christmas in the country 2015 – gift reveal

IMG_0265I took this about five minutes ago. It’s January 13 and it’s still Christmas in my house. It may be a good thing that I can still wake up and plug in the Christmas tree and other lights of the season to remind me of the reason for the season.

I’ve been quite busy the past couple of months. If someone were to ask me if I’d like to have a “do over”, I would very excitedly tell them I would. My reason may not be one that you would think. Although, I would for that reason, too. The reason?  So I could simply stop and enjoy the season as it should be enjoyed. I feel like that was robbed from me this year. As Executive Director of the US Custom Harvesters, I have been solely focused on getting a job done. But, you see, that’s who I am. When I’m given a job, I tend to focus on it until it is complete. The large undertaking that I have and had over the Christmas season has been the planning of the annual convention – which happens to be in Omaha this year.

IMG_0267I did what most do at this special time of year but it wasn’t with the same mental focus as it should have been. I knew that. I knew I wasn’t putting as much of me into what Christmas is all about – not like I usually do. I still bought the gifts and went shopping and made cookies and wrapped presents. It was done, though, when I felt I had time to squeeze it in. And that is what I would like to have a “do over” for. I want to do it and enjoy it and take it all in…as it should be. My family suffered because of my focus on a job. Unfortunately, with the timing of the convention (which is next week), I had to remain focused and push through to make the event happen.

IMG_0264So…I’ll just leave my sights of the season around for a bit longer. Mostly because I haven’t got the time to take it down yet. Not until the job at hand is complete.

One part of the Christmas season that I also have put aside is my involvement in the Christmas in The Country gift exchange. I think this is the third year I’ve participated in this fun part of what the season is all about. Laurie, Jamie, Lara and Kirby simply amaze me. Maybe it’s because they are younger than me. Maybe it’s because they are more organized than me. Maybe…who knows why or how but they are able to organize this secret santa (maybe I should say blogger) experience with ease. I’m in awe at how easy they make this appear. They have every single detail worked out and then someone like me sort of creates a bit of a kink in the road. Sorry, girls! I really am. I know my deadline was YESTERDAY. Thank you for doing this! For putting so much of your time during this time of the year into something you feel passionate about. It shows and you’re simply amazing!

Now…this is how it goes.

I was paired with another blogger and another blogger was paired with me. There were 53 bloggers and 19 states involved in this party. What a small world and even smaller now with social media! My gifts were thought about and purchased for my new friend in Minnesota. Janet is married to a farmer. Her statement, “I’ll never marry a farmer. Farmers work long hours, and rarely get a day off” reminded me of the one that my grandma once told me, “whatever you do, don’t marry a harvester”. Seems we both have something in common. :)  When I received my list of what Janet likes, I thought…this will be a piece of cake. Chocolates, crafts, anything MN Vikings and cows. Cows. I’ve seen lots of cows…I’ll just get her something fun with cows on it. WRONG! Apparently I wasn’t looking in the right place or I was being too picky. I found nothing. So, this is what I did send:

IMG_0170A box of locally made chocolates (which are the BEST), a pair of Cornhusker socks, a corn ornament and a picture I took this summer while we were in Colorado. I love that picture because of the clouds. It’s just too bad it didn’t have a cow in it! And, of course, I had to send this too:

IMG_0171What better way to explain what we do than to show what we do? :)

The day I received my gift from my secret blogger friend was a day that I definitely needed a reminder of what the season was all about. When I came home from running a few errands and found another box on my step, I sort of felt angry. Angry? That’s a funny feeling to have upon finding a box on your doorstep, right? Well, I had been receiving plenty of boxes prior to this one which meant work and I didn’t want more on my plate. Not right now.

After better examination, I realized this wasn’t a work related box. This was a fun box. I was 8 years old all over again! I was so excited to see what I had been sent. I immediately dropped everything else in my arms and took my box in the kitchen to unwrap.  OH. MY. GOSH! It was amazing! Kristin, you are my newest best friend! My gifts were so much more than you can even imagine. The box had a wooden box inside which included a candle, salsa, strawberry preserves, a cute coin purse, HOMEMADE VANILLA and flower seeds. Homemade vanilla? I never even knew this was something you could do.


The best part of this was my girls’ reactions. Each one of them wanted to take it home with them. It was a hit and you made my day, Kristin! Thank you so much for taking the time to find out more about me and know that what you sent was going to be well received!

Kristin can be found by visiting The Rice Roundup.  She wrote in her blog, “Hopefully it got there! There was a big storm up there and it was delaying packages being delivered.  Tracking said it was delivered on a front porch, so hopefully she received it in good shape!” It got here in perfect shape and it made my day. I think I’ll take a few of those flower seeds (hand picked from Kristin’s garden) and plant them in my new wooden box and they will join me on the harvest journey this summer. Every day I water those flowers, I will think about you, Kristin! Thank you and God bless you! (and I hope one day we can meet in person)

the final months of 2015

Sometimes, it just doesn’t feel good to sit in front of the computer anymore.

