pickin up millet

So, from my last post, you know we had a Labor Day weekend excursion to the mountains while Taylor, Callie and Eli were here. I know they wanted to be in the field with us before they left for home but it didn’t pan out. We did, however, attempt to pick up a bit of millet on Monday. My memory isn’t as good as it used to be but I think that was a short day. We tried but it still needed more time in the sunshine.

This is proso millet prior to being swathed and laid in windrows. 

Millet windrow.

The Beast sporting it’s MacDon pickup header. 

Tuesday was the day! We got a good start and we harvested all day. No more waiting!

The days were all beginning to feel like the previous one (sort of like Groundhog Day) except today. Before we left the field last night, we had a very brief shower. We had already stopped for the night. Mostly because we had to. We ran out of trucks to fill and, unfortunately, I found a very green spot with long, stringy weed plants that hadn’t dried down very good. Yep, I plugged the rotor and sheered a concave bolt. Dang!! Before we got the slug loose enough to run it through the machine, the lightning and thunder was all around us. The others had already left the field by now.

This morning started just like any other morning until we got to the field. A cloud built up right over the top of us, it cooled down and a few rain drops fell. I was told if I wanted to head into Limon to catch up on laundry, I could. So, while I’m waiting for the clothes to dry, I wanted to catch up on our happenings. The cell service where we’re staying is pretty sketchy so I try to do what I can and if it doesn’t work I just wait til I can find better service. I don’t know why in today’s world there are still places in our rural communities that have no cell service!! You would think that’s where it is needed the very most.

So, I’ll get these pictures and videos of the past week posted and about then, the clothes should be dry and I’ll bet my computer battery will be nearly dead. 🙂  Enjoy!!

PS…the millet is doing very well! They had plenty of moisture when it was needed the most. I believe it could average 50 bu/acre and the test weight has been excellent – 51+ lbs.

South of Limon, there is a new “wind farm” in the process of being built. When we come back to this country next year, the horizon will look completely different. They’re in the process of building 190 wind turbines. I’m not a fan of these. I feel like they clutter the landscape and I wouldn’t want them in my backyard. So, it’s a good thing I don’t live here! They will be in some of the same fields we’ll be harvesting. Nothing new for some harvesters but it will be new to us.

One of 190 wind turbine bases. 

See it over there?

 

it was the best surprise!

It was just a week ago yesterday they surprised us.

Taylor and Callie were coming to visit over the Labor Day weekend. We knew that. And I had suggested bringing Eli with them but I was told there were reasons why it just wasn’t going to work.

As it turned out, the proso millet wasn’t quite ready to be harvested. It needed a few more days so we were told we wouldn’t be working over the weekend. It would have to wait until Monday. I told Taylor and Callie this and they were a little bummed. I think they were both hoping to experience the combine, the truck and being in the field again. Something they took for granted when they tagged along with us every summer. This was the second summer they had been away from the routine. I wasn’t worried about finding something to do. I thought, if nothing else, maybe just us girls could make a trip into the mountains. I knew it would be hard to get Jim back into the hills after we’d just toured the Montana mountains.

The plan (or so I thought) was for the two of them to leave after Taylor got off work on Friday afternoon. They would be here either late that night or spend the night in a hotel. I encouraged the latter. I know how hard it is to get through those last couple hundred miles before you get here. And even worse when it gets so late. It was about 11:00 on Friday morning when Taylor called. She said she had gotten to take off work earlier than expected and they were just about ready to leave home. I told her to let us know how the trip was going and to be careful. “Oh, and when you get to Limon, would you stop at the grocery store (if it’s open) and pick up some peaches. They are REALLY good this summer!” She said she would.

Jim was watching TV and I had my sewing strung out on the floor. I’ve been working on baby blankets in my spare time this summer. But even that’s taking much longer than it should due to not having any rain days. All at once, I heard a commotion outside but didn’t think much about it as the guys were outside working on equipment. And then there was a knock at the door…

They got us good!!

We spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out at the trailer house. Eli, however, had to make a trip around the farmyard a couple of times and climb in every tractor, truck and combine he could find. It didn’t last long, though. Just long enough to climb in, shut the door, honk the horn and then it was on to the next one.

It was decided we would all take off the next morning for the mountains, with Buena Vista our destination. We would pack an overnight bag hoping to find a cabin along a stream to spend the night but with it being a holiday weekend, our hope to find anything might be a better bet. If all else failed and we found there was no room at the inn, we could always just head back to the Cottage.

Our first day:

Taylor’s three “babies” needed fed ALL the time. Their mama took off right after giving birth. These guys are a couple of weeks old. She’s doing a good job of with her foster children!

Breakfast with Auntie Tee Tee on Saturday morning. 

We made it to Buena Vista and decided before we did any sort of touring, we needed to find a room (hopefully). We took the last room (quite possibly in the town) offered at the second hotel we checked with. Once we got that job accomplished, we took off for the Cottonwood Pass Summit. We promised Eli we’d find a stream to play in and a mountain to climb.  We stopped at this beautiful lake on our way to the summit and played in the water.


