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Laura Haffner – High Plains Harvesting

For Laura Haffner, there is not a better way to see the Great Plains.She and her husband, Ryan, have High Plains Harvesting based in Park, Kansas. The couple, along with their two young children and a crew of about a dozen, travel from Texas to the Canadian border to harvest wheat, canola and peas.

They return to Kansas at the end of summer to harvest corn, soybeans and grain sorghum. They family runs five late John Deere-model combines, along with their other supporting equipment.

Ryan’s harvesting experience started as a young child with his family. He was hooked and continued harvesting summers throughout his teens and early twenties with a local crew. He later took over that business, which has become High Plains Harvesting. This season will mark their seventh as owners.

This is Laura’s fourth year writing for All Aboard Wheat Harvest.
“I enjoy seeing new places and meeting new people,” Laura said. “I like to see harvest through my children’s eyes. They think it is a grand vacation because we make it that way for them.” Whether it is trips to the field or finding the interesting things that make a harvest stop unique, there is no shortage of things to do.

“As a result of our opportunity to extensively travel the Great Plains, I can tell the children are already expanding their worldview, love for travel, learning and adventure.”

Northwest Kansas—The summer wheat run is complete. There's always a feeling of relief when the last team member pulls in the yard with the final piece of equipment from the summer run. The crew immediately switched out and converted equipment for the fall season. Corn harvest has been underway for several weeks now.

What a run it was. This year was marked with many twists and turns and unexpected challenges caused by weather. I would rehash all those adventures, but I thought I would do a little something different this year.

I've said before that one of the best things about harvest

Nebraska—This season I've had a theme and pleasure of introducing other crews and industry professionals to the readership. I hope you've enjoyed learning about them. This will be my final crew highlight for the summer run with the exception of my final post of the season which will have a different twist as well.

Meet Briggs Harvesting.

On the day we met, he emerged from his truck with a bounce in his step and twinkle in his eye. I got the sense that I may need to be on my toes with this one and I was right. Justin Briggs, of Briggs

Northern Montana: Recently when Ryan was visiting with the farmer, he received a warning, "When you're at the bins, keep an eye out for the bears. Sometimes they come up and feed on the grain, but they usually run off."

So far this season, we haven't seen any bears, but the crew has in past years, though never at the bins. There have been deer, antelope, coyote, upland birds, and the kids and I think we spotted swift foxes running across the road on our way two and from the field the other night. We were excited to see them as

Northern Montana: Harvest continues in the northern part of the "Golden Triangle." The crew ran hard for a few days then caught a rain delay. They ran hard again and then caught another rain delay. The rains are welcome though. In an area that has suffered from drought this season hope is increasing for favorable winter wheat planting conditions. The rain has also given the crew a chance to make needed repairs.

The wheat is currently making around 45 bushels per acre. Through no fault of the farmer, the yields are lower than what is normally expected. The drought mentioned above,

Glacier National Park, Montana—Harvest is work, but sometimes it puts you within striking distance of places you may not normally be able visit.

This has recently been the case.

Glacier National Park has long been on my bucket list. With harvest being earlier this year, coupled with the kids and I's extended stay in Montana, we were finally able to make the trip and check this wonder off the list. Some of the highlights have been ranger programs, hiking by mountain goats, playing near waterfalls, glaciers, photographing the approximately 1,000,000 (my made up number) cute chipmunks that call the park home, watching

Northern Montana: There is a faint light at the end of the summer run tunnel as crews are heading to or working on their northernmost job of the season. However, they aren’t alone. There are some other important teams that have moved north as well and are in position to support the harvest.

One of those teams is John Deere Harvester Works.

Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to visit with the team behind Van 2. The group is led by Darren Jacobs, senior product support representative, who is on his 21st season supporting the wheat run. He is accompanied by

Montana: We have made it to Montana. This will be our northernmost state for our stops this year. As you may have heard, drought is plaguing the northern United States, and we will not be needed in North Dakota this season as a result. Farmers aren't the only ones affected. Some ranchers are in need of feed and have had to cull their herds. If drought isn't enough, some of our acres in the area were decimated by a terrible hail storm about a month ago. The air here has been hazy due to wildfires across the state. We are

Northeast Colorado: As conditions allowed, we started funneling equipment into Colorado while some of us finished up in Kansas. The wet conditions have gradually turned off though. There were a few showers, as one expects on the Front Range, in the summer. The crew was able to move around to dry wheat, so, thankfully, down time was minimal.

Something that has plagued north eastern Colorado over the recent years is a pest called sawfly. I talked about it in detail on a post several years ago, but a brief synopsis is that the damage caused by larvae, near the base of

Western Kansas: The crew in western Kansas had about a day and a half off after the rain from the last post. Sitting was tough, but it did fall on the Fourth of July, so I guess it was divine timing for a break for the crew in that area.

They were back in the field Monday afternoon and we had a solid evening of cutting. The next day we were back at it. We were pushing moisture early on, but things soon dried out. The going was a bit slow due to lodged wheat and high yields. This part of

Western Kansas: All the crews were cutting and that was a beautiful thing after all the weather delays.

At this point, stress levels were increasing rapidly. Jobs further north were very close to ready with the hot, dry weather in that region. We still had many acres left to cover on our current jobs due to the rain delays. Harvesters plan a run to meet their obligations to the farmers who incorporate us into their operations. We need them and they need us and we plan a run to be there accordingly. It is very difficult when you can see events

Western Kansas: Due to weather and trying to compensate for that with crew positioning, I have been running a machine more this summer than in a long time. It has been a fun change of pace. I really enjoy being in the field working with Ryan and the crew. I recently wrote this on my social media page at "Under the Flyover Sky" to offer encouragement to those who work with their significant other. It is in quotes below, and I thought maybe some of you could relate.

"I was called up to help so had to take a few refresher