High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest

Laura Haffner


Laura Haffner began as an All Aboard Wheat Harvest correspondent in 2015. Laura and her husband, Ryan, are the owners of High Plains Harvesting, a full-service custom grain harvesting business based in western Kansas.  

Laura: The other half
Laura Haffner

Ellis and Rush County, Kansas – A few days ago I gave you an update for half the crew. Today I’ll give you the other half.

This part of the crew had similar issues as the one further south. We fought several days of rain and/or humidity. The wheat never completely dried down and stayed in the 12-13 percent moisture range, so it was something to be watched the entire time they were cutting. This area had some hail and disease, and we had to abandon a couple fields because there just wasn’t anything there. We saw yields anywhere from 0-55 bushels per acre.  

The elevator we hauled into was nice to work with and had great service. Let me explain. When I was out at the field, the first night they were really able to cut into the evening. I asked the question, “How late is the elevator staying open?” See, you don’t harvest until the elevator closes. You take your trucks in to dump as late as they’ll take you. Then you bring them back to the field and fill everything back up, so they’re ready to unload first thing in the morning. And this allows you a bit more precious cutting time. Continue Reading

4 Responses to Laura: The other half
Laura Haffner

  1. Great to see there are actually deer on the plains.
    By 1940, all the deer and antelope herds were destroyed along with the buffalo.
    At Cambridge in 1958 I knew a 90-something who was born along the Republican Valley and as a child saw one lone buffalo wandering south of the river.
    A wheat farmer west of Stratton was making muzzle-loader rifles (Hawkins replicas, etc.) at that time.
    I got the photo of the first legal deer taken by him with one of his muzzle-loaders in Hitchkock County to publish in the McCook Gazette.
    Glad to see one leg of the Tripod has a big heart.

    • Such interesting facts, Dan. We actually see quite a bit of deer on the prairie. I had the pleasure of watching a herd of antelope pass quite close to me the other night. I’ll post that photo soon.

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Laura: Half a crew update
Laura Haffner

Southern Kansas – The weather was relatively uncooperative when the crew was in west central Oklahoma. They were constantly catching little showers that kept them out of the field or fighting humidity. For several days, that left very slim information to share, so things have been slow in the reporting department. But all of a sudden, harvest cut loose again, so I’m going to rush to get caught up!

The crew with Mark in Custer County, Oklahoma, saw yields ranging from the 30s to 50s. Test weights were average in the 58-60 pounds per bushel range. They finished in Oklahoma last Saturday night.
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6 Responses to Laura: Half a crew update
Laura Haffner

  1. Putting their personalized name on the machine they run is a really good way to treat your crew members. Gives them a sense of pride. About how many hours a year do you put on a machine average ?

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Laura: Our afternoon with young men of Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children
Laura Haffner

West central Oklahoma – As you’ve read the All Aboard Wheat Harvest blog, you have likely noticed the listing of some of our contributing sponsors in the side bar of the site page. One new to the line-up is this one:

10-Acre Challenge

“What is this challenge and who are they?” you may ask. Well, I had to enlighten myself as well, so let me share with you what I discovered. The 10-Acre Challenge is a call for those in agriculture to donate ten acres of their crop to the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children and challenge their friends to do the same.
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12 Responses to Laura: Our afternoon with young men of Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children
Laura Haffner

  1. I’m sure these boys have had some serious challenges in their lives. Thanks for taking the time to bring them to the field, give them a hint of the excitement of harvesting, show them respect, answer questions and just give them a great day. They’ll never forget it, and neither will you and the crew. We wish the best for these boys and their future. Thanks to you and the crew for caring enough for others to do this! May God bless your efforts this season, keep all of you safe, -and good harvesting!

    • We are so glad it worked out to have special visitors at the field with us. It was just as much a treat for us as it was for them.

      Thanks for the well wishes, Chuck.

  2. Enjoyed reading the story and seeing the pictures. Great day of learning new experiences. Love the idea of the 10 acre challenge. What a way to share your blessings with others.

    • I’m so glad to hear they enjoyed themselves, Michael! It is something our crew won’t soon forget! We appreciate your patience in regards to the scheduling!

      Thanks also for the cold drinks on a hot, humid day! 🙂 They were appreciated!

  3. Those young men will never forget their day with u’ll.
    Thanks to u’ll for showing them so many different things about harvesting wheat.

  4. Hi we’re the boys Andre, Connor and Bradley thank you for letting us come and learn on how to harvest. Your group of men were great they taught me things I did not know. Like how careful we have to be and how important it is for the world to have farmers. Thanks for the great time.
    This is Bradley and I really enjoyed the trip there. It was really fun and cool. What i liked the most was driving the combine. I liked the automatic self driving in it. Thanks a lot and God bless you all.

