For Kansas wheat farmers, the annual harvest is “Payday.” It is the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work, faith, and hand-wringing. And during the hustle-and-bustle of wheat harvest, all the other farm chores take a backseat to bringing the crop in. Timely harvest is of the essence: you never know when that cloud in the west could bring about severe weather, which could wipe out a crop in no time.
Yet every year, stories abound about how Kansas wheat farmers band together to bring in the crop for a family in need. The 2012 harvest is full of uplifting stories for farm families who have suffered illness or death to a loved one … right before harvest.
- Near Cheney this week, area farmers brought combines, grain carts and semi trucks to make short work of the ripe fields of Raymond Rosenhagen, a farmer who died suddenly last month. Mr. Rosenhagen had been a community leader, having served on numerous boards of directors. A lifelong farmer, he was known in the community for helping others. Raymond’s son, Mark, planned to take care of the harvest himself, but Raymond’s friends and neighbors insisted on helping. According to an article in the Wichita Eagle, Mark Rosenhagen was overwhelmed at the number of farmers who had left their own fields for a day to help him out. But he wasn’t surprised: “It’s just what neighbors do,” he said.
- Haven-area farmers joined forces in support of Jim Baumann, whose father, Kenneth, died last week after an illness. The elder Baumann was a life-long farmer and community leader. So that Jim could spend time during his father’s final days and take care of funeral preparations, neighboring farmers spent Monday in Jim’s wheat fields with a fleet that included eight combines, five grain carts and, “…too many trucks to count,” said neighbor Bob Albright.
- On Thursday, 18 combines harvested nearly 600 acres of wheat for Lindsborg farmer Danny Carlson, who is battling cancer and in a Kansas City hospital, according to the Salina Journal. While dozens of workers harvested and hauled the crop, additional volunteers prepared lunch for the crew; others shuttled food and drinks back and forth to the Carlson’s fields. Neighbor Kent Ebling, who coordinated the effort, reckoned that if any of the neighbors were in need, Danny Carlson would be the first in line to help. Ebling, who still had wheat to cut on his farm, said neighbors were happy to pitch in. “I’ve had so many people call and ask, ‘What can I do?’ ” he said. “Everybody has more to do. They quit what they were doing to come help. That says a lot.” Terence Carlson, Dan’s 90-year-old father, noted it would take 10 days in a normal year to complete the family harvest.
Neighbors helping neighbors. It’s as much of a tradition as, well, a Kansas wheat harvest.