final days of wheat harvest 2015

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

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IMG_8887The buddy seat just has a way of doing this to a person!

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IMG_8896Pike’s Peak in the background.

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IMG_8983A SLOW GO!

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IMG_8996Thank goodness for GPS!

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IMG_9019I found the pot of gold!

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IMG_9044The green is the proso millet .

IMG_9049And that’s that!

IMG_9051The storm that was threatening us while we were moving the Beast and cleaning it off.

IMG_9052Now it can rain all it wants to UNTIL it’s time to pick up the millet!

IMG_9211Speaking of millet…this is what it looks like right now.

Stay tuned…

 

the end of wheat harvest 2015

Yep! You read that right. Just about as quickly as it began, it was over. Jim doesn’t agree with me when I said we’d only actually cut wheat for 3.5 weeks this summer. I didn’t write the dates down but I know it went awfully fast. It wasn’t supposed to be over this quickly. It happens, though, when the timing of jobs and weather come into play.

Normally, after we finish with our acres in Limon, we clean up, pack up, load up and head for Jordan, MT. (my most favorite place to be during the summer) Not this year. The weather dealt a rough hand for the Z Crew this year. The wheat in Limon was set back due to the late season freeze on Mother’s Day weekend. The wheat in Jordan was moved ahead of schedule because of heat and lack of rain. These two circumstances clashed and made our schedule unworkable.

We were told we would need to be in Jordan on August 1 to begin cutting. There was no way. We finished in Limon late afternoon on August 1.

When I was told we weren’t going to make it to Jordan, I instantly felt sick. We had been there every summer for over 30 years. Some of our best friends live there and we only get to see them once a year. Not this year.

So, now what?

Well, we cleaned the Beast very briefly after we finished and before it wanted to rain on us. We headed back to the Cottage. Jim suggested we go camping. I was still feeling numb inside because we weren’t packing up and hurrying to Jordan. Taylor wanted to leave for home, home on Thursday morning so she could attend the county fair. Callie didn’t care one way or another. I didn’t think it would be worth the short period of time we would have to load everything up and head to the mountains for two days. So we just sorta decided against going.

Then I got to thinking about things.

We were all in a funk – well…maybe it was just me. Feeling sorry for myself because the summer was over. The last wheat field was cut for 2015. How could this be? The other harvesters were still on the move – and we were not.

So, after I spent some time thinking about things, I decided going camping was probably just what I needed – what we needed. What would we do otherwise? Sit in the camper and feel sorry for myself, I guess. I didn’t want to spend the last couple of days with the girls doing that. So…we gathered the camping gear, packed our clothes for a couple of days and headed west.

The first night was spent in the Holiday Inn Express in Colorado Springs. It was late enough in the day we didn’t feel it would be a good idea to try to find a place and set up camp in the dark.

I was given the job of finding a destination. I did my homework while the rest were crashed on the bed watching tv. I decided I really wanted to see the Crystal Mill near Marble, CO. It looked beautiful and was supposed to be like the most photographed location in Colorado. What I didn’t know is that it would take a jeep or ATV to get there. We found that out much later in the trip.

So, the next morning, we made our way to a campground that I had determined would be our home for the next couple of nights – Bogan Flats. I attempted to make a reservation online but all of the online reservations were already taken for the nights we would need a spot. It then became a “first come, first serve” basis. I got a bit anxious as the day got longer and I worried whether or not we’d get a spot to pitch the tent.  No worries. The perfect one was there waiting for us to arrive – right by the stream.

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IMG_9146There she is…home for a few days.

Everyone was ready for a couple of days of nothing. No cell phone. No makeup. No hurries. No worries.

IMG_9149Once we got the tent set up and things in order, we took off to explore the town of Redstone. Redstone was on our way back to Carbondale. We didn’t have the makings for S’mores and Taylor insisted we HAD to get them.

IMG_9064These Coke Ovens are part of Redstone’s history. Very interesting!

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IMG_9123Day 3:

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IMG_9152Callie checking out the creek. This was the view from the “door” of the tent.
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IMG_9155The town of Marble, CO. Marble for parts of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC came from these quarries.

