since returning “home, home”

img_5701Fall harvest near the Henry Doorly Zoo Safari Park – Mahoney/Ashland exit. (Picture credit goes to Wayne Skoda)

Sometimes, the hardest part about writing is just sitting down and making the fingers start moving!

The time since we got “home, home” has been a bit of a blur. Between emptying and cleaning the “Cottage on Wheels” and getting ready for Taylor’s wedding, not much time has been given to anything else. I’m not going to go into Taylor’s wedding with this post – it deserves its own spot in our book. So, what I will do is try to relive the last eight weeks, or so, without boring you (hopefully).

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We weren’t on the road nearly as long as other harvesters this year. We arrived home with the last load on the 119th day of our journey…the 29th of September. Jim was in the combine cutting soybeans the very next day. Fall harvest for me doesn’t exist. I didn’t even go out and ride in the combine once this fall. I like to make it out there at least one afternoon while the corn is being picked because I love to watch the corn dance in the header. Somehow, it just wasn’t something that was thought about. Both the beans and corn had amazing yields due to the 40+ inches of rain this part of the country received over the summer. Jim was worried about finding mud holes but the weather cooperated and his worries were needless. We just talked about rain and whether or not it occurred during harvest last night and he said there really was none to speak of. There was one afternoon that it showered on them while picking corn but they pushed through it (and made a mess of the Beast).

img_5702Picture credit goes to Wayne Skoda

img_5703Picture credit goes to Wayne Skoda

While Jim was in the combine, I was here at home. My first concern was getting the trailer house emptied and cleaned out. It’s always a pain to me and made even more challenging because it signifies the end of the harvest. Even though I was really ready to get home this year to see the kids and grandkids, it’s still difficult to accept the finality of it all. This year…even a bit more of a challenge for me because I kept waiting for Callie to come home (just as she had been doing prior to our leaving in the spring) and it didn’t happen. The house was quiet. It hasn’t been this quiet since we moved here (October 1985). Jamie was born two months after we moved and it never had much of a break from the noise (except over the summer months) since.

img_5142The joys of getting to babysit Eli – everything else stops and you go play!

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img_5159A Nebraska sunset from the top bleacher at the EM football game.

img_5163Callie passing the tiara to the newest EM Homecoming Queen.  

There was some bus driving but the majority of my time was spent focusing on things to sew or make for the wedding. I was thankful for the amount of time I had because I didn’t feel the stress of being pushed to get it all done. There were fur shawls to create, dresses to hem, mints to make and shopping (and more shopping) to do. I didn’t even have a dress bought for myself. The wedding was already over a week ago. And it was beautiful! As I said, more on that later.

img_5189Family campfire in honor of Callie’s 19th birthday.

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img_5218Besides the wedding preps, we celebrated Callie’s 19th birthday (October 8), made a Halloween costume for Nora (Indian Princess), had a bridal shower, attended Laramie Farris’ funeral in Goodland, Kansas and celebrated Taylor’s 22nd birthday (same day as Laramie’s funeral).

img_5171Walking through Hobby Lobby to find wedding goods. Taylor so willingly modeled what she wanted her fur shawls to look like. Had to have something to use as my pattern. 

img_5322Callie and I carved 50 of these to be used as a “vase” for mums…decorations for Taylor’s bridal shower.

img_5314The bridal shower was a success! Held in the comforts of Mark and Candi’s new machine shed. The only negative? It was hot!

unnamedThe Indian Princess.

img_5524And…the cowboy!

