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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taylor gets a new last name

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Colten Josoff

So, it’s the last day of 2016. And…I’ve procrastinated in getting my posts written until now. So, be prepared. Today will be a writing marathon for me just so my thoughts and pictures can be included in our 2016 book. Just remember…I forewarned you.

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since returning “home, home”

img_5701Fall harvest near the Henry Doorly Zoo Safari Park – Mahoney/Ashland exit. (Picture credit goes to Wayne Skoda)

Sometimes, the hardest part about writing is just sitting down and making the fingers start moving!

The time since we got “home, home” has been a bit of a blur. Between emptying and cleaning the “Cottage on Wheels” and getting ready for Taylor’s wedding, not much time has been given to anything else. I’m not going to go into Taylor’s wedding with this post – it deserves its own spot in our book. So, what I will do is try to relive the last eight weeks, or so, without boring you (hopefully).

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We weren’t on the road nearly as long as other harvesters this year. We arrived home with the last load on the 119th day of our journey…the 29th of September. Jim was in the combine cutting soybeans the very next day. Fall harvest for me doesn’t exist. I didn’t even go out and ride in the combine once this fall. I like to make it out there at least one afternoon while the corn is being picked because I love to watch the corn dance in the header. Somehow, it just wasn’t something that was thought about. Both the beans and corn had amazing yields due to the 40+ inches of rain this part of the country received over the summer. Jim was worried about finding mud holes but the weather cooperated and his worries were needless. We just talked about rain and whether or not it occurred during harvest last night and he said there really was none to speak of. There was one afternoon that it showered on them while picking corn but they pushed through it (and made a mess of the Beast).

img_5702Picture credit goes to Wayne Skoda

img_5703Picture credit goes to Wayne Skoda

While Jim was in the combine, I was here at home. My first concern was getting the trailer house emptied and cleaned out. It’s always a pain to me and made even more challenging because it signifies the end of the harvest. Even though I was really ready to get home this year to see the kids and grandkids, it’s still difficult to accept the finality of it all. This year…even a bit more of a challenge for me because I kept waiting for Callie to come home (just as she had been doing prior to our leaving in the spring) and it didn’t happen. The house was quiet. It hasn’t been this quiet since we moved here (October 1985). Jamie was born two months after we moved and it never had much of a break from the noise (except over the summer months) since.

img_5142The joys of getting to babysit Eli – everything else stops and you go play!

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img_5159A Nebraska sunset from the top bleacher at the EM football game.

img_5163Callie passing the tiara to the newest EM Homecoming Queen.  

There was some bus driving but the majority of my time was spent focusing on things to sew or make for the wedding. I was thankful for the amount of time I had because I didn’t feel the stress of being pushed to get it all done. There were fur shawls to create, dresses to hem, mints to make and shopping (and more shopping) to do. I didn’t even have a dress bought for myself. The wedding was already over a week ago. And it was beautiful! As I said, more on that later.

img_5189Family campfire in honor of Callie’s 19th birthday.

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img_5218Besides the wedding preps, we celebrated Callie’s 19th birthday (October 8), made a Halloween costume for Nora (Indian Princess), had a bridal shower, attended Laramie Farris’ funeral in Goodland, Kansas and celebrated Taylor’s 22nd birthday (same day as Laramie’s funeral).

img_5171Walking through Hobby Lobby to find wedding goods. Taylor so willingly modeled what she wanted her fur shawls to look like. Had to have something to use as my pattern. 

img_5322Callie and I carved 50 of these to be used as a “vase” for mums…decorations for Taylor’s bridal shower.

img_5314The bridal shower was a success! Held in the comforts of Mark and Candi’s new machine shed. The only negative? It was hot!

unnamedThe Indian Princess.

img_5524And…the cowboy!

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img_5265I ventured to Sidney, NE for a couple of days to help Matt and Tina pack. They headed for a new adventure in Olympia, WA and I hope it’s the best thing that’s happened to both of them! (although I will certainly miss them)

Laramie…she was supposed to be at the wedding. Being in Goodland and sitting in a packed school gymnasium was not on our calendar! Jim and I had just spent time with her in September. We weren’t supposed to be standing around a gravesite trying to figure out the why’s and how come’s and now what’s. We weren’t prepared to let her go. Not yet.  But something I’ve realized through all these school gym funerals is that we’re never prepared to say goodbye. Especially to the young people in our lives. Laramie touched so many lives for only being 19 years old – probably more than a lot of us touch in a lifetime. The news article said it was a single car rollover crash caused by a “distraction” in the car. The next time you think you need to text and drive…think of Laramie and a beautiful life that was cut short. Something that stuck with me from the funeral was the comment by the Pastor about how we tend to remember all the first times. It’s the last times that are so easily forgotten. The last time your child sat in your lap, the last time they needed your help, the last time you tucked them in bed, etc. The last times…

