and baby makes three

If you’ve been following along with the All Aboard Wheat Harvest harvest blog updates, you’ll know that we’re home. Something that is unheard of for this time of year. The last time I was home in July was in 1989…Jamie was 4 and Jenna just a little more than a year. The weirdest part of the whole deal was thinking about how much work it took to get ready to go and then only being away for like 42 days. But, God had a different plan for us.

In November, when Jamie announced to us she was expecting, I immediately counted the months and was so disappointed when I realized that baby #3 was going to be born while we were somewhere in the middle of a wheat field. We SHOULD be in Colorado at that time. Maybe I can get a few days away and come home to help. Little did I know, God’s plan had us coming home at just the right time! We cut as many acres as we could and with the last few days of being away the anxiety started to set in. I was concerned about making it home on time. Baby was due July 17…we didn’t leave Chadron until July 19th. But God had every single, little detail perfectly orchestrated to allow us to be home at the exact moment.

Back to the land of corn and soybeans.

“Play with us Gramma!”

Just look at the height of that corn! I’m certain it’s the heat and HIGH humidity that grows corn like that. It’s so humid here, you can hardly breath. It’s like breathing a cloud!

Just look at that belly!

An Eastern Nebraska sunset…minus the combine.

Jamie had a doctor’s appointment on July 18. He said she didn’t look at all like she was ready to go into labor so when she told me that, it made things a little easier knowing we would, in fact, be home for the arrival. She made it to her NEXT appointment on Monday, July 24th. The kids spent the night with me in the trailer house so Curt just took her to Omaha. She had started some contractions throughout the night so knew something was happening. She called after the appointment to let us know they were going to do a stress test to make sure all was okay. The call following that test was to let me know she was progressing perfectly and she was just going to stay in Omaha – walk the malls or something to get labor to happen a bit faster (if she could). She ended up staying in Omaha all day and late in the afternoon, headed to the hospital. We were packed and ready to go (me and the kids) but the text we got about 7:00 said she wasn’t moving along very fast. So, we opted to just stick around the house for the night. I was certain she’d have the baby that night but just not sure how long it was going to take.

At 10:30, Jamie Facetimed me and Jim to let us know Ben Joseph had been born at 9:58 and she could tell he was a bigger baby than the other two. The nurses don’t weigh the babies and take vitals as soon after birth as they used to. Jamie said they leave the baby alone with mom for at least an hour before they do all that. So we waited to hear…9 lbs 1 oz and 22″ long. Ben came charging out like a linebacker breaking his collarbone on the way out.

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

Meeting their brother for the very first time.

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)  Hey Ben…this is your Gaw. I think we’re gonna get along just fine!

This is where Nora instructed her mama to “put that baby in my hand”!

Sistas!

I literally clicked her in her car seat, walked to the driver’s side and turned around. She didn’t even make it out of the parking spot! It was a pretty big day for a little girl.

I’ve spent the last two days playing gramma with Eli and Nora. I know they’re anxious for mom’s return (later tonight) but in the meantime, I’m going to soak up all these special moments as long as I can. I won’t get to have much time with Ben until we return in October but being here for the time I have been has definitely been a blessing – one I would have never thought possible the day we left home last month.

The plan now is to leave tomorrow with the trailer house and head for Chester, Montana. We are going to work for a farmer there who has so graciously offered something for us to do during the month of August. We will be doing the wheat harvest but using his equipment. I’m hoping to get to drive a combine and Jim will drive truck. If I DO drive combine – it’s not one that I’m used to…it will be a Gleaner. I don’t know that I’ve even sat in the seat of a Gleaner combine before. 🙂 So the adventures of the 2017 wheat harvest continue…

a tough year to be a wheatie

Picture credit goes to Nancy Eberts 0f Eberts Harvesting, Inc.

We’ve had a bit of crummy luck with our summer jobs this year. I wrote about it on the All Aboard Wheat Harvest site. To read it, you can click here.

In all of our 35 years of being in this business, I can honestly say I have never seen it look so bleak for so many. Typically, when things happen, it happens to a select few harvesters and then you can, hopefully, make up for the lost acres somewhere else along the way. This is not so this year. I’m afraid the 2017 wheat harvest may come to a complete stop for many in a week or so. The acres in the northern states are depleting by the day. The already low wheat acres are becoming even lower and I’m afraid there won’t be enough for everyone to be able to make up what we’re losing.

