Harvesting Updates - 2021
Updates provided by Bob Fohey, Supervisor and Gary Kershaw, Harvest Chair. Questions and comments are appreciated.
Week of 9/7
Last week of harvesting
East side: We finished up on segment 1 this week, it wasn't easy as we had heavy winds both Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, we ran both Harvesters back to the shop yard for removal. We did some minor clean up on the way back. Machines worked as they should and finished the season strong.
West side: We finished cleaning up the north side of segment 4 and this area looks great. We also finished up on segment 5 cutting both south and north shores. The south shoreline was really bad but after taking numerous loads we were able to get good flow going. Winds played an issue as well. North shore needed minor work.
The crew wants to thank all of you for your support and encouragement along with your kind words this season. It definitely helped keep moral up. They are already planning strategies to improve things for next year.
Week of 8/30
East side: We continued in segment 2 this week on the South shoreline. We spent 4 days in that area and took almost 100 cutter loads out before moving down to Montello in segment 1 late Wednesday. We will work hard to finish up there by end of next week if all goes well. Weather and manpower will dictate if we will be successful. The following week we'll be pulling the equipment out of the water for the season.
West side: We completed segments 6 and 7 on Tuesday and moved down to segment 5. We worked on the South and North shoreline the rest of the week. We'll do some cleanup next week and then pull #7 out of the water for season end. Our #3 machine was pulled on Wednesday and picked up by the new owner, everything went as planned. We also continued to maintain segment 4 with our #4 machine by the district property. We'll do some final clean up there next week as well then pull the machine for storage.
The Harvest crew thanks all of the property owners for their patience this year. Planning has already started for next year to make some adjustments that will improve our effectiveness. We will need more areas for dumping weeds next year -- let us know if you want to get on the list.
Thanks everyone and enjoy your last holiday weekend of the summer!
Week of 8/23
Theme of the week, employee absence!
East side: We finished in segment 3 on Tuesday and moved to segment 2 at Buffalo Lake Lodge. We had rain on Tuesday and lost half the day. On Wednesday, we ran a full crew and cut the North side of the lake. On Thursday, we had Rich and myself and we were over on the South side less the Transporter as we had no one to operate it. With a lot of luck we should finish segment 2 by end of day Tuesday. From there, we will move to Montello. We thank you for being patient but if people choose not to show up for work we are limited. This will need to be addressed for 2022, it has been very frustrating.
West side: Continued to maintain segment 4 for water flow as manpower was available. We finished segment 7 and should be done with segment 6 on Monday. We'll finish the season down on segment 5 the final week.
We were short one person due to severe health issues this week and he is done for the year. On top of that, we had one person call in for 3 days and another employee called in for 2 days, not a good way to finish the season. We'll be working another 2 weeks to clear the remaining areas which is a week longer then normal. We apologize for not getting to those that really needed us sooner but those that did choose to show up for work gave 110% of their efforts.
A big thanks to Ron Schiller who has given us 2 days per week for the balance of the season. He's experienced in all facets of the operation and can help where needed. Wish we had more like Ron.
Week of 8/16
Clarification: The east side of lake is where we use the 2 Harvesters and Transporter for cutting segments 1, 2, and 3. The west side cuts segments 4, 5, 6, and 7 and has 2 Harvesters.
East side: We continue to harvest in segment 3. Extremely heavy weed growth and floaters are consuming more time than expected. We hope to be moving to segment 2 on Monday if all goes well. I have asked the board to allow us to cut an extra week on the east side due to all the heavy weed counts. If we don't get their approval, we won't complete our cutting in Montello and segment 1.
West side: We are in segments 6 & 7 this week; we should finish both by end of day Wednesday of next week. We will finish up on segment 5 by Freedom launch. We have cut sparingly in segment 4 just to maintain that area and will continue to do so until close of season. We won't need any extra time in these areas.
Equipment issues: Had to take one of our dump trucks in for repair this week which hampered us some on the West end. We received it back after an excellent job and quick turnaround by Greg with Hi-Tech welding -- it was much appreciated. We would also like to thank Bill Hunter who loaned us his dump trailer to keep us going. Our new addition to the cutting fleet has been cutting in segment 6 & 7 with positive results. Our oldest unit has been sold and will be taken out of the water next week and picked up by the new owner.