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img_5265I ventured to Sidney, NE for a couple of days to help Matt and Tina pack. They headed for a new adventure in Olympia, WA and I hope it’s the best thing that’s happened to both of them! (although I will certainly miss them)

Laramie…she was supposed to be at the wedding. Being in Goodland and sitting in a packed school gymnasium was not on our calendar! Jim and I had just spent time with her in September. We weren’t supposed to be standing around a gravesite trying to figure out the why’s and how come’s and now what’s. We weren’t prepared to let her go. Not yet.  But something I’ve realized through all these school gym funerals is that we’re never prepared to say goodbye. Especially to the young people in our lives. Laramie touched so many lives for only being 19 years old – probably more than a lot of us touch in a lifetime. The news article said it was a single car rollover crash caused by a “distraction” in the car. The next time you think you need to text and drive…think of Laramie and a beautiful life that was cut short. Something that stuck with me from the funeral was the comment by the Pastor about how we tend to remember all the first times. It’s the last times that are so easily forgotten. The last time your child sat in your lap, the last time they needed your help, the last time you tucked them in bed, etc. The last times…

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img_5570I love this picture of Taylor & Laramie! They were certainly two of a kind!!

img_5569I remember the last time I spoke with Laramie. She never knew a stranger and she always made you feel like you were the most important person in her life.  Her zest for life was refreshing and her smile made everything feel okay. The other thing I took away from her funeral was, “until next time”. We’ll get on with our lives because that’s what we’re supposed to do. There will be reminders of Laramie in so many ways and occurrences. And that will have to do – until next time. Until the next time we see her again. And I will hold onto that truth!

img_5545Those of us who understand harvest and what it’s like to love people from all over will understand this. This was something Laramie posted this summer to help people better understand how she felt about the people in her life.

img_5614Taylor’s 22nd birthday – and also the day of Laramie’s funeral. The girls wore their boots in her honor.

img_5621The Kansas sunset as we were leaving Goodland and heading back home again.

Jim finished fall harvest Friday before the wedding – November 11. Perfect timing! For the past two days, I have been helping him get the equipment tucked back into the shed for the winter. The years seriously go faster and faster. To the point, I just can’t wrap my mind around how fast the days slip by. We’re looking at Thanksgiving and soon, Christmas…again. Maybe this year, I will actually get Christmas cards mailed again.

unnamed-2I got to tag along to the kids’ dentist appointments. 🙂

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unnamed-4Jim is so darn good at backing things up and especially into tight quarters. This is the first of many necessary steps taken to get everything in “our” shed. This is also a test of trust. I stand behind the item being backed in giving him directions via the telephone until it’s placed right where he wants it. Sometimes…he jumps out of the vehicle to make sure I’m giving him the right directions. Usually, I have. 🙂

img_5893The Pete is unhooked from the grain trailer and driven out to make room for the trailer house. Once the trailer is in place and the combine trailer has found its winter home, the Pete returns and sits on the other side of the Cottage.

img_5894The space to the right of the Cottage has been reserved for the Pete.

unnamed-5Rest up Frank, Pete & The Beast…see ya next spring!!

And now…it’s time to go drive bus!

 

 

the blue coats (aka the blue jackets) and #TransformFFA

img_5371The Limited Edition DVD includes a picture of the Z Crew on the cover. 🙂

FFA…something my family knows NOTHING about! Unfortunately, it isn’t offered in our rural school and my kids have more than once expressed how they wish it had been. What a great program…helping to raise amazing leaders! Attending the 89th National Convention and Expo was a real eye opener, to say the least!

Conrad Weaver called me last spring with this idea he had, “What if we could get a copy of the Great American Wheat Harvest into the hands of every chapter of FFA in the country? Will you help me find sponsors to make this happen?” I LOVED the idea. I immediately thought of and contacted New Holland Ag and MacDon Industries. Seems only appropriate…right?

After several months went by, Conrad contacted me to let me know New Holland was onboard as the major sponsor for this project and MacDon was onboard too. Sweet!!! One of the conditions with the New Holland sponsorship was that I attend the convention with Conrad. I, of course, jumped on this opportunity before he even got the words out of his mouth. Being able to attend AND be located in the New Holland booth was perfect! At that time, October seemed so far into the future. And…lots of wheat acres and miles to go before I could even think about it.