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img_5570I love this picture of Taylor & Laramie! They were certainly two of a kind!!

img_5569I remember the last time I spoke with Laramie. She never knew a stranger and she always made you feel like you were the most important person in her life.  Her zest for life was refreshing and her smile made everything feel okay. The other thing I took away from her funeral was, “until next time”. We’ll get on with our lives because that’s what we’re supposed to do. There will be reminders of Laramie in so many ways and occurrences. And that will have to do – until next time. Until the next time we see her again. And I will hold onto that truth!

img_5545Those of us who understand harvest and what it’s like to love people from all over will understand this. This was something Laramie posted this summer to help people better understand how she felt about the people in her life.

img_5614Taylor’s 22nd birthday – and also the day of Laramie’s funeral. The girls wore their boots in her honor.

img_5621The Kansas sunset as we were leaving Goodland and heading back home again.

Jim finished fall harvest Friday before the wedding – November 11. Perfect timing! For the past two days, I have been helping him get the equipment tucked back into the shed for the winter. The years seriously go faster and faster. To the point, I just can’t wrap my mind around how fast the days slip by. We’re looking at Thanksgiving and soon, Christmas…again. Maybe this year, I will actually get Christmas cards mailed again.

unnamed-2I got to tag along to the kids’ dentist appointments. 🙂

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unnamed-4Jim is so darn good at backing things up and especially into tight quarters. This is the first of many necessary steps taken to get everything in “our” shed. This is also a test of trust. I stand behind the item being backed in giving him directions via the telephone until it’s placed right where he wants it. Sometimes…he jumps out of the vehicle to make sure I’m giving him the right directions. Usually, I have. 🙂

img_5893The Pete is unhooked from the grain trailer and driven out to make room for the trailer house. Once the trailer is in place and the combine trailer has found its winter home, the Pete returns and sits on the other side of the Cottage.

img_5894The space to the right of the Cottage has been reserved for the Pete.

unnamed-5Rest up Frank, Pete & The Beast…see ya next spring!!

And now…it’s time to go drive bus!

 

 

whaz uuuuuuppppppppp???

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

We’ve moved to job #3. We’re in the same area we have been for the past several years – just on different ground. We’re helping Ryan and Casey Graham for the time being. It seems like the weather just doesn’t want to cooperate for staying in a routine. The whole summer feels like this. 

Today, I’m looking forward to the arrival of Curt, Jamie, the kids and Callie. It sure will be fun to have them around for several days. I’m anxious to see how Eli likes being in the combine. He may not want to leave. 🙂

To get caught up on what we’ve been up to and where we’ve been, click here – it will take you to the High Plains Journal All Aboard Harvest website and blog. It seems that I just don’t have it in me to write two blogs. As soon as this project is complete, I’ll jump back over here and keep up with the “what’s up” with the Z Crew.

The heat is cranking up – BIG TIME – for the Midwest. This will make it tough on the truck drivers in the fields and anyone else not able to get in the air conditioning. Be safe and happy harvest!!
Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do.

One of the hottest days we’ve experienced and had to clean the combine. Not pretty.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do.

For more pictures and “what’s up”, be sure to check out the All Aboard Harvest site.

when a house becomes a home

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The last posting brought up a question by a reader that made me realize that it’s a bit hard to read my mind. (Just ask Jim about this)

The question was, “Why did Curt and Jamie move into your house?”

The answer – because it worked out perfectly. We couldn’t have prepared and put the plan together any better had we done it. I believe it all happened as it should have – a “God thing”.  Curt and Jamie made the decision to build a home in the country. That started the process. As soon as the purchasers of their home found out they would be moving, they approached Curt and Jamie about possibly purchasing the home in Louisville.

Each step they took came at perfect timing. As did the transition from one house to another. Their house did, in fact, sell – prior to the completion of the new one. The new owners agreed to let them stay throughout most of the summer, hoping the closing date of the new house would happen before the beginning of a new school year (for the new owners).

The idea of moving to our house was proposed. They took us up on it. The craziness is that – once again – it all happened as it should. They were packing at a time that I could help with the kids and/or packing. I moved our items out of our house to the Cottage. This gave Jamie the empty spaces needed to put her family’s items in. Perfect!

After all of the house swapping was complete, I was able to enjoy two days with the kiddos before we had to leave for the summer. I hope the kids enjoy being in the house as much as the house probably enjoys having them in it! I just wish I was home to enjoy the noise.

IMG_0323Jamie examining the hole in the ground that would one day be her home. 

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IMG_1055The hole in the ground changed to this in April.

IMG_1056What will be the kitchen and island – the heart of the house and family. 

Jamie scattered these scripture verses throughout the home. When I realized she had done it, it was fun to look for them. It was sort of like a game.

