31 Jul Brian: Celebrate good times
Onida, South Dakota—There may not have been balloons, banners or confetti, but that didn’t stop the crew from celebrating this week. After 18 days we successfully won our battle with the weeds and finished our Kansas acres, but not before our single-digit rain chance turned into quite the spectacle. A strong storm brewed to the east of us, and as the afternoon progressed it became clear it was backing in on us. The sky grew dark, and intense streak lighting put on quite the show. The clouds churned in circles, billowing up into something that looked straight of out of a science fiction movie. The sky momentarily took on an eerie pink glow as the sun set, creating a moment that felt as if someone was playing with Photoshop and cranked up the color saturation.
The opportunity to watch a supercell form right in front of you doesn’t happen very often, but suddenly we were witnessing what looked to be the apocalypse approaching less than 10 miles away. The cloud structure formed rings that funneled down, rain pouring out of the center almost like a waterfall. It was one of those rare opportunities to photograph nature being amazing, and the crew captured what surely will be our most memorable images of the summer.
Having narrowly missed this supernatural deluge, the crew was in a celebratory mood as we finished our final field the following afternoon. Given the drought conditions, an average yield of 22 bushels per acre didn’t sound so bad, but that’s before you factored in the acres left behind due to the weather. While we cleaned machines the heat and humidity made it feel like it was 110 degrees. A few of us experienced a touch of heat exhaustion despite our best efforts to keep hydrated. Yet again more afternoon storms began to form, but we appreciated the 30-degree temperature drop they caused. With our eye on the sky we hooked up trailers, and sure enough … another severe storm developed in the exact place as the previous night. We dodged rain drops as we drove the combines onto their trailers, and the storm got close enough to rain on the field we had finished just hours earlier.
We often dread the long 600-mile move to South Dakota, but it’s also one of our favorites. After a lackluster night of sleep in a parking lot with no A/C, the crew enjoyed our favorite stretch of scenery through the Nebraska Sandhills the next morning. The hilly, winding terrain can be taxing when towing heavy loads, so we celebrated unseasonably cool weather the entire trip to Onida.
Surviving Kansas and safely arriving safely in South Dakota seemed like reason enough to celebrate, but that wasn’t the only momentous occasion observed. Glen and Vernelle marked their 50th wedding anniversary, and in typical harvest fashion it was spent working. They are the heart and soul of this crew, and we thank those of you that helped make their day special with cards and calls.
Whether cutting anniversary cake or cutting wheat, the crew successfully multitasked work and dessert. We had lots of reasons to celebrate this week, but the festivities were short lived. We unloaded equipment the evening of our arrival here, and we started harvesting the following day. Sorry to spoil the party, but … back to work.
Brian Jones can be reached at email@example.com.
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