few called him bubba

The last picture I took of Wes

(My final blog for 2016 – although it is 2017 – and it’s the very hardest to write. I’ve been mulling this one in my head for a long time. I’ve thought of all the things I’ve wanted to say for over a year and yet the words don’t come easy. I pray that God gives me the story and the words and the healing my heart is needing by writing this letter.)

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the blue coats (aka the blue jackets) and #TransformFFA

img_5371The Limited Edition DVD includes a picture of the Z Crew on the cover. 🙂

FFA…something my family knows NOTHING about! Unfortunately, it isn’t offered in our rural school and my kids have more than once expressed how they wish it had been. What a great program…helping to raise amazing leaders! Attending the 89th National Convention and Expo was a real eye opener, to say the least!

Conrad Weaver called me last spring with this idea he had, “What if we could get a copy of the Great American Wheat Harvest into the hands of every chapter of FFA in the country? Will you help me find sponsors to make this happen?” I LOVED the idea. I immediately thought of and contacted New Holland Ag and MacDon Industries. Seems only appropriate…right?

After several months went by, Conrad contacted me to let me know New Holland was onboard as the major sponsor for this project and MacDon was onboard too. Sweet!!! One of the conditions with the New Holland sponsorship was that I attend the convention with Conrad. I, of course, jumped on this opportunity before he even got the words out of his mouth. Being able to attend AND be located in the New Holland booth was perfect! At that time, October seemed so far into the future. And…lots of wheat acres and miles to go before I could even think about it.

Well, October came much faster than I expected and it was time to pack my bags. It had been a while since I boarded an airplane and I was amazed at the changes made at the Omaha Eppley Airport. How did they do all of this since I was last here? Guess it’s been longer ago than I realized. I went from keeping a suitcase somewhat packed for the next trip to nothing happening – at all.

Conrad was at the Indianapolis Airport to pick me up the night before the convention was to start. It was a late flight, so we chatted on the way to the house he had rented for the time we would be in Indy (Air bnb). Once we arrived, it was “goodnight…be ready to leave at 7:30 am”. I unpacked a little and tried to relax – although, I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little bit excited to be involved with the convention. I’m a bit weird, I’m sure, because I LOVE being a part of the activity and feel of a trade show.

The next morning, we arrived at our destination and immediately saw the sea of blue coats! I was later told by a fellow blogger and friend of mine they are NOT blue coats…they are referred to as blue jackets. UGH! I’ve already scored -100 points with the FFA organization! All I can say is how amazed I was by the number of kids (there were 64,000+ in attendance) and the sea of blue jackets was impressive!

Conrad and I set up our area in the New Holland Ag booth before the crowd made their way to the floor. I was so excited to get to be a part of their booth; I recognized a couple of familiar faces but had to be introduced to the others. It didn’t take long, however, before I felt right at home with them and knew the next several days were going to be a blast.

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img_5370Conrad getting things ready for the first day!

img_5386Missing a couple of key New Holland players but what a FUN group to get to hang out with!

I won’t bore you with the day-to-day details of the show…just the major ones. Conrad and I had a lot of conversations with kids, advisors and parents about the custom harvesting industry as we handed out the free copies of the GAWH movie. I was able to explain to a large number of kids what custom harvesting was and what we did. PERFECT! Being able to tell the story of the custom harvester is what I’m all about! We handed out over 7,000 copies of the movie all because New Holland Ag and MacDon Industries believed in us, the project and the story!

img_5389Not only did we hand out DVDs and posters…we also had sunglasses that “transformed” (folded up). They were a HIT with the kids!

img_5392I think we could be sisters! Dawn and I have been blogger friends for quite some time (a fellow Nebraskan) but have never met. We finally got the opportunity! Make sure and check out her blog – Lady of AgI’m certain you’ll fall in love with it!

And let me tell you what I realized after spending three days with these blue jackets. The future of agriculture is in great hands! These kids are the “cream of the crop”! Very seldom did you see anyone walking around the trade show or the halls with their heads down, looking at their phones. They were always very polite when they approached the booth with questions. I could see their involvement with Ag was going to be a large part of who they would become.

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While I was in the booth, Jamie Johansen with AgWired. com asked for an interview. We did the usual Zeorian Harvesting story and then she asked me what I was getting from being a part of the convention. This is what I told her. I said it’s a lot like the little wheat plant that is just beginning to grow – it gives me hope. The beauty of the tiny little green plant gives me hope of the 2017 wheat harvest and the blue jackets give me hope for the future of Ag. There will be storms and struggles in the process of getting to maturity but the harvest will come!

img_4936Hope for the 2017 Colorado wheat harvest. I took this just days before we headed home, home.

Thank you, New Holland Ag, MacDon and Conrad Weaver for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the National FFA convention. And for the opportunity to, yet again, share the story of the custom harvester!!

img_5381Cole testing his tractor driving skills on the NH simulator. 

cvnystvvyaartl9A little selfie stick fun with Rebecca and Conrad.

cvtdjx3wgaexmx9-1The Combine Dance – check it out!

If you know a FFA chapter that may not have been able to get their free copy of the DVD, please send Conrad an email at info@greatamericanwheatharvest.com (or leave your Chapter’s information in a comment below). Be sure to tell him I sent you! 🙂

P.S. I’d still like to have one of those blue coats (jackets)!

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.

still here…promise!

IMG_2342I just don’t have enough hours in the day. Seriously!  We got to work in Claude, moved and are now sitting in Deerfield. We just got here with the last load last night. I will write more when there is time. Keeping up with two blogs is much harder than I thought! In the meantime, if you’d like to see what we’ve been up to – check out the High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest. Either click on the picture to the right of this post or click here.

In the meantime, hope your summer is going as you had hoped!

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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…