(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)

We made it to the summit and the view was spectacular!! 

Callie, Eli and I decided to climb the mountain. I will admit, it took us a while to get there because I kept having to stop and catch my breath. Even Callie was feeling the altitude!

The view at the top. We all three threw a rock on the pile and then it started to spit snow so we decided it was time to head back to the pickup. It was much easier going down the mountain than up. 

Once we made it back down the pass and to Buena Vista, we walked to a woodfire pizza location for supper. Notice the bottom chalk board…”crust supports Ark River Valley farmers and ranchers”. Sweet!!!!

Day number two:

We drove south to Salida and got out of the pickup and walked the streets of this quaint mountain town. Eli and I played at the local park which was also next to the Arkansas River. It was a pretty warm September day, so after he played quite a while on the play set, he took his shoes and socks off and played in the river before we headed back to the pickup. On the way, we stopped in a dime store and he picked out souvenirs for Ben and Nora. 

After some discussion about what was next, we headed to the San Luis Valley to visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The girls decided we could get there, play for a few hours and be back to the trailer house before 10:00. They were going to have to get an early start the next morning.

(photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

The Dunes and mountains as we were heading towards the trailer house. 

A brief stop in Falcon for gas before making the rest of the way back to the Cottage. It was a fast-paced two-day mini vacation but it was the best time!

And guess what…the goodbye was so very difficult for me! They were on their way by 8:30 a.m. Taylor sent me her location from her phone so we were able to keep track of where they were the whole day. That helped a little.

 

it was one of THOSE days

The first trip to Colorado was pretty uneventful. The only problem I could mention that might be something a few out there would understand is parking for the night – next to a truck in a parking lot. We headed for the Walmart parking lot in Sidney with the Cottage to “dry camp” for the night. We didn’t realize this particular lot also housed the Over The Road trucker(s). Even with ear plugs in my ears, I bet I was awake more than I was sleeping. It was warm enough I had to have the windows open so every time a new truck pulled in, I heard it. And I swear it’s always the one with the running reefer that parks next to us. It’s almost like there’s a sign on the side of the trailer that says, “I’m trying to sleep so please park next to me and run your reefer all night”. 🙂  I keep saying “I” rather than “we” because Jim chooses to sleep in the Pete when we’re on the road. He says he does that so his snoring doesn’t wake me up – which I appreciate. But…it really won’t matter, I guess, as long as we park with the trucks.

Anyways, we arrived at our destination and opted to get a good night’s sleep rather than heading north again right away. This was Thursday evening. Our welcoming committee met us right away and invited us over for supper. It’s always good to see the people you said goodbye to the previous year. And, WOW, has Charley ever grown! We had supper with Scott, Sarah, Riley and Charley and probably extended our stay a bit too long. When questions about the summer and the different locations start flying, it’s always fun to bore others with the answers and our experiences. I hope we didn’t bore them too horribly bad!! At one point, I even had to walk back over to the trailer and get my bags of lentils, chickpeas and green peas to show them.

The next morning, we packed our bags and gathered our necessary items, loaded them in the Pete and set out for Chadron one last time for the summer. We made it as far as Bridgeport that first evening, found a quiet (close to the railroad tracks) corner of the gas station and parked for the night. I think by now, I was so tired from all the miles we had covered over the past week, I didn’t even care we were that close to the trains. However, I don’t remember hearing more than two or three. Speaking of miles, I asked Jim while we were headed back with trip #2 how many miles we had driven over the past week (including our trip to Canada) and he said about 3,000. “What a normal truck driver drives in a week”. Yikes! I think I’ve mentioned this before – it’s interesting to me when we’re on the road with the harvest, the miles are all a part of the job. When we’re home and think about driving 500 miles somewhere, it’s questioned a bit more. On harvest, you just do the job, regardless of the miles and the amount of fuel purchased.

As I’m making the bed in the Pete the next morning, Jim opens the truck door and tells me the plug he had put in the tire the day before didn’t hold. So, now we have a low truck tire and it’s Saturday morning. A call was made to the tire repair man and several hours later, we were headed north once again. And then I started smelling something that smelled like a campfire. “That’s an interesting smell”, I told Jim. I knew there had been a lot of smoke in the air but I really wasn’t seeing anything that I felt would create that strong of an odor. It went from smelling like a campfire to smelling like marshmallows cooking and then to smelling like garbage burning. “Do you think we should stop and see if something’s burning”? “No, I think it’s outside”. So, I rolled down my window to see if I agreed with him. “I don’t think it’s outside”. He didn’t act too concerned, so I sat back in the seat and watched out the front window. “I think it may have been paper towels burning under the hood. I just saw some out the rear view mirror”. By this time, we were almost to Alliance. “Are you going to stop and check”? “Yeah, when I find a wide spot. When we do, I’ll quickly open the hood and you grab the water jug…just in case”. So, when he found a parking lot of an abandoned gas station, we pulled in and he did what he was going to do but there was no fire so no need for the water jug. I got out to see where he was telling me the fire had been. Not a big deal but guess you might want to make sure you grab the paper towels before you close the hood of the truck. He had washed the windows in Bridgeport and forgot to grab them before closing the hood.

