the great american wheat harvest (video)

IMG_3538 Well…once again, the days have run together and more weeks have gone by since I allowed myself to sit down and write about the adventures of the Z Crew. Our time in New York City was phenomenal! One major thing I would have changed (if I could have) would have been the weather. The “winter-that-just-won’t-quit” continued the entire time we were on our trip of a lifetime. It was so cold, we were ducking into stores hoping to find gloves and hats. Unfortunately, all the winter items had been taken off the shelves to make room for summer merchandise. Dang it was cold! The final day of New York was spent at The World Trade Center site and Central Park. The girls LOVED Central Park (especially Taylor) and I really wished that it had been more spring-like weather instead of a strong bitter cold wind. All we wanted to do was get somewhere warm. Our last evening was spent washing clothes, packing and preparing for an early morning departure. We had tickets to take the Amtrak from NYC to DC and had to leave the apartment at 6:00 a.m.

IMG_3575Early morning lights.

IMG_3573One last view before walking out the door.

IMG_3577Taylor was our navigator. She definitely has a built-in sense of direction. My Grandma would be proud!

We got to DC just in time to drop our luggage in the room and head for the Capitol building. Dan Misener had set up a tour for members of our entire group. Maybe I should back up just a little. The reason the entire family was in DC for Ag Day (rather than just me with USCHI) was to participate in the premiere showing of The Great American Wheat Harvest movie. It was Callie’s idea to make a quick detour through NYC before getting to where we were headed. I’m so glad we made it all happen. Having the opportunity to see something new with most of the family (we were missing Curt) only happens once in a while. So…now, back to the DC part of my story.

While the large group (which included Deibert’s, Dilse’s, Misener’s, Petersen’s, Wolgemuth’s and others) toured the Capitol, Kent, Dan and I headed to a planned Ag Day event as representatives of U.S. Custom Harvesters. The next day was Ag Day and the day we’d all been waiting for for nearly four years – the premiere.

1948063_644753488912081_1649457272_nHeaded into The National Museum of the American Indian. Yes, it WAS snowing!

IMG_3597Pretty sharp lookin couple when we can be. Don’t expect this quality look in the wheat field!

The girls had purposely not watched the movie in Wichita during the convention. They wanted to see it for the first time in DC. They gave it a “thumb’s up”. We laughed…we cried…and we felt proud of who we are and what we do. Conrad did it!! He correctly told the story of the custom harvester and all that we go through to get that crop cut when it needs to be cut for the farmer. He effectively told the story of who we are and what we do. What began as an idea and a telephone conversation (while driving the combine in a Montana wheat field) turned into reality that day and the world was going to be exposed to our lives. Thank you, Conrad, for doing what you set out to do and doing it SO WELL! Jim and I agreed to do this because we believed in the project. We did it because we wanted to tell our story. We did it because we felt the people who don’t understand how their bread makes it to the grocery store NEEDED to know. We agreed to do it because it needed to be done – before it’s too late.  I am certain that EVERY custom harvester that watches this movie will fill with pride knowing it’s their story of our contribution to feeding so many. I’m so proud of you – ALL of you!

Wednesday morning brought a meeting for Kent, Dan and I. The rest of the clan just hung out until we were finished and then we loaded in the van we had rented and headed towards Emmitsburg, MD for another showing of the movie. This night was going to be in front of Conrad’s hometown crowd and peers. This one COULD be the hardest one for him to get through. However, the room was filled with guests and they ALL seemed to enjoy the movie. We had a lot of people ask great questions about the custom harvester. And, I heard, “I never knew” from more than one. So, I guess it did what it was supposed to!

IMG_3605It was a full house in Emmitsburg!

