Laura: A warning

Northern Montana: Recently when Ryan was visiting with the farmer, he received a warning, “When you’re at the bins, keep an eye out for the bears. Sometimes they come up and feed on the grain, but they usually run off.”

So far this season, we haven’t seen any bears, but the crew has in past years, though never at the bins. There have been deer, antelope, coyote, upland birds, and the kids and I think we spotted swift foxes running across the road on our way two and from the field the other night. We were excited to see them as were once thought to be nearly extinct in Montana. I’ve read they have been reintroduced and are around in small numbers. Unfortunately there wasn’t a safe place to pull over, otherwise I would have attempted a picture.

The crew is cutting spring wheat. The wheat is good enough to cut, but far from the crop we normally harvest here due to the drought. It is currently averaging around 25 bushels per acre. As of late, the weather has been cooperative and the crew has had some big days.

Because of the drought, the wheat is short and we’re having to cut low to the ground. While the wheat may be having an off year, the rock crop is phenomenal. Glacial till marks this area, so it can be hard on equipment to run at the levels required to take in the crop. The crew has become quite proficient in quickly changing sickles and guards and may be approaching the harvest equivalent of NASCAR pit crew speeds.

School started while we were here, so the kids and I have had to turn our focus to keeping up with their studies to ensure they are ready when we return home. It has been an interesting challenge, but we are thankful for the opportunity to keep our family together. In addition to normal school work, we have taken advantage of museums and state and national parks to enhance their learning. They were also able to tour a Hutterite colony and learn more about milk and chicken production. We purchased their produce and also taught ourselves a “new to us” skill of canning. I was inspired by HarvestHers who have shared about doing this and I thought I would never attempt to take that on in a camper. However, the abundance of produce was hard to pass up so it seemed like a good thing to learn with the children. Together we put up pints of green beans, pickles and quarts of spaghetti sauce. I shared some sauce with the crew recently, and our Italian team member said I used just the right amount of salt and pepper flakes. I think that compliment, considering his expertise on the subject, made my summer!

We are very grateful to be in the field harvesting and for our time and experiences in the area. It has been a challenging year for weather across the run. We are starting to count our time here in days versus weeks. With hot, dry conditions back in Kansas, fall harvest will be upon us before we know it.

Look carefully for some clues and you’ll understand why the final score for this matchup was Rock–1, Deere–0.

I shall call this one, Potato Rock. Seriously, doesn’t it look like one? I regret laying it back down.

Snapping green beans.

Lady A shelling peas.

Silly, happy smiles at the dinosaur museum.


Grain cart circling back around for the next load.

Up and down the hills.

Laura Haffner can be reached at

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by Case IH, Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc., BASF, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Gleaner, ITC, Westbred, Huskie, Western Equipment, US Custom Harvesters, and High Plains Journal.


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