next stop…colorado and millet harvest

If you’ve been following the All Aboard Wheat Harvest, you know we’ve been north of Chester, Montana working for a farmer. We left the Beast, Frank and the Pete in Chadron for a bit of an adventure somewhere in the middle of Montana.

Just a month ago, I stayed with Eli and Nora while Jamie, Curt and Ben were in the hospital. But, as soon as they got home late Wednesday night, it was time to go back to work mode. There was wheat to cut in Montana!! We had hired on with Mattson Farms to help them get their harvest done. We left for Montana the very next day.

The first time Jim held Ben – just before we had to tell him goodbye.

As I mentioned before, if you’ve been following the AAWH blog this summer, you know all that took place while we were in Chester. If you haven’t read it, be sure to mosey on over to that site and check it out! I drove a Gleaner combine! Not that there was anything wrong with that – I had never even sat in a cab of a Gleaner before. And you know what? Me and the Silver Bullet got along just fine! But, the best part of the whole adventure was getting to meet the entire Mattson family and crew. Oh my gosh!! I had the best time getting to be a part of their operation! Some of the finest people you will ever meet. I hope we get back up there next year!

The final field sunset pictures.

They saw me with my camera up and decided they needed to “suck it in”. Well, a couple of them did, anyways. Koos didn’t have to worry about it!

The Mattson Farms harvest was completed a week ago today. We got there in time to help with the wheat and ended the season cutting chickpeas (garbanzo beans). It all feels like a dream already. Like it didn’t even happen. But I have pictures to prove otherwise! Jim ended up working for Carl and Vince two more days and then agreed to take me to the mountains for a mini vacation. To make the trip even better, Carl insisted we take his little Miata. He said, “Put the top down and have a good time”! And that’s just what we did.

Our last day together in the field.

Part of the crew. I’ll name them starting from the front left – Megan and Carl. Back row left – Tasha, Vince, Mynhardt, Kerry with Connor in front of her and Janice with Brie in front of her. 

And here’s the entire Mattson Farms 2017 harvest crew!

Once we got through Glacier, I talked Jim into heading further north into Canada and I was hoping for a quick trip to Jasper. I’d never been there before and he went in 1975 with Grandma and Grandpa. The drive was too much for the short period of time he was going to allow, so we made it as far as Banff and turned around and headed south again. Besides seeing the beautiful Canadian Rockies, I saw a mama black bear and her two cubs just walking along the road we were traveling on.

A pit stop in Shelby before continuing west.

It was all smiles when we decided it was time for the top (of the car) to come down. 

Most of my pictures include lots and lots of smoke from the wildfires. 

We got out to stretch our legs near one of the mountain streams. Is this not just about the most beautiful, clear water you’ve ever seen?

We passed an active fire – one of many right now. 

Once we returned to Chester, we packed up the Cottage, said our goodbyes and headed south again. Me and goodbyes don’t do real well…you should know this by now!

We were in Chester at the time of the eclipse. It never got very dark there. It just sort of felt like I had sunglasses on and I didn’t. 

Goodbye Chester and Mattson family! Hope to see you again next summer!

We made it as far as Jordan the first night. Just as soon as we pulled into what used to be the Fellman’s convenience store, who should pull in but our good buddy, Dr. Dan. We visited with him quite a long time before he wanted to show us his new medical clinic. We already had plans to head to the Hell Creek Bar with Jim and Mardrie Baker for supper but decided we could take a few more minutes and see his new facility. I tell ya what…having so many wonderful friends scattered all over the Midwest is a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is pretty easy to figure out. The bad thing is that when you sometimes don’t see them for a length of time, it’s difficult to feel like you’ve spent enough time with them when you do finally get together again. I just have to believe that one day when we get to Heaven, we will have plenty to time to enjoy each other’s company. No reason to hurry to get somewhere else. Just enjoy the time together…I hope!

Dr. Dan and Jimbo.

The next morning, we stopped by Tom Thumb’s house again for coffee before making the long trip south to Chadron for the night. We pulled into the RV park at 7:30.

Montana’s wide-open countryside and BIG SKY! It was so good to get to be back in the state again.

This morning, Jim went back to where we left the equipment and loaded the service truck on the shop trailer and brought it back to town. I spent a couple of hours in Walmart gathering items for the next several weeks. We’ll be about 40 miles from town and I figured whatever I could get stocked up on today, will be a benefit later. It was just about 4:30 by the time we headed south again. We ended the day by stopping in the Sidney, Nebraska Walmart parking lot for the night. We’ll finish the rest of the trip tomorrow and probably even get the Pete turned around and headed north again.

