All Aboard Harvest | Laura Haffner – High Plains Harvesting
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Laura Haffner – High Plains Harvesting

Laura Haffner – High Plains Harvesting

For Laura Haffner, there is not a better way to see the Great Plains.She and her husband, Ryan, have High Plains Harvesting based in Park, Kansas. The couple, along with their two young children and a crew of about a dozen, travel from Texas to the Canadian border to harvest wheat, canola and peas.

They return to Kansas at the end of summer to harvest corn, soybeans and grain sorghum. They family runs five late John Deere-model combines, along with their other supporting equipment.

Ryan’s harvesting experience started as a young child with his family. He was hooked and continued harvesting summers throughout his teens and early twenties with a local crew. He later took over that business, which has become High Plains Harvesting. This season will mark their seventh as owners.

This is Laura’s fourth year writing for All Aboard Wheat Harvest.
“I enjoy seeing new places and meeting new people,” Laura said. “I like to see harvest through my children’s eyes. They think it is a grand vacation because we make it that way for them.” Whether it is trips to the field or finding the interesting things that make a harvest stop unique, there is no shortage of things to do.

“As a result of our opportunity to extensively travel the Great Plains, I can tell the children are already expanding their worldview, love for travel, learning and adventure.”

Southeast Colorado - Not that long ago, the wheat crop was several weeks behind schedule. With strong winds and hot temperatures, nature has kicked in gear in a big way, and crops have made up ground in terms of maturity. As the kids and I traveled across Highway 50 and Highway 160 in Kansas on June 15, combines of all colors, makes, and models could be seen in their natural habitat doing what they do best.

We have been cutting just a few miles inside the Colorado border in the south east corner of the state. We don’t have any official

South Central KS - We moved through Texas in record time because it was our first year without any sort of rain delay, and, as we have said before, wheat acres were down due to weather conditions.  Our next stop was Custer County, Oklahoma.  Around the Clinton area, things are very dry.  Our farmer told us that they are struggling to get their cotton out of the ground due to the drought. It has been a tough few years in that area.  The last several have had too much rain and now they’re fighting drought.  They also had an April

North Texas - This year we also had the opportunity to not only to host young but but also the women of the Baptist Home for Girls in Madill, Oklahoma. As a woman in agriculture, I couldn’t have been more pleased to share the experience with a group of young women because, after all, agriculture isn’t just for men!

The girls, Jaymie, Hailey, and Kaylynn, their host parents Dexter, Reighna, and children, and Michael (the man behind the 10 Acre Challenge) and his son, could not have joined us on a more beautiful morning in Texas. It was overcast with just

North Texas - Early into our Texas stop we had a group of special visitors from the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children. Three young men, Shane, Josiah, and Patrick, and their sponsors Jim and Don, made the trip to experience the prime cutting weather with us! In other words, they got to experience some sweltering heat, but were great sports!

This is our second year getting the privilege to work with the youth from the Boys Ranch Town in Edmond, Oklahoma. They are a sponsor of the All Aboard Wheat Harvest program again in 2018. The Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

Texas - Harvest began for High Plains Harvesting on Memorial Day, May 28, this year.  Due to the crop situation down south, we took a partial crew.  Although we would have liked to have had the full crew present, we are thankful to even have the chance to cut down south at all in this environment.

The first field started off a little rocky and averaged around 18 bushels per acre.  Conditions then improved, and we are seeing yields in the 30 bushel range.  Tests weights are strong, up to 64 pounds per bushel.  Protein is coming in at 9-12.

It is

Northwest Kansas - The last few weeks before departure are when things just feel weird. I’m stuck in the middle of two worlds, non-harvest and harvest.  There are so many things I must do or line up to leave, but most of my list can’t be done until 24 hours before heading out.  A person must keep living, the yard’s grass doesn’t stop growing, laundry keeps piling up, and mail doesn’t stop coming for this seemingly invisible deadline.

Luckily, we can work on preparations of the crew in advance.  In fact, some of this season’s work began before the end of

Hello, All Aboard Wheat Harvest world!  How has life treated you since we last met a few short months ago?

It’s been a strange spring here in west central Kansas.  It often seemed that winter would never end. It took until the end of the first week of May for the warm weather to be consistently in the 70s and 80s.  In fact, at that time, leaves were just starting to pop out and seemed a little scared to finally emerge after several false starts!  As a result, its been a little hard to wrap my head around the approaching season.


Montana - There hasn't been much to report the last several days. It seems that as quickly as the crew in Montana started their northern most stop of the year, they had to shut down due to green crops. Mark reported they were seeing yields in the 40 bushels per acre range during the short time they were rolling. Some of the crew members decided to visit Glacier National Park during their downtime. This has traditionally been a crowd favorite.

The crew in North Dakota has been also down for a few days, but were able to restart harvesting chickpeas last

North Central, North Dakota - We've been a little light on the news lately, but no news is sometimes just no news. The last several days have been consumed with making the big moves to North Dakota, and the crew in Montana moved just shy of the Canadian border. It takes a lot of effort to make those moves from arranging all the travel permits to the actual miles and trips it takes to get there.

We are thankful to be cutting here in North Dakota as they've been very dry this season. Our farmer is currently having us cut peas.

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.