four hours

IMG_4544Friday morning began just like any other day except we were up against heavy clouds and cool temps. I had left Frank parked near the grain bins for the night so Jim dropped me off and then he headed to where the Beast had spent the night. While I waited for the air to build and the truck to “warm up”, I took a quick walk over to a dugout I had seen. I cautiously walked through the tall grass hoping I wouldn’t be surprised by any sort of critter. As I walked towards the mound, I wondered if it had been someone’s homestead – someone’s home. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like to live in something like that.  Had it been warm while the north winds of winter were blocking the door with snow? Did that same door keep critters out? What would it have been like during the hot months of summer?

I loved the “Little House on the Prairie” books. I don’t know what kind of pioneer I would have been but there’s just something about that time era that interests me. To see pieces of history still so evident on the Montana prairie stirs a passion and a desire to know more. It was more than just a story…it was real.

IMG_4538The closer I got, the strong scent of skunk was evident. I decided maybe I didn’t want to test my luck so I quickly snapped this photo and started making my way back to Frank.

IMG_4539This is what it looks like on the other side of the dugout. The mound to the right side of the picture is the taller part of the “home”. I took this picture to show you what the countryside may have looked like while someone called it home.

Once I made my way back to Frank, I crawled into the cab and headed to the field. I parked the truck and asked Jim if he felt like he needed me at the combine to help him get going. He said he could do what he had to do and I could just stay put.

IMG_4545Rather than just staying put, I decided to climb that hill I mentioned in my last post. Maybe it was cool enough there wouldn’t be any snakes waiting to scare the heck out of me. I watched with every step I took!

IMG_4546I made it – without seeing one critter!



IMG_4555Somebody certainly put A LOT of time in planting trees and shrubs along the edges of these strips! Jim’s guess is it may have been a government program to promote habitat for animals and birds. I wonder if it has something to do with a living snow fence used to catch the snow and keep it from blowing away. Maybe we’re both right?

IMG_4549Once I got to the top of the hill, I found these round sand rocks everywhere. I remember when Jamie and Jenna were little tikes and we’d take a meal to the field to our small crew. While we were there, the girls were always looking for and picking up treasures. These round rocks were some of the treasures that made it back to Manley with us. I think one of the largest ones they found was about the size of a baseball. I thought of the girls and all the fun we used to have looking for Montana souvenirs and “show and tell” items.

IMG_4550I wasn’t trying to point out the weeds or to show you the hole in my shoe – what I wanted to show was the size of the round sand rocks.

IMG_4553Slightly dry and desperately needing a drink!

IMG_4563Cutting on top of the world!

IMG_4558Four hours…the amount of time we had left in the location we have been cutting. The sprinkles moved in late Friday afternoon making it tough to continue cutting. So we parked the Beast and Frank, gathered our lunch boxes and water jugs and left the field. Jim took the Pete back to the grain bins where Frank had been the night before. In case it rained, he didn’t want it sitting in the field.

I had noticed the old Massey’s sitting there each time I took a load to the bin. “You want to jump in the cab?”, asks Jim. “I thought about it each time I drove through here”, I replied. I just wanted to sit in the seat and let the memories of the days with Grandpa and Grandma come back. As I climbed the ladder, that same feeling of opening the door to the cab was there as it was when I was 12.


IMG_4572Such simplicity! “Hit the switch and see what happens”, encouraged Jim. “I can’t do that. What if it starts?”, was my reply. “Just do it.” So, I turned the key and pushed in the black button. Nothing. Nothing but the feeling I had as a young girl inside the cab of this machine. “I would stand right here next to Grandpa and watch the corn dance in the head” I tell Jim as I turn around to look at the ledge behind the seat “and when I was tired, I’d crawl up here and take a nap.”  Another day I’d like to go back in time to.


IMG_4568And to think these few levers used to scare me!

IMG_4570This very rarely worked. Instead, I remember the only air coming from the open door.

IMG_4569For a little while, I was that 12-year-old girl sitting in the seat of a monster with my Grandpa giving me words of encouragement. I could feel him next to me telling me, “You can do this”.  And I did! That was forty years ago this summer.





IMG_4576Jim was amazed the head was up in the air on its own.


