterday and after the second one, the pump broke. The pump is used to get the pickles out of the tank and into the tubs on the trucks, but with it broke there is no easy way to load. We ended up cancelling the rest of the loads and using the remainder of the day to fix the pump. The only bad thing was that most of the loads we cancelled were shifted into today's loads. Luckily the pump worked today. We are expecting to ship out 10 loads tomorrow and will hopefully not have any other problems this week, but all is well in Bowling Green!
Did you know that the pickle is both a fruit and a vegetable? 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Another Week Down

What can I say, but another week is over! The week started out with shipping a lot of trucks across the nation. We shipped to Kaiser, Vlasic and Heinz this week. With having more time working in the office, I was able to take on more responsibilities such as entering information into the computers and printing reports to send to the companies. I even sent out reports to the president of Hartung Brothers, Inc. We started making new brine to get ready for the busy season ahead so we started testing the brine mixture. It has also been nice weather this past week unlike last week when we had lots of rain and tornado sirens. I can't believe I have been here for two weeks! I have learned a lot about the company and can't wait for work next week!
Did you know?: Many people consider pickle brine a useful commodity, with its complex flavor of spices, salt, vinegar, and pickled vegetables. It’s been used as a soup stock, a hangover remedy, a drink, and—for many eastern European women—a cosmetic. There are even reports of some American roller-skating rinks selling pickle-brine snow cones.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ending Week 1

So today is finally Friday! We had a few trucks of pickles leave the tank yard early this morning and afterwards was paperwork and getting to know my co-workers. My co-workers are Dan, Dave, Tad and Beth. Beth works in the office at the tank yard and helps with getting the trucks loaded and back on the road. Dan, Dave and Tad all work in the tank yard and have all the miscellaneous jobs to do. Dan is our supervisor, while Tad is the mechanic and Dave is the Lab Tech.  I work a lot with Dave. We collect samples of the brine from the tanks and test them for many different things to ensure the cucumbers are pickling. I also work with Beth in the office with trucking. 
I can't believe a whole week has passed and I can't wait for next week to start, but for now it's a three day weekend! According to the USDA, 97500 acres of cucumbers were harvested for pickles in the United States in 2009. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Learning the Basics

This morning I worked in the office. I learned how to fill out paperwork for trucks leaving the tank yard. It was really fun helping the truckers and the crew navigate the tank yard using radios. Later in the day, I took samples from 21 tanks to test the pH, lactic acid and calcium. The tests we use make the brines change colors and it easy to tell if we have to add something to the tanks. I finished testing the brines just in time to see the clouds roll in and the rain to come pouring down. The day ended with cleaning up after the first storm and getting the trucking lists ready for Thursday.
Did you know that pickle juice is said to prevent cramping? Many athletes and trainers drink pickle juice after a workout. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The First Day at Work

I was hired to work with Hartung Brothers, Inc. for the summer. This opportunity came to my attention through the UW-River Falls CAFES Internship program. I wanted to see a different aspect of agriculture and thought working in the Bowling Green, Ohio cucumber tank yard would be fun and a great way to see a different part of the industry. 

Today was my first day working in Bowling Green, Ohio! I met the people I will be working with for the summer. My job for the summer includes: taking samples of the brine and testing it for calcium, salt, sugar and pH; I also get to weigh in trucks and help with the paperwork. Walking 950 tanks multiple times a day is really tiring, but it is a really interesting industry. Did you know that the average American eats 8.5 lbs of pickles each year? That would explain why there are 950 tanks full of pickles at the Hartung Brothers tank yard in Bowling Green.