Misc: It has been a pleasure this summer to work for all of the lake property owners. I have given 100% of my efforts to keep everyone satisfied. I know that some feel we let them down but its not due to the efforts of the harvest team. We will strive to finish strong over the last few weeks.
Special thanks to Gary Kershaw: His mechanical expertise and willingness to help out where needed was a great help this year. He never failed to answer the bell when the call came in.
Week of 8/9
East side: We continued on segment 3 this week. We lost a day (Monday) due to rain but are still close to our schedule. We will finish up on Tuesday and then head east toward Buffalo Lake Lodge. Winds and heavy rain have hampered us some but the guys are working hard to catch up. Equipment is performing well with no issues this week.
West side: Have completed segment 4 and will use this manpower next week to concentrate on segments 6 and 7 that are both overwhelmed with weeds and bogs. We'll have 2 machines up on that end starting Monday. We'll be setting up at Holenbeck launch and working east and west from there. For the property owners east of the trestle we have an issue with a couple of large boulders out from the last pier closest to the trestle. It would be helpful if they were marked to help with weed harvesting, they are really close to the pier. We don't want to damage our equipment but still would like to get this cleared out. Its not feasible to place a buoy marker in that location. Equipment is running as it should with no issues.
NOTICE: We are in need of places to dump weeds for the remainder of the season, someplace close to hwy C landing would be helpful.
Week of 8/2
East side: We completed segment 2 on Wednesday and moved down to segment 3. The lake weeds have accelerated in growing and its getting a little tougher to keep up. Our plan to move west this year versus east is compounding the issue, instead of chasing floaters they are just moving toward the areas we just went through. This plan will need to be discussed for 2022. Had a small issue with Transporter this week that caused some downtime but with the help of Ron Schiller, Rich McFaul, and Gary Kershaw we were able to get it back in operation within a few hours.
West side: We continued to maintain segment 4 with the harvester at the yard, floaters from up river still continued to cause us to go over the same areas daily. We also continued in segment 5 with our Aquamarine #3 unit, this is our largest area to maintain and we are finally getting it under control. A few days this next week and we'll be moving west back to segment 7.
Equipment: We finally launched our newest addition in the lake late Tuesday, a few minor adjustments are needed and we should be good to go. You should see it cutting weeds this next week.
Staff: We added a new member to the staff this week, Rodney Gapinski. He'll be driving our dump truck on the West side, he comes with a background of weed harvesting and truck driving as he was doing a similar job in Dane County lakes. He's been a very good addition.
Our season: We are down to 4 weeks left in our cutting season, where did the time go!
Week of 7/26
East side: We continued cutting in segment 2 this week, we lost a day due to weather but kept up with target objectives. We hit a snag on Thursday with a belting issue on our transporter. We've taken it back to the yard for maintenance and hope to have it back in action sometime Monday. If all goes well, we'll be moving to segment 3 next week.
West side: We continued to maintain segment 4 and are trying to keep up with all the floaters coming down the river system. We also have been cutting in segment 5 this week but employee absence has hampered us from achieving our goals. We'll be cutting some on Friday to catch up; please be patient with us, we are doing our best with the resources at hand.
Week of 7/19
East side: We started out the week in segment 1 and finished on Wednesday. In the afternoon, we started down to Buffalo Lake Lodge and started working on segment 2. For the most part things are on schedule and equipment is keeping up with our plan. Manpower shortages are still an issue but we are managing the best we can.
West side: We worked on segment 4 cutting along the North shore taking out numerous loads. Many floaters continue to flow from Endeavor direction and at times it feels like we're not gaining any ground. We'll continue next week to get this under control. We also finished up on segment 7 and finally made it down to segment 5. Weeds have really backed up in this area but by the middle of next week we should have it under control. Lake owners please have some patience, we'll get this where you want it. Due to manpower shortages, Bob Fohey, the supervisor, has had to participate in cutting operations and Gary Kershaw volunteered to cover on one of our dump trucks. That in turn means our new addition to our equipment has been sitting with little progress. Hope we can get back at it this coming week.
