24 Jun Brian: Fields. Family. Friends.
Minneola, Kansas—The red clay dirt of Oklahoma slowly fades into brown sandy soil as the crew makes its way north into Kansas. Trees and terraces are replaced by flat fields and wind turbines. The scenery has changed, but the job stays the same. We arrive in Minneola, Kansas, and immediately start harvesting. The green wheat we thought would give us a few days off has ripened quickly in the hot dry weather. We unload equipment and get right to work.
We arrive in southwest Kansas and get right to work. The farmer’s provided grain cart boosts our productivity and helps us cover more acres in a day. Glen, Cameron and Brian work installing the outside duals. Glen and Cameron work quickly to replace a broken cutting knife on end of the head.
The crew is able to harvest for a few days before a thunderstorm brings rain overnight to the area. We were able to get a preview of what harvest will be like here, and we are excited to see beautiful standing wheat and strong yields. The rain is a very welcome pause to our work, a chance to catch our breath for a few minutes after a busy Oklahoma run.
The sun sets behind a bank of storm clouds as we work into the evening. We diligently work to finish out the field before the rain. This time we win and make it home before the rain falls.
Even on a rainy day off there is still work to be done. David washes the pickups from top to bottom while Vernelle and Brenda tackle the task of washing clothes for the crew of ten. Bicycles lean against the trailer, another popular activity when the boys play outside.
One of the highlights of harvest each year is to see familiar faces at the grocery store, in church and at the fuel pumps. It can seem a lot like home. If you add up all the weeks we have spent over 38 years in a town, it is not hard to understand why. We really do feel a part of these communities, and our “summertime families” are always glad to see us arrive for another harvest season.
Despite Covid-19 keeping us on the other side of the glass, the crew helps one of our retired customers celebrate an incredible 73 years of marriage! This is just one example of the close friendships we have developed over the years. Brenda and the boys play games inside to keep cool on a hot Kansas day.
This year we were excited to make some new friends in Oklahoma before we left. We were visited by some young men from Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, a sponsor of the AAWH blog. A big thanks to Michael for making the long drive so the boys could experience harvest firsthand. There was a round of combine rides for everyone, and the boys had a chance to explore the machines up close and ask questions. For some this was their first time on a farm, and experiences like these allow us to share the story of agriculture in an unique way.
The OBHC is a faith-based ministry that provides families a safe, stable and nurturing place to live. OBHC assists struggling families by teaching important life skills that help them develop a solid foundation on which to build a more positive life for themselves. The stories these young men share about OBHC transforming their lives is inspiring. Perhaps you will be inspired as well to consider supporting the great work going on here. Make sure to visit obhc.org/10AcreChallenge to learn more about this great organization and how you might be a part of the 10 Acre Challenge.
The AAWH correspondents are proud to be sponsored by Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, and we thank them for their ongoing partnership. It’s a special opportunity to encourage these young adults and share agriculture with them through our unique harvesting lifestyle.
The crew has been settling into our new Kansas home, taking advantage of the rain to spend some family together. It’s unique that our crew is all family-based, and it certainly has allowed us to make a lot of memories together over the years. As with anything there are pros and cons to working together in such tight quarters all summer long, but I doubt any of us would really change it for anything. Playing at the park, bike riding, shooting hoops or taking Dexter, the cat, for a walk makes for a welcome change of pace.
Vernelle takes Dexter the cat for a walk while Glen plays basketball with Titus and Ezra. Judah cheers on Brenda as she gets in some exercise, and Cameron plays at the park with Canaan and Judah.
Glen shows off the worn”harvest basketball” that’s been traveling with the crew for 38 years, providing endless hours of fun. Vernelle still uses an original lunchbox that she bought 38 years ago. We estimate over 4,000 sandwiches have been carried to the field in this box, and it still goes to the field daily with us.
Wind turbines are a prominent fixture on the horizon in this area. The wind powers generators while simultaneously swaying amber waves of grain. There is a special beauty to it all we never tire of seeing.
The weather forecast seems to be improving, and hot weather is forecasted for the week ahead. We will soon find ourselves back in the field, and I’ll be sure to let you know how the southwest Kansas harvest progresses when we get together next blog. Be on the lookout for a whole bunch of photos and videos from the field next week. Thanks for following along!
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc., Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Agri-Pro, Gleaner, BASF, and High Plains Journal. Join the conversation by leaving a question or comment. Brian can be reached at email@example.com
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