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Goodland, Kansas – It’s been early mornings and late nights (also known as 24/7 eat, sleep, truck and combine) for many consecutive days now. You won’t hear me complain though. I hope it continues. Working makes me happy and is when I feel my very best! I feel blessed to have the ability to work and make an honest living in this great country. Having the opportunity to get to work all day every day is amazing. 

I'm happy to share what I’ve been seeing out in the Kansas wheat fields. We were in the Dodge City area and had wheat cutting weather for the most part, including heat and humidity under 50 percent during the day. We did get sprinkled out with just a few rain drops three evenings in a row. However, an early evening in from the field is always an excellent opportunity to catch up on rest, even if it is already 8 or 9 p.m. The wheat was pretty good again this year and yielded in the 50 to 70 bushels per acre range, and almost all of the test weights were 61 to 63 pounds. I did harvest a field that didn’t yield so well due to mosaic disease. It is a major problem and causes significant yield loss.

Extreme Southeast Colorado - I have to admit. We entered my favorite part of the season as far as the travel route goes.  We are here on the High Plains. It's not that I don't like the other places we go. That's far from it. Each place has something unique and special to offer. It's just that this is HOME. The later part of my growing-up years happened here, as did some of my adult life. Ryan still has to hear about how he took me away from southwest Kansas when we got married, which I'm sure he really appreciates. My heart will always be where my family is, but the High Plains will always have a piece of my heart. In fact, I may be willing to move my heart back if anyone is willing to donate a nice little farmstead to my cause.

Enough gushing.

My Office - Throughout the last several weeks, there has been talk from the bloggers about a disease that has been affecting the wheat. I know our All Aboard readers are a diverse group, so I thought I'd offer a little "Wheat 101" mini lesson for those who may want some more details on what we're talking about. If that may be you, keep reading. If you're comfortable with all things wheat, you can skip this one and resume with the next post!

So what is wheat streak mosaic virus, and why is it such a problem? The reason it's a problem is because it can cause significant yield reduction and cannot be treated or cured. This virus is spread by a tiny insect called a wheat curl mite. You can see a picture of it here. There are wheat varieties that are resistant; but over time, the mites can adapt, and the variety may become susceptible. The best treatment is making sure volunteer wheat in your area is taken care of, or in other words, destroyed.

Dodge City, Kansas - A little over a week ago, I received a Facebook message request. I hit "accept" to get a look at what this perfect stranger had to say. In the message, this gal explained to me that her and her husband both grew up on farms in Oklahoma, but they had made their home in the Philippines for thirty-five years now. She continued on to say her husband never missed a High Plains Journal issue and that he particularly loved the All Aboard Wheat Harvest program. How cool is it that? This program is so widely renowned.

We chitchatted about how harvest was going, and she then mentioned to me that there was one particular photo that her husband loved. The only thing was this; he had only seen it in black and white, and he had always wanted to see it in color. I asked her to send me a "photo of the photo," and I would see what I could do in terms of hunting it down in my picture archives.

Southeast Colorado - It is time for our annual marital exchange post, this one regarding field directions. Last year it involved GPS. This time it was good old-fashioned verbal conversation. It went something like this, or at least this is how I remember it. The account may or may not be slightly exaggerated for effect, but I think it's closer than not to what happened.

Me: "I'm going south on that highway you said. Where do I need to turn?"

Ryan: "It's about x* miles south. Go until you get to the big bin, and go another x miles south. Then you'll go east to the dead end. You'll see us. Can't miss us."

Dodge City, Kansas - There are two cup holders in the combine. I jumped in for a few rounds and put my lemonade-flavored Monster Rehab next to John's filled-to-the-brim Yeti coffee cup. Combining along, I hit a plethora of bumpy spots in the field, a typical occupational hazard. I go to take a sip of my drink and got a sip of half coffee/half lemonade Monster. I don't recommend the combination. Here's to you, bumpy Kansas wheat fields.

DISCLAIMER: It will never be just "a few rounds." That's the trick phrase a harvester will use to get you to switch places for whatever reason.

Before that story was given the opportunity to occur, we did incur some rainy days that were filled with wrenches and combine rehab. That's the thing about harvest -- time is of the essence.

Dodge City, Kansas - Would you believe I have been a part of the AAWH family for six years now, and I have never even been to the homeland of High Plains Journal? Unreal, but that is no longer the case. I drove into town on Wyatt Earp Boulevard and took a quick look around and knew right away I would get along just fine around here. I could live here. We will be harvesting here for the indecipherable future as it decided to rain on our harvest parade last night (06/21), so I'm hoping to rub elbows with some of the HPJ staff. I also plan on doing quite the exposé on the town in an upcoming post as it is a definite harvest classic. We did get into the wheat a bit, and it's beautiful -- 50-60 bushels per acre with a 58 pound test weight. There's nothing like wheat harvest in Kansas.

I wish I had an internal trip meter. I should have pushed this spring to keep track of the miles I put on myself. Scratch that -- should have started it last winter, because then it would include my international travels. The more I think about it, the further my curiosity for this goes. Just imagine 26 years of Midwestern travels via the harvest run plus all the trucker adventures, various road trips with friends and international travels. My trip meter would probably be broken by now.

Southern Kansas - The weather was relatively uncooperative when the crew was in west central Oklahoma. They were constantly catching little showers that kept them out of the field or fighting humidity. For several days, that left very slim information to share, so things have been slow in the reporting department. But all of a sudden, harvest cut loose again, so I'm going to rush to get caught up!

The crew with Mark in Custer County, Oklahoma, saw yields ranging from the 30s to 50s. Test weights were average in the 58-60 pounds per bushel range. They finished in Oklahoma last Saturday night.

Apache, Oklahoma - Have I mentioned how much I love small town America? Because I really do. For today's small town love demonstration, I will tell you that the bank had an area setup at the elevator and was cooking burgers for all the harvest crews. As I was un-tarping, one of the ladies asked me how many were in my crew. Upon hearing my response of, "There's just 3 of us," she replied, "Okay, we will make you 10 burgers then." I mean, who I am to turn down free food?

I thought about not posting about this next incident but, it might be exactly what someone out there needs to read to feel better about their own mishap. I'm just gonna go for it. So the other day, I hauled to a new elevator. When you drive truck for a harvest crew, this can be a daily occurrence. Elevators come in all shapes and sizes as well as the scales and pits that go with them. Short, tall, skinny, fat, fast, slow - they make them all sorts of ways. Today's featured scale is skinny. When the scale workers didn't recognize my truck with my first load, they automatically came out to spot me.

Apache, Oklahoma - One of my (many) favorite aspects of this blog is the ability to promote the agriculture industry that has made me who I am today. I'm definitely that person who will hear a nearby conversation going on about GMOs or hormones in beef and interrupt with an, "Excuse me but, did you know..." Those of us who love this industry will agree that it is our duty to spread the word and spread knowledge for everyone to hear. That's the thing about a passion; it doesn't feel like work.

The Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children brought three young men out to our field the other day to get a first-hand harvest experience. They loved it! These boys all came from different backgrounds but all found something they enjoyed about the harvester's life. They were telling me how cool they thought my job was, how cool my LIFE was, and one even admitted he now wanted to be a harvester when he grew up. That right there deserves a moment of silence, because instilling that feeling in any youth is something to commemorate.