Despite the fact that Wayne's old boss used to call me a farm girl from Kansas, I was raised in the city, albeit a small one. That said, you don't have to grow up on the farm to feel a connection to it. Wayne and I both had grandparents who farmed in their younger days, and even though it was part of a very nice subdivision, the last house we lived in before moving to Florida was right next to a wheat field. Agriculture is just an integral part of the culture of Kansas.
So we're tuned in to the state of the wheat crop when we travel back to Kansas...the lush green fields filled with grazing cattle in the early spring, the white-gold waves that seem to ebb and flow in the summer breezes, and the almost-sweet smell of the scorched earth where it's been burned after harvest. And while we'd never time a trip just to see the harvest, we're always hopeful we will when we visit in early summer. Usually we're too early or too late, or it's rained and the wheat needs to dry out before it can be cut.
And I thought that's how it was going to be this year as we drove through Texas and Oklahoma where the wheat had already been cut. A mild winter and warm spring made for an early harvest and as we rolled into Kansas, it appeared the combines had already done their job there too.
But we got lucky.
Many of the fields were already cut but as we cruised down the highway heading to Springfield, we spotted this crew hard at work in Dennis, Kansas. Actually, we knew they were cutting well before we saw the combines as we could see the clouds of dust in the distance.
This particular field was sort of L-shaped and I took the photo as the combine was working the short leg of it. As he'd reach the end of a row, he'd lift the blades then make a three-quarter circle so he could start cutting at 90 degrees. While it required a bit more maneuvering, it meant he didn't miss any shafts of wheat on the corners.
It was cool to stand so close to the combine as it began its march this direction through the stand of wheat. Straw rains out the back, falling into amazingly neat rows that will be baled at a later date. The whole process is dusty and dirty but the driver doesn't seem to mind; he's sitting in an air-conditioned cab.
There were two combines working this wheat field, likely a hired crew. They were like two turtles, lumbering slowly through the golden grain but it's not a process than can be rushed.
Who knows how long it may be before we time our trip to Kansas to coincide with the wheat harvest but not-a-farm girl certainly enjoyed the fact that we were there at the right time this year.