Sponsored by:

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.

No image-editing tricks are used here, just nature putting on a show that elicited shock and awe. The transition between the sky’s coloring continuously changed in a way I had never experienced before.

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.

Glen helps clean and load the combine while trying to stay in the shade on a sweltering day. Each year our travels have us pass buy this bank building that features some impressive brickwork in Valentine, Nebraska.

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.

Our two-day trip to South Dakota had us spending the night in a gas station with ample parking in Thedford, Nebraska. Traveling through the Sandhills provides scenery that never disappoints.

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.

Glen and Vernelle celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in the field with a surprise stack of greeting cards. Susan, their youngest daughter and professional cookie maker, sent some sweet treats to eat all the way from North Pole, Alaska. Confetti and balloons are absent, but it’s a special family celebration.

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.

South Dakota always provides the best sunsets and scenery. Ezra spends some time brushing up on his combine-driving skills thanks to mile-long passes and fields that seem to stretch to the horizon.

Brian Jones can be reached at brian@allaboardharvest.com.

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is brought to you by Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc.High Plains Journal, New HollandITC Holdings CorpU.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc., Kramer Seed Farms and Lumivia Insecticide Treatment by Corteva Agriscience.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.