We are sitting on some acres in Garden City – thankfully! After we received word the hail had wiped out the acres we normally cut, Jim made a couple of phone calls and one of them came through for us.  It’s irrigated wheat and is doing quite well considering this is the wheat that was flat on the ground due to snow the end of April. It’s yielding more than 70 bushels per acre and the test weight is very good (60-62 lbs).  This should keep us busy for four to five more days and then we don’t know what we’re doing next. I have to believe God knows and I will remain faithful to that belief. I know He works things for our good – we just sometimes have to learn to wait! And who knows…maybe we’ll get home to welcome grandbaby #3 to the family afterall.

Garden City, Kansas

Garden City, Kansas

We had some German visitors arrive while we were still in Claude, TX. They are in the states to make a documentary on the wheat harvest. They told us there is great interest in this lifestyle in their country. They were a lot of fun to have around for a day or so. They traveled with us while we moved the combine and trailer house from Claude to Garden City. I believe they are returning tomorrow for more footage of us in the field.

Jim’s preparing the Pete for the trip north while Dirk (one of our new German friends) watches.

 

Volkert sitting in as the “dummy” while Michael and Dirk were setting up the cameras inside the Pete. 

Volkert and our farmer, Bryan, talking about Germany, I’m sure. 🙂

We had to make a planned stop to change things up a bit with cameras and mics. This is Texas beauty!

Another quick stop at Bryan’s Corner, Oklahoma for changes to the plan. Volkert and Michael look pretty involved in a conversation. Dirk and Jim in the background. 

The day after we arrived was the day for fellow HarvestHER visitors – me and Nancy Eberts (Eberts Harvesting). She came to the yard while Jim and I were unloading the equipment. She was in Garden City to pick up a new crew member. 

Later that same day, Amanda Buus Thomsen (BT Harvesting) and her husband, Anders, came to Garden and we went out for supper. 

Jim took this video while he was running the grain cart in Texas. He did an awesome job!!

 

time

Time…something that seems to run our lives and there’s NEVER enough of it!

I always think I’m going to take the time to write an update on my personal blog and it just doesn’t get done. It seems that I have sort of pushed my own blog aside to write for www.allaboardharvest.com. But that’s okay. I’m sure you remember me telling you that if you don’t see something on here for long periods of time, you should check that site.  So…go check it out! I’ve written several times on there already. You might even enjoy reading some of the other harvest updates from the other correspondents.

Just so you know, we did make it to our destination. It will be two weeks on Monday that we arrived. It was a bit slow around here for the next four days or so. And then…all heck broke loose. We started cutting wheat on Saturday (a week ago). Today (6/16) was our seventh consecutive day of cutting wheat. I think we may have broken some all-time record for the most acres cut in one week! 🙂 The temps have been near 100 degrees or more and we can expect one more day of the heat. On Father’s Day (just for Jim) it’s supposed to reach a high of only 85 degrees.

The yields have been fairly decent considering the lack of moisture here over the winter months. Our farmer told us the wheat was near death in January and then it rained. And he said it never does that. We’ve seen anything from 25 – 50 bushel averages in the fields. I suppose the overall average will be near 35. Test weights have been 57-62. We’ve been seeing weights a bit more on the heavier side than the lessor number.

If you’re really interested in what the heck we’re doing, be sure to check out the Combine Cam. Yep…we have the camera again this year and it seems to be really doing a good job of staying on. I wonder if it will be anything like the popularity of April the giraffe (I doubt it)? If you are curious, though, just check in once in a while and see what the heck is up. Who knows…you may see Jimbo in there. You may hear me singing. You may hear me talking to myself or you might catch an actual conversation between me and the truck driver. Sometimes he forgets that he’s live and says and does things he shouldn’t. I have a hard time keeping him in line. 🙂

The girls had a scary night tonight at home. A bad storm with either straight line winds or a tornado created a real mess. It was rather scary for me sitting in the cab of a combine reading the texts nearly 700 miles away and knowing there was nothing I could do – except pray for protection. Everyone was okay after it was all over and that’s the main thing! Tree limbs and buildings can be cleaned up and replaced.

