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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.”

The wheat isn’t quite ready for us in northern Texas, so I’ll take a moment to catch you up on what has transpired since I said goodbye from Montana last summer.  

Upon returning to Kansas, we jumped into fall harvest.

Montana—On Sunday, Aug. 14, I was typing the beginning of this article from the back of the pickup on the way to the field, on what should be our final hours in southern Montana. Yesterday, half of the machines in Montana made the pilgrimage to our final stop of the season northwest of Great Falls. The remaining team members will join them tomorrow, God willing.

Hard to get tired of this backdrop.

The crew has spent nearly three and a half weeks harvesting a variety of crops east of Billings. The finals days were spent in canola and chickpeas, two crops whose

Southern Montana—After the hailstorm debacle listed in the previous post, the weather turned off very hot and dry here east of Billings. With temperatures in the upper 90s and 100s, the crew was able to cut for nearly 10 solid days, and take care of most assigned wheat acres, before the next system moved through.

With good yields up north, it has taken all hands on deck to tackle this job. We even had a former teammate take vacation from his own operation to come help for a few days. It is always good to see former crew members, but even

Montana: I am so incredibly thankful that High Plains Journal has afforded me this platform to share High Plains Harvesting's version of the story of harvest. Showing the world agriculture through words, photographs and videos is one my of absolute favorite things. However, you and I know that there are so many other people too that have, are, or will make amazing contributions to this important industry.

There are so many amazing individuals and teams, at all levels and positions within the the harvest industry. In the past, I have shared some stories about other crews or harvest support professionals in

Montana—As the kids have grown, Ryan and I are continually trying to achieve a work-life balance for them and that looks different each season. There are so many amazing lessons to be learned on the road, but there are also valuable experiences to be had at home too. The challenge with parenting is that you never know if you're doing it right or not, but we, like so many of you reading this, are just trying to do the best we can for them.
We're fortunate that centrally located Kansas is our home base. This enables us a little bit of

Nebraska—If you have been involved with farming, I think you can smile at this exchange because everyone has a relatable landmark story.

The other day, we were out riding with our farmer inspecting the next fields. One of the conversations went something like this, “You have to split that field at the old windmill. Then there should be a post on the other side—I think it should be still standing. You cut across to it.”

I have no doubt that even if that post is down, he knows exactly where it always stood, and could drive straight there across on the exact line