Teams of paranormal investigators flock to Wilbur wheat field in search of answers
By MATTHEW WEAVER
WILBUR, Wash. -- More than 100 people have visited Greg and Cindy Geib's farm since a mysterious, clover-shaped crop circle was found on an acre of a club wheat field a mile from their home.
The Geibs are fifth-generation farmers who raise soft white winter wheat and club wheat on roughly 2,500 acres. They first got wind of the crop circle when a neighbor called Greg on July 24. For about a week, there was no further mention. Then news of the circle hit the local media and went viral on the Internet.
At one point, Cindy said, all three of the phone lines in the house were ringing at the same time. She's had phone messages, emails and participated in interviews with radio personalities from around the country. More than 360 articles and blogs have been posted on the Internet about it.
"Things are hectic enough with harvest going on, all the attention this is bringing is a handful right now," Greg said.
He said the biggest issue for him will be the potential loss of yield due to the downed grain, but he doesn't foresee any other impact.
The Geibs don't know the cause of the crop circle.
"It's anybody's guess at this point," Greg said. "If it is man-made, do they do this with helicopters? How do they get in and out of here without making any tracks? It's a tough one to figure out."
Visitors and callers have been a bit, well, unusual.
Holistic doctors used the circle for meditation, thanking Cindy Geib with samples of their special lotions.
A caller left several telephone messages for the Geibs talking about his experiences with crop circles.
And carloads of people have arrived to look at the phenomenon. At least a dozen people came out to see the field within three hours on a recent Saturday afternoon.
Will Adams of Bellevue, Wash., wanted to see it because he's always been fascinated by crop circles. He was inspecting the wheat stalks, noting that in "real" crop circles the nodes of wheat will be "stretched out" and occasionally have a "blowout hole" from heat.
"I'm just blown away to see it," he said. "Based on what I see, I think it's real."
Slav Snitkovskiy and Darab Raisdanai are members of Unexplained Northwest Investigation Team, based near Seattle. They investigate "strange, paranormal activities" and "strange historical events" from unidentified flying object sightings to haunted buildings and ghost towns.
Snitkovskiy, 26, and Raisdanai, 52, investigated the Geibs' crop circle Aug. 4. It was their first crop circle case in Washington state. They took pictures and videos with three types of cameras.
They also took soil samples and measured radiation and electromagnetic disturbances before setting up camp for the night. They planned to monitor the area to look for light "anomalies" or the formation of new crop circles.
Snitkovskiy said they approach each investigation scientifically. They gather historical information, record their methods, analyze whether the event can be explained and preserve their documentation.
Raisadanai said the team would also review a database looking for similar events.
"We've got lots of historical data that backs up every investigation and documentary we do," Snitkovskiy said.
Reached later, Raisadanai said it was too early to determine the cause, but that it was possible the crop circle was man-made. He will send samples they took for analysis. He declined to give the name of the organization that will analyze them. Raisadanai said the team noticed no additional phenomena except the dirt was 10 degrees warmer within the crop circle than the dirt outside.
It's not the first time the tiny town of Wilbur has been in the spotlight for crop circles. In 2007, it happened on Jim Llewellyn's farm, according to the Seattle Times. Llewellyn declined to comment.
Three years ago, it happened on Haden Farms. Manager Braidy Haden isn't sure how many people visited the circles, which were near a road, but he said there wasn't much impact overall.
The cause of the circles was never found, Haden said, although he suspects it's someone from a neighboring community.
The first two occurrences happened exactly two years apart, so Haden said he expected something to happen last year.
"Whoever did it, they're really good, because I couldn't find any foot tracks or anything," he said.
He suggested farmers who find crop circles in their field just make the best of it.
"There's not a lot you can do," he said. "I had a lot of fun with it. It kind of got old after a while, getting calls and stuff, but the first couple of interviews were all right."
In Wilbur, the crop circles are also threatening to become old hat, Haden said.
"The first ones were pretty fun but now in town there wasn't much talk about it this time," he said. "It isn't as exciting as the first ones."
Agritourism and UFOs
Agritourism expert Jane Eckert of St. Louis, Mo., said at least one farm has used the crop circle theme to its advantage.
"I know of a farm in Ontario, Canada, that does a really good storyline of aliens coming onto their farm for their fall season corn maze and haunt experience, just to make it fun," she said.
Regardless of the cause of the crop circle, Eckert said the Geibs are approaching the situation correctly.
"What they've been saying is it's fun, we certainly don't know either, and around this vicinity there have been these other occurrences," she said with a chuckle. "People like these kind of fun stories."
Given their experience, the Geibs have advice for other farmers who might one day find crop circles in their field.
"Hopefully it would happen at a different time of the year, because right now is so busy with everything else going on," Greg Geib said.
"If you don't want any attention, I would say go out and harvest it as fast as you can," Cindy said with a laugh.
The Geibs intend to save that part of the field for last as they harvest their wheat.
"We're not sure what's going to happen when we get there," Greg said with a smile. "Who knows what could happen? Is the crop going to grow in that area again? Or maybe it might produce more."
"That would be good," Cindy said.
Unexplained Northwest Investigation Team: www.unit-wa.com
Eckert AgriMarketing: www.eckertagrimarketing.com