Well, October came much faster than I expected and it was time to pack my bags. It had been a while since I boarded an airplane and I was amazed at the changes made at the Omaha Eppley Airport. How did they do all of this since I was last here? Guess it’s been longer ago than I realized. I went from keeping a suitcase somewhat packed for the next trip to nothing happening – at all.

Conrad was at the Indianapolis Airport to pick me up the night before the convention was to start. It was a late flight, so we chatted on the way to the house he had rented for the time we would be in Indy (Air bnb). Once we arrived, it was “goodnight…be ready to leave at 7:30 am”. I unpacked a little and tried to relax – although, I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little bit excited to be involved with the convention. I’m a bit weird, I’m sure, because I LOVE being a part of the activity and feel of a trade show.

The next morning, we arrived at our destination and immediately saw the sea of blue coats! I was later told by a fellow blogger and friend of mine they are NOT blue coats…they are referred to as blue jackets. UGH! I’ve already scored -100 points with the FFA organization! All I can say is how amazed I was by the number of kids (there were 64,000+ in attendance) and the sea of blue jackets was impressive!

Conrad and I set up our area in the New Holland Ag booth before the crowd made their way to the floor. I was so excited to get to be a part of their booth; I recognized a couple of familiar faces but had to be introduced to the others. It didn’t take long, however, before I felt right at home with them and knew the next several days were going to be a blast.

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img_5370Conrad getting things ready for the first day!

img_5386Missing a couple of key New Holland players but what a FUN group to get to hang out with!

I won’t bore you with the day-to-day details of the show…just the major ones. Conrad and I had a lot of conversations with kids, advisors and parents about the custom harvesting industry as we handed out the free copies of the GAWH movie. I was able to explain to a large number of kids what custom harvesting was and what we did. PERFECT! Being able to tell the story of the custom harvester is what I’m all about! We handed out over 7,000 copies of the movie all because New Holland Ag and MacDon Industries believed in us, the project and the story!

img_5389Not only did we hand out DVDs and posters…we also had sunglasses that “transformed” (folded up). They were a HIT with the kids!

img_5392I think we could be sisters! Dawn and I have been blogger friends for quite some time (a fellow Nebraskan) but have never met. We finally got the opportunity! Make sure and check out her blog – Lady of AgI’m certain you’ll fall in love with it!

And let me tell you what I realized after spending three days with these blue jackets. The future of agriculture is in great hands! These kids are the “cream of the crop”! Very seldom did you see anyone walking around the trade show or the halls with their heads down, looking at their phones. They were always very polite when they approached the booth with questions. I could see their involvement with Ag was going to be a large part of who they would become.

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While I was in the booth, Jamie Johansen with AgWired. com asked for an interview. We did the usual Zeorian Harvesting story and then she asked me what I was getting from being a part of the convention. This is what I told her. I said it’s a lot like the little wheat plant that is just beginning to grow – it gives me hope. The beauty of the tiny little green plant gives me hope of the 2017 wheat harvest and the blue jackets give me hope for the future of Ag. There will be storms and struggles in the process of getting to maturity but the harvest will come!

img_4936Hope for the 2017 Colorado wheat harvest. I took this just days before we headed home, home.

Thank you, New Holland Ag, MacDon and Conrad Weaver for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the National FFA convention. And for the opportunity to, yet again, share the story of the custom harvester!!

img_5381Cole testing his tractor driving skills on the NH simulator. 

cvnystvvyaartl9A little selfie stick fun with Rebecca and Conrad.

cvtdjx3wgaexmx9-1The Combine Dance – check it out!

If you know a FFA chapter that may not have been able to get their free copy of the DVD, please send Conrad an email at info@greatamericanwheatharvest.com (or leave your Chapter’s information in a comment below). Be sure to tell him I sent you! 🙂

P.S. I’d still like to have one of those blue coats (jackets)!

whaz uuuuuuppppppppp???

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

We’ve moved to job #3. We’re in the same area we have been for the past several years – just on different ground. We’re helping Ryan and Casey Graham for the time being. It seems like the weather just doesn’t want to cooperate for staying in a routine. The whole summer feels like this. 

