30 Jul Laura: Beauty of a storm
Morgan County – I thought I was going to be late to the party. Some things back home delayed my departure to northeast Colorado. Upon arriving, Ryan thought they’d have around three more days of cutting, and we would head to Montana that weekend. As it turns out, we ran into some green wheat which extended our time planned in Colorado. Montana wasn’t quite ready anyway, so it timed out fine.
When I got to Colorado, they were just starting to play the hunt and peck game for dry wheat. By dry, I’m referring to the moisture of the grain, not the moisture of the ground. The elevator requires it to be a certain moisture level, and if it is too high, it can result in dockage or complete rejection.
After several inefficient days and even several where we didn’t get to cut, they finally got cranking again.
I was planning to take meals out that evening and upon leaving town, thunderheads starting to pop to the east and a separate system to the south/southwest. It looked like it would miss us initially. The fields are quite a drive from town and the further I traveled, the more my gut told me it wasn’t looking good for a long evening for cutting. I made it just in time to get a meal to one of the truckers, but the grain cart operator didn’t wait. He headed straight back to the field, to pick up grain from the combine.
If you haven’t experienced a good, non-severe prairie thunderstorm, add it to your bucket list. There is nothing like it. I felt guilty enjoying the show because I knew it had the potential to delay the harvest once again. The calm before the storm settled in and the prairie came was alive with noise. Birds chirping, insects buzzing, grass gently rustling, and the hum of machines over the hill could be heard. Then there was the smell. That earthy, damp smell that accompanies a storm. Next the winds picked up and started kicking up the dust and lighting flashed. The crew was determined to cut until the last possible minute and I knew they would be hustling to get trucks off the country roads, so I took the food mobile out ahead of the rush. I drove up the road about a mile to catch a glimpse of the other cell that had developed as I was leaving town. It had wrapped up tight to resemble a mesocyclone looking storm. It appeared the two systems would collide and they did. The huge drops of cold rain felt refreshing after a hot day. I wanted to stick around a while longer and watch, but the rain picked up and would hamper my visibility anyway. I picked up Ryan at the truck, headed out, and served the rest of the food when we got back to town. In some respects, is was a wasted trip, but in another way, the balm the storm put on my soul was well worth the miles. Fortunately, they were back in the field the next day.
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Laura can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.