We only have six weeks of cutting left. Summer is disappearing quickly, not a good feeling! We hope everyone has enjoyed the lake this year the way they want. We'll continue to do our best to give you what you expect. Thanks for all the kind words and support, all our employees really appreciate it!
Week of 7/12
It has been a challenging week to say the least -- from working short-handed, dealing with rain, and training new employees -- things have been tough.
East end of lake: We finished up on segment 3 early in the week and migrated back down to segment 1 for the third time this year. We ran both harvesters less the transporter for most of the week due to shortages in manpower. Outlook for next week is to complete in Montello and move to Buffalo Lake Lodge to harvest in segment 2. Equipment ran without issues.
West end of lake: We cut some in segment 4 to keep up with weed growth and maintain channel and laterals. We will finish up with segment 6 on Friday and will move to segment 7 at Call of the Wild campgrounds on Monday. Again manpower issues hampered us from moving equipment sooner. Equipment ran as it should with no issues.
Week of 7/5
East side: Continued harvesting weeds in segment 3, we'll finish up on Monday and move down to Montello for our 3rd time this year to cut segment 1. We'll be doing some cutting on Friday in segment 4 as well. Weather played a part this week with the loss of a day due to heavy rain. We will be at a disadvantage next week due to a shortage of capable operators, we will do our best to keep things rolling. Equipment is operating as it should with only minor hiccups.
West side: We continued to harvest down in segment 6 and should be moving to segment 7 next week. We will be short handed on this side as well but will be training with new employees, please bear with us as we get back up to full strength. Equipment is also functioning as it should.
Other news: We have 8 weeks left in our season and other than manpower issues things are going better than expected. I hope all of you are getting the service you expect and deserve. One of our employees left this week due to better opportunities elsewhere, this employee will be sadly missed as they were doing a great job. Please pass the word, we need capable people to help finish strong for the last 8 weeks, your help in doing so is appreciated.
Please see the Employment tab for more information. Specifically, we are looking for Harvester Operators and Truck Drivers.
Week of 6/28
East side: We moved to Buffalo Lake Lodge and cut segment 2 this week getting ready for the busy holiday weekend. Things went well and on midday Thursday we headed down to Hwy C and started cutting segment 3. No issues at all on this side and for once cutter #6 is able to load the machine as well as #5, they now make a great pair.
West side: We had a few issues but were able to work around/resolve with only minor disruption. We cut segment 4 and segment 5 and this morning we moved down to cut segment 6. We had some issues with vandalism on cutter #3 which was parked at the Freedom Road launch. I would encourage lake owners to call law enforcement if they see anyone on any of the equipment. We have placed signs on the machines asking for people to refrain from entering the equipment. It is a safety issue and we are also concerned about the machines. Cutter #3 is able to handle heavier loads now then it ever has per our long time maintenance person. Some experienced help from an outside service was critical in making this happen. This will make us much more efficient and less trips to the conveyor.
Manpower is an issue, we are running very lean and somehow need to find more capable help to add to our staff. If you know anyone looking to help out please let us know. We have about 10 weeks left on our season.
Week of 6/21
East side: We finished up this week on segment 1 and on Thursday we moved down to Buffalo Lake Lodge on segment 2. We worked on Harvester #6 on Wednesday and believe we have cured our problem with our ability to load the machine as it should, only time will tell but we are optimistic that the issue is resolved.
West side: We finished up with segment 5 as of Wednesday, we also went on both the south and north sides and flushed all piers to clear out weeds. We started on segment 4 and should finish up on Monday 6/28. From there we will move to Holenbeck launch and start cutting segment 6 on 6/29. We also worked on Machine #3 on Wednesday with good results -- hydraulics seem to be working much better and the machine should accept larger loads.
Had to take in Truck #5 to investigate issue with engine light and poor performance, should get feedback on 6/25.
Operations are going better than expected, hoping lake owners are satisfied with results. We welcome feedback on how we are doing.
