time

Time…something that seems to run our lives and there’s NEVER enough of it!

I always think I’m going to take the time to write an update on my personal blog and it just doesn’t get done. It seems that I have sort of pushed my own blog aside to write for www.allaboardharvest.com. But that’s okay. I’m sure you remember me telling you that if you don’t see something on here for long periods of time, you should check that site.  So…go check it out! I’ve written several times on there already. You might even enjoy reading some of the other harvest updates from the other correspondents.

Just so you know, we did make it to our destination. It will be two weeks on Monday that we arrived. It was a bit slow around here for the next four days or so. And then…all heck broke loose. We started cutting wheat on Saturday (a week ago). Today (6/16) was our seventh consecutive day of cutting wheat. I think we may have broken some all-time record for the most acres cut in one week! 🙂 The temps have been near 100 degrees or more and we can expect one more day of the heat. On Father’s Day (just for Jim) it’s supposed to reach a high of only 85 degrees.

The yields have been fairly decent considering the lack of moisture here over the winter months. Our farmer told us the wheat was near death in January and then it rained. And he said it never does that. We’ve seen anything from 25 – 50 bushel averages in the fields. I suppose the overall average will be near 35. Test weights have been 57-62. We’ve been seeing weights a bit more on the heavier side than the lessor number.

If you’re really interested in what the heck we’re doing, be sure to check out the Combine Cam. Yep…we have the camera again this year and it seems to be really doing a good job of staying on. I wonder if it will be anything like the popularity of April the giraffe (I doubt it)? If you are curious, though, just check in once in a while and see what the heck is up. Who knows…you may see Jimbo in there. You may hear me singing. You may hear me talking to myself or you might catch an actual conversation between me and the truck driver. Sometimes he forgets that he’s live and says and does things he shouldn’t. I have a hard time keeping him in line. 🙂

The girls had a scary night tonight at home. A bad storm with either straight line winds or a tornado created a real mess. It was rather scary for me sitting in the cab of a combine reading the texts nearly 700 miles away and knowing there was nothing I could do – except pray for protection. Everyone was okay after it was all over and that’s the main thing! Tree limbs and buildings can be cleaned up and replaced.

And with that, I’m going to go take a shower and get a few hours of sleep before it’s time to get up and make more sandwiches so we don’t starve to death. (Go check out The All Aboard Wheat Harvest!) My flower garden.

Just a couple of harvesters – Jim and Roger Peters.

Blowing out the air filters – a daily chore. 

Visited by the New Holland Harvest Support (aka Monte and Carolyn Ahrens).

Two of my favorite things combined in one – cutting wheat and The Eagles:

wheat harvest…a slow beginning

IMG_1988We left home two weeks ago tomorrow. We’ve cut two afternoons.

They say it’s not typical. They say wheat harvest has usually begun by now. They say harvest around here starts on Sunday.

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wheat harvest 2016 nearly here

IMG_1474Miss Nora showing us one of her many talents.

There has been a lot of activity within the household! Graduation was on May 14 and it’s already June 6.

Because the wheat harvest journey was next to happen, that’s what was focused on after the graduation party was cleaned up.  And speaking of the graduation party, I’d like to thank everyone who came. Everything turned out nice, including the weather – just enough chilly to enjoy the awesome fire pit Jim and Mark built.

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we’ve got a starting point!

One of the many “prairie skyscrapers” we saw on our adventure. This one was in Perryton, TX. 

We decided at the very last minute to go. I had been asking if we would be attending the annual Safety Day in Colby, KS for quite some time. I know it’s difficult for Jim to make any commitments this time of year because of the work he has ahead of him. And if the weather is good, he’s got to focus on getting equipment ready for the harvest run. However, it’s been a bit chilly and rainy. So on Thursday morning, he decided we would go. 

The Safety Day starts Friday morning. “I have an afternoon bus route to do and won’t be home until approximately 5:30.” Because he wouldn’t commit, I had already told one of the regular route drivers I would help him out. 

When I arrived at the school, I told Callie what would be happening. She had no idea. But why would she? I told her we would be leaving that night but wouldn’t be home until Sunday night because dad wanted to take a drive to look at a possible job near Amarillo, TX. Surprise!

