Jackie Mundt, Pratt County farmer and rancher
Harvest is a farmer’s Super Bowl. It’s the culmination of a year’s work and his way to measure success.
After the last load of wheat heads to town, there is a final buzz of activity. Equipment is cleaned and put away, paperwork sorted and other things neglected during harvest are checked on.
The stress of constant activity, anticipation and worry, ebbs and there is room to breathe; a moment of thankfulness and rest.
That brief rest is a special time for a farm family. Though a farmer’s work is never done, a fresh sense of accomplishment reminds a farmer that even God rested occasionally. The win of harvest gives farm families a small window for a holiday.
Marc and I love both love to plan trips and travel to fun destinations, but he often struggles to commit to plans far enough in advance to book tickets or make firm commitments with friends. He can’t predict the weather, if irrigators will break down, when crops will be ready to harvest, if cattle fences will need unexpected mending, a storm causing damage or all the other unpredicted but steady tasks that keep farmers busy 365 days a year.
But when the stars align, a brief vacation is in order. We love to grab a road map and snacks and jump in the car for a day of exploring the hidden gems of our neighboring towns in Kansas.
Some people may read this and think I mean Wichita, Kansas City or one of our larger cities. Though these cities have some wonderful attractions, they are rarely the focus of our Kansas adventures.
A little over a decade ago when I first moved here, the Kansas Sampler Foundation had just completed their “8 Wonders of Kansas” publications. That list joined personal recommendations from friends and our paper atlas to create ready inspiration for any of a dozen day trips we have ready for moments when the opportunity arises for us to travel this beautiful and unique state.
If you have never seen the “8 Wonders of Kansas” or taken a day trip to the small towns who have pulled together resources to create museums, preserved history, share local art, or supported unique customs and businesses, you are missing out.
Another joy of these day trips is that very little planning allows us to be flexible and see where the road leads us. This year our postharvest adventure started with my dad’s (a farmer who sees helping during wheat harvest as his annual vacation) interest in the Kansas Motorcycle Museum in Marquette.
Lunch at the Ranch House, an extensive and well maintained motorcycle collection and a very trendy and cool Smoky Hill Distillery awaited us on Main Street in Marquette. Next we decided to travel to neighboring Lindsborg for the view from Coronado Heights, the Old Mill Museum and the Dala Horse artists at Hemslojd. We meandered home through Lyons for a tasty dinner at the County Seat. Our day in towns with less than 4,000 people included rare items, interesting culture and history, great food and drink, and wonderful family memories.
Small town Kansas may not be on the top of your vacation bucket list, but it is full of interesting people who freely share their passion with the people who step into their towns every day. That is what make traveling through our state so amazing.
The next time you have a moment to pause for an adventure, I hope you will get out and see what the small towns around our state have to offer. Maybe I will see you there.
“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.