02 Jun Laura: 2018 Intro
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.
The crew has been very busy getting all the equipment prepared for the upcoming season. We run late model John Deere combines, John Deere tractors, grain carts with scales, Shelbourne stripper headers as well as draper headers, and a fleet of trucks. It won’t be long before equipment gets loaded. Typically, our run starts in Texas and moves north through Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Montana, and North Dakota. We anticipate harvest to kick off soon in north Texas.
Since this is the first post of the season, it is that time where we give you a little reminder how we came to be. Many of you know our story, but for those of you who don’t, here’s a very abbreviated recap. I’m not a “cradle harvester”, and all I knew about the business was what I saw going down the road in the summers, or from my childhood friends who were custom harvesters. My husband, on the other hand, had family involved in harvesting when he was a young boy. He later went with a local crew during his teens to early twenties. Ryan also worked with harvest support in the US and abroad. Harvest is in his blood. I still remember exactly where I was in my science classroom when I got the call from Ryan that the crew he had once worked for was transitioning to full-time farming and Ryan had the opportunity to take over the harvest crew. To say that moment changed our life is an understatement. High Plains Harvesting was born, and we have been riding the roller coaster that is the adventure of entrepreneurship ever since.
This photo is from twenty years ago in 1998. Ryan can be found on the cab roof while lifelong friend Jess, poses on the header. They were starting the year in southern Oklahoma. Fourteen years later, Ryan headed south for the first time after taking over the crew.
Laura’s summer job during and right after high school was mowing ditches for the Gray County Road Department in Cimarron, Kansas. There was lots of time to think during those days on the back country roads, but never once did it cross her mind that she would have a fleet of green heading south for harvest ten years later. Laura is in the white shirt and her lifelong friend, Jessi wears blue in this snap from 2002.
Speaking of rollercoaster, things are looking tough for the first half of the season. Weather related issues have not been kind to our farmers this winter. Drought in Texas and drought and fires in Oklahoma have drastically cut or eliminated wheat acres in those states. Awhile back, a massive hail storm starting in Colorado and traveled through parts of Kansas took many of our anticipated acres in western Kansas. We typically have one maybe two stops a year that experience weather related hardship, but this year is unprecedented. I wish I had something more uplifting to report in celebration of the ten-year anniversary of All Aboard Wheat Harvest, but this unfortunately is part of a harvester’s tale. Some years are good, some bad, and some ugly. Yes, this is starting to look like a “character building” year, but we will continue to keep the faith, and do what we can to keep serving our customers.
This 2017 capture may be Laura’s personal favorite weather/harvest shot of all time. It helps to have those feelings because as fierce as the storm looked, it caused little damage. They aren’t as fortunate this season as much of the southern and part of central run has been damaged or completed eliminated by hail, drought, or wildfires.
Despite uncertain times, we will have so much to be thankful for. I look forward to future posts with Lady A and Little Man, crew introductions, and of course, harvest itself. Thanks for joining us for the 10th year of All Aboard! We look forward to sharing our story and hearing from you!
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Laura can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.