we’ve got a starting point!

One of the many “prairie skyscrapers” we saw on our adventure. This one was in Perryton, TX. 

We decided at the very last minute to go. I had been asking if we would be attending the annual Safety Day in Colby, KS for quite some time. I know it’s difficult for Jim to make any commitments this time of year because of the work he has ahead of him. And if the weather is good, he’s got to focus on getting equipment ready for the harvest run. However, it’s been a bit chilly and rainy. So on Thursday morning, he decided we would go. 

The Safety Day starts Friday morning. “I have an afternoon bus route to do and won’t be home until approximately 5:30.” Because he wouldn’t commit, I had already told one of the regular route drivers I would help him out. 

When I arrived at the school, I told Callie what would be happening. She had no idea. But why would she? I told her we would be leaving that night but wouldn’t be home until Sunday night because dad wanted to take a drive to look at a possible job near Amarillo, TX. Surprise!

 Kent Braathen of Braathen Harvesting (Grand Forks, ND) had to make a trip to the area for business. It was a lot of fun getting to meet his 2016 crew. All of them made the trip to the USA from South Africa. Left to right…Greg, Kent, AJ, Zyn, Dan and Tiaan. What a GREAT group of guys!! And so interested in our low-budget operation. Hope to run into these guys again somewhere along the journey this year. 

It was a late night by the time we parked the pickup in the parking lot of the Colby Days Inn. And an early morning wake-up call. We had been invited to breakfast by Jim Deibert of JKD Harvesting. Jim is also the organizer of the Safety Day. For those of you familiar with The Great American Wheat Harvest movie, Jim and his crew were one of five crews featured in the story. (He’s the one with all the foreign employees and newer John Deere combines.)

Jim did a fine job of representing New Holland and Kan Equip while attending the meeting! 

We left the meeting before it was over to begin our adventure to Texas. We wanted to get to Amarillo before too much of the day was gone. We drove in rain all the way from Colby to Texas. Most farmers between these two points were probably pretty darn happy the rainmakers were back in town! We didn’t even need to drag the Beast with us! 

So…it was supper time by the time we got there. Jim knew exactly where he wanted to go. A place he had seen on tv and while passing through town in the past – The BIG Texan Steak Ranch. He said he wasn’t up to the 72oz steak. ūüėä (Maybe another time)

We ended up spending the night at the hotel that was just across the parking lot. As we opened the door, Jim said, “Now, THIS makes it feel like we’re on vacation!” And here is why:

The next morning, we made our way east of Amarillo to visit with a farmer about cutting his wheat. The best part of the job we have is dealing with really good people. A fellow harvester knew we were in trouble with the beginning of our 2016 run and suggested we make the contact. What we encountered was some of the flattest wheat acres we’ve ever seen and the opportunity to meet more good people! We were blessed all the way around. It looks like we have a place to start…thank God! The farmer said he thought we’d be in the field June 6. 

After our visit, the farmer suggested we take a quick trip to see the Palo Duro Canyon. All I could say was, WOW! This is the 2nd largest canyon in the United States. Want to guess what is first?

We finally saw some Texas sunshine and boy did it feel good! I have a feeling the next time we’re in this area, it won’t be quite as lovely (the Texas sun). 

And who couldn’t stop along the road and take advantage of a few pics of some real Texas Longhorns?

Our day ended by going back to Jim Deibert’s shop to partake in his annual cream can celebration. He had a large crowd of family, friends and employees gathered for a great time. I believe he estimated approximately 100 people in attendance. 

I finally got to meet the famous Jordan Taylor of J. Taylor Photography. If you have never seen his pictures (especially of the 2014 harvest), you’ve got to take the time to visit his Facebook page and also his website

The first time I sorta met Kelly and Warwick Denton was in Omaha at the 2016 USCHI annual convention. I was surprised to see them at the party and also to learn they will be joining JKD Harvesting on the wheat run. I think I heard that Warwick will be driving truck and Kelly has taken on the job of cook. And what a challenge that could be! She’ll be cooking for a crowd of about 20 every day. Kelly and Warwick are from New Zealand. Kelly has a Facebook page – Karen Denton (Kelly). I told her she should begin a blog and write about her adventures. If she does create one, I’ll share the link in another post. Their story is a fun one to hear!

We spent the night in Colby again and woke up to more rain. Rain..it’s a good thing…especially while wheat is “filling”. We “mosied” home at a turtle’s pace as there was no hurry. 

