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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a break in the action

IMG_4452Smokey Butte and location #3

I think our farmer may have mentioned to Jim that combines tend to get stuck in the field in location #5. So, with the latest rains we had, the Beast and I have been separated for a few days. That’s OK, though, because I was starting to miss Frank anyways.

I have cut mud holes and I know when it’s time to move on but if anyone is going to get a combine stuck, I’d just as soon it was the boss. By the way, we’re down to the last 20 acres in this particular area and I don’t think Jim has seen even a little mud.

After moving the equipment to location #5 late Sunday afternoon, we parked everything for the night and decided to get a good start the following morning.

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