Snell Harvesting operates 18 combines that travel across six states
REGENT--More than 700 miles separates Tom Snell from the small area of rural Hettinger County for most of the year. But in late summer, he calls it home for four to six weeks.
REGENT-More than 700 miles separates Tom Snell from the small area of rural Hettinger County for most of the year. But in late summer, he calls it home for four to six weeks.
Snell owns and operates Snell Harvesting based out of Ellinwood, Kan., where he has 18 John Deere combines that travel to Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.
Snell said the majority of his 32 or so employees would say their favorite area to harvest is Regent.
"It's been a good area for us. We've been blessed," he said. "I love it up in this area."
Snell has been coming to the Regent area for more than a decade and said he is fortunate to have been able to make good friends here in the agriculture profession.
One of those friends is Curt Honeyman.
Honeyman and Snell started working together around 12 years ago.
"Tom came one day when I was out seeding in the field and asked if we needed help and we did, so we've been with him ever since," he said. "I lease a machine from him and cut with him just on my ground."
Honeyman has 3,400 acres of wheat and canola, mostly along and near the Enchanted Highway.
The harvesting crew starts in the early morning and Snell said earlier this week they stayed in the fields until midnight.
Honeyman said half of his crop will go to market and the other half will go into storage bins in the hope that commodity prices will increase.
Honeyman, a longtime Regent High School basketball coach, said Snell is a great person to work with.
"We've become really good friends," he said. "We call each other a couple times every other week and we have just become really good friends with him and some of the guys that have been working with him that 10 or 12 years."
Julius Honeyman, Curt's 80-year-old father, also works with Snell, who joked that Julius said he deserved a raise since he is the oldest and wisest worker for the harvest company.
Snell brings his own workers up from Kansas and also employs people from all over Hettinger County when he's here. He thinks it's a good opportunity for college-aged students to earn some pay in the summer.
He said most of his employees are experienced farmers and workers but he also is willing to hire hard-working individuals that aren't scared away by the long hours.
Snell wasn't always into harvesting though. He originally went to college to be a pharmacist and owned his own pharmacy in Kansas.
After decades of working as a pharmacist, he decided to start up a harvesting company and said it grew from having just a few combines to his current 18, though he said his wife thinks he should cut back to 10 or 12.
"I always loved harvest but never thought I would be a harvester," he said. "My farmer base just kept getting bigger and bigger, so we had to kind of get bigger and bigger to take care of those farmers. Even myself, I don't know how I quite got to 18."