So glad to know we have one large stress eliminated…where to start. The reason this is even a cause of concern is because the job we usually start our season at (Shattuck, OK) turned their wheat acres into cow food. 100% of the acres we have cut in the past were being grazed. We saw quite a few fields with cattle in them on our trip. 

What now? Well, first we gotta get Callie graduated (5/14). And then…it’s crunch time!!! The Cottage will need to be packed, lots of hours and late nights of preparation, loading equipment and back to two trips to get everything to the first job. As you will recall, last year was the FIRST time (and will be the LAST time) we were able to get everything moved in one trip. It looks like it may be lining up to be just Jimbo and me this summer. 

Stay tuned…

keep your sight on the horizon

FullSizeRender (1)I’m not good at making New Year’s resolutions. I think they’re dumb. Mostly because when I used to follow the crowd and make a resolution, it was usually something that was next to impossible to keep. It was a good intention, though. So, rather than deal with the guilt of not living up to my end of the deal…I stopped making them. Well, now I’ve sort of made myself this pre-harvest resolution. I’ve been enough sedentary over the winter, I can see and feel a few of the extra inches that are a result of this lifestyle. I know it comes with age but until I can’t do something about it, maybe I should at least up the ante on the number of steps I take each day.

I got a bit obsessed with knowing the number of steps I was taking when I rode to New Orleans with Jenna to help her with her CLAAS booth at Commodity Classic. The facility was gigantic!!! It took many, many steps to get from point A to point B. Our biggest day of steps was 21,391 or nearly 10 miles. So, when I checked my phone the other day and the health app showed less than 1,000 steps, I decided I could do something about that. Either I needed to keep my phone in my pocket a little more OR I could just take off and go for a walk after Callie leaves for school. I opted for option #2.

Continue reading

or so I thought…

claudias-book-quoteYou know, some days just seem to start out a bit more of a struggle than others. Today was one of those struggle days. Struggle to accept changes that are being thrown at me. Struggle just to get started with what’s on my list of “to do’s”. Just a struggle. I really hate days like this. Mostly because it takes hold of your very soul and seems to try to back you into a corner and not let you out. The tears that have been pushed back for so long seem to flow easily and won’t quit.

Why is it so hard to accept the fact that you’re not quite as tough as you’d like the rest of the world believe you are?

Continue reading

for the love of tractors!

3e676c9e-56bd-4ba0-8d71-72e560453a7cThe 2016 Gathering of the Green was held on March 16, 17, 18 & 19 in the RiverCenter facility located in Davenport, IA. This biennial nationwide conference is for John Deere collectors, restorers & enthusiasts. The next gathering will be in March 2018.

During the past two months, I have had the opportunity to speak at two tractor club events. The interest in the custom harvesting industry is amazing to me. It’s what we do so I don’t see it being anything more than that – what we do. However, the interest is incredibly huge and it energizes me when I’m given the chance to talk about it!

I was approached by the Elkhorn Valley Antique Power Association to speak at their January meeting.  This was held at the CLAAS of NA headquarters in Omaha, NE. I was a bit hesitant to agree to do it but then decided, what the heck!

1523737_655163714547605_926368473_o

1534765_657882587609051_770060094_oThe “end of the harvest journey” for The Great American Wheat Harvest documentary¬†was filmed inside the CLAAS headquarters January 2014.

I already had a PowerPoint presentation which I had pulled together for a previous presentation. The very first opportunity I had to chat about the industry that I love was to¬†a group of engineers at the January 2013 AgConnect show in Kansas City. I was scared to death! I worried about that presentation for days and could feel my heart in my throat right to the second I was introduced. But…I got up there and started talking. And talking. And talking. I think I was up there for half an hour (or longer) but it felt like five minutes. I guess it was easier than I thought.

The second presentation just two months ago came so much easier. I didn’t even get the last-minute jitters. Actually, I was quite surprised. It comes easy when you talk about something that means so much to you. After the presentation was over, Jim and I answered questions about harvest, equipment, the journey and anything else that came to mind by the attendees. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I know that a few of the members of this club read my blog so I’d like to give a shout out to you and thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell my story!! I hope it was a fun and interesting evening for you. I know we had a blast!