Today, I’m looking forward to the arrival of Curt, Jamie, the kids and Callie. It sure will be fun to have them around for several days. I’m anxious to see how Eli likes being in the combine. He may not want to leave. 🙂

To get caught up on what we’ve been up to and where we’ve been, click here – it will take you to the High Plains Journal All Aboard Harvest website and blog. It seems that I just don’t have it in me to write two blogs. As soon as this project is complete, I’ll jump back over here and keep up with the “what’s up” with the Z Crew.

The heat is cranking up – BIG TIME – for the Midwest. This will make it tough on the truck drivers in the fields and anyone else not able to get in the air conditioning. Be safe and happy harvest!!
Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do.

One of the hottest days we’ve experienced and had to clean the combine. Not pretty.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do.

For more pictures and “what’s up”, be sure to check out the All Aboard Harvest site.

still here…promise!

IMG_2342I just don’t have enough hours in the day. Seriously!  We got to work in Claude, moved and are now sitting in Deerfield. We just got here with the last load last night. I will write more when there is time. Keeping up with two blogs is much harder than I thought! In the meantime, if you’d like to see what we’ve been up to – check out the High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest. Either click on the picture to the right of this post or click here.

In the meantime, hope your summer is going as you had hoped!

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wheat harvest…a slow beginning

IMG_1988We left home two weeks ago tomorrow. We’ve cut two afternoons.

They say it’s not typical. They say wheat harvest has usually begun by now. They say harvest around here starts on Sunday.

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when a house becomes a home

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The last posting brought up a question by a reader that made me realize that it’s a bit hard to read my mind. (Just ask Jim about this)

The question was, “Why did Curt and Jamie move into your house?”

The answer – because it worked out perfectly. We couldn’t have prepared and put the plan together any better had we done it. I believe it all happened as it should have – a “God thing”.  Curt and Jamie made the decision to build a home in the country. That started the process. As soon as the purchasers of their home found out they would be moving, they approached Curt and Jamie about possibly purchasing the home in Louisville.

Each step they took came at perfect timing. As did the transition from one house to another. Their house did, in fact, sell – prior to the completion of the new one. The new owners agreed to let them stay throughout most of the summer, hoping the closing date of the new house would happen before the beginning of a new school year (for the new owners).

The idea of moving to our house was proposed. They took us up on it. The craziness is that – once again – it all happened as it should. They were packing at a time that I could help with the kids and/or packing. I moved our items out of our house to the Cottage. This gave Jamie the empty spaces needed to put her family’s items in. Perfect!

After all of the house swapping was complete, I was able to enjoy two days with the kiddos before we had to leave for the summer. I hope the kids enjoy being in the house as much as the house probably enjoys having them in it! I just wish I was home to enjoy the noise.

IMG_0323Jamie examining the hole in the ground that would one day be her home. 

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IMG_1055The hole in the ground changed to this in April.

IMG_1056What will be the kitchen and island – the heart of the house and family. 

Jamie scattered these scripture verses throughout the home. When I realized she had done it, it was fun to look for them. It was sort of like a game.

 

This is what the house looked like the day before we left. The next time we see it, it will be more than a hole in the ground, more than studs and drywall, it’ll be a HOME. This is the area that will be the kitchen looking into the living room.

One day, this picture will be fun to look at because rather than dirt and sand, there will be grass and trees and lots and lots of wonderful memories.

 

wheat harvest 2016 nearly here

IMG_1474Miss Nora showing us one of her many talents.

There has been a lot of activity within the household! Graduation was on May 14 and it’s already June 6.

Because the wheat harvest journey was next to happen, that’s what was focused on after the graduation party was cleaned up.  And speaking of the graduation party, I’d like to thank everyone who came. Everything turned out nice, including the weather – just enough chilly to enjoy the awesome fire pit Jim and Mark built.

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