After breakfast was over and the dishes were done, we sat around for a while. Then decided we’d see about going to the Crystal Mill. When we found out we couldn’t drive the dually and the cost of renting ATV’s was out of the question, we just decided to drive. To see what we could see. And this is what we saw:

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IMG_9183We got back just in time to throw together a pot of chili and more s’mores. The stars were amazing! If only I could have taken a picture to share.

Final Day:

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While I was doing my homework on Sunday night about the area I wanted to visit, I found an interesting place near highway marker 55. There are a couple of natural hot springs located near this site and it’s visited quite often by people. We went by several times throughout our stay and there were always cars parked and people in the water. So, we opted not to stay. On our way out of the area, though, I asked Jim if we could just stop one more time and see what it was all about. Lucky for us, it wasn’t full of people so we wandered down to the creek. I had to take off my shoes, of course, to see what it felt like. The water coming out of the side of the mountain was so hot I couldn’t keep my foot in for even five seconds. It felt like boiling water. The smaller “pools” you see have been built to catch the hot water and allow the cold creek water to tone the temperature down.

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IMG_9200While we were along the creek’s edge, there was a friendly competition of who could skip the rock the most times. I think Callie may have won.

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IMG_9206Back to “cibilation, mate”!

The next morning came way too quickly! And the dreaded moment of knowing the Cottage would no longer be filled with the noise of the kids and the chaos of all of us living in the same 40 feet of space. After they left, the day was spent trying to keep the tears from flowing with memories of them everywhere. EVERYWHERE! But, they made it home in time to attend the fair and see all of their friends…and boyfriends. Callie will be starting school soon and Taylor will be busy for the next couple of weeks taking pictures. As for me and Jim…the Cottage was pretty quiet.

IMG_9207The final moments of Harvest 2015 for Taylor and Callie.

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Now what for the remaining two members of the Z Crew? Well, Jim has spent the past couple of days cleaning the Beast and the header. Both had been worked pretty hard the last 10 days of harvest. The typical nightly cleaning didn’t happen. So, there’s days and days of field dirt that have accumulated and been rained on. You know what that means – it doesn’t come off easy. I’ve been playing catchup on items around the Cottage and also for USCHI.

We’ll wait for the Proso Millet harvest.

We plan to make it home for a few days so Jim can get the corn head ready for fall. He’s hoping we can cut proso up til the time we need to be home for the soybeans and corn. While we have the down time, he’ll get things ready for that next part of Harvest 2015.

I’m hoping to get to play with Eli and Nora a bit. :)

We’ve never cut millet before. I’m excited about doing something different. That is supposed to begin sometime around the end of August – first part of September. So, harvest isn’t over…really. Just the part about the amber waves of wheat – which still makes me sad.

all of z crew present…for a week

IMG_6734-1Thanks for sharing your picture, Taylor! This little guy loves the equipment!!!

Sitting here waiting for my fingers to move and my mind to shift gears to writing is the reason I fail at keeping a journal. It’s not the writing that I fail at – it’s the getting behind and trying to catch up. When this happens, I become overwhelmed with the amount of time that has passed and then I just don’t even want to do it. Once I’m caught up again, I tell myself I’m not going to let that happen again. Guess what…I generally do let it happen again.  I’ll start catching you up and if need be, I’ll just have to make it a continuing story. Otherwise, I’m certain you’ll lose interest.

We finally got really busy the week Jamie & Jenna showed up. Figures, right! The rain showers that we were receiving almost daily did allow me to have one full day with the kids and we decided to go to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (more on this later). Every afternoon, like clock-work, the showers moved in. It would rain just enough to shut us down and then the next day we would have a late start. As the girls would be getting their morning under control and beginning to do something fun, Jim and I would have to head to the field. This was good and bad. At least they were able to come hang out in the field for a while and I was able to get some time with everyone in the morning.

IMG_8841A little “Gaw” time with Mr. Eli and Miss Nora.

IMG_8825For a couple of nights, I was able to lay in bed with Eli and read books before he would go to sleep. It. Was. The. BEST!

IMG_8817Time with Nora wasn’t as often just cuz she really likes her mama right now!

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IMG_8796A dirt pile, a cup and boys to play with…

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IMG_8807Auntie Jen trying to manhandle the little guy. 