It seems I’ve been in front of the computer screen on a daily basis the past 2 months. I think I’m ready to load up the Beast and head south again! Before the new year gets much further into January, I’ve got to update my pictures and print my blog for the year. So, with that, let me tell you a condensed version of what’s been going on. One day soon (I hope), I will get the want to sit down and write again…

So, let’s back up to September. We had great weather for the proso millet harvest. The pickup header took a little getting used to for me. Seems like just about the time I sorta felt like I may have it figured out, it was over. And those of you who know me, know that the end of harvest is NEVER easy for me. Even though I was anxious to get home to see the kids, the daily routine and excitement of harvest was over.

IMG_0115The millet had to be swathed before the combines could pick the rows up. This was usually done about a week before the combine followed.











Doing IMG_9481The every-night-chore of blowing the Beast off.


IMG_9409White millet.

IMG_9560We picked up white and red millet. When we changed to red it was like Christmas. It was so beautiful!







IMG_9731The final night of Harvest 2015.

IMG_9671We worked nearly every day in September. One Sunday, it was decided we just needed to take the day off – rest up and enjoy a day away from the field. By accident, we were given the option to ride the Pike’s Peak train from the base of the mountain to the top with our farmer family. It was a BEAUTIFUL fall day. I was hoping to see more of the changing colors but I took what I could get.



IMG_9686It was about the clearest it had been all fall on this particular day. I think if we looked hard enough, we could have seen the combines sitting in the field!


IMG_9692It was a DARN GOOD DAY!

IMG_9734Before we left Colorado, we were able to get a view of the 2016 wheat harvest in the making.


IMG_9812We said our final goodbye’s and headed home, home for the final time for 2015.

Callie celebrated her 18th birthday on October 8th. On October 9th, she was crowned  the 2015 E-M Homecoming Queen.  The pressure of following in her sister’s footsteps was great. :)

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IMG_9937Best friends since kindergarten!


IMG_0081The very next weekend was another Red Letter Day for Cal. She and her bestest Jordan, MT (Lusk, WY) buddy attended the Nebraska vs Michigan Husker Game. It was one to have been a part of as they actually won and the celebration was grand!

IMG_5981-5October wouldn’t be right without the pumpkin patch (thank you, Taylor for the pictures). Notice the black spots on the pumpkins? Due to a HORRIBLE early fall hail storm.




IMG_0009We also took the kids to a local “real” pumpkin patch.



IMG_0020And then there was a fun thing called Halloween that happened.


IMG_0050Our little firefighter, dalmatian and Aunt Taylor as a good witch. This was at the “Trunk or Treat” event at a local church.

IMG_0054Those beautiful trees behind Jamie are in their yard. They were almost neon.

Taylor celebrated her 21st birthday on November 2. Unfortunately the entire week prior was spent in and out of the hospital because Jim’s mom wasn’t good. On Taylor’s 21st birthday, we had to say our goodbye’s to this lovely lady, Grandma Ruth.

IMG_0071Halloween 2014

IMG_0070Her kind heart will be missed!

IMG_1431 (1)Five days later, on November 7th, Taylor’s boyfriend, Colten, proposed and she said yes. She reluctantly agreed to wait for a November 2016 wedding. Our harvest lifestyle certainly puts a cramp in plans. The months of harvest have to be thought about when there are major plans…such as a wedding.

And, so our family grows!

IMG_0106Time to get Frank and the Beast into their winter quarters.



IMG_0126Callie applied for and was accepted into the Nebraska All State Honor Choir for the second time. It. Was. Amazing!

IMG_0130Thanksgiving brought an ice storm. Not really bad but bad enough that mom couldn’t make it and we were without electricity for several hours. Made for memories. :)



IMG_0161Our plans for getting our traditional cedar tree was a flop this year. We started much too late in the day and drove from area to area with no luck. Poor Eli was heartbroken that we didn’t get to “cut, cut, cut” a tree. I think I’ll do a little more preparation next year! We didn’t get the cedar trees and had to buy some. It just wasn’t the same. I didn’t even smell like Christmas.

IMG_0173Yep, that’s Pike’s Peak  in the distance. This is another story that one day I will share but I just can’t yet.

IMG_0152Nora turned one on December 5. Happy Birthday little girl!!!



IMG_0181Our very last Christmas band and choir concert. It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been going to school activities in this school district for a LONG time! The next Christmas concert I will attend in this district will be when Eli is standing on the stage.  Jamie and Curt purchase some land in the district and will be building a house. I’m so excited for them!


IMG_0189How sweet is this? I babysat the kids while Jamie and Curt went to his work Christmas party. I got to spend the evening with them again when they celebrated Jamie’s 30th birthday. 30 years…


IMG_0194Eli lining up the OLD matchbox cars. These were my brother’s cars and they, too, lined them up just like this.  I’m thinking I need to invest in a few more boy toys.