IMG_4578It started raining Friday night and it never quit until late Sunday afternoon. According to the reports we’ve heard, Jordan received 5+ inches of rain. We also heard the area the combine is sitting could have received as much as 7 inches. It will be a few days before we can get those four hours of cutting complete but the ground that was so desperately needing a drink received it!

IMG_4581This is the creek behind the Cottage. The picture on the left is prior to the rain we’ve had. The picture on the right is what we woke up to on Sunday morning.


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14 comments on “four hours

  1. Chad says:

    its hard to imagine today that once Massey Ferguson was the ONLY combine to own

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      Absolutely! And so many people still love them. They’re part of Ag’s history. And, I guess you can’t take those old harvest memories away from those of us who spent time in them. 🙂

  2. Pat Schlegel says:

    There was a photo of a restored Massy combine on Facebook. It was about the same vintage as the one in your photo of your grandpa and the combine loaded piggy back on the grain truck. I would have like to link it over to you on FB but couldn’t and didn’t download it.

    Those 760’s were quite a machine in their day. Lower profile then any of the competition of the same capacity and a larger grain tank ta-boot.

    Always enjoy it when you get the time to show the surrounding countryside in your post of FB and your blog.

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      Do you mean the old picture of Grandpa and his combine loaded on the truck and ready for harvest? And we think we have it tough these days! 🙂 We never had a 760. Grandpa always ran 750’s and our very first machine was also a 750.

      I’m so glad you enjoy the pictures. Sometimes I worry that I put too many on there. I enjoy pictures so I guess I assume everyone else does too. Well, at least I know there’s a couple of us that do now.

  3. marvin douma says:

    i am retired now can;t see to enough combine pictures you do a very good job with both pictures and stories the picture of the old 750 brought many memories for me i had a 750 and 860 i had duct tape in the same places. I started with a massey super 27 some good memories some bad. Keep the the pictures and stories coming

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      So glad you enjoyed the pictures and story. Those old combines just bring back so many memories! Almost sad to see them just rusting away. 🙂

  4. Enjoy last two post of Montana and Missouri river breaks and what it was like 100 -150 years ago.Our church celebrated 150 year anniversary about a month ago and a lot of old photos of early days were on display. My buddy had Massy combine like your grandpa my first self propel combine was a M M with a cab .before that it was a Case pulled by a M M U tractor what memories.Good luck don”t get stuck with your last few hours of combining. 7 inches rain takes time to soak in.

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      I’m thinking Jim is in no real hurry to get back out there to see if he can stay away from the mud holes. We don’t normally have to worry about getting stuck around here. What a year!

  5. Linda Maranville says:

    Tracy, I love traveling with you on your adventures you take us on. I love seeing it all through your eyes and your writing. A friend of mine read your blog and she said, “we live in 5 star homes today.” How true and we don’t even realize it. Sorry about the rain but enjoy your time off. We have been having rain also and we love it!

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      I see that you’re still getting good rain. That’s awesome! Unless, of course, it messes with the proso! The adventures have pretty much come to a complete stand still. Not much to share when it’s all about TV and a couch. 🙂 Maybe I SHOULD share those adventures, too. The sky is clear and the sun is shining today. That’s a good thing!

  6. Doug says:

    Trust me, we love your pictures as much as we love your accounts of life on the harvest trail so keep them coming. 🙂 Unfortunately I don’t have such fond memories of Dad’s 300 or 510 Massey Fergusons. They were both so worn out by the time we got them that all I remember about them is busted knuckles and learning new cuss words from Dad and Gary (the dealer who sold dad both Massey’s) as simple repairs turned into major undertakings. But, they were solidly built and once they were repaired they did a good job. And let’s not forget that the 300 ran quite a ways while on fire so Dad could get it away from standing corn and to a place the fire department could get to it. Lol

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      It’s so much fun reading everyone’s accounts of what they remember from harvest past. And…isn’t it silly what will spur them to come front and center of all other memories? Thanks for telling me yours, Doug! And, you can be sure – those pictures will keep coming. That’s guaranteed! 🙂

  7. Colin cloude says:

    Jim and Tracy Thank you for sharing your memories!! And beautiful pictures! Combines are a big part of my life! Particularly the Massey models! To which I still use here in the UK and I consider myself lucky to be able to continue to bring in the harvest.
    Kind regards
    Colin Cloude

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      I’m really glad you enjoyed my memories. 🙂 Please stop back again. Hoping that when harvest gets started, I’ll be posting more stories.

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