Jamie, Jenna, Eli and Nora came out on Saturday. They brought their own Cottage on Wheels and parked next to us. Curt was to fly out on Thursday only he missed his family too much and upped the date of departure to Tuesday. So, while we were in the field cutting Tuesday afternoon, the rest of the gang went to the Denver airport and picked him up. That afternoon, we got enough rain that it would keep us out of the field for a day. What did we do? We went to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs. If you’re ever in the neighborhood of Colorado Springs and you’re looking for something to do, I would highly advise the zoo. I love the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo, BUT…this is one that may become my favorite to visit. It was recently voted one of the top 10 zoos in the nation…#6.  Have you ever got to pet a giraffe? You can at this zoo!

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IMG_8864The zoo overlooks Colorado Springs. I think if we looked hard enough, we could see the Beast on the horizon.

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IMG_8867Eli and “Coco”

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IMG_8873The heat and the elevation was taking a toll on these flatlanders! Curt treated us all to a “Dippin Dots” break. It was just what we needed to press on.

IMG_8876As the last hoorah of the day, we took the chairlift over the park and up the mountain. As you can see from the next picture, Jamie was not enjoying her ride. Miss Nora was wanting to straighten her body and kick against the bar. I can understand her concern. It was a loooooooong ways down!

IMG_8877When we got back in the field again, Eli was in heaven! He loved all of the machinery and was able to ride in the Beast and in the tractor with Wes. He didn’t know where he wanted to be most of the time – in all of them at the same time! Jenna and Eli jumped in the Beast and rode for a while…until he saw the tractor. Then it was a different story! Then he and Jen had to take a tour in the big green tractor. Thanks, Jenna, for capturing the moments!

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IMG_6700The family would gather together for the evening meal – all of the family. When I say “all”, I mean the entire group. There must have been about 100 of us. :) This was the one time of the day everyone would get together, pray over the meal and then enjoy each other’s company for a little while. As soon as the combine operators were finished (and the tractor driver, Wes), it was back to work!

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So, it was decided that while we were all together, we’d get a family picture in the wheat field. We’ve not done that in a very long time…if ever. We were missing the Rathe family, though, and were wishing they were with us! On this particular day, my brother, Matt, and Tina surprised us at the field. So, he is responsible for taking these pictures for us. Thanks, Matt! You did a great job…once again!

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IMG_9055And…of course…our annual All Aboard Wheat Harvest photo. For both of these being at the end of the day, they turned out pretty good. And the reason I mention the end of the day is because Jim and I had been in the field all day – both days. So, considering neither of us had any time to prepare, they look about as good as they could! I’m so very proud of what we’ve “built”. It’s not always easy and it’s not always fun, but in the end…we’re family and we’ll always have each other’s back! God has blessed us beyond my wildest imagination.

IMG_6854-1As with everything…all good things must come to an end. The week was over and they had to go home – much to my dislike! The tears came easy and it took most of the rest of the day to get out of my “funk”. But, I’m so glad they came and we got to share the days together.

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IMG_8956These were taken the morning they had to leave.

IMG_9016Back home again – in the heat and humidity that Eastern Nebraska dishes out! See ya when we get home!!!!

welcome to our dining room

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Eleven days ago…

That’s how long it’s been since I actually took the time to sit in front of this screen and share what the heck is going on with the Z Crew.

The girls made it back. They showed up on the 6th and was put to work immediately. It was awfully good to have them back home with us – even though I’m certain they had a great time with friends while they were away. Callie and her group placed 4th in the nation for their Local Chapter Annual Business Report. 4th in the NATION. I’m so proud of her! So, her trip to Chicago was a success.

We loaded the combine and header as soon as they got back to the Cottage and took it to the Deerfield elevator. We arrived just as it was getting dark. The next day we would make our way to Limon.

That next morning, we woke up to rain and clouds and decided that we’d wait to see if it would pass before making our way northwest. Finally about noon, we decided we just had to leave if we were going to get to Limon that day and get camp set up again. The trip went fairly fast and uneventful…thank goodness!

IMG_8699Wind’s version of the oil boom! These wind generators are everywhere and this particular parking spot is filled with them every night. They sort of dwarf Pete and Frank!

