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REGENT — The air is exhilarating around Regent.

Luscious fields of green suck in carbon dioxide and exude tons of life-giving oxygen that absorb moisture and hold it close to the fragrant earth.

From the highest butte top to the farthest horizon an emerald jungle extends out in straight green rows and lush fields of hay.

In this sultry, swollen pause of summer, the only sound in the countryside comes from the haymakers, taking the first crop from the land.

And what a hay crop it is.

Roy Rutherford, rural Regent, says he's seen few, if any, like it.

Rutherford put up big bales of hay that at 1,400 pounds, weigh more than a well-marbled steer, their intended recipient.

He made 480 of those bales on one 118-acre field just next to his farm headquarters between Black Butte in one direction and Colgrove Buttes in the other. Looking like enormous straw-colored marshmallows, they are wrapped and ready for stacking in a row.

Rutherford said he loves making hay, especially when it comes in at the rate of more than 5,500 pounds an acre.

He farms, too, but hay is where his heart is.

"I've been selling hay since 1975 and when all is said and done, I'll make more on hay than farming. This here is going to Wyoming," he said.

"Hay's going to be worth some money this year," he said.

But this happy haymaker has something else worth talking about this summer. He invites his visitor to climb metal stairs that curve around the side of his grain bin. From 40 feet high, a nearby field of beer-malting barley is visible from west to east.

"If it comes in, it'll be the best one ever," he says.

Farmers don't like to talk possible yield much. There's a superstition out there that such talk ahead of harvest can jinx a guy, but Rutherford said that six-row barley variety could come in at 85 bushels an acre.

This, mind you, would be outstanding for an irrigated field. But the only pivot on Rutherford's place is the same one farms all around him have — the big one in the sky that sprinkled nearly 12 inches on his fields since the middle of May.

"You could make a lot of beer out of that," he says, turning to take it all in.

That beer and that harvest is still weeks off, an anxious time when the white hail "combine" or too much hot wind could damage what is an excellent stand of small grains and corn.

In town, Myron Jesch's office is Crop Central.

Jesch is the agronomist for the local Cenex store and farmers stop in for chemical advice. Fungi thrive in the moisture and humidity and there are other pests to control.

Jesch calls it like he sees it, jinx or not.

"There are going to be some miraculous crops out there. We're going to see 60- to 70-bushel wheat. It's going to be another good one," he says.

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Regent, a small town with a big personality, is at the heart of a local-global confluence.

"These guys are a crucial part of feeding the whole world, no doubt about it. I don't think they can wrap their heads around who's all going to get a piece of their bread," Jesch said.

One guy in Jesch's office is Warren Doe, who produces some of the milk folks drink with their bread. His family dairy operation needs a lot of hay for 250 milk cows and another 350 head.

Doe said he's been into a five-foot-high mix of grass and alfalfa this summer. "There's going to be all kinds of hay," he said. "We've had almost 19 inches of rain." His isn't for sale; any extra hay is that security blanket he needs for dry years, like last one.

The super oxygenated, humid air has turned haymaking time on its head, Doe said.

"This year we wait to bale until the hottest time of day. That's totally opposite of when we usually do," he said.

Ten miles east, give or take, as the crow flies, Morrell Hirning was baling up grass hay from the Highway 8 road ditches alongside his fields north of Mott.

He got to the end of a windrow and jumped down from the tractor.

Hirning was happy to talk about that hay, maybe because there was so much good to talk about.

"This is my best hay year ever by a stretch," he said. Nature provided cool weather and moisture in a perfect combination.

He isn't a big operator, but those beautiful and bounteous bales will feed his cows this winter and one more after.

"This is quite a year, no kidding," he said.

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Reach reporter Lauren Donovan at 701-220-5511 or lauren@westriv.com.

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