Jennifer Theurer.JPG

Wheat harvest 2019 is just about finished. The crews have a few fields left to cut and preparations are being made to head home. Some will head into fall harvest and acres of soybeans and sorghum. Some will pick up where they left off in late May or early June. They’re shaking off the wheat dust one last time before bidding farewell to our readers.

Those following the All Aboard Wheat Harvest in the pages of High Plains Journal and at allaboardharvest.com appreciated this glimpse into the everyday lives of the correspondents.

As with every harvest, we were cheering the harvesters on and with them at every turn, good or bad. This year, we celebrated the new combine drivers and returning veterans. When a breakdown happened, our hearts went out to them because we knew the wheat needed to be cut.

All Aboard gave us an opportunity to marvel at the operators’ skills navigating sometimes flooded country roads in gigantic machines. We admired their tenacity and creativity when dry and hot weather conditions were replaced with wet and cool ones, drastically shortening their workdays.

Learning about the friendships they’ve built and the towns they visited shined a light on what’s good in the world. Our brief look into their lives let us see how much the harvesters’ children and families have grown as some of those children already have families of their own. It makes us wonder if it has really been that many years.

Some of us retired from wheat harvest because of those years and some of us outgrew it as our education and jobs took us further away. Thanks to the All Aboard correspondents, we can still hear the wheat filling the trucks and the roar of the combine as it cuts its way across a field. We remember the feeling of a hot July wind on our face as we climb out of the combine cab and the smell of wet earth after a storm passes. Suppers in a wheat field taught us to guard our food from the blowing dust of a passing combine or truck. Personally, wheat harvest is why I have an enduring love for cheap vanilla sandwich cookies. My mom made some of the best homemade cookies before and after harvest, but rarely during.

Throughout this harvest, I learned that All Aboard is more like a family than a following. The correspondents may not influence our favorite brand of farm equipment, but they helped us appreciate a sunset in Montana and a faithful dog who loves her combine driver. More than one harvester shared their favorite harvest recipe while another kept a count of the cold sandwiches served. They made us glad we weren’t the ones sharing a wheat field with a rattlesnake and convinced us to spend a little more time exploring the wonders in our own backyard.

So as the correspondents cut that last round and haul that last load to the elevator, their extended family sends them best wishes for the coming year. May your windshields be clean and your tires hold air until we meet again next year. You see, this isn’t really a goodbye, just a see you later.

Jennifer Theurer can be reached at 620-227-1858 or jtheurer@hpj.com.

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