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:

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.

Continue reading

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!

AFMP3059