The Roundup -

Beet Harvest: A Family Affair for Neuleibs


October 25, 2017 | View PDF

The Neuleib family, from left to right, Jeremiah Korner, Pat, Allen, Tish and Dick Neuleib.

Beet harvest always involves a myriad of people doing everything from defoliating, digging and trucking, to working the pilers, quality lab and factory shifts with everyone focused on getting those precious beets out of the ground on time and processed into sweet, sweet sugar.

Workers take time from their regular jobs, come from miles and miles away, or maybe work at Sidney Sugars year round.

The Neuleib family encompasses all of those aspects with Leticia "Tish" at the factory full time, her brother Rick and nephew Allen working harvest and her parents Pat and Dick operating a food truck at the pile grounds in Sidney for the first time.

Tish took a quick break from operating the loader tractor during early harvest to talk about her job as yard foreman, a position she has held for almost ten years. Before that, she worked the piler during campaign for several years.

Tish is in charge of all the pilers and crew and helps the truckers sometimes. She can be seen everywhere on the pile grounds during harvest, whether on foot, or in any piece of equipment that fits the task at hand, making sure that equipment is running smoothly, that trucks are where they should be and that personnel have what they need and are doing what they should be doing. "I do just about everything," she explained.

After harvest, Tish will be busy loading beet pulp into trucks during campaign. Earlier this summer, she was hauling mud from the ponds. Her job is varied and, at times, hectic. She said the worst part of her job is the breakdowns. They stack things up and by the time she's done fixing, she's full of dust and grease. The best part of her job is dealing with the people, including her crew and the truck drivers.

The yard crew includes work campers who come every year to work the harvest. "I get to meet people from everywhere," Tish said. The factory yard is fully staffed with at least one couple on each piler who is a returnee and one that is completely staffed by experienced work campers.

Tish's brother Rick and his son Allen work harvest for Torben and Natalie Erikstrup. While Rick was busy defoliating the day of the interview, Allen was driving beet truck. Allen is a mechanic for the Richland County road department and takes vacation time each year to haul beets. "It's quick, easy money," he said with a grin.

He's known Erikstrups for about 12 years and has enjoyed working for them for the past six.

New to harvest this year are Tish and Rick's parents, Pat and Dick Neuleib. Out of Patty's Wagon, a fully inspected food truck inside the gate at the pile grounds, they served soups, sandwiches and a wide variety of homemade goodies to hungry workers from 7am to 7 pm.

It took some persuasion from Tish to get Pat and Dick, who live in Nashua, to come and do the food truck. "Tish has been after us for three or four years," Dick said. "We have the time now so we fixed up the trailer, had it inspected, and moved it in. If we live through this year, we might do it again next year," he said with a chuckle.

Dick and Pat Neuleib in Patty's Wagon.

Pat was a cook at the Nashua school for 19 years, then cooked for the senior citizens for eight. The couple met while Dick was stationed at the Glasgow Air Force Base and have been married since 1961. Dick worked various jobs, from heavy construction to racing horses after the air force, and retired from the railroad.

They are here for harvest and then will head back to Nashua, and back to quilting for Pat. She loves to quilt and has her creations all over the U.S. Firemen, first responders, family and friends all treasure one of Pat's homemade quilts.

Vanessa Pooch, Sidney Sugars agriculturalist in charge of the factory district said, "I've enjoyed working with Tish over the years and truly appreciate her hard work and dedication to the job. I'm glad her family gets to be a part of the harvest too. That will always be the backbone of agriculture, family working together."


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