IMG_8698The wheat was just on the verge of being ready to cut but still had plenty of green patches. We were told maybe we’d try a sample on Tuesday. In the meantime, I got caught up on paperwork (again), Taylor went to Denver with her friend and then to Boulder to take pictures on Sunday. We were sort of vacationing. At least it feels like it at this campground. The place fills every night with families on vacation. It really does make me wish we were on vacation!

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IMG_8700The baby blanket I made while trying to stay busy.

IMG_8687One afternoon, Taylor and I took a quick trip to one of the fields to see if she would be able to Skype with a friend of hers who is a teacher. Her friend was hoping to use Taylor, the wheat field and our business as a way to introduce agriculture to the classroom. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Darn!

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IMG_8690Sunday evening, Jim and I unloaded the Yellow Beast.

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IMG_8721For the next three days, our days wouldn’t get started until noon or after. We would sample but the moisture was always just too high to get started at the typical time. We’d have most of the afternoon to get something accomplished and then the rain clouds would roll in.

IMG_8733This is what it looked like when we cut the very first sample. By the time we got back from the elevator to check moisture, the clouds had broken some and there was blue sky. The sample was dry and this was on Monday.

IMG_8734From the window of the service truck.

IMG_8735When we got back to the field, the whole crew had arrived!

IMG_8737Looks like a party.

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IMG_8750Just chillin…waiting for the wheat to dry. The flies are bad but not anything like they were in Deerfield!

IMG_8492Wonder what this is all about? Check out the Combine Cam to see what we’re up to today. It’s almost like you’re riding in the combine with me. I wrote a post about this opportunity to share the harvest for the High Plains Journal – click here to read it. 

IMG_8748We have been able to mow through quite a few fields already. It never ceases to amaze me how much can get done in one day with three combines. I’m so used to just one machine and what it can do in one day. There are fields only doing as good as 20 bushels per acre and there are fields that are averaging 70. It just depends on which field got frost damage and how severe it was. This area had frost on Mother’s Day – just at the point in the plants growing cycle when it hurt it the worst.  The test weights have been 58-61. All in all, I’m fairly certain our farmer and his sons are pretty happy with the outcome.

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IMG_8761I believe I take way too many pictures! But when you’ve got this sort of action happening in front of you, how can you NOT take a picture? You don’t get action shots like this when the Beast is the only machine in the field.

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IMG_8768YES, I found a mud hole. I guess I had to be like all the other harvesters this summer!

IMG_8769Gettin her pulled out. It wasn’t stuck too bad – just the front right tire but there was no way to back it out without going deeper so out came the tow rope.

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IMG_8776Our job provides us with so many opportunities to experience the most beautiful sights! God is so good!

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IMG_8787Welcome to our dining room!

IMG_8788I took this tonight just as I was coming to the end of the final strip for the day.

Jamie, Jenna, Eli and Nora will be here tomorrow for a visit. Curt will be flying in on Thursday. It will be so good to see them all again! I bet those kids have grown quite a bit since we saw them last.

Be prepared for the pictures!

 

 

a wheat whackin week

IMG_8593Testing the “bite” of the grain to see if it’s dry.

We began cutting the acres for our farmer in the Garden City, KS area on Wednesday morning (6/24) without missing a beat.  If you recall, we finished Shattuck late Monday afternoon and loaded as much as we could. On Tuesday, Jim and Taylor loaded the combine while Callie and I got the trailer house ready to go. After the tire on the van was replaced, we headed north. We unloaded Frank and the Beast in the dark. The next morning, as we were leaving for the field, the girls were headed home.

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how things change

img_7716Credit for this picture goes to Taylor.

4th of July…always a holiday that was a bit of a struggle to celebrate when the girls were little.

If there was wheat to cut, the day was spent “as usual” on the custom wheat harvesting journey. If there was work to do…it was #1 priority. But we always purchased a whole lot of fireworks knowing that at the end of the day, wherever we were or whatever we were doing, they would be lit and enjoyed.

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a new field in a new location

IMG_8431Cleaning equipment after finishing at Shattuck, OK and getting ready for the move to Garden City, KS

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IMG_8442Zeorian Harvesting moved from Shattuck, OK to Garden City, KS in record time! We really did. We’ve never been able to move everything in one trip. It has always taken two trips to move our equipment which sometimes means valuable time in the field is given up for road time.

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