    • Hi, Andre, Bradley, and Connor! You are so welcome and it was such a privilege to have you visit! We are so glad you enjoyed yourselves and learned a little too. It was a day we won’t forget! Best wishes to you three. God bless!

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Laura: A different kind of harvest
Laura Haffner

Clay County, Texas – Journeying along the harvest trail in the summer is not exactly conducive to an elaborate vegetable garden though I admit I did plant a lonely cucumber and pumpkin plant for the kids in hopes it would catch just enough rain until we make it for our home stop. My lack of garden is probably why I love a good farmer’s markets on the trail. Getting produce picked at the peak of freshness and the fun of the actual market is a win-win. So when I learned of a “pick your own strawberries” event at a patch not too far down the road, I knew we had to do it to give the kids at least a partial garden experience. To put it mildly, it was a hit as you’ll see from the pictures below.
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3 Responses to Laura: A different kind of harvest
Laura Haffner

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Laura: Texas Summary
Laura Haffner

North Texas – The kids were both asleep by a tick after eight this evening. Those reading who know them well, understand that this is nothing short of a miracle. I had the camper tidied by nine, which is another miracle as it’s usually well after ten or eleven before I finish that. I don’t know how its possible with only four people, and so few belongings, but it often looks like squirrel family took up residence by the end of the day.  It seems two of the four, actually maybe one, not naming names, is the prime suspect. Now, I’m going to utilize these rare quiet moments and get caught up on the blog!

We are nearing the end of our time in Texas. In fact, Mark and some of the crew moved to Custer County, Oklahoma, and were able to start there Wednesday, May 31. The rest of us remain in north Texas but will join them in a few short days. Continue Reading

9 Responses to Laura: Texas Summary
Laura Haffner

    • Surely I did, Charles! Good eye and makes a wee bit of difference too. Ha! Must have had acres on the mind. I think I got them corrected now!

  1. Thank you so much for doing these journals. Make me want to come and watch and check one more item of my bucket list.

  2. Wow !!! 65lb/bu that’s quality Wheat. Do you know what variety it was? Hopefully the farmer you cut for saved some for seed.

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Laura: Texas Wheat Harvest Video
Laura Haffner

North Texas – To all of you wishing you were out cutting in a field or those who just need something to get you through until harvest reaches your area, I made you a little something.  Enjoy!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Laura can be reached at laura@allaboardharvest.com.

19 Responses to Laura: Texas Wheat Harvest Video
Laura Haffner

  1. Thanks Laura for the video. It just make even more to come and watch a harvest crew in action. This is on my bucket list. Phil

    • I liked that part too, Tom! What is it about night cutting?

      I’ll see what I can do about the kids! 😉

  2. Good video, the header what kind is it I have never seen anything quite like it how does it work? I have been around farm equipment all my life this is new to me. Do you make any stops in Oklahoma?

  3. Been on my BL for 10 yrs Leaving N C next week for OK then on to Kan Maybe we could get together with your crew

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Laura: It has started!
Laura Haffner

Wichita County, Texas: May 24 – Mark it in the books – the official start to the cutting season. I had almost forgotten how I love to hear the hum of the machines. The low sound almost has a calming effect on the soul, and nothing can beat the smell of fresh cut wheat!

Due to moisture, some fields have some patches that remain to be cut, so we don’t have official yield data to report yet. Test weights are coming in around 58 lbs per bushel. Hail damage has affected yields, and some fields have been zeroed out at our first stop. Today’s forecast shows a high of 99, and tomorrow shows 101 with a little wind. It should be prime cutting weather, if we can avoid the small chances for rain in the forecast. Continue Reading

6 Responses to Laura: It has started!
Laura Haffner

  1. Good pictures, thanks for keeping us posted. Good Luck, I agree nothing is a wonderful as the smell of newly cut grain in summer.!

    • Tom, much to his dismay, he was not able to ride the first several days of harvest, but finally got a chance tonight! He was on cloud nine to say the least!

  2. used to do this for a living with my Dad and always started our year in Randlett, OK. every year come this time I still feel like a caged animal. Good luck this year

  3. I’m new to this. Would love to join the custom cutter trade but a little too old! Fresh cut hay smells just as nice, but know the smell of newly cut grain also! Best of luck for a great season! Great pics! Please keep them coming!