Week of 6/14
East side: We started cutting in segment 3 on Monday, should finish up on the 21st and then we'll be moving back down to Montello starting again with segment 1. One issue continues: Harvester #6 with the lack of power on #2 conveyor. On 6/23, we will have a professional review this issue and hope to resolve this once and for all. Lake issues still hamper us from getting in certain areas.
West end: We finished up today with segment 7 around noon and moved back down to Freedom Launch starting again on segment 5. Things have gone as expected with minor issues to deal with. Again, lake levels prevented us from cutting laterals to the channel for "Call of the Wild" Campground and in a few other areas.
Maintenance: Little maintenance was required this week and equipment performed for the most part as it should except for what was mentioned above.
Hoping everyone is satisfied with what has transpired so far this cutting season, we are doing are very best for all lake property owners.
Week of 6/7
East side: We have finished segment 2 at about 90% at end of day 6/10/21. We will complete on 6/14 and will be moving to Hwy C launch on 6/15. Everything is going as it should with little to no issues. Will be cutting segment 3 on 6/15. Had Aquarius here on 6/10 to review Transporter for warranty issue that will be resolved when machine comes out of the water in September.
West side: We have completed segment 6 at about 85%. We have a few issues with low water levels at 1s and 2s that will hamper ability to cut in this area. We will do our very best to navigate through this. We will move to segment 7 by Call of the Wild Campgrounds on 6/15. Low water levels are playing a huge role on how close we can cut towards shore.
Misc information: We have started to recycle cross rods for equipment belting. In the past when these were removed, they were discarded. Now we are cutting these down to the next size and using a die to re-thread and use over. This stops us from purchasing new. For example, we take a 36" and cut it down to 30", take a 30" and cut it down to 24". We have recycled over 40 so far. Nice cost savings.
Three new employees are doing great, they have exceeded our expectations at this point in their employment.
Our weed load totals for the first (2) weeks have exceeded last year's totals.
We need rain.
Any questions or comments are welcomed and appreciated.
Week of 6/1
Started cutting segment 1 in Montello. As of Friday this will be completed and we will move to segment 2 at the Buffalo Lake Lodge. Everything went as it should.
Machine #4 started cutting segment 4 and should complete by days end. We will move a little further east on Monday and complete L9 and N15. No issues, just need a little more training for new person cutting.
Machine #3 started cutting segment 5 and should finish this on June 8th. After that we'll be moving to segment 6 Hollenbeck Landing. Things went as it should except for a few issues with oldest conveyor. We will need to do some more repair to keep this functioning.
For the most part things are going well with only minor issues popping up. New employees are doing well for the first week of cutting. The super stars are on the east end. In 3 days they managed to cut 59 loads which is outstanding!
Meeting with Inland Lakes owner Mitch Cole to go over a few issues with equipment on June 5. This is a courtesy call.
Don't hesitate to ask for more info if you need it.
Week of 5/24
All equipment is in the water and is ready to start operations on 6/1/21. Training of 5 new employees happened this past week. We have 4 new people on the Harvesters and 1 new Dump Truck driver. We are still having issues with both older conveyors due to the steel construction and having to deal with water on a daily basis. Rust and metal wear has taken its toll on both. Hoping to make it through the year without much downtime. Both of the older Harvesters are showing their age, #4 has developed leaks in barge that required weld repair this year and most of the compartments inside steel barge have separated due to condensation and water from leakage. #3 Harvester needed a partial rebuild on #1 conveyor assembly. Both units had multiple Hyd motors replaced. #3 still has a lack of power on #3 conveyor and will only accept a 50% load of weeds, if fully loaded it will not offload. #6 Harvester has a similar issue with #2 conveyor, it will not operate if loaded more than 50%. We will be checking motors per instruction from Aquarius, if this is good we will need to get manufacturer to investigate further for resolution. Would make a suggestion to the board that we start to review/discuss a plan to look at replacing one or both (#3 & #4) of these very soon. To continue investing large sums of money to repair these is not in the best interest of Lake Association. An overall assessment was found that proper care, cleaning, and maintenance has been lacking over previous years. New log sheets were created for Cutters and Transporter and will be implemented June 1st. Brought in a load of gravel to help repair low area in the yard, this had given us issues for years.