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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:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="464"]Untitled 10-Acre Challenge[/caption]

"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.

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.

Manley, Nebraska - I have sort of a surreal feeling this morning. It's the last full day of being "home, home." Home, home...wondering where that phrase came from? It's something the girls started years ago. When they talked about "home," it was the trailer house. When they talked about "home, home," it was Manley. It's stuck. And what's even more interesting...I hear other harvesters refer to their homes in the same way. That's weird, but it works. Now you know.

I was laying in bed this morning trying to take in all the noise that Callie was creating. She was up early this morning getting ready to go to work - her "normal" routine. Normal is good. Even the most normal of activities should be appreciated and loved. You never know when that "normal" is going to change. And isn't life all about change? Anyways...I wanted to just lay there and soak it all in because I know once we leave, it won't be the same when we return. She'll be back to school and the house will, once again, be quiet. I've enjoyed having her home so much. So much! 

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.

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.

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.

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! [embed]https://youtu.be/P7zQ6Smn_cc[/embed]All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John...

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.

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.

Manley, Nebraska - The preparations have been ongoing for quite some time. The talk about harvest and when we'll be leaving has been happening for more than a month. I've often thought about creating a sign and start wearing it every day about the first of April. What would this sign say? It would say..."I don't know when we're leaving". Maybe I should just create a t-shirt! So, THINKING about harvest and DOING harvest are two different things...two different worlds.