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It’s harvest time and the custom cutters have arrived!

Custom Cutter operation setting up in the wheat fields.

Custom harvesting operation from Hemingford, NE have arrived to cut the neighbors’ wheat fields.

Over the past 21 days dust and wheat chaff float in the air like a mist over an ocean of gold. Farmers have been patiently waiting for the wheat heads to be ripe with the perfect moisture and protein count. They snap off a head, roll the grain between their palms of their hands forcing the wheat seed away from the husk. If it feels and looks right, looks perfect, then they cut.

Mature wheat field ripe for the cutting.

Mature wheat field ripe for harvest.

The 2015 harvest has been delayed by several weeks. Too much rain fell this year. “Too much rain” is rarely heard from a farmer’s lips in these parts of the country.

Turbulent thunderheads overhead.

Turbulent thunderheads overhead dropped quarter-size hail shortly after this image was taken.

Northwest Nebraska is dry land farming and ranching area. Land owners depend on the rain and snow to water their fields of wheat, millet, sorghum or sunflowers. but this year we have had just too much for the month of June, normally the time the wheat has for really soaking in the sun and coming to maturity. Daily downpours with intermittent hail and fierce winds have caused the wheat crop to suffer.

Farmers have been stressed over the possibility of losing their year’s labor in the field. Some have found their wheat to be with “rust,” a bacteria that grows on the stalk damaging the crop; others have discovered their wheat heads that appear healthy are sterile of seed or near empty.

So when the crop is cut and gleaned by the harvesters, ranchers often turn to a higher source, their faith, to sustain them through this tense time.

Harvesting Wheat

Harvesting the first of many wheat fields to be cut.

Some are thrilled that their crop even has enough seed still in the wheat heads that they can even harvest!

Dwain Soester waits anxiously near his red grain truck.

Dwain Soester waits anxiously near his red grain truck. How many many bushels will his field yield? 20? 30?40? 50? per acre.

There are many damaged fields which are being mowed down, wind-rowed, and bailed for the animals. Hail damage, rust or aggressive weeds and invasive plants have spoiled the harvest.

Grain unloaded from harvester.

The grain bin truck pulls alongside the combine. Wheat seed pours out from the harvester, quickly filling the bin. This looks to be a good yield for the farmer.

The financial risk a farmer takes on an annual basis to feed our world is overwhelming. I don’t know how they do it, year after year…

Future farmers on tailgait of service truck.

These three future farmers watch their dad from their perch on the service truck. These young boys are anxious to work and start driving, but for now, they must stay put.  Watch and learn. Soon, they too will be driving and helping to provide.

But I do know this, most love their work and the life that living on a farm provides for them and their families.

Thunderhead over the Pine Ridge

These thunderheads threatened all the nearby fields as it steadily built over the prairie. Fortunately, it did not let loose it’s fury until it was well to the East of the area.

Inner strength, Faith and Hope keep them going to the next season.