 Kent Braathen of Braathen Harvesting (Grand Forks, ND) had to make a trip to the area for business. It was a lot of fun getting to meet his 2016 crew. All of them made the trip to the USA from South Africa. Left to right…Greg, Kent, AJ, Zyn, Dan and Tiaan. What a GREAT group of guys!! And so interested in our low-budget operation. Hope to run into these guys again somewhere along the journey this year. 

It was a late night by the time we parked the pickup in the parking lot of the Colby Days Inn. And an early morning wake-up call. We had been invited to breakfast by Jim Deibert of JKD Harvesting. Jim is also the organizer of the Safety Day. For those of you familiar with The Great American Wheat Harvest movie, Jim and his crew were one of five crews featured in the story. (He’s the one with all the foreign employees and newer John Deere combines.)

Jim did a fine job of representing New Holland and Kan Equip while attending the meeting! 

We left the meeting before it was over to begin our adventure to Texas. We wanted to get to Amarillo before too much of the day was gone. We drove in rain all the way from Colby to Texas. Most farmers between these two points were probably pretty darn happy the rainmakers were back in town! We didn’t even need to drag the Beast with us! 

So…it was supper time by the time we got there. Jim knew exactly where he wanted to go. A place he had seen on tv and while passing through town in the past – The BIG Texan Steak Ranch. He said he wasn’t up to the 72oz steak. 😊 (Maybe another time)

We ended up spending the night at the hotel that was just across the parking lot. As we opened the door, Jim said, “Now, THIS makes it feel like we’re on vacation!” And here is why:

The next morning, we made our way east of Amarillo to visit with a farmer about cutting his wheat. The best part of the job we have is dealing with really good people. A fellow harvester knew we were in trouble with the beginning of our 2016 run and suggested we make the contact. What we encountered was some of the flattest wheat acres we’ve ever seen and the opportunity to meet more good people! We were blessed all the way around. It looks like we have a place to start…thank God! The farmer said he thought we’d be in the field June 6. 

After our visit, the farmer suggested we take a quick trip to see the Palo Duro Canyon. All I could say was, WOW! This is the 2nd largest canyon in the United States. Want to guess what is first?

We finally saw some Texas sunshine and boy did it feel good! I have a feeling the next time we’re in this area, it won’t be quite as lovely (the Texas sun). 

And who couldn’t stop along the road and take advantage of a few pics of some real Texas Longhorns?

Our day ended by going back to Jim Deibert’s shop to partake in his annual cream can celebration. He had a large crowd of family, friends and employees gathered for a great time. I believe he estimated approximately 100 people in attendance. 

I finally got to meet the famous Jordan Taylor of J. Taylor Photography. If you have never seen his pictures (especially of the 2014 harvest), you’ve got to take the time to visit his Facebook page and also his website

The first time I sorta met Kelly and Warwick Denton was in Omaha at the 2016 USCHI annual convention. I was surprised to see them at the party and also to learn they will be joining JKD Harvesting on the wheat run. I think I heard that Warwick will be driving truck and Kelly has taken on the job of cook. And what a challenge that could be! She’ll be cooking for a crowd of about 20 every day. Kelly and Warwick are from New Zealand. Kelly has a Facebook page – Karen Denton (Kelly). I told her she should begin a blog and write about her adventures. If she does create one, I’ll share the link in another post. Their story is a fun one to hear!

We spent the night in Colby again and woke up to more rain. Rain..it’s a good thing…especially while wheat is “filling”. We “mosied” home at a turtle’s pace as there was no hurry. 

So glad to know we have one large stress eliminated…where to start. The reason this is even a cause of concern is because the job we usually start our season at (Shattuck, OK) turned their wheat acres into cow food. 100% of the acres we have cut in the past were being grazed. We saw quite a few fields with cattle in them on our trip. 

What now? Well, first we gotta get Callie graduated (5/14). And then…it’s crunch time!!! The Cottage will need to be packed, lots of hours and late nights of preparation, loading equipment and back to two trips to get everything to the first job. As you will recall, last year was the FIRST time (and will be the LAST time) we were able to get everything moved in one trip. It looks like it may be lining up to be just Jimbo and me this summer. 

Stay tuned…

another faith building year

There’s one key element involved in this harvesting game which none of us have control over and that is the weather! This particular piece of the puzzle will either make you or break you.