My latest opportunity to tell the story of the custom harvester was a spur of the moment idea. I was called by a member of the board for the Gathering of the Green¬†as a last-minute thought. The event was in the process of being set up and they really wanted me to come and talk about the custom harvester…and could I bring a copy of the EMMY award-winning documentary,¬†The Great American Wheat Harvest?¬†I made a phone call to Jim expecting him to say there was no way he could take a couple of days off of work to drive to Davenport, IA. However, I was wrong. He agreed and we made our plans to head east.¬†

6dbd720b-ac28-4ac6-96fd-57b484ea0a08

6dbd720b-ac28-4ac6-96fd-57b484ea0a08 - Copy (2)It was a short trip – out there and back – but we really enjoyed ourselves. The people are like most of Ag – awesome! There’s a common connection with anyone involved with agriculture and anytime you can visit with like-minded people it’s a great time. My presentation was set for 8:00 am on Friday. I intended to give my presentation, show the movie and end it with questions from the audience. Well, the DVD didn’t want to play on the computer for me. So, we just spent the remaining time with the group answering questions and talking custom harvesting.

2ea9093f-cb32-4104-b485-2eb18defa37cThe amount of interest in our lifestyle is simply amazing to me. Once we get started talking about this nomadic way of life, it’s difficult to quit the conversation. So many great questions about what we do!

The Gathering of the Green is sponsored by the following four tractor clubs:

Deer Valley Collectors
Illinois Valley Two-Cylinder Club
North Eastern Illinois Twin-Cylinder Club

Northwest Illinois Deer Collectors

172808f8-f8e2-499f-9c2f-e708cb284357I took this bit of history directly from the Gathering of the Green website:

The four sponsoring clubs meet every other year at Grand Detour, John Deere’s home, for a tractor show, and during a group meeting there during the 1999 show, Mark Johnson, an NEITCC member, shared that he had recently attended a conference sponsored by another tractor company. Given the fact that no such conference had ever been sponsored for John Deere enthusiasts, it was his opinion that our four groups together could create such an event for our faithful green and yellow collectors. After some serious conversation, the group agreed to give it a try, and the rest is history.

Be sure to visit their Facebook page to see pictures and more information about their event.

7c449d63-aaf6-4a20-9958-8ee41c2c10afThank you to those of you responsible for giving me yet another opportunity to share our way of life (Dean, Brad, Dan and others)!!! Again, I was surprised by the lack of pre-speaking jitters . I guess talking about something near and dear to my heart – the prairie nomads – is much easier than I thought. I encouraged the participants to tell their story and as often as they are given the opportunity. I may not ever be given the chance to tell our story again to a group but I hope to those who have heard it, they’ve learned a little more about what we do and why we do it!

1f070ec3-ffe5-49a2-b0c1-4d57458b01e2Photo credit goes to Jim. I asked him if he’d take a few pictures for me and it looks like he did just what was asked of him. The people involved with the set up for this event certainly know how to create a beautiful and interesting show!

e467e98b-bb1e-4d77-86a4-3da8f344e0c3

084ce328-0862-46f5-ada0-3a449ff2a41a

d924b477-c334-476a-9d52-cfbf9a98a8aa

9242e526-f9d6-4d7b-9735-6c441da59dfd

263a23ee-ae80-43a5-9fbe-9cb0647fbc41

9e6536bf-40ee-4377-b364-0a10df43b1d7

6e976420-3c0e-44e8-933a-6b1c53976f20

b3ec1336-9702-4521-ab37-416c21c9406e

e23c2f56-6f8f-4517-aea2-f0566625571b

b8c08234-c621-481f-90d2-d8cd637e6860

6486db50-f324-48e1-b03f-c322bc0f7621

2d5dcb7e-9334-4a04-8db9-67470629759f

0cb3e2e1-973a-4d14-9550-972afe900c34

 

a sure sign of spring in nebraska…baby bovines (calves)

Palm Sunday 2Regardless of what the thermometer shows for a temperature this time of year, the surest sign that spring has sprung is the sight of calves standing near their mama. Or, better yet, a gang¬†of them¬†running and leaping as if to say, “Why worry? Have fun!”

We don’t live on a farm. The last link to the farm for our immediate family belongs to Jim’s sister, Maureen, and her husband, Harvey. They plant corn and soybeans and raise cattle. They used to have pigs, as well, but gave up on that quite a few years ago already. Diversified operation. Recently, I’ve come to appreciate them and the connection much more. Prior to this appreciation, it was taken for granted.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading