it was one of THOSE days

The first trip to Colorado was pretty uneventful. The only problem I could mention that might be something a few out there would understand is parking for the night – next to a truck in a parking lot. We headed for the Walmart parking lot in Sidney with the Cottage to “dry camp” for the night. We didn’t realize this particular lot also housed the Over The Road trucker(s). Even with ear plugs in my ears, I bet I was awake more than I was sleeping. It was warm enough I had to have the windows open so every time a new truck pulled in, I heard it. And I swear it’s always the one with the running reefer that parks next to us. It’s almost like there’s a sign on the side of the trailer that says, “I’m trying to sleep so please park next to me and run your reefer all night”. 🙂  I keep saying “I” rather than “we” because Jim chooses to sleep in the Pete when we’re on the road. He says he does that so his snoring doesn’t wake me up – which I appreciate. But…it really won’t matter, I guess, as long as we park with the trucks.

Anyways, we arrived at our destination and opted to get a good night’s sleep rather than heading north again right away. This was Thursday evening. Our welcoming committee met us right away and invited us