While walking around the Pete and checking things over, he simply rubbed the area the towels had caught fire and a bolt and spacer from the exhaust manifold fell to the ground. Apparently, the bolt had broken at some point and decided to make his day by falling off the truck at that time. This happened once before and we got stuck in Russell, Kansas. But that was after multiple bolts had broken. We’re hoping this will be the only one for now. Goodness, I went back into the NebraskaWheatie archives to find that post to link on here – that was over five years ago already. So, needless to say, this incident trumped both the tire and the fire in Jim’s head.

We got to Chadron before noon but neither of us were hungry (and we hadn’t had anything more than just a cup of coffee while waiting for the tire). So, we decided we’d get the combine loaded and stop back in Chadron for fuel and a bite to eat before heading south again. Who would have known what usually took us about an hour to do would take about three. It was hot, we hadn’t had anything to eat and everything seemed to be working against us. We were just checking truck lights and nearly done with the job when the clouds started rolling in from the north. As soon as that first cloud covered the sun, Jim says, “Of course…now that we’re done”.

It took him way more times to get the combine on the trailer than it typically does. See Frank way down the hill by the yard?

The cloud that finally gave us some relief from the heat…after we were done.

Waiting on the light check. 

The view from where Frank was parked. 

It was 3:30 when the tornado warning alert came across our phones. We had just left the farmyard and was headed back into Chadron to start making our way south again. “What should we do?”, asks Jim. I voted to stop on top of the hill I was at and watch for tornadoes. The storm was headed directly in our path but appeared to be moving eastward. I told him I thought if we stopped where we were at, we could watch the storm as it moved away from us. We haven’t been in hardly any storms or rain this summer and I’m a cloud freak. I love to watch the clouds and am amazed with the beauty of a storm. We sat for 15 minutes or so before deciding it was good to go. We were just south of Chadron about three feet and it started hailing and I thought we had probably made a wrong decision. But the further south we went, the more we were driving out of the storm. Needless to say, we opted to wait until we got to Bridgeport for fuel and a bite to eat.

The tornadic storm making its way towards Chadron. Pretty good place to watch it here on top of this hill!

Same storm cloud – seemed to be following us for a while before it took a more eastward turn. 

A very brief stop at Bridgeport for a drink.

The closer we were getting to Bridgeport, the more we were aware that we were up against the sun going down. And with the combine, we have to have it parked at sundown. After arriving at Bridgeport, we decided the Frank had enough fuel to make it to Chappell. We would stop there for the night, get fuel and something to eat. We arrived at the Chappell fairgrounds at sundown, unhooked Frank from the header trailer and cruised main street Chappell (thinking there might be a motel still in operation). We decided if there wasn’t one, we would just continue to Julesburg – which is what we did. We stopped in a tiny little motel on the outskirts of Julesburg, rented a room and headed to Subway for something to FINALLY eat. It was about 9:00.

Chappell, Nebraska fairgrounds – a common place for harvesters to park when harvesting in this area. 

I was a bit concerned with the small town motel but was PLEASANTLY surprised! The Holiday Motel ended up being the best room we have ever stayed in! If you’re ever in Julesburg and need a place to take a shower and go to bed, I would highly recommend this place! It was like stepping back into the 1950’s. The tiles on the bathroom walls sparkled, the corners of room were spotless, the bed was great and not one bug did I find! I was so impressed, I even left a note to let them know how impressed I was.

The next morning, we headed back to Chappell, hooked the Frank back to the header trailer, got fuel and we were off…once again. We stopped in Burlington for lunch and made it to our destination about 6:00. We were both so tired, we shut off our trucks, gathered our overnight stuff and headed for the Cottage. The unloading could just wait til morning. “What are you going to do now?”, asked Jim. My reply, “Nothing”! And that’s exactly what we did…nothing. I finally tapped my snoring husband on the forehead about 11:00 and told him I was going to bed. He followed.

Sounds like we are going to sample tomorrow afternoon. See where we are and how things are going to work. The couple of down days that we’ve had have been welcome but it will also be good to get back in the cab of The Beast.

Best news of the day…Taylor and Callie are coming to hang out with us over the Labor Day weekend. And I can’t wait!!!

And here’s a few pictures I got over the weekend.

Brooklyn’s holding Ben, as Jillian watches. Mark is in the background. They must have had a family meal at the Rathe’s house on Sunday night.  

All the kiddos who call me Grandma…Eli, Jillian, Nora and Brooklyn holding Ben. So blessed!!!!

This kid is barely one month old…