All Aboard Harvest | Laura Haffner – High Plains Harvesting
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Laura Haffner – High Plains Harvesting

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.”

Southwest Kansas/southeast Colorado: The weather has finally cleared and the wheat is dry. Combines are going like a house on fire. Trucks and the grain cart are too, for that matter, because the dryland yields are outstanding. This section of the High Plains received just the right temperatures and rainfall and we’ve seen them in the 70s on up to the 90s. This is especially encouraging in a tough environment where drought, hail and heat never seem that far away.

Yes, these are the days that harvest stories are made. Crews have been cutting into the dark under the stars. Fields

“Remember? Remember, Mom, when our farmer saved us?” This was Lady A recently looking for reinforcement as she was telling our newest crew member about some storm excitement we experienced recently in Oklahoma. She accompanied this with motions of her tiny hands of how the windows of the farmer’s basement were moving in the wind.

Oh, Lady A, Mom remembers well. I remember seeing the storm as I came up over the hill out of the bottom ground and thinking it looked strange. I remember checking my radar on my phone—seriously, how did we live before mobile radar—and not being surprised

West central Oklahoma—It is ironic how incredibly different two back-to-back seasons can be. Last year, this area was suffering from very tough drought conditions. This year, creeks are high and soil moisture profiles full. Even though the ground held surprisingly well initially, eventually the continued rainstorms took their toll, making for challenging harvesting. Strong yields were the positive result of the wet weather as stated previously. Conditions are similar for our crew cutting in south central Kansas.

Part of the crew is harvesting in extreme southwest Kansas. As I drove along Highway 160 to meet up with them, I got to

North Texas—There is so much to learn about hard work and grit from watching and participating in harvest. However, there’s also something to be said for the growth that happens outside the field for the littlest of harvesters.

The children are old enough now to have and be interested in friends. We have a great neighborhood and friends around town, so this year, it was a bit tough for them to leave the familiar routine despite being super excited about harvest. However, that discomfort opens the door for life lessons to be taught.

It is not always easy to put yourself out

North Texas/West Central Oklahoma: On again, off again. That’s been the theme of cutting lately. Storms keep cycling through the area and once we get in the groove, it seems like another one hits. Its been a crazy start to the season, a theme you’ve been hearing a lot.

The ground has been holding pretty well, but occasionally there will be a spot that just gives way unexpectedly. That’s just part of the game with the level of moisture received the last few months. One little known benefit to the mud is, according to legend, the compounds that make the Oklahoma

North Central Texas—Yesterday we had a group of amazing women out to visit the crew. Through our involvement with All Aboard Wheat Harvest we have not only gotten to know some of the personnel from our sponsor, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, but the young people who live there. It has become something I look forward to each summer.

The girls arrived full of energy, ready to participate and were fun to talk to. They seemed most eager to share about their work on the farm at their home in Madill. The students have experience caring for and showing animals and

North Central Texas—The rain finally lifted, and we’ve had several great days of running hard. We’ve been really concerned about the ground holding up after all the moisture, but knock on wood, we have been very fortunate so far and hope it stays that way. We know well what it can be like in the mud down here! There’s been a wide range of yields, as one might expect from the weather, but on average, we’re seeing around 30 to 45 bushels per acre. Test weights are in the 58 to 61 range. Protein is coming in at about 10

North Texas—Shortly after noon I got “the call.” Ryan let me know they were going to give it a go. We made plans to head to the field because who doesn’t want to miss “The Opening Ceremonies” for the 2019 harvest season?

There’s always this sense of anticipation to start the very first field of the season. However, my feelings were starting to sink a little as I watched a thunderstorm pop up in the west. I hoped it was going to slip to the north and east, but the radar told a different story. I beat the caravan to the

East Texas—I have good news and bad news. I’ll let you guess which is which. The crew made it south safely, is in place and ready to cut in north Texas. To celebrate, Mother Nature welcomed High Plains Harvesting to the state with another major rainstorm which added moisture to already saturated fields. Consequently, harvest is delayed yet again.

Since we can’t talk wheat now, maybe you would enjoy talking blueberries. The children and I recently visited Blueberry Hill Farms, which is a “pick-your-own” farm, on our summer bucket list. Even though we are directly involved in production agriculture, this crop

Park, Kansas—Northwest Kansas has been included in the rainy pattern that has been prevalent this spring. As a result, many, including us, still have fall crop to get in the ground. Time will tell how that all shakes out. But, things are green. I mean green-green, and it is beautiful. That's one way I'm trying to keep a positive outlook because I remember a time, in the not so distant past, when the faucet in the sky turned off with not a drop to spare.

Since the rain has been so far reaching, we've been given a little extra time at