Emmitsburg was just a little more than a week ago and already feels like an eternity! I’m writing this on a couch in a Bed and Breakfast outside of Scottsbluff, NE. Since Emmitsburg, we’ve been to a showing in Lincoln, NE and one of three in Scottsbluff. Each of these have been exciting to be a part of because it’s fun to see and hear the crowd’s reaction. I have so enjoyed being available to talk to after the show simply because the people who will step up and chat will tell me how much they enjoyed the story. Some want to call me a “star”. I’m no “star”…I’m simply telling my story. I’m telling the story for all the other “wheaties” out there. I want the world to know what we do and what our involvement is in feeding the world. I’m certain that if you watch it, you’ll understand why I fill with pride when I see those combines in the field! Why I fill with pride when I hear about the guys who come to help the harvester owner keep those combines rolling. I fill with pride when I see the job my kids do and how this sets them apart from their peers. Agriculture does this to a person! The love of the land and the job that we do is like none other…better than any 9-5 job out there. We’ll never be rich, financially, but we’re rich in so many other ways. We are truly blessed to say that we are custom harvesters!

THANK YOU, Conrad, for telling our story! And to Jody and Melody for being the behind the scenes “get-it-out-there” people for Conrad!

IMG_3630While in Scottsbluff, we made a stop to visit with Howard Hale…”This is Howard Hale with the Harvest USA Report”. The custom harvester’s #1 fan!


IMG_3638We’re staying at a lovely bed and breakfast called Barn Anew”.  You’ve got to check this place out! It’s absolutely gorgeous and, yes, it truly is an old barn! The Scotts Bluff Monument is literally in the backyard. This is just what I needed after the past two months!


IMG_3619Our room.


1381346_649178798469550_1733676498_nThe Midwest Theater in the town of Scottsbluff, NE opened its doors for the first time on May 3, 1946. It’s gorgeous!


IMG_3623This place seats over 700.

Thank you, too, to the people who follow Nebraska Wheatie and the Z Crew who make a point of letting me know you keep up with where we’re at and what we’re doing! I’m so glad you find our way of life interesting. Let me know if you ever have a question or…just check in once in a while. It’s good to know you’re there!!

jenna and her german intern

I’ve been away for a little bit…

I’ve been extremely busier than normal with putting together a fairly large event for the U.S. Custom Harvesters. We’re celebrating our 31st annual convention and trade show in Wichita, KS on March 6 – 8.  It’s been a work in progress, that’s for sure. The biggest event I’ve ever done was Jamie and Curt’s wedding. That seems like a piece of cake. :)

Jenna, on the other hand, knows exactly what this is all about. She’s the trade show coordinator for CLAAS and travels the farm show circuit with the CLAAS equipment. She knows how hard it is to make things work and click and look good and deal with stress. So, for the past several days, I’ve talked to her about all of this because she knows and understands.

Jenna is on the road again. She drives the company pickup pulling the CLAAS trailer from farm show to farm show. The Louisville Farm Show was the first one for 2014. She’s now moved to San Antonio for Commodity Classic. And, she’ll finish this multi-city tour with the USCHI convention in Wichita. So, if you’re planning to attend  Commodity Classic (or the USCHI convention) make sure and stop by the CLAAS booth and tell her hello!

One day, recently, I received an email from her with an attachment and this is what it said:

I just found this on my computer from the first farm show last year summer. I wish I had time to journal/write like this…usually I’m too exhausted. :(   Anyways, just thought it was fun!

Continue reading

a mama’s hurting heart

I woke up this morning with the realization that things would never be the same again around this household…Taylor has officially moved out.

For the longest time, I denied the fact. I knew that when Jenna bought a house, Taylor’s intentions were to move in with her. The house was bought and updates have been in the process ever since. I just kept denying the fact that eventually Taylor would be leaving the nest.  It happened – yesterday.

Maybe it was a good thing it happened yesterday. I was gone ALL DAY with a bus activity for the high school. I left home at 6:00 a.m. and returned at 8:30 p.m. The first clue that things would be different when I got home was the text I received from Taylor:

“All moved in! I just need somewhere to sleep now ha ha” and this picture



Continue reading

christmas in the country!

