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Laura: A tri-state report

Western Nebraska: It’s a slightly gloomy morning as I look out the window at my view of a weathered, wooden cattle working facility and a near constant stream of Union Pacific trains on one of the busiest lines in the country. A stiff northeast wind gently rocks the house on wheels and provided some extra resistance on my morning run that keeps the stress in check. 2020 has provided its fair share of stress.

Last week, the crew finished in western Kansas where harvest stretched out due to pushing green and a few storms. The rains were welcome as this region is experiencing droughty conditions and will need a lot more to keep the fall crop going on acres that do not have access to irrigation. Yields in this region hovered around 60 bushels per acre on irrigated with test weights in the upper 50s.

That crew moved into northeast Colorado, another area experiencing drought. Much of the pastureland was already turning brown with only glimpses of green in areas that have water holding potential. Saw fly continues to plague the region and hail eliminated much of our anticipated acres. Yields were in upper 20 bushels per acre.

This morning, the crew in Nebraska is on the last third of the final quarter here. Wheat has come in at 9 to 13 percent protein, 59 to 62 test weight and it looks like yields may average at 50 bushels per acre.

In addition to the challenges faced in this current season, last week I received the phone call I had been expecting but never wanted to receive. My grandpa passed away. He was a great friend, family man, kind to others and respected by many. He told the best stories. I learned much from his openness. Some of the stories were exciting and funny, others recounted challenges faced.

On tough years like 2020, I must remember these times are all part of our story that we’ll likely share one day too. It would be a lot more fun to skip over these “character building” days, but the lessons learned are helping us grow, even if more than we’d like.

Not everything is doom and gloom, however! There is plenty going well that provide memories for those exciting and funny stories that get the crew through the tough times and give us the laughs we need. We are thankful for the acres we do have. There is the radio chatter, nicknames, late nights spent around a grill, road trips when rain delayed, adventures, misadventures and “you had to be there” moments. Memories of outrunning storms, forced bonding time that creates lifelong friendships, loyal customers and breathtaking sunsets make the experience even sweeter.

If we’re lucky, maybe one day we’ll share these stories with our grandchildren just like granddaddy did with us. I hope they will laugh deeply or feel a little less alone as they navigate their own adventures and learn the ups and downs are a normal part of process when creating a life well lived.

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc, BASF, AgriPro, Gleaner and High Plains Journal. Laura Haffner can be reached at laura@allaboardharvest.com.


This is me with my granddaddy circa a few decades ago! It’s going to be a long time before I can hear the song “I Wish Grandpas Never Die” without tearing up. So thankful for the legacy he and all my grandparents have given me. (Courtesy photo.)

High Plains Harvesting
Must take pictures by all state signs!

High plains harvesting
It’s pretty dry out here, folks.

High Plains Harvesting 2020
Going to the elevator with daddy. If you look closely, you can see some little eyes peeping over the dash!

High Plains Harvesting
I don’t think you’re ever too old but my slide-burned knees tell a different story!

High Plains Harvesting 2020
This field was a mile long and was a little deceiving because there were a lot of terraces back there!

High Plains Harvesting
Have I ever mentioned that evenings are my favorites? Oh, only about a million times over the last few years? Well, what can I say? They are pretty great!

High Plains Harvesting 2020
We dodged storms not once, but twice yesterday!

High Plains Harvesting
Talk about leaving a legacy, the crew has been so patient and kind with the children this summer as they’ve become more interested in day-to-day operations. She’s pretty determined to help with this project and is so deep in concentration her little tongue came out!

High Plains Harvesting
Little Man sharing some of our travel yummies with the crew. Who doesn’t love fruit snacks?

High Plains Harvesting
If you’re lucky and not too squirrelly, you may just get to ride! Thanks to our crew for their willingness to take on this challenge.

High Plains Harvesting
Rainbows—a sign of hope and beauty even on tough days!


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