24 May Laura: Hello and welcome back
Northwest Kansas–It is 7:18 p.m. on Monday, May 2. The temperature is 40 degrees with a wind chill of 30. NOAA tells me the wind is blowing out of the north at 22 miles per hour with gusts up to 30. Wind has been abundant these last few months. Humidity is at a rare 89%, and we just enjoyed the most beautiful rain. Rain makes our world go round, but has been in very short supply. In fact, our whole lives revolve around the weather because we are custom harvesters.
Hi everyone. It’s great to be back and chatting with you again. It’s hard to believe this is our eighth season with the All Aboard Wheat Harvest program and we greatly appreciate the opportunity to be with you again this summer. For those of you new to the blog, as well as the long-time readers, welcome.
If we haven’t “met” yet, let me introduce myself. My name is Laura (Boroughs) Haffner and my husband, Ryan, and I own and operate High Plains Harvesting. We are a full service, custom harvesting operation based out of our farm in Park, Kansas. We just celebrated a decade as owners and are about to embark on our eleventh wheat harvest. Well, I should clarify. This is my eleventh season for custom harvesting, but my husband has been involved in the industry since he was a child.
Growing up, he developed an addiction to the drug we call harvest on the knees of brothers and cousins with his uncle’s custom crew. The first combine he drove was a Gleaner N7 and the rest is history as he was hooked for life. Ryan is what we shall call a “late in life blessing” so he come of age as the family’s crew retired. He wasn’t deterred and sought out other harvesting opportunities at the ripe old age of fourteen. He spent most of his teen years and early twenties on the harvest run. After college, he spent several years in the agriculture industry working for both MacDon and Great Plains. It was during that time we met and were married. Owning a harvest crew wasn’t on the horizon or in any part of the plan, yet God has a way of taking you places you’ve never dreamed, both literally and figuratively, so here we are. The opportunity has been both a blessing and a challenge, and we have grown immensely through the experience.
Typically, our crew begins harvest in northern Texas and ends at the Canadian border. Literally. The other side of the fence is Canada. Along the path we may harvest winter and spring wheat, canola, peas, etc. Once finished, we return to Kansas for fall harvest. We put on thousands of miles with blood, sweat, tears, but also smiles and laughs. There truly is nothing like the experience of harvest and it’s hard to put the feeling into words. However, ask anyone who has made the trip and they know exactly what I’m talking about. Harvest isn’t just an event, it’s also a state of being. Once you’ve felt it, there’s no going back.
Ryan and I with our children. They have grown a ton over the winter months. (Photo by Mira3Photography.)
Thankful for this little splash of rain but we are praying for more.
As I mentioned in the post, rain has been in short supply. Here’s a side by side of the terrible dust storm from Dec. 15, 2021. This storm caused terrible fires, destruction, and winds in excess of 90 miles per hour in some places. The first picture is at 12:17 p.m. on my way in to give a test. You can see the cloud on the horizon. The second picture is the same spot, at 3:16 p.m., on my way home. I’ve never seen anything like it and once was about all I need in this lifetime. The picture doesn’t do it justice.
We did catch a few snows this winter, but it didn’t put much of a dent in the drought. However, it was good for the sprits because it’s hard to beat the sound of children laughing. In March, the kids were surprised by a visit of one of our customers who were in town for an event. We had kept it a secret from them since it was first discussed last summer. The friends spent Saturday morning sledding together. I bet this was the first and last time they can all fit on that sled.
Laura Haffner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is brought to you by ITC Holdings, CASE IH, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, US Custom Harvesters Inc., Unverferth Mfg. Co. Inc., Lumivia CPL by Corteva Agriscience, Kramer Seed Farms, and High Plains Journal.