As I mentioned in one of my last posts, I struggled with the Christmas spirit this year. I’m still not REAL sure what the reason was but I sort of think the fact that we started hearing about what we should purchase before Halloween had something to do with it.

The event that jumpstarted the ‘ole excitement of what Christmas is all about was a bloggers gift exchange spearheaded by none other than Jamie Rhoades of This Uncharted Rhoade and Laurie Link of Country LINKedThese two gals must have known I was having an issue and decided to fix it for me – and include a few others, as well. Thank you, Jamie and Laurie! 

The idea behind it was to create a blogger’s gift exchange to introduce ourselves to new friends and share with them a little piece of where we live and who we are. Well, I feel like the receiver of my gift, Nicole Small (or better known as A Kansas Farm Mom), may have gotten just a little slighted by me regarding the rule of explaining what I sent. Sorry, Nicole! The reason (really it is) being that I didn’t want to ruin the gifts by explaining in my note what each individually wrapped item was. I wanted it to be a surprise and I wanted it to be fun. So, when Nicole read my hand-scribbled note, I certainly hope there was no judgement passed. :) As part of the fun, we are supposed to link up with each other’s blog for pictures and a short story. So, maybe once you see Nicole’s blog about what she received, this will mean more. I included in her box a picture of my blog’s header picture, a snowman created by me, a jar of “Larry’s Crack Cream” (made in Weeping Water, NE), and a bag of Baker’s chocolates (made in Greenwood, NE). I think that’s it, but my memory doesn’t work as good as it used to so check out Nicole’s blog for more.  All I know is that it awakened the spirit of excitement and wanting to give that I so desperately needed!

IMG_3314I was so excited when my box arrived in the mail!

My Secret Blogging Santa was Lesley Schmidt from Kansas.


Lesley included a really nice long note (unlike me) explaining what was found in my wonderful gift and explained a little about herself (unlike me).

Lesley is:

Part of the 5th generation family farm found in Southwest Kansas, where they raise alfalfa, sorghum, soybeans and wheat, all while managing a cow/calf operation. Ag has always been a part of her life and she says she wouldn’t be the person she is today without it.

She is Second Vice President for the Kansas Agri-Women (KAW) and, as a member, the group aims to share the truth-as the motto, “From Producer to Consumer with Understanding”, states.

She runs for the Kansas Beef Endurance Team (awesome!).

She loves to travel and one of her items that can be found in her bucket list is to travel all 50 states. She’s half way there!

She works in the city during the week for an engineering firm – designing roadways, utility and landscape plans.

She is a USA Track and Field Official, where she officiates for universities, community colleges, high school track meets, as well as Challenge Games – an annual sports competition for persons with physical disabilities from all over the nation. This is held in Derby, Kansas.

This is what was found in my box:


*A candle that smelled like chocolate (my favorite smell in the world).

*Chocolate covered pretzels (also my favorite) from the Nifty Nut House - located in Wichita, Kansas.

*A coffee mug from The Spice Merchant and Company (Wichita’s Original Gourmet Coffee Roaster established in late 1980).

*In the mug could be found some Russell Stover Chocolates (as said before…my favorite).

*KAW “one-of-a-kind” sunflower oven mitt.

*And last, but not least, a pin stating Kansas as the “Wheat state”.

I have a new friend and someone to connect with throughout the year! Little does Lesley know, I recently joined the American Agri-Women and look forward to being more involved – should the doors open.

Once again, thank you to all who were involved in this project and to Lesley for taking time from her busy schedule to put together such a creative and wonderful gift to send to someone she didn’t even know. I look forward to being a part of this project again.

Happy 2014!

IMG_3318TOO FUNNY! I used the same paper to pack the insides of my box too. Thank you High Plains Journal! :)

and so it continues with the next generation


A wonderful thing happened today. Well, actually, two wonderful things happened today.

First wonderful thing – our entire family (including Curt’s family) sat together in church this morning. The reason? Well, that’s the other wonderful thing – Eli was baptized.

Continue reading