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)

 

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.

 

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…

“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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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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few called him bubba

The last picture I took of Wes

(My final blog for 2016 – although it is 2017 – and it’s the very hardest to write. I’ve been mulling this one in my head for a long time. I’ve thought of all the things I’ve wanted to say for over a year and yet the words don’t come easy. I pray that God gives me the story and the words and the healing my heart is needing by writing this letter.)

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birthdays and holidays

The past two months have been busy but not crazy, busy. Wait a minute…who am I kidding? It’s always crazy, busy trying to keep up with the family and all that’s going on.

Not only did we celebrate the big holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) but also a couple of birthdays, too.

Less than two weeks after Colten and Taylor’s wedding, we celebrated Thanksgiving. Our family gathering was near 100% that day…we were missing Jenna. (She made a trip to Colorado that weekend.)

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