28 Sep Laura: The crew and thank you!
Park, Kansas – The crew has made it back to our headquarters in northwest Kansas. It was a nearly immediate change over, service, and now they are in the field picking high moisture corn and soybeans. Its crazy how quickly things move and that it is already time to start the next season of crops. The weather has been favorable regarding moisture in many parts of western and northwest Kansas this summer, so we are expecting strong yields in many areas. Most acres we harvest in the fall consist of grain sorghum, corn, and soybeans, but we are open to other crops as needed. Weather can dictate how quickly the process goes, but we are usually harvesting until Thanksgiving or sometimes into December.
For my one of my final planned posts of the season, I wanted to do something a little different. You usually read about harvest through my glasses, but I’m just one piece of the puzzle that makes up our harvest team. I usually introduced our crew at the beginning of the season. However, this year, I decided “save the best for last” to allow time for more crew members to arrive and memories to be made and reintroduce them to you. A final curtain call if you will.
Another group shot since some were missing in the picture above and others are missing in this one! I still don’t think I’ve had everyone in one spot for a group photo this season. We love our 10th-anniversary AAWH shirts! Thanks, HPJ! (Photo by Laura)
During wheat harvest, we had several regions represented: USA, UK, and the Netherlands. Mark, as you know well by now, is the crew foreman from the US and has been with us since the beginning. We appreciate his work and dedication. Thanks, also, to his wife Jill, because the adventure of being a harvest wife, whether on the road or keeping the home fires burning is no easy task.
We had three crew members return for their second year and include Dan, James, and Leigh. First year members include Cy, Adam, Matt, Tom, Teifryn, and Dion. New member, Will, joined us later in the season as well as Dave, past crew member who is occasionally accompanied by wife Coti. Harold, or Opa, as the crew affectionately calls him, hung up his keys this past year, but he’ll be taking a vacation from retirement and coming to help a little during fall harvest. Shaun, a former crew member, and Joey recently came on to help with fall work.
The crew has worked very hard and I want to give them a chance to showcase their experiences in more than just pictures. Several members, that were present for the entire wheat run, were willing to share some of their favorite experiences.
James – 2nd year crew member from the UK
Why join a harvest crew? When I was younger, I focused on work. I finished college and started an apprenticeship and spent 16 years in a job I wasn’t happy with and felt like I was stuck in a rut. Eventually, I found a way out and started driving in the UK which allowed me to travel the length and breadth of the UK. I started to quite enjoy myself meeting new people and going new places so when I saw an advert for an agency (Harvest Support UK-USA), I realized I wasn’t getting any younger and thought, “Screw it! What have you got to lose?” I’d loved movies like “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Convoy” when I was younger. Why not live your dream and drive trucks in the USA? So, here I am living my dream!
What was your favorite harvest memory? My favorite harvest moment is kind of hard to pin point as this is my second year. I look forward to going back to some of the places as we have made friends there and its awesome to see them again along with creating lasting memories with the crew. My favorite stop is northern Montana. I have a lot of friends up there now and this somewhat sways my judgement. However, there’s something special up there, knowing you’ve been from Texas to the Canadian border, along with cutting beside the peaks of Glacier park. That’s something a little bit special. Its something no one in my country can dream of at home. Yes, they’ve been on vacation, but never a 1600 mile vacation (on the most direct/quickest route) over 9 months, experiencing all the different landscapes and people. For me, that’s what makes harvest special.
What is your favorite non-harvest memory? I think this year’s favorite memory was going to Glacier. Admittedly, half of it was on fire and we were only able to get as far as Logan pass. However, this worked to our advantage and we trekked down to the Secret Lake which was simply breathtaking although an exceptionally long, steep both up and down, 6-mile walk. However, it was more than worth it!
Matt – 1st year crew member from the UK (brother to Adam)
Why join a harvest crew? I wanted to do something completely different. There’s a different way of farming and way of doing things. I’ve been able to meet new people and got the opportunity to do it with my brother.
What was your favorite harvest memory? I’ve enjoyed running the Shelbournes and working with the Shelbourne support staff. I’ve been willing to learn and been given the opportunity to learn to operate all the equipment and trucks.
