Laura: Extremes in Timing

Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma — Yesterday morning, on June 17, a Facebook “memory” popped up on my phone. I was greeted with a smiling picture of my high school friend and me, between harvest responsibilities, while working in Texas.

It’s hard to believe this is already a year ago!

Exactly one year and a day later from the when the photo was taken, and pending any strange unknown complication, the last crew in Oklahoma will be finished and will soon join others in western Kansas. Last year, the crop matured later, and we didn’t leave the Alva, Oklahoma, area until after July 4. We have gone from the latest harvest we’ve ever had, to one of the earlier harvests in just one year. It’s crazy how different two seasons can be.

This past week, we had a good, clean run of cutting in along the Kansas/Oklahoma line. The yields have been a pleasant surprise on some fields that received timely rains. Others fields weren’t so lucky, and much of the area still remains in a severe drought, according to the US Drought Monitor.

Our farmer told me he shoots for a 50-bushel average on a normal year. Some fields may have been close, but others weren’t quite so lucky. Strong test weights were fairly universally over 60 and even up around 64 pounds. We hashed out the particulars of farming while also exchanging information about our latest rock finds. Yes, even in middle age, I still keep my eyes to the ground to see what treasures may be waiting to be found. It’s not unusual for specimens to be stuffed in my car cupholders, much to the dismay of my coffee cup-toting husband. It was fun to find a kindred spirit in this farmer. Below is a piece of gypsum, the rock the local hills are named for.

Here’s a sample of gypsum.
What a beautiful field of wheat!
Even this K-State alum can get on board with this Poke’s sign!

A highlight from the week was being in the right place at the right time to finally take the John Deere X9 for a spin. Paul, the team leader who has been tasked with operating the big machine this season, was a gracious host as he guided me through some of the nuances of the machine. It was a pretty easy transition as most of the controls are similar to those of the S770s. We created an All Aboard Wheat Harvest Facebook Live about the X9 that you can watch here.

Thanks, Paul, for sharing!

To cap off this region’s time, I took the kids to the Medicine Lodge Stockade Museum and Carry A. Nation Home. We were able to secure free tickets from our Sunflower Summer app, available to all Kansas families with school-aged children, from Kansas Tourism. Yvonne, the on-duty museum curator, gave us a tour and offered all sorts of insight surrounding local history and the famous prohibitionist and women’s suffragist Carry Nation. She encourages everyone to come to join the upcoming Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty pageant this September.

Thanks, Yvonne, for a great tour!
We’ve driven by many times, but its never timed out to visit. I’m glad it did this time!

Thank you to our 2024 All Aboard Wheat Harvest sponsors: High Plains Journal, Lumivia by Corteva Agriscience, Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc., Merit Auctions, Kramer Seed FarmsShelbourne Reynolds, and U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc. Laura can be reached at

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