Laura: Catch you up

Kansas: The wheat isn’t quite ready for us in northern Texas, so I’ll take a moment to catch you up on what has transpired since I said goodbye from Montana, last summer.  

Upon returning to Kansas, we jumped into fall harvest.  Due to a severe drought in the Western part of the state, harvest acres were down and it was extremely obvious to which pockets of fields were blessed with moisture at just the right times and which were not. 

According to the, Kansas leads the nation in grain sorghum production.  The state has a climate well suited for the crop and it can be grown very successfully in western Kansas, even in a dryland environment, as it requires less water than corn, soybeans, and even wheat.  However, the drought truly tested it, and there were milo fields abandoned. That takes some serious effort by the weather, or lack thereof in this case, for that to happen, but unfortunately it did.  

Here is as view from my cab and an example of a milo field that that struggled under the drought conditions. The grain head is a panicle and can be seen as the reddish color on the top of the plants. For those who aren’t familiar with the crop, that red color (the grain) should be the seen thick and evenly dispersed across the field. This is was not the case here.

We are always thankful for each and every acre we cut and we wrapped up the season with the crew with a supper out and mini bowling.  It was such a fun night and a great way to end the run.  Goodbyes can tough because it can truly become a little family.  

Mini-bowl was a fun way to celebrate the end of the season.

People always ask what we do with ourselves in our “spare time” in the offseason.  Well, the work is never done and some even has to begin before the current season ends.  A lot of effort goes into recruiting team members, trading equipment, trying to stay abreast of regulations, taxes and the list goes on and on.  

We had some fun in the winter and spring, too.  Ryan and I enjoyed being coaches on our children’s rec sports teams and spending time with extended family and friends.  Ryan just wrapped up a three year term on the US Custom Harvesters Board of Directors where he focused on issues facing the industry and membership. I’m into the second year of my term on the Kansas Farm Bureau Board of Directors representing the Women’s Leadership Committee (WLC), in addition to serving on our local board. I’m excited for the events the WLC has planned or have already implemented in 2023.  Serving and giving back to the agriculture community, that has given us so much, is important to Ryan and I. 

Ryan appreciated the opportunity to serve the US Custom Harvesters membership in his role as a board member these past three years. Government rules and regulations are constantly changing and its important that harvesters have a voice in these decisions.
(Photo Courtesy of Kansas Farm Bureau) Kansas Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agriculture’s focused on a quest to “End Hunger in Kansas.” It was an honor to co-MC this December event with FBFS’s Austin Barnes and see the generosity of Kansans who participated.

In addition to our children participating in sports, 4-H and other activities, a highlight of their winter is attending the US Custom Harvesters convention.  They enjoy the activities that are geared for youth, some of which include safety day, a museum visit, zoo, swimming in the hotel pool and just spending time with other harvester children.  There is just something special and fun about watching them interact with others who truly understand and appreciate this lifestyle.  

The Henry Doorly Zoo was a huge hit with the harvest kiddos!
Shirley Temples are a great way to toast the end of a fun few days spent with friends!

One of the many things I’ve learned on this harvest journey is there is no instruction manual when it comes to raising children on the road or at home. We are learning it is an ever changing balance to raise them within the business, but also giving them the opportunities to grow and develop their own God-given talents and interests.  It is easy to get caught up in all the day to day operations of the physical side of the business, but learning to address the “heart issues” is also important when it comes to keep a family business thriving from the inside out. I’m not sure there is ever a way to do it perfectly, so all we can do is try.  

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