And with that, I’m going to go take a shower and get a few hours of sleep before it’s time to get up and make more sandwiches so we don’t starve to death. (Go check out The All Aboard Wheat Harvest!) My flower garden.

Just a couple of harvesters – Jim and Roger Peters.

Blowing out the air filters – a daily chore. 

Visited by the New Holland Harvest Support (aka Monte and Carolyn Ahrens).

Two of my favorite things combined in one – cutting wheat and The Eagles:

plan b in place

 

“I think I’ll go down and visit with the boys for a while” The boys are our farmer neighbors. Jim likes to visit with them to get the latest on what’s going on with the farming and get the gossip of the day. Much like most other farmers I know. A gathering of the minds, so to speak. 🙂

So, this happened last night.

Harvest preparations are an ongoing thing until we finally just close up shop and hit the road. That’s what happened last night. Jim had a goal of leaving the house with trip #1 about 7:00. Bags were packed and pillows in place in the Hotel Pete. Thought was to just get on the road. We would attempt to make it as far as Plymouth, park in the back lot of a gas station and sleep in the truck. We’d just be on the road and that’s what we just sometimes have to do.

I believe it was a little after 7:30 that we were both sitting in our trucks ready to point the noses of the trucks southward. It seemed like it was taking Frank an exceptionally long time to get enough air built up to release the parking brake. Finally, I called Jim on the two-way and told him I was STILL airing up. He got out of the Pete, walked around Frank and came back to my window, “I think we have air dryer issues”, as he grabbed the hammer laying next to my seat.

Pound, pound, pound. Pound, pound, pound some more. Back to the door. “I don’t think pounding on it is going to help. I think I’ll just have to make a phone call and go after parts”. Phone call was made to Freightliner in Omaha and we immediately stepped into Plan B…headed to Omaha for parts. Typical harvest…hurry up and wait. Guess you learn to “go with the flow”.

Jim replaced the air dryer with the help of his headlights (you know…those silly looking lights that you wear on your head). Which, by the way, I was told are the greatest thing on earth! The old part was loaded in the car and we were headed back to Omaha (it was worth $140). We were home again just a little after midnight. I grabbed the suitcases and our pillows and headed for the house.

And now…we’re waiting for the severe weather to pass before pointing the noses of these trucks southward. I have a feeling we may find more of that (weather) the further south we head.

I will be writing for All Aboard Wheat Harvest (High Plains Journal) again this year. I’ve already posted several times, in case you want to catch up. If it appears to be a dry spell on here, you may want to check out AAWH and see what’s going on. When we get in the heat of harvest, it’s very difficult to justify killing more precious sleeping hours on telling the story in two places.

And…don’t forget to follow the other HarvestHER’s harvest updates at www.harvesther.com!! All kinds of harvest stories to keep up with.

Until next time…

“i wasn’t counting on that happening”

That’s what Jim said to me last night. I went outside to mainly let him know supper was ready – if he wanted to come in and eat AND to see what the heck he was up to.

I guess that’s how accidents can and do happen. He was working on replacing the tire when Frank fell off the jack. Oh my gosh…I don’t EVEN want to think about what COULD HAVE happened! I’m just thankful he was standing upright and telling me how disgusted he was that he lost four hours due to this little event.

The jack broke, so he had to fix that, as well. When I went outside, he was in the process of making a stable base and getting things in place again. It finally got dark enough, he just had to quit.

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concerned…yet hopeful

The yellow roseometer is telling us it’s about that time to load up and head south. 

Grandpa always said, “Wheat will die at least seven times before it is harvested”. Therefore, I am going to remain hopeful for the 2017 crop. Concerned…yet hopeful.

I’ve heard this quote often lately with the weather extremes that have been occurring in the wheat belt. So…it must be true to continue to be believed by the wheat community. The wheat in western Kansas and eastern Colorado is on its fourth or fifth death by now.

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whatever it takes

Taking some time NOW to enjoy these two whenever I can! Hanging out in the tower on their new “park”. 

One of many harvester’s mottos is, “Whatever It Takes”. The addition to our fleet could be the definition of this motto for the Z Crew for harvest 2017! I think after last summer with just the two of us loading and unloading the miscellaneous necessities from the back of Frank and my level of frustration with the whole process may have played into the reason we now have a longer car trailer. AND a new storage area for the miscellaneous stuff. THANK GOODNESS!

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