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.”

Home: I just came in from working outside to type my final post. It is 93 degrees in northwest Kansas today. It is hot, but not the same kind of hot felt in June or July. I think just a little hint of fall may be in the air or maybe my mind is playing tricks on me since we just entered September. Either way, summer is rapidly coming to an end.

In a handful of days, the first group will return to headquarters from the north. There will be a few days of maintenance and conversions to prepare the machines

Kansas, North Dakota, Montana—The light is at the end of the summer harvest run tunnel. The crew has finished up in southern Montana and are en route to or have started their last job respectively. This is the time of the year that the crew does a big split with one group finishing the season up in northern Montana and the other in North Dakota. The crew in North Dakota kicked off with canola harvest and initial yields are currently 40 plus bushels an acre.

Southern Montana finished on a positive note with spring wheat yields coming in around 50 to

Southern Montana—Another day, another wheat field. However, it's not "just" another wheat field to us! It's our farmer’s wheat field. That wheat field is a farm’s chance at income for that season and an important time for the operation. Despite cutting many acres throughout the season, its important not to get complacent. We need to continue to harvest each field like they are our own because there is no such thing as “just another” wheat field. Each one is important to customer and to us! We value each opportunity to serve.

Our first farm in southern Montana resulted in yields 50

Northeastern Colorado—The other night, we were greeted by an unusual sight.

We see a vast variety of campers and motor homes on our travels, but I’ve never seen one pulled by a tractor nor a camper as special as this! Ivan Stolzfus is driving this “Johnabilt” across America to raise awareness for wounded warriors. He told me he is a retired farmer who was looking to give back in thanks for our freedoms. He blogs about his travels and there is a tracker on the site so you can follow along with Ivan’s progress. If you would like to learn more

South central Montana—Where has the summer gone? I don’t know how it can already be the last day of July. I can still remember the anticipation of the season like it was yesterday, but here we are and school is just around the corner!

I recently met up with half of the crew as they were passing through northeast Colorado on their way to Montana. They needed to stop for a part and a quick rest. It typically takes two days to get to Montana from our headquarters with wide loads.

We have crew members that are experiencing their first season on

Northeast Colorado: “I wondered if we were going to see you again this summer!” This is how the librarian greeted us in addition to her smile this morning, July 24. The local library is one of our favorite places to visit, and story time was on our to-do list. One reason is because of the amazing opportunities for children and the other is because of the people. People are always the cherry on top and these two ladies have been a part of our summer each year we’ve harvested here. They make us feel at home, regulars in the community,

Northwest Kansas—It's Monday, and we’re experiencing a bit of relief from the heat wave of the past few days. A cold front rolled through July 20. Kansas cutting is complete, and machines are working in northeast Colorado. This is the latest harvest has ever been for us in this region. There have been times we’re nearly complete with northeast Colorado by now, so the extremes in weather are astonishing.

While we have a break from the 100-degree temperatures currently, they will likely return. Cold meals are key during hot days. Taco salad and Suddenly Salad variations are popular. I recently tried

Northwest Kansas: I’ve been working from home and have been back and forth a couple times while the crew has been in western Kansas. On July 16, I was already in route to deliver meals when I got a call that one of our crew members had an appointment in town and I may need to help with the grain cart. Now let’s be honest, I like being in the field a lot, and it rarely happens that I get to run something at this stage of life. I should have been pumped. However, when the yields are so strong

Northwest Kansas: The weather has been prime and the crew has been working long hours. They all deserve a public shout out for their efforts.

I know I have a few readers that aren’t as familiar with the harvest process, so I’m going to break down the responsibilities as they have been happening under the present conditions.

Combine drivers are always on the move. That’s a given, because if they aren’t running, we aren’t cutting. Unless the conditions are adverse, they are usually running at a consistent pace up and back in the field. Autosteer helps with the fatigue of running constantly

Western Kansas: While the crew played musical combines—also known as moving to the next area—I took the opportunity to head home to tackle July’s paperwork. Recent rain held them up for a short time, but hot temperatures and no precipitation in the forecast will make for some big harvest days this week.

I’ve had several people ask recently if I like being able to come home in the middle of the run since we’re centrally located. While I wait for my last load of laundry to dry before I hit the trail again, I thought I’d sit down and answer the