High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest


Category Archives: Photos

Steph: Café Exposé
Steph Osowski

Apache, Oklahoma – There’s something about finishing up harvest at a stop and just as the back wheels of the combine touch the combine trailer, a light drizzle of rain starts across the area. It’s almost like Mother Nature saying, “Hey, here’s to a job well done.” It’s the perfect ending and an even more perfect sendoff, because traveling in the rain is easy on the tires. 

We have now moved to our next stop on the harvest trail — Apache, Oklahoma. John has had a couple guys from this area work for him before, so it’s nice to have some locals to help us out. For example, the first night we got to town, it was later in the day. The campground was seemingly empty and dark with no signs of phone numbers to change that status. Well, it may have appeared that way to a passerby; but when you know a local, he can phone the owner because he’s obviously a friend of his. Everyone knows everyone in small towns, and it’s a beautiful thing. Continue Reading

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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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

Steph: Moonlighting Mechanics
Steph Osowski

Gilliland, TX – Statistically, I don’t think I want to know how many hours of my life I’ve spent driving. If someone were to insert the total hours of my life into some magical stat machine, I would bet 75% or more of those hours have been spent behind a steering wheel of assorted vehicles, trucks and machinery. I was once told that I drive a combine so casually it’s as if I’m driving a car. But, it’s what I love, so I wouldn’t want it any other way.

We spent all of Sunday working on equipment — a true harvester Sunday fun-day. It wasn’t on purpose though. We started off the day with good intentions; but when it smells like there’s a bonfire in your cab, something is certainly wrong. We came to find we had a bearing go out on the re-thrasher that needed to be replaced. Not only that, but we also had to made a phone call to the MacDon Harvest Support guys to come and calibrate/check our header. It was the best time for it to happen if there ever was one. Continue Reading

Steph: Occupied Buddy Seats
Steph Osowski

Gilliland, Texas – It takes me exactly 27 minutes and 14 seconds to get from the field to the elevator, scale/probe, unload, scale and get back to the field. However, I’ve never had the opportunity to combine a 450-acre field of wheat (talk about heaven — 450 acres without changing fields ONCE), so John got pushed outta the driver’s seat, and I hopped in. I also wanted to see what these red machines are all about. My review, you ask? It’s pretty awesome. Our wheat stats have stayed about the same with 20-25 bushels per acre and 58-60 pound test weights.

My buddy seat was occupied for awhile today by Miss Breanna. She is Farmer Glen’s niece, and we had ourselves a time. We spent a good portion of the afternoon talking about our favorite colors, swapping stories and singing along to Shania Twain on the radio. She also likes Johnny Cash, and said she would have ridden in the combine with me all day long — a girl truly after my own heart. She climbed off the combine, and then shortly after climbed right back up the ladder to give me a hug so, I’d be lying if I said she didn’t take a little piece of it with her. Continue Reading

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

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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Steph: Commence
Steph Osowski

Gilliland, Texas – You know how they say everything is bigger in Texas? That’s no lie. I kid you not. I had a mosquito the size of a quarter bite me today. Around dusk, Josh the Elevator Worker and I had to dance around like fools while unloading my truck in an attempt to keep them away. Not like it worked much — my arms and neck are covered in little red welts. Battle scars on the first full day of cutting, what more could you ask for? Harvest is HERE. The yields are between 20-25 bushels per acre with test weights coming in at 58 pounds. With a whopping distance of four miles to haul the grain in to the elevator, we are seeing some major progress and were able to do 250 acres on day one with our combine.
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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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Steph: Road to Texas
Steph Osowski

Gilliland, Texas – I had a nightmare last night that my tractor/grain cart load fell off my trailer… never had I been so happy to be jolted awake by reality at 3 a.m. Sometimes road stories are bizarre and out of control like that. This road story is the exact opposite.

We were graced with perfect travel conditions and the road to Texas went off without a hitch. When we were embarking on our final travel day this morning, Bossman John asked me if I had $16 to pay for the campsite since he had no cash (and also said he would give me $20 back. As an economics major, that’s a no-brainer). I had $16 exactly and not a penny more.
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