IMG_5001Right about now, I’m feeling like my invitation was lost in the mail. I know it’ll show up soon…I just have to be patient!

Taylor and I left home early on Tuesday morning. The van was packed to the hilt as we headed south – south to Texas. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been seeing the loaded combines on Facebook. I’ve felt that feeling before. It was when the girls were little and I had to stay behind. I’ve been feeling a bit left behind.  So, I was thankful to have the Case IH ProHarvest Kickoff as a reason to head for the Longhorn State.

IMG_0524Dan Renaud of Case IH has done this event for the past 18 years. Dan informed the crowd today that after this meeting, he would no longer be employed with Case IH. After working for Case for 35 years, his job was being cut. We’ll miss you, Dan! And thanks for the many years of supporting the US Custom Harvesters!

IMG_0525Day one of two.

The states of Texas and Oklahoma have been battling weather for quite some time. Rain, rain and more rain (and a few tornadoes and hail)! Some places have seen up to 30″ of the wet stuff. If you remember why we haven’t been back to Texas since 2012, it’s because of the drought…and late season freezes. Circumstances have kept us from returning to the great State of Texas this year (mostly because we didn’t have a “for sure” job to head to) but maybe it’s for the best.  This crazy weather has most of the “wheaties” who are in Texas struggling to keep their employees busy and has provided plenty of time to socialize.  And socializing is something you can only do if it’s raining. Those are my most favorite days on harvest – as long as you’re parked in a campground with other harvesters.IMG_5002

The annual kickoff breakfasts began on Tuesday with the MacDon gathering. I’ve never been to these gatherings before. I’m sure if there is wheat to be cut, the socializing is kept to a minimum. Today, however, everyone had plenty of time to enjoy each other’s company. It was almost like a mini convention.  I set up a “booth” with USCHI products to promote the organization a bit more and to sell a t-shirt or two.

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It was after the meeting that I started feeling like the party planner had forgotten to send my invitation. Seeing the loaded combines parading down main street of Frederick, OK made me realize that it was, in fact, harvest time.  The “boys of summer” were making their way back to the small towns for the wheat harvest. The golden wheat fields are just waiting for the combines to do what they’re meant to do.  When? When will this party get started? The harvesters are hoping soon…very soon. BUT, the weather needs to straighten out first. Today I learned that within the past seven days, the tornado sirens have gone off five times. It seems this part of the country can’t get a break from the rain. The lakes and reservoirs are maxed out and overflowing. The Red River is about as wide as it can possibly be. I heard a DJ on the radio talk about all this water. He mentioned that the flooding is bad but it will go away and the lakes will remain full of water. The ranchers and farmers who own cattle are in heaven.

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Taylor and I will start making our way back north tomorrow.  There was no rain here today but the forecast for the next two days shows 60% and 70% chance of rain. If things don’t straighten out soon, I have a feeling it could be a train wreck! If it’s not the wheat going down, it’ll be sprout damage (or both) and can you imagine the mud holes these combines are gonna find? Even though we SHOULD be out here with the rest of the harvesters, I have a feeling that we may have done the right thing this year by staying away from the Longhorn State. I will pray for my fellow “wheaties”. I have a feeling this is shaping up to be one of those faith building years.  One of these years, though, we’re going to have a typical harvest journey again (I hope)!

#1 Post for 2012…”We cut wheat today!” (video)

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Abraham Lincoln

The day I wrote this post was one that had been long awaited!  We cut wheat today  on May 16 after sitting for days of waiting for moisture levels to get low enough to cut. The perfect moisture to cut wheat is 13%.  We sort of figured out it was probably due to the early spring and already ripened wheat. The wheat was ready to cut but the dew and cooler temps in the mornings (like a typical spring in TX) were messing with our ability to get it cut. It was after 3:00 when we FINALLY got started. Reading this post and seeing the pictures makes me really excited about heading south again. 

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A 500 mile jaunt

Today was the day we made the trip with the first load to our new “home” – Shattuck, OK. We were in this area last year but stayed in Arnett. The fields are closer to Shattuck and it’s easier to get diesel fuel in Shattuck so we decided that’s where we’ll hang our hat for a while. When I mentioned to Taylor that we’d be staying there this year, she was disappointed. Even though there wasn’t much in the town of Arnett for them to do, it was a memory and had been “home” to them.

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