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Smoky skies hang over Western Nebraska

Wild fires in western Nebraska fill the night sky with smoke.

By the end of June, farmers and ranchers are sitting on pins and needles as they scan the western Nebraskan skies for signs of weather. Within minutes the blue sky can fill with huge thunderheads and high winds packing a whopping 60+ mph speeds, and hail the size of quarters raining down. The years work all destroyed if mother nature says so.

This is a tense time for families; thier livelihood relies on what the heavens will bring…
will it be the gentle and much needed moisture, or the havoc of wind and hailstorm?

Wheat ripe for harvest in western Nebraska

This wheat is just about ready for harvest.

And there it is, racing east to west. Whose farm will she torment?

Thunderstorm rains down on wheat fields north of Chadron, NE.

Thunderstorm punishes wheat fields north of Chadron, NE

Soon, we could watch blots of electricity lighting the sky like a strobe light.  Amazing power across the land.

Lightening in Western Nebraksa

This lightening strike started a grass fire N.E. of Chadron, Ne.

And the harvesters moved into the fields to save what they could before another torment was unleashed.

Wheat harvesters in Western Nebraska

The Custom Cutters have arrived. Within minutes this wheat will be binned.

It’s a race against time as cutters knock down the wheat, bin and haul it to the grain elevator in Crawford, NE. They work fast knowing that every minute counts when the weather and moisture of the grain are at stake.

The air is thick with smoke from the previous days fires north of Harrison and Crawford Ne. Grasslands are burning in Wyoming from the same storm. Smoke laden air mixed with wind and dust from dry-land farming make for an incredible evening sunset and sky.

Smoky Skies over Western Nebraska

Smoke from wild fires create Apocolyptic skies.

 

American pronghorn take a break from the hot sun in Western Nebraska.

Pronghorn find the just-baled wheat a welcome relief from the hot day.

Throughout the week equipment hummed in the fields. Balers turned 1 &1/2 ton rolls out of hail-damaged pasture grass and wheat; while combines gleaned what they could into the late hours of the night. Red, silver and blue paneled trucks raced to the nearest grain elevator, dumped their load and raced back to the fields for the next load.

Harvesting wheat at night in Western Nebraska

Wheat is harvested through the night, as long as the temperatures remain warm.

Duanne sits atop his old John Deere tractor pulling the disk behind and digging deep into the soil. He knows its hot outside, but the rain might come tonight, and the ground could use the moisture. Old times like Duanne don’t seem to notice the scorching heat, or maybe they just ignore it, “’cause they gotta git the job done!”

Farming in Western Nebraska

106 degree heat. “It was cooler on the tractor than in my house,” says Duanne.