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…

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…

a tough year to be a wheatie

Picture credit goes to Nancy Eberts 0f Eberts Harvesting, Inc.

We’ve had a bit of crummy luck with our summer jobs this year. I wrote about it on the All Aboard Wheat Harvest site. To read it, you can click here.

In all of our 35 years of being in this business, I can honestly say I have never seen it look so bleak for so many. Typically, when things happen, it happens to a select few harvesters and then you can, hopefully, make up for the lost acres somewhere else along the way. This is not so this year. I’m afraid the 2017 wheat harvest may come to a complete stop for many in a week or so. The acres in the northern states are depleting by the day. The already low wheat acres are becoming even lower and I’m afraid there won’t be enough for everyone to be able to make up what we’re losing.

We are sitting on some acres in Garden City – thankfully! After we received word the hail had wiped out the acres we normally cut, Jim made a couple of phone calls and one of them came through for us.  It’s irrigated wheat and is doing quite well considering this is the wheat that was flat on the ground due to snow the end of April. It’s yielding more than 70 bushels per acre and the test weight is very good (60-62 lbs).  This should keep us busy for four to five more days and then we don’t know what we’re doing next. I have to believe God knows and I will remain faithful to that belief. I know He works things for our good – we just sometimes have to learn to wait! And who knows…maybe we’ll get home to welcome grandbaby #3 to the family afterall.

Garden City, Kansas

Garden City, Kansas

We had some German visitors arrive while we were still in Claude, TX. They are in the states to make a documentary on the wheat harvest. They told us there is great interest in this lifestyle in their country. They were a lot of fun to have around for a day or so. They traveled with us while we moved the combine and trailer house from Claude to Garden City. I believe they are returning tomorrow for more footage of us in the field.

Jim’s preparing the Pete for the trip north while Dirk (one of our new German friends) watches.

 

Volkert sitting in as the “dummy” while Michael and Dirk were setting up the cameras inside the Pete. 

Volkert and our farmer, Bryan, talking about Germany, I’m sure. 🙂

We had to make a planned stop to change things up a bit with cameras and mics. This is Texas beauty!

Another quick stop at Bryan’s Corner, Oklahoma for changes to the plan. Volkert and Michael look pretty involved in a conversation. Dirk and Jim in the background. 

The day after we arrived was the day for fellow HarvestHER visitors – me and Nancy Eberts (Eberts Harvesting). She came to the yard while Jim and I were unloading the equipment. She was in Garden City to pick up a new crew member. 

Later that same day, Amanda Buus Thomsen (BT Harvesting) and her husband, Anders, came to Garden and we went out for supper. 

Jim took this video while he was running the grain cart in Texas. He did an awesome job!!

 

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:

plan b in place

 

“I think I’ll go down and visit with the boys for a while” The boys are our farmer neighbors. Jim likes to visit with them to get the latest on what’s going on with the farming and get the gossip of the day. Much like most other farmers I know. A gathering of the minds, so to speak. 🙂

So, this happened last night.

Harvest preparations are an ongoing thing until we finally just close up shop and hit the road. That’s what happened last night. Jim had a goal of leaving the house with trip #1 about 7:00. Bags were packed and pillows in place in the Hotel Pete. Thought was to just get on the road. We would attempt to make it as far as Plymouth, park in the back lot of a gas station and sleep in the truck. We’d just be on the road and that’s what we just sometimes have to do.

I believe it was a little after 7:30 that we were both sitting in our trucks ready to point the noses of the trucks southward. It seemed like it was taking Frank an exceptionally long time to get enough air built up to release the parking brake. Finally, I called Jim on the two-way and told him I was STILL airing up. He got out of the Pete, walked around Frank and came back to my window, “I think we have air dryer issues”, as he grabbed the hammer laying next to my seat.

Pound, pound, pound. Pound, pound, pound some more. Back to the door. “I don’t think pounding on it is going to help. I think I’ll just have to make a phone call and go after parts”. Phone call was made to Freightliner in Omaha and we immediately stepped into Plan B…headed to Omaha for parts. Typical harvest…hurry up and wait. Guess you learn to “go with the flow”.

Jim replaced the air dryer with the help of his headlights (you know…those silly looking lights that you wear on your head). Which, by the way, I was told are the greatest thing on earth! The old part was loaded in the car and we were headed back to Omaha (it was worth $140). We were home again just a little after midnight. I grabbed the suitcases and our pillows and headed for the house.

And now…we’re waiting for the severe weather to pass before pointing the noses of these trucks southward. I have a feeling we may find more of that (weather) the further south we head.

I will be writing for All Aboard Wheat Harvest (High Plains Journal) again this year. I’ve already posted several times, in case you want to catch up. If it appears to be a dry spell on here, you may want to check out AAWH and see what’s going on. When we get in the heat of harvest, it’s very difficult to justify killing more precious sleeping hours on telling the story in two places.

And…don’t forget to follow the other HarvestHER’s harvest updates at www.harvesther.com!! All kinds of harvest stories to keep up with.

Until next time…

“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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concerned…yet hopeful

The yellow roseometer is telling us it’s about that time to load up and head south. 

Grandpa always said, “Wheat will die at least seven times before it is harvested”. Therefore, I am going to remain hopeful for the 2017 crop. Concerned…yet hopeful.

I’ve heard this quote often lately with the weather extremes that have been occurring in the wheat belt. So…it must be true to continue to be believed by the wheat community. The wheat in western Kansas and eastern Colorado is on its fourth or fifth death by now.

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