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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.”

Each trip with a happy ending is a blessing and I’m happy to report our North Dakota crew made it back to headquarters safely.

As previously discussed, the yields were strong in North Dakota this year. That is something to celebrate. However, weather and green crop stretched things out longer than they would have liked. A couple days down in the camper isn’t bad to get caught up on sleep, laundry and run a few errands. More than that, consecutively, can start to get on one’s nerves and frustration can set in. There’s only so many repairs to make, so much

Home—I reached down to pick up something from the floor of the garage in front of my vehicle’s engine. I could still detect the smell of hot wheat dust on my engine as it cooled. While I love that smell, it was almost like rubbing salt on a wound. Our harvest run was over for the season. School would be starting in five short days for me and even if we had the exact same crew back, nothing stays the same. Each season is unique, special in its own way, at its own time and there is no going back.

Park, Kansas—I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. One of the best things about owning a harvest crew is getting to meet so many people, from a variety of places and all walks of life. I’m glad that our business not only affords individuals a means to earn income, but also travel, make memories and experience things they may not otherwise have the chance to do. On the flip side, each member not only fills a needed position on the team, but also provides our family with diverse, positive experiences and memories we may not have had they

South central Montana—The dog days of summer are upon us and I don’t know a better place to spend them than Montana. The views are outstanding, sunsets are gorgeous and harvest has been clipping along at a consistent pace thanks to cooperative weather. It's worth noting the irony that we’ve had some warmer days up north than back home! One would think its would be reverse, but not this time.

When the children were younger, I often delivered a noonish meal because it worked better around nap schedules and gave me more time to clean up. As they’re older and nap

Southern Montana: Pictures can’t always do some landscapes justice and this is certainly the case with our first farm in Montana. It is very rolling and often steep. The fields are massive with fingers that branch out from the main sections. Maybe the best way I can describe it is if you were to think of looking at a topographical map of a lake, except instead of water there is wheat.

By this time, the crew members have had plenty of practice operating equipment, but some of the fields can provide a challenge for even the most seasoned of drivers. Decisions

South central Montana—Moving days are stressful and the responsibility great. There are just so many wheels on the ground (142 on this day, to be exact), many miles, large equipment, potential obstacles to navigate and, most importantly, safety. We want our teams and equipment to arrive at their destinations in one piece, but are also concerned for the well being for those traveling around us.

As stressful as it is, there is also excitement around move day. The noises and the smells just add to it. There’s the low rumble of the engines, the smell of diesel in the air, chatter

Montana—Ryan has large, great family. Mine is a lot smaller, and I may be biased, but I think they are wonderful people as well. We love getting together with them whenever possible. With that information, you may think we have all the family we need. However, even though my heart is full, that doesn’t mean its maxed out. There’s always room for more! And that’s what often happens with the crew. They can become an extension of family.

It's easy to see how that can happen. We live in close proximity day in and day out, sometimes share meals, carpool, occasionally

Western Nebraska: It’s a slightly gloomy morning as I look out the window at my view of a weathered, wooden cattle working facility and a near constant stream of Union Pacific trains on one of the busiest lines in the country. A stiff northeast wind gently rocks the house on wheels and provided some extra resistance on my morning run that keeps the stress in check. 2020 has provided its fair share of stress.

Last week, the crew finished in western Kansas where harvest stretched out due to pushing green and a few storms. The rains were welcome as this region

Did you all have a safe and healthy Fourth of July? I hope so! Lady A and Little Man just love the holiday and are a little let down that it has already come and gone. It is rare that we weren’t in the field cutting. The crew in western Kansas got rained out with approximately 60 acres to go so they had the evening off and shot some firecrackers at our headquarters. The children had a fun few days launching fireworks with friends in the neighborhood.

I’m a little behind on the news but that is by purpose to illustrate

Central Kansas: While we were in south central Kansas, we had the opportunity to host another group from Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children. This time, it was the young men who came to see the team. They made the trip to Kansas all the way from their Edmond, Oklahoma, campus.

One of the neat things about this group was that some of them had an idea of what they’d experience on their outing. They had visited Jim and Tracy Zeorian last summer so already had the harvest bug. This opened up a level comfort and questions which benefitted all, even those

South central Kansas: Well, that escalated quickly. We have finished south central Kansas and northern Oklahoma and are on to southeastern Colorado and western Kansas. When the post was written, we had not had a single rain day since we started in Texas and these hot winds and high temperatures have caused the wheat to continue to ripen at a rapid pace.

It's funny to think, at this time last year, we were still cutting away in Oklahoma and things weren’t ready in Kansas. Seasons can fluctuate greatly year to year.

One of the things to note about south central Kansas was