IMG_0195Sights of the season.




IMG_0216We had an unexpected, unpredicted snow storm on Christmas Eve. The kids were so excited to see the snow that morning (a Christmas miracle), until they realized that it meant Jim would be gone. He had to go to the Air Force base in Bellevue to move snow. So, we had to postpone Christmas Eve. But it really was beautiful.


IMG_0211The house was full and it was noisy and it was everything I had hoped for! The kids were all under one roof for another day.

IMG_0223Our final Christmas celebration was at Mark & Candi’s house. We had a wonderful afternoon and even better supper. How blessed we are and how wonderful for me that these kids call me Grandma (or Ga)!

With that, I will bid adieu to 2015. And welcome the newness of a brand new year. Stay tuned and watch what this new year brings for the Z Crew!

Happy New Year!

“thank you”

IMG_9583This is a thank you but it’s not from me. It’s from a 26-year-old man sitting in a foreign land on July 27, 1945 – also his birthday.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because this young man is important to me. He was my father in law. Someone who left his family while still a kid to fight a fight that has provided the rest of us the freedoms we enjoy today. And he’s the one doing the thanking.

Dear Friends:

The least I can do is write a few lines to express my appreciation for the birthday card I received from you. I wish I knew the correct words to express just how much a message like that means from friends at home, when a fellow is away.

I think that a large percent of the fellows that are in the service would agree that too many of us didn’t fully realize the value of “home” and of “old friends”, before we entered the service. I don’t say that it was necessary for war to come along to wake us up, but that is the way it has happened, and I think by the time we get home we will have learned a lesson the hard way. We will come back equipped to be better Americans, due to the experience we are having now. We have seen the suffering and destruction a few power crazed individuals can cause. So now, we are thoroughly determined to set the “rising sun”.

You people at home are making it possible for us to do that job. You are sending us the equipment that is necessary for us to use in our fighting and you also provide for our enjoyment and entertainment during our short periods of relaxation in rest camps when we return from the front lines.

There are many fronts in the war and the home front is the most important of all. You are the people who are on that front and you are doing a wonderful job.

That is the reason it makes my heart swell and a lump come up in my throat when I realize that the people of the church at home, take the time and trouble to send their best wishes to me on my birthday. To me, it’s one of the nicest things that could happen.

God Bless you, and I hope in a very short time all of us may be reunited.

Sincerely yours,

Lloyd R. Zeorian, T Sgt Infantry (Co. F 130 Inf)

Happy Veterans Day to those who have served and to those who are on the home front! The sacrifices you have made are the reason me and my family can comfortably sleep tonight.


welcome to our dining room…

  Dedicated to the many farming and harvesting families who come together the only way they can during harvest. 

love in the shape of a red balloon

Throughout my many days of sitting behind the steering wheel of a combine, you see lots of “things” in the field…old machinery parts, oil buckets, seed bags, dead animals, deer antlers, swimming pools and even kids’ outdoor toys. Most of the machinery parts were lost during the working of the ground or planting of the crop. The rest can be attributed to the wind – except for the dead animals, of course.

I’ve seen a number of helium balloons. Some fields and locations within our harvest journey seem to collect more than usual. It’s almost as if those locations are on some sort of helium balloon jet stream. In my mind, I imagine that after balloons have been set free from the hands who have held them, they make their way into this helium balloon jet stream which carries them as far as it will allow. Then, the balloon that had been gracefully floating through the sky, hits some sort of cloud wall or turbulence, tumbles back to earth and lands in a field.

The fields we cut in Eastern Colorado must be in the direct balloons-falling-back-to-earth path. I used to get excited when I first saw a balloon here or there (I don’t know why). Sometimes I would stop to see what sort of celebration might have been happening at the time the balloon was allowed to enter the balloon jet stream. Birthdays and congratulations seem to make the top of the list.

On one particular September afternoon, while rolling through the millet field, a bouquet of red balloons caught my eye. “Interesting!”, I thought. “This is something you don’t see as often as the typical mylar balloon”. I kept going. Something entered my head, though, that made me back up, stop and get out of the Beast. I wanted to see what it was that made this find so different from the others.

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it’s not the same as being there

IMG_9235Spending a bit of time with these goofballs while we were home was the best!

I’m usually amazed at just how fast the days and weeks go while we’re on harvest. Not so much right now.

I think it’s a combination of a couple of things. I think the #1 reason it’s dragging is the fact that most of the family unit is at home. Well…sort of. Jenna is busy with farm shows (Farm Progress in Decatur, IL right now) and won’t be “home, home” for a while yet. The rest of the family keeps me informed of what’s going on with Snapchat, Twitter and a text here and there. It isn’t the same as being there! I don’t care how wonderful Facetime is…it’s just not the same as being there.

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final days of wheat harvest 2015

Most of these pictures don’t need any “splainin”.




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