Part 3 – Why I Am the Way I Am

I started this post nearly a week ago. I hadn’t finished it because I wanted to add a few pictures. Unfortunately, my body decided to get really sick after I wrote this. I think I may make it…even though I think it would have been better to have someone just shoot me. I’m going to push the “publish” button without pictures. We’ll just hope I feel better soon and I can add pictures later. I have been reminded of something – BIG TIME – this week…when you have your health-you have the world!

It’s been quite some time since I actually sat down to do anything – let alone write. The past month (or longer) seems like a blur! For those of you interested in knowing how the presentation went – it went just fine! I probably even talked longer than I should have. Once I got up there, it was fun telling my audience about our way of life and my history. All jitters left almost immediately. I hope they found it interesting and learned something new about the custom harvesting industry! It seems like I’ve been living out of a suitcase ever since that time. Trips to DC, Hutchinson, Florida and now another trip to DC next week. The reason for next week’s trip to DC will be interesting. US Custom Harvesters, Inc. is a proud sponsor of the annual Ag Day ( on the Hill. This year, it’s scheduled for March 19. While we’re there, we intend on visiting Senate and House offices to chat with our policymakers about the most recent bills that were reintroduced this past week – S.485 and HR.1026. These are a continuation of the bills that were in existence last year but had to be reintroduced because of the new congress. We have a great amount of support this time from other Ag organizations and I’m hopeful maybe this time we’ll get something accomplished. (Crossing my fingers!) S.485 was introduced by KS Senator Pat Roberts and ND Senator Heidi Heitkamp while HR.1026 was introduced by TX Congressman Randy Neugebauer and MN Congressman Collin Peterson. If these get beyond committee and actually made into law, it would remove the burden our industry currently has of only being able to haul up to 118 gallons of diesel fuel to our equipment without a haz mat endorsement on the Class A CDL. This has been an ongoing battle with our organization – since 1991. This is about the closest we’ve ever been to getting some relief. With government, though, nothing happens very fast and I will remain optimistic until that final door is slammed in our face. DOT told us we could actually put 10 – 100 gallon tanks in a pickup or on a trailer and be legal as long as they each have their own pump. Makes sense…right?

Ok…so, now that I’ve wasted enough of your time on my venting about the above, I’ll try to get my thoughts collected and proceed with my story a little more. If you haven’t read it, you may want to go back to the beginning – Part 1 of my story.

In Part 2 of my story, I left off with the winter of 1983 and the odd jobs we did to keep the income coming in (as well as my full-time secretarial job). When I hear songs that were popular at that time (Billy Jean – Michael Jackson), it takes me right back to those days of pushing a broom at the dance studio. Really? It’s been that long ago??

So, the summer of 1984 rolls around. The day I had to watch those combines become tiny little specks on the horizon was the worst day EVER! The harvesters were leaving without me! Thank goodness for my friend, Robin! She stayed with me in our one bedroom apartment that summer. Whenever we could get a three-day weekend or just feel the need to escape, we were heading to the wheat fields. I was so homesick for everyone, I was able to convince my boss to give me a month off in August. Robin drove me to the bus stop early one morning and waved goodbye as I climbed the steps to the bus. I was only slightly concerned about riding a bus to Miles City, MT all by myself. 23 hours later and a little more than road weary, I rolled into Miles City and was greeted by Jim. We spent the night in Miles and the next morning, headed to Jordan. I was going to be a wheatie again for a whole month!

That year, after we finished in Jordan, we made a trip to Great Falls hoping to expand our wheat cutting horizons. We sat and sat and sat waiting for a job that year. We parked our equipment and trailer house in the parking lot of the KMart hoping someone would come along needing our services. Just about the time we were ready to give up, we landed a job – a small one – right along the banks of the Missouri river. When that job was finished, we loaded everything back up and headed home. I don’t remember what Jim did that winter for a job. I’m guessing he was able to get hired on with his friend’s electrical business. If you remember, he was a journeyman electrician but didn’t really like the work. Knowing it was temporary over the winter months helped him get through the cold, winter days.

It was late March, early April of 1985 that I found out we were expecting Jamie. I had severe morning sickness – they call it hyperemesis gravidarum. A long word for being sick ALL the time. I remember waking up in the middle of the night getting sick. Smells were the worst! Unfortunately, our apartment was right across the street from a McDonalds. Ew…I can still smell that grease odor coming through the window! It didn’t last much longer than the first three months of pregnancy and then I was good. I tried to keep working but had to take another leave until I could get back on my feet. Jim didn’t go on harvest with the harvesters that summer. I think he must have felt like he needed to stay back with me.

Jamie was born on December 23, 1985. I remember the day we brought her home (Christmas Eve) from the hospital was one of the coldest days of the year. I had a little Subaru that hardly got warm enough to even matter. I remember taking Jamie out of the car seat on the way home because I felt like I needed to keep her close to me for warmth. Tradition has it that we spend Christmas Eve with Jim’s family. We continued the tradition that night. The crew showed up with soup and all the trimmings while I just sat there holding my baby. 🙂

You know, I don’t remember the years Jim did or didn’t go on harvest. I do remember, though, that he was gone the summer after Jenna was born – 1988. Jenna was born on April 23 that year. I remember loading both girls in the car and following them as far as Lebanon, KS. My great grandma lived there and I was anxious for her to meet Jen. I wan’t anxious to wave goodbye to the harvesters again, though. That particular summer was pretty hard on me. I had taken on babysitting for others and was trying to remain sane. I didn’t have much in the way of adult conversation and I remember wondering if I’d ever feel like myself again. The girls and I hung out by ourselves that summer. We got along just fine but there were times I really wished that Jim had been there to help out – or just provide some adult interaction.

You know what…I think I’ve probably spent enough of your time for today. It’s been really crazy since the end of January. Jamie is only three weeks or so from having a baby of her own. My…where have the years gone? How can my baby be having a baby? I’m so excited to smell that smell again and feel the warm of a baby in my arms!

To be continued…

2 comments on “Part 3 – Why I Am the Way I Am

  1. Ethan says:

    Sickness is no fun. I recently had pneumonia- it is HORRIBLE! Pain and coughing like no other. I thought we were busy until I read this. We have school off tomorrow as well as all of next week for spring break and I’m hopeing to catch up on things and relax after all the hectic things. I hope you can too soon!

    • Hey Ethan!
      It’s been a while. Good to hear from you!! I’m feeling so, so much better. I just didn’t remember how good it felt to feel good. Now I know! The final trip is over…now I can concentrate on Jamie nearly ready to have a baby and Taylor’s graduation…and harvest.

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