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Brian: Geysers and greyhounds

Onida, South Dakota—It’s unusual that a full week goes by without any harvesting to report, but this year has proven to be anything but usual. With winter wheat finished, we now are waiting on this unusual spring wheat situation to play out. Last week I explained how rains revived the drought-stricken spring wheat here and caused sucker heads to grow unlike anyone has ever seen. With ripe fields now peppered with huge areas of green, we are in a two-week delay before we anticipate being able to harvest again.

Late-growing spring wheat mingles with ripe wheat ready to harvest today. It’s kind of a mess, but in another week we should finally get machines into these fields and find out what the yield will be.

With copious amounts of time off, the crew decided to entertain themselves by splitting three ways. David decided to travel back home to Minnesota to check on his farm, and I headed back to Iowa to check on our cattle and crops. Glen, Vernelle and the Hamer family decided to turn their time off into a trek across the country to Yellowstone National Park. Summer wheat harvest means summertime vacations are a rarity for our crew, so we seized the opportunity to make some family memories.

Finding an RV to rent last minute proved nearly impossible, but thankfully it all came together in the end. It’s a little amusing to choose an RV vacation when we have spent the entire summer in our own RVs, but not pulling wide loads and actually being together in one vehicle was a vacation in its own right. The 7-day adventure included driving through the Badlands, visiting Mt. Rushmore and stopping off for a coal mine tour in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. The three days sightseeing in Yellowstone did not disappoint, with plenty of wildlife, waterfalls, rock formations and geysers galore.

Glen, Vernelle, Cameron, Brenda, Titus, Ezra, Judah and Canaan pilled into a rented RV to enjoy all that Yellowstone National Park has to offer … which is a lot. It’s the trip of a lifetime filled with memories.

My trip back to Iowa was also an adventure but not nearly as entertaining. I decided to let someone else do the driving and booked a ticket on the Greyhound bus line. Finding myself not behind the steering wheel seemed like a real treat until a breakdown potentially left me stranded in Sioux Falls for 24 hours. Determined to not sleep on a bus station floor, I called my good friend Rob who owns Turbo Turtle trucking. Sure enough, one of his drivers was fueling up in Sioux Falls just a few miles from the bus terminal, and I soon found myself hitchhiking to Omaha in a semi where I spent the night. The following day I caught a ride with Rob who happened to be hauling another load into Iowa and was dropped off just miles from the farm. Looks like the Turbo Turtle trucks won the race of getting me home faster than the Greyhound buses.

Getting back to Iowa required a bus, semi and pickup, but it was worth the effort. Foggy mornings and green fields displace the golden wheat fields that usually greet me every day.

Our travel excursions helped fill our first week of downtime, and the spraying of green spring wheat is in full swing. Unusually cool temps mean the dry down of the spring wheat could be slower than we hope, but we hope by the end of the week to have a few acres ready to go. Vacation time was much appreciated, but the crew is really eager to get back to harvesting. For all of the sightseeing this past week the crew still agrees it’s hard to beat the beauty of the wide-open wheat fields of South Dakota.

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.

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