High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest


Category Archives: stories

Laura: Rattle in the night
Laura Haffner

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. Continue Reading

Steph: Mountainous
Steph Osowski

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. Continue Reading

Steph: Harvester’s hangout
Steph Osowski

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. Continue Reading

Laura: Montana
Laura Haffner

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. Continue Reading

Laura: The middle of somewhere
Laura Haffner

Eastern Colorado – Due to a lack of urban centers, I’m guessing a lot of people would deem where we’re currently cutting the middle of nowhere. It is true we are miles and miles from the nearest village or town, but despite all that, “I” would say we’re in the middle of somewhere. That somewhere is beautiful. Brave little houses and farmsteads dot the landscape — those few still willing to take on the unpredictable windswept prairie. Signs of days gone by are here too. I see the abandoned one-room school house and the occasional forgotten skeleton of a house that was once a happy home. Who were these people that once inhabited these spots, and what became of them? Song birds flutter on the breeze. The swish-swish of wheat and grass can be heard, and in the words of Louis Lamar, “The wind, always the wind.” Cattle peacefully chew the grass. And the view… one can see for miles. 

It’s out here that there are few distractions. One can think out here, breathe out here, and just be. Sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky that I am to see these places that most rarely, if ever do. I have to think that a lot of the world’s problems could be overcome if we just took a little R&R on the prairie to clear the air in our souls and minds.  Continue Reading

Janel: What’s it going to be?
Janel Schemper

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? Continue Reading

Laura: Learning on the road
Laura: Learning on the road avatar

High Plains Harvesting (2017-Laura)
Photo by Laura Haffner

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.

Continue Reading

Steph: Roars in the rotor
Steph Osowski

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. Continue Reading

Laura: Bad vibrations
Laura Haffner

Morgan County, Colorado – Ryan left several days ahead of us to get started in Colorado. I had several more days of paperwork and preparation before we left home again, so I was relieved to finally have it all done and hit the road late Friday morning. As soon as I hit top speed, we experienced what I would call a “major” vibration. I exited on the next road. Nothing was visually off, so I circled around and tried again… same thing. The kids thought is was hilarious and great fun. They were laughing and making the “aaaahhhhh-ahhhh-ahhhhhh” noise along with all the vibrating. I could feel my frustration rising. All the while, I said prayers of thankfulness that this happened only a couple miles from home. A few back and forth calls with Ryan, a few calls to local mechanics to see who could get me in last minute, a couple shakes at Wendy’s to pass time with the kids, several laps around Wal-Mart and visits to the pet department to watch the fish, two plus hours later we were ready to roll again. Thankfully it seems that something had just gotten out of balance, and it was nothing more serious! Continue Reading

Steph: Gummy worms
Steph Osowski

Bridgeport, Nebraska – Just as I was letting off the clutch at a stoplight in town, a motorcycle revved the ever living out of his motor and sped by me. I about had a heart attack — hearing noises like that, all I could think was that I blew something somewhere on my truck. I mean, I am hauling 64 pound wheat, so anything is possible.

It is pretty rare to have two stops on the harvest run that are a mere 27.5 miles away from each other. Obvious reasons being that they are both likely ready at the same time; and as we all know, the wheat waits for nobody. But, contrary to the norm, we moved from Gurley to Bridgeport without missing a beat. Farmer Don has some pretty spectacular wheat with test weights anywhere from 62-65 pounds, 35-40 bushel, and protein peaked at 13 for content, but is consistently between 8-10. Harvest days are coming and going and definitely running together these past 10 days or so. This time of year just works that way. It’s harvest autopilot, if you will. You just do because you know you need to do, and that’s all there is to it. Continue Reading