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Laura: When the rains come to stay, the crew will play!
Laura Haffner

Wichita County, Texas – After a couple seasons of life on the road under my belt, I’m packing lighter and lighter all the time. I don’t have time, energy or space in our camper house to deal with unnecessary clutter. So, I debated bringing the kids’ mud boots this year. Surely we wouldn’t need them for a third year in a row. I finally threw them in as a mind game and insurance policy against the imaginary Texas harvest rain gods because if we had them, we wouldn’t need them, right? Wrong. With grain moisture around 15%, we were just on the verge of being able to cut when the rains started. As I’ve stated many times in my writing, I have a terrible time wishing away rain when I come from an arid area and armed with the knowledge that this region broke out of a terrible drought just two years ago. However, the Texas weather systems and I need to have a little chat, because these harvest rains are starting to be a thing!
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6 Responses to Laura: When the rains come to stay, the crew will play!
Laura Haffner

  1. Sorry to hear of the rain again. We had rain on Thurs eve. and last night again. It is pretty wet here, guys wanting to get in the fields to plant milo & feed. Thanks for letting me read your blog, good luck and be safe in this years harvest!

    • Marcy, its a thing for sure. We don’t have our crops planted at the farm yet either.

      So glad you’re following us! Thanks for the well wishes!

  2. We have had some storms here, too, Laura! There was a tornado warning at 2:30 last night, but I didn’t hear the warning. All’s ok, though!

    Blessings and safe travels,

    • I’m so glad to hear you’re ok, Patty! Our neighbor told us its been rough there. And a tornado warning in the middle of the night. That’s enough to get the ol’ ticker going! I’m glad it didn’t materialize.

  3. Hey Laura. We are so glad to have had you for a short season in Wichita Falls. We loved hearing more about your world as a traveling harvest team. Come back soon!!

    • Thanks so much, Besty! I appreciate everyone’s kindness and hope to be back next year. Until then, I hope life treats you all well!

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Laura: Mom Guilt
Laura Haffner

Kansas –  For months Little Man’s prayers have been harvest/travel themed and have sounded something like this or a variation thereof, “Dear God, please watch over the combines, the wheat, the blue headers, the camper house, the splash park, and the swimming pool. AMEN!”

Just the other day we helped play musical vehicles with Ryan, which allowed us to pay a visit to headquarters where a beehive of preharvest prep was taking place. One of the crew members expressed his excitement for heading south and getting the cutting season going. He then asked me if I was excited about harvest.
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4 Responses to Laura: Mom Guilt
Laura Haffner

  1. Laura, I am 70 and lived on farm most of my life and My Husband also. The work takes on a life of its own. Do not think everything has to be perfect. Don’t feel like all the dinners have to be made from scratch. As long as it is good food it can come already made from grocery. Take a nap even if a short one.
    Well, you get the idea. Be careful. Yes, there is an excitement to get harvest going and all the things that take place, there is nothing like it. We had a small operation and older equipment,but it istill was the best time of summer. memorial day was our only vacation. Next day you best hit the floor running. Ha You have a beautiful family . Sharon Drake Winfield, Kansas South of Wichita 60 miles. 5 miles from Oklahoma line. Looks like wheat will be good here.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words of encouragement, Sharon! I enjoyed hearing about your background as well! Sounds like you “get” it! I’m so glad the wheat is looking good down there. Positive news! Thanks for taking time to reach out!

  2. Very well written and shared……..Thank YOU!
    I can tell you, our kids grew up on the harvest and it is the best way to raise em! Each of them can communicate, work, plan and adjust! Thus all are successful, balanced and now have families and homes of thier own! Its back to Ma and Pa on the harvest with crew. (my 35th year) I believe there needs to be a *manual of relief* somewhere for the week before we leave and week we get home. They still drive me a little crazy!
    Be Blessed, and enjoy the journey! Look forward to future posts.

    • Nancy-thanks so much for your kind words and support! I’m so glad to hear you endorse the harvest raising! And please, when you find the manual, make copies and sell them (do a few audio too!). I’d be first in line!

      Best wishes as you hit the trail for a safe and successful harvest for you and your farmers.

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Laura: Surprise Blizzard
Laura Haffner


Park, Kansas –  I had a funny feeling this year that we may catch a late cold snap, however, if someone would have told me we would have a good old fashioned prairie blizzard starting April 29th, I probably would have shaken my head.  Freeze yes, blizzard no.  But blizzard AND freeze are what happened in western Kansas where our headquarters is located. 

It was quite an ordeal for our crew as they come from various winter weather backgrounds (some with none).  Albert, one of our returning veterans, said, “The blizzard was definitely a surreal experience.  Only saw that on TV normally.  Being stranded without electricity and water made you appreciate the small things in life more, the stuff we normally take for granted.  And to be honest, I’m more of a sunny and blue sky kind of person!”  Continue Reading

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