a harvester’s widow

I have become a harvester’s widow.

Jim’s been the sole fall harvester since we started this business. That means he’s been the only one in the soybean and corn crops for the past 30 years. And this year is no different. There was some talk that I may be needed to run grain cart because they are one man short. If you remember, the day Ben was born, we also lost our fall customer and dear friend, Russell. Apparently, his son-in-laws have it under control better than they expected before the harvest actually got started because I’ve not been asked. Russell would be very proud of them! However, I was sort of hoping I would finally be involved but with this cold snap…maybe not so much.

So, while Jim has been doing the fall harvest, I’ve been the one left at home doing what needs to be done here. Until the past two years, a lot of my time has been involved with the girls’ schedules. Not so much anymore. So, the days tend to get long. I have been able to unload and clean the inside and outside of the trailer house with very little interruption. I have all but one small flower garden to clean out before the snow flies and I still have the house to thoroughly clean of cobwebs. Jim usually leaves the house about 7:30 am and most nights doesn’t get home until 9:30. Long days – much like the wheat harvest.

I’ve had a couple of fun outings with Eli and Nora. It’s probably a good thing they don’t live any closer than they do. We may not get anything done…ever!

Our first outing was a spur of the moment occurrence. It was one of those beautiful Fall days where it didn’t even feel like Fall. It was one of those “let’s make her think it’s going to be summer forever” type of days.

Whenever we go anywhere, we have to have Jamie put the car seats in the van. I almost hate to suggest going anywhere simply because I know just how much work it is to transfer those seats from one vehicle to the other. It’s not like it was when my girls were little. Holy cow! So simple back then (and they survived)!!! Improvements usually mean more work. Anyways, I headed over to the H’s house and had Jamie install these pieces of engineering genius in the van. Jamie had their bag filled with snacks, jackets and anything and everything we could possibly need. I’ll have to give that girl credit…she’s prepared!

Once loaded, I decided we needed to head towards the walking bridge (that used to be a railroad bridge) that goes over the Platte River. You can walk from one shore of the river to the next. I will have to confess, though, I worried about just letting the kids head out on their own at first. But, once I surveyed the amount of space between the fence and the cement bridge, there was no way a body could just fall through it and land in the river. So, they were OFF!

It was about here where I was making sure a little body couldn’t just slip through any sort of opening. Even though I knew they couldn’t, I couldn’t convince the uneasy feelings I had of that while watching them stand there. 

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a few days ago

It feels like just a few days ago. But, in fact, it’s been over two weeks already that we left our Colorado “home” and traveled back to our Eastern Nebraska “home, home”.  The days just go too fast (and faster the older I get).

The last post I wrote for All Aboard will better explain what our last days in Colorado looked like. Head on over there by clicking here.

After the first trip home, home. Frank didn’t cause me a lick of problems. Besides the issue we had at the very start of the season, we got along just fine. 

Rollin on the floor with Papa. After we got home, we spent the night at Curt and Jamie’s house. We left the Cottage in Colorado for the second trip home. 

If Ben could talk, I’m sure he’d be saying, “What have I got myself into?”

After we made the first trip home with Frank/header trailer and the Pete/Shop trailer, we had to return to Colorado after the combine and the trailer house. We loaded the combine the afternoon we got back so we could be back on the road the next day.

Ready to hit the road the final time for the 2017 harvest season. 

There’s so much beauty in this country! Just look at all those colors (no filter)!

We watched this thunderstorm build east of us all afternoon. 

Jim – “I know I can make it under this underpass (Goodland, Kansas), but I’m going to take it really slow.”

Turning north just outside of Colby, Kansas.

We were hoping to make it as far as Norton, Kansas for the night. The sun set way sooner than Jim was figuring. We ended up parking in a rest area just shy of Norton, caught up to the storm and watched the BEST lightning storm we’d seen all summer. It was amazing!

The final turn of the season – back to the very farm we began our journey in June…we’d made a full circle!

High five to another successful season! We certainly had our trials this year…more than usual…and it seemed one new adventure after another. But, we made it back with no major health or equipment incidents. And for that…it WAS truly a success!!

We’ve seen more rain since we’ve been home than we saw all summer. Crazy amounts! Due to all of the moisture, the fall crops have barely been touched around here. Although there’s nothing we can do about the weather, it certainly causes unneeded stress for the farmers and harvesters. And time just keeps marching on.

Jim was able to get The Beast back in action. The ground had been so saturated, they started working on the corn – even though the soybeans are more than ready to be cut. He made the switch to soybeans two days ago. He came home after the first day exhausted because the header was constantly pushing mud and then he was having to dig it out of the header. There’s nothing more frustrating than wanting to just do the job and can’t.

Soon after we got home, the kids came over to play and spend the night with me in the trailer house. So much fun!!!!!!!!!!

Before Papa had to leave, Eli said, “Gamma, take a picture of me and Ben and Papa.” Okay!

The week has held some warm temps so this is helping to dry out the ground. Unfortunately, yesterday’s problem had him reliving the Massey days. The air conditioner blower was dealing him a fit – no blower means the cab gets real hot, real fast. He said he dug out his little trucker fan to help move the air but it got pretty hot about 2:00 when the sun started getting low in the sky. He was hoping today would be a better day – and I do too as it’s supposed to be near 80 degrees again.

As I figured, harvest would feel like a dream after being back home for a few days. It seems like everything just sort of picked up where we left off in June. Besides the obvious emptying and cleaning of our Home of Wheels, there are spiders (LARGE) to kill in the house, cobwebs to clean, grass that needs mowed, weeds that need pulled and the clock to watch. Definitely not harvest routine.

We celebrated Callie with a family bonfire, hotdogs, s’mores and the annual DQ ice-cream cake (thanks to Wyatt). Happy 20th birthday, Cal!

I started cleaning out the largest of the flower beds first. I can now check that off my list. The next thing on my list was washing the outside of the trailer house. It hasn’t been done for several years and I knew it was necessary after this summer. I took the first warm day and washed the roof. Dawn detergent, water, a good brush and lots of elbow grease soon turned that brown roof to white. Yesterday was spent on the body of the trailer. Jim asked me this morning, before he left, “How long did it take you to wash the trailer?” My reply…ALL DAY! I don’t think he believed me but it did. I started late morning and took a break when it was half done but it was probably after 5:00 by the time I had all the hose, brushes and ladder put away. Talk about a great feeling! It was worth every sore muscle to see the shiny sides of that trailer house again. It’s now ready for its winter home. This year…we will be better about trying to prevent this spring’s fiasco – the mouse mess.

Today and tomorrow will be in upper 70’s, nearing 80 degrees again. More rain in the forecast for Saturday but after that – dry again. I believe this fall harvest just might last until Christmas!

(Picture credit: Joe Konen)

(Picture credit: Joe Konen)

(Video credit: Joe Konen)

 

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…

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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