What is your favorite non-harvest memory? Route 66 museum and learning why it (the highway) came to be and lost its popularity. It is something we don’t have in the UK. We have A-1. We also went to Spokane, in Washington state, across the Rockies.
Teifryn – 1st Year crew member from the UK
Why join a harvest crew? I’ve always wanted to visit America, with a near obsession to it but the thirst for America wasn’t quenched by the little things that trickled over to the UK (food and merchandise), so what better way to see the big open roads, black tops, the different states, listen to the wind brush through the big wheat fields, and to see the signs and sights that I’d only seen on the telly than to join a harvest crew.
What was your favorite harvest memory? My favourite wheat harvest moment was hauling a combine from to our last stop. There was part of the drive north of Harlem that was parallel with a railroad track, the weather was perfect, the drive was easy and it was scenes I’d only seen in a film, driving side by side with a freight train. Also, making friends. Couldn’t of met a better person than a crazy Dutch man!
What is your favorite non-harvest memory? Me, Dion, Tom and Matt took a road trip to Spokane, WA, then back through Glacier. I saw some of the best sights of my life on that trip and made some of the best memories. The bridge in Idaho. Classic American bridge. Me and Dion saw it and knew we had to jump off it.
Dion – 1st year crew member from the Netherlands
Why join a harvest crew? It was the perfect opportunity to get to learn and operate many types of big machinery and make money doing it. I also get got a paid road trip to see the USA. It’s the perfect combination!
What was your favorite harvest memory? Picking up the last wheat with the pick-up header at the Canadian border with a clear view of Glacier National Park.
What is your favorite non-harvest memory? Road-trip to Washington and Idaho. We jumped from a bridge and the water was so bright we could see the bottom from the top of the bridge.
Adam – 1st year crew member from the UK (brother to Matt)
Why join a harvest crew? It’s a unique experience to be able to travel around the country and harvest on a scale not seen in many other parts of the world. It’s also a chance to make friends from other countries and the US and learn more about the “real” America and how farming works here.
What was your favorite harvest memory? Harvesting in Colorado with 5 combines in the same field was great. Hauling back after summer harvest was fun too, seeing the scenery change from the mountains in northern Montana to the flat plains of Kansas. It’s been interesting seeing how each state is a little different in terms of geography and farming practices, as this was something I hadn’t appreciated before coming here.
What is your favorite non-harvest memory? Taking a boat out in Big Horn Canyon (southern MT) was amazing. We also had a great time at the NASCAR race in Kansas City back in May. Considering we’d only met each other less than 2 weeks before, it shows how quickly we all got on with each other and decided to make the most of our time and the opportunity to do and see as much as possible.
Wow! Call me biased, but I think they went above and beyond to share their experiences with us. Even though I occasionally hear stories throughout the season, it is still fun to learn what has resonated with individuals throughout their time on the run. I hope you enjoyed hearing about their individual adventures as much as I did! It takes a village to get this job done and I appreciate both the seasoned and new members and their roles on the crew.
Speaking of village, its time I thank some other important people. A huge thank you to our farmers and their families for making us a part of your operation. We would not be here if it wasn’t for you. We appreciate you trusting us with this extremely important aspect of your livelihood.
Thank you to the many who impact our business in the communities we visit each summer. From the elevator and agronomy locations we haul into, the fuel companies, camp grounds, friendly citizens, food service personnel at the local grocery stores and cafes, and everyone in between, it would be a lot more difficult to do our jobs without your help.
Thank you to the readers who follow the crews each summer. If it wasn’t for your interest in All Aboard Wheat Harvest, this program wouldn’t exist. Your comments and emails of encouragement are most appreciated.
Finally, thank you to High Plains Journal for giving the correspondents a platform to tell the story of the Great American Wheat Harvest. It has been a joy to be a correspondent for the last four years and a responsibility I don’t take lightly. Thank you to each of the sponsors, John Deere, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, AgriPro, Unverferth, for supporting this educational opportunity.
Take care and God bless!
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Laura can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.