 

This is what the house looked like the day before we left. The next time we see it, it will be more than a hole in the ground, more than studs and drywall, it’ll be a HOME. This is the area that will be the kitchen looking into the living room.

One day, this picture will be fun to look at because rather than dirt and sand, there will be grass and trees and lots and lots of wonderful memories.

 

and just like that…

IMG_1348Callie and Kara have been best friends since kindergarten. They finished their school career off with a BANG! Callie was Valedictorian and Kara was Salutatorian. I asked Callie if there ever seemed to be competition between them and she said, “No, we helped each other”. Good job girls!! Please make sure to take that attribute with you the rest of your life! Eliminate competition and replace it with helping each other. 

And just like that…it was over.

It started the fall of 1991. It ended on Saturday. The school schedule has controlled what we’ve done, where we we’ve gone, and has been a major piece of the game called life. I’ve been so focused on getting through each day that I never really thought about it being over.  Oh, don’t get me wrong – I knew it would one day but that was so far into the future.  Well, the future is here.

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may…the under-told story 

A friend of mine just said this to me,

“May is the “under-told” story for WHOA!”

She’s right! The “under-told” story of WHOA…Women Harvesters of America. She just created that acronym and I’m thinking it might stick!

May is hard on most harvesters. This is the month of preparation and deadlines. It’s also full of uncertainties:

A. When is the money going to be depleted? This is the worst month for spending. Most harvesters are as broke as they’ll ever be this month. A lot of expenses going out and NOTHING coming in.

B. When will the farmer want you in his yard? This, of course, depends on the weather. How soon will the wheat be ready? How long will the rain hold off? The estimated date of departure seems to change on a daily basis.

C. How much preparation do you do before you finally just hit the road? Guys can “tinker” on equipment as much and as long as they have the time. It gets to the point, though, when you just have to put the tools away and load the combine!

D. Will all the help show up when needed?  The stress of employees must be a minute by minute worry for a lot of harvesters. Finding quality people willing to take on the job is getting harder and harder to find. We are fortunate not to have to deal with this.

For the gals, it’s usually a different sort of uncertainty (depending on the above). We’ve still got to go on with our daily routines of being moms, being involved with school and church, preparing for graduations, taking care of an elderly parent or neighbor, etc. until the day of departure. All this PLUS getting a trailer house cleaned and packed, feeding the crew, mowing the yard and everything else it takes to shut down a house for the extended “vacation”.

Most of the last minute packing and leaving stress is saved for the day(s) just prior to leaving. When the trailer house and the combine are headed out the drive, it’s a relief.

In the meantime, life as usual must happen AS WELL AS getting ready to head south.

Today, I am spending my day in the little town of Adams with the Jr. High track team. Yep, I had to put on my bus driver hat. All I can think about is everything I should be doing to prepare for Callie’s graduation. I still have a week. And all the while I’m thinking of this, Jim is preparing for the day of departure. I’m sort of in denial for both events. I’m guessing, though, they’ll both happen whether I’m really mentally ready or not. So, I may as well just march right on through both.

Small town Nebraska.  I decided a walk through town would be a must before the anticipated high of nearly 90°. This town reminds me of the small towns we call home during the harvest run. It has all anyone needs to survive without the hassles of the big city!

I remember a particular time that Zeorian Harvesting had to make a sudden detour to the basement of the cafe here in Adams.

As we left home, we realized the clouds were looking a bit scary to the SW. But it was time to leave. As we were heading further south and further away from home, the clouds were getting angrier and angrier. All the while we were driving, Jim’s sister and my mom were tracking the tornadic storm for us (prior to iPhones and radar apps). The final call from one of them was to tell us we were driving right into it. We pulled off the highway and parked the equipment next to the grain bins just outside of town. That’s when the tornado sirens sounded. The girls were scared and I was a bit concerned too.

We jumped in the pickup and headed for main street. The only business that we could see which might allow strangers at this time of day was the cafe. We parked the pickup and ran inside. Thankfully, they had a basement and we were all ushered down the steps to safety. The storm blew to the north of this little town but I will forever have that memory etched in my mind. And every time we pass Adams, I think of that night. Thank you, Adams (and cafe owner) for taking care of strangers when the need occurred.

I enjoyed walking the streets of this little Nebraska town this morning. Seeing the flowers and smelling the freshly cut grass. The stress of the upcoming days disappeared for a fleeting moment.



Looks like a picture I took by mistake, right? Nope! Did you ever throw these maple seeds up in the air just to watch time twirl to the ground? Such great kid fun!

The amount of work that needs to be done now until we drive out that driveway is crazy. How it all gets done is beyond me. Lots of late nights, I guess. Yes, May is truly the under-told story for the harvester family!