Sidney’s Walmart parking lot looks more like a truck stop – and sounds like one too!

Once we get back to Chadron, we’ll load the combine and head south one more time.

The millet started getting swathed a couple of days ago. I don’t know how long it has to lay on the ground before the combine can begin picking it up. Once it reaches that point, we’ll be in the field once again. Our intentions are to stay in Colorado until it’s time to head back home for the soybeans and corn, which should be about the first part of October.

When I think back over the summer and all the craziness we’ve been through, it makes me wonder what’s next. You know, we really haven’t had much downtime this summer. It feels like we’ve been either working, cleaning equipment or moving. I brought all kinds of sewing along with me thinking maybe I’d have a few days of rain to get something done. Wrong! I did get a dress made for Nora and I think by the smile on her face, she liked it. I really feel like we haven’t even got to enjoy a good ‘ole summertime thunder storm!

What a sweet model!

Until next time…

condensing the journey

img_13812As the water swirled down the kitchen sink, I became aware that it was probably the last sink of dishes I will do in the Cottage in 2014. Suddenly everything I do tonight takes on a whole different feel.

Yep, the 2014 harvest journey is officially over. Tomorrow morning will be the first trip headed in the direction of home. The Beast will be waiting for our return in a few days.

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it’s a wrap

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Wheat harvest 2014 is complete for the Z Crew.

A bittersweet farewell to something that has been a day-to-day adventure…whether sitting in the Cottage waiting for the rain to let up or out in the field…for the past 79 days. If you’ve followed us from the beginning, you know it was a late start due to drought and late season freezes. We made it to Kansas on June 18th. Our typical summer runs 110+ days. It will be good to get back home and be reunited with the rest of the family. But leaving the harvest world is difficult for me. I’ve written about this several times in the past. I don’t know why and I can’t seem to put a finger on it.  Soon, though, we’ll be home, home and it will feel like the harvest journey never even happened. It’s because of this that I enjoy going back through my posts and reading what we did on a particular day or in a particular area.

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and those montana sunsets!

photo 1 (6)Yesterday was the 12th day since the rains began and we finally got rolling again.

While we were still in our waiting-for-the-ground-to-dry period, Jim surprised me with a trip to the mountains. We left Friday afternoon and got back early evening on Tuesday. I’ll have more to share about that when I can get caught up on the piles sitting all around me. For now, though, the Beast is eating wheat again and that’s a good thing! Most everyone you visit with here will tell you they’ve never experienced anything quite like the rain we had. Jim’s been a bit worried about what the ground was going to be like – rightfully so – but we’re moving along quite well. Just to make sure we didn’t need it, we brought the tow rope to the field with us. And, so far so good!

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the color green

Yesterday, Jim and I spent most of the day inside the Cottage. Well…maybe I should say I did. Jim, on the other hand, started doing some of the going-home chores that he normally does AFTER we finish cutting. Things like change oil in the pickups, grease whatever needs greased and preparing for the 900+ mile trip “home, home”.

It was about 4:30 when he walked through the door and announced he was going to take a trip out to the combine. That trip is about 40 miles. “Give me a second to finish what I’m doing and I’ll ride along”, I said. It didn’t take me long to finish typing what I was typing, shut off the internet, throw on my shoes and walk out the door.

Gosh, it felt good to get out of there and head back down the roads that we had been travelling daily until the rains began just a week ago today (Friday).  The day was beautiful and the sky seemed extra blue and clear. Once we got just west of Jordan, I noticed it…the color green. It was only seven days ago the color was brown. The desert had come to life after that life-giving rain we had. Jordan was blessed with about half her normal year’s rainfall in just two days.

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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?

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more breaks – the missouri kind (video)

Today (August 20) was a much cooler day. We began our day by putting the new part on the Beast and hoping the sprinkles would quit so we could get started again. We had lost nearly a whole day due to that breakdown and the miles we had to cover to get the new part. I believe it was nearly 10:00 by the time we were ready to rock ‘n roll again.

After you make repairs, you just hope there isn’t more damage from the piece that broke…especially when it’s part of the shaking system. We could only cross our fingers and hope nothing more would come from this. As it was, things ran as though the breakdown never happened.

IMG_4507Another harvester’s secret…Jim’s make-shift sink for the field. It works amazingly well! The sun warms it up so he has warm water at all times to wash his hands.

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