Purchase photos

Irishmen help cut Kansas milo





LA CROSSE -- You have to listen closely to what Barry Denning has to say.

It's not that he's soft-spoken, but rather his accent doesn't quite fit the Kansas countryside.

He is, after all, from Ireland, and he speaks with a heavy brogue accent.

Denning takes it all in stride, quick to talk about his home country and detail his time in the U.S., working on Melvin Schneider's custom cutting crew based out of La Crosse.

He'll also admit to recognizing the Kansas twang that's been surrounding him of late.

Denning stood at the ready Monday as he watched the Schneider crew -- complete with two combines, a grain cart and two semis -- make quick work of a field of milo northwest of La Crosse.

Schneider was guiding one of the combines, while Denning's compatriot Niell McLoughan, also of Ireland, was driving the second machine. Another Irishman, Benjamin Kenny, was running the grain cart.

Denning's truck was left behind at another harvest location, so he was banished to the pickup that carried parts for the equipment.

Denning and the others have been riding the harvest circuit this year, starting with wheat this spring in Oklahoma and moving north into Kansas, Colorado and eventually Montana.

This fall, they started the process again.

He's remaining in the U.S. on a work visa through Dec. 10.

After that, he'll be returning home.

"I'm a dairy farmer," he said.

But it's a different type of farming in Ireland, where he covers 100 acres and milks 50 cows.

"It's a big change over here," he said.

The weather's been a dramatic change as well.

In Ireland, it's wet and green, while the drought in Kansas and other Plains states has turned nearly everything brown.