All Aboard Harvest | High Plains Journal
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High Plains Journal

Northeast Colorado - The other night Pieter had machinery issues so stopped in the field, got out of the cab, and hopped off the ladder. Immediately he knew something was wrong. Ryan said he was yelling over the noise of the combine about there being a snake. Ryan thought he was just imagining things as it would be hard to hear a rattle over the roar of the motor. Pieter kept yelling and pointing. When Ryan shined his light in the direction Pieter was pointing, sure enough, there was a rattle snake coiled up and ready to strike.

Fort Benton, Montana - Last year 25 percent of our crew went to Montana.  This year 75 percent of our crew went to Montana to harvest winter wheat, spring wheat, chick peas and lentils. They have been there for about ten days and have been harvesting full blast nearly every day.

The winter wheat has been averaging over 60 bushels an acre, 62 pounds and 13-14 percent protein.  Sounds good to me!  It took the crew three days to get all of the equipment from Western Nebraska up to Montana, so I hope they have the best of luck there and continue getting in some big days of harvesting!

Alliance, Nebraska - Okay, tell me honestly; if I were to have a fleet of pink cabovers with white hopper bottoms that coincidentally have pink polka dots, how do you think that would go over? It was a thought-out-loud I had the other day and every member of the crew has a different opinion. I know a certain little harvest girl (Miss Carley Russell) who would be the first in line to drive one.

I'm writing this from a hotel in Alliance, Neb. With my family, we cut in Hemingford for many, many years so this area is all too familiar to me. This morning/afternoon in Pine Bluffs, we took duels off the combine, loaded up the combine, loaded up the grain cart, and fixed a valve on the grain cart trailer. It was HOT. Everything we touched was all but smoking from the heat and the cloud cover that would sporadically bring us shade brought out an audible sigh of relief from all of us.

Pine Bluffs, Wyoming - Anderson Harvesting is at its first standstill of the harvest 2017 season. Farmer Lance, with his 25 bushel average/62 pound test weight crop, is all cut up and now the real question arises; where do we go from here? John's ear and his phone have been inseparable for the past few days and the decision is still up in the air. But, as Papa T said, "you go where the wheat is ripe." Western ND is looking like the best bet!

So, since I'm running low on harvest action, I'm going to try something a little different. I've decided to call this little segment the "harvester's hangout".  What this will be is me telling three harvester tales of yesteryear. Imagine a room full of harvesters with their scuffed up boots and ball caps in a cafe, exchanging laughs and stories with one another for hours and hours; that's the feel I'm going for. So, grab a nice cup of coffee and have a comfortable seat because that's how the best tales are received.

Hardin, Montana - For those of you who have been waiting for the Montana pictures, well, you're in luck. They're starting to trickle in. Montana usually seems to be a highlight for the crew and readers probably because it so unique environmentally. They don't call it "Big Sky Country" for nothing! The report from Mark and the crew up in Montana is that they're cutting in absolutely beautiful country. They've seen lots of deer and other various forms of wildlife. The harvest has been respectable too. At the first farm, they've seen yields mainly in the 40-60 range with spikes all the way up to 100 bushels per acre. Below are some photos they've sent in.

Chadron, Nebraska - The last time we were in Chadron for the wheat harvest was 20 years ago. Our kiddos were much younger. I was pregnant with Callie, and the job I had at that time had nothing to do with spending time in the field (except to haul meals) or the combine. My job was so much different back then. I was in charge of kids, activities, food, laundry and being the "go-fer."  Little did I know that just four short years later, plans would change. Man... what I wouldn't give to be able to step back in time and relive one of those days. Those days seemed they would never end because of the needs of the kids, the husband and the hired man. When I see familiar sights in this town, I think back to those days. One of my favorite memories is attending the circus held under the big tent on the east side of town. We went with those same harvest friends (Krumbach Harvesting), whom shared their acres with us this year. They also have four children very close to the same age as our girls. I remember how excited they all were when the elephants made their grand entrance, and I'm certain there was cotton candy involved.

Pierre, South Dakota – We made the big trip from Western Nebraska up to the Pierre, South Dakota area, and there is definitely a big ole drought going on. I was told that there really hasn’t been any rain at home in Nebraska since May, and South Dakota looks to be the same way. I could see the drought results as I traveled across Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota last week. Kansas looked alright, but as soon as I was in Nebraska I could see it. And it became worse as I traveled into South Dakota.

On the way up here we ran into road construction at Mission, South Dakota. There was a sign at Valentine, Nebraska that said road construction and width restriction 31 miles ahead. We asked around in Valentine; and everyone said they had seen lots of combines going north, and we could get through there. We got up to Mission, and there it was. There they were working on the main street that we travel, and our wide loads couldn’t fit through because of the cones. I wonder how many combines have just been hauled through there anyway. A local was nice enough to stop and tell us to turn around at the school, go back a mile and then head west on the gravel. Then at the dead end, go north up to Highway 18 and we would be back on the right track again to Highway 83 north. There was no detour route sign anywhere. For goodness sakes, why not?

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1024"]High Plains Harvesting (2017-Laura) Photo by Laura Haffner[/caption]

Laura Haffner and AAWH’s Sarah Moyer talk about balancing family and business during harvest. In addition to the lessons they find from the HPH crew, she focuses on her children's character development and creating impactful experiences for them on the road. Tune in to step into the field with Laura.

[audio mp3="http://hpj.hubris.net/allaboardwheatharvest/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2017/07/AAWH-Podcast-03.mp3"][/audio]

Bayard, Nebraska - Well, courtesy of AAWH, Anderson Harvesting will be heading back south a bit to Pine Bluffs, Wyoming to continue the wheat run. Farmer Lance awaits us our arrival and Farmer Don can sit back and relax, knowing his wheat is safe and sound in the bins of the elevator. He averaged about 35 bushels per acre with test weights between 62-65 pounds. Our next fields are right in the corner of Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. I've always wanted to be in three places at once, and I just might get my shot.

A fun fact -- Farmer Don's son brought his family out to spend some time in the field and experience harvest. The following day, his wife and kids went off to a family reunion and he stayed. Little did I know, it was his birthday! This became known to me after the fact. And I didn't even get to wish him a "happy birthday," but all he wanted to do was spend his birthday in a wheat field. That's music to a harvester's ears.

Western Nebraska – This year I was in Kansas longer than expected due to the evening rain showers. We couldn’t ever work really late like we needed to and put in our time because we’d get shut down by the rain most evenings. The weather really messed with us. 

Thankfully, my brother Jared and Uncle Lonny were able to harvest most all of our wheat jobs in Western Nebraska before we got there. We did still get to stop there and cut for a few days, which was great. Disappointingly, the wheat I cut didn’t yield well due to mosaic disease. The wheat looked decent from the road, but the mosaic disease really got to it this year. However, Western Nebraska has some of the most beautiful sunsets with such beautiful colors. I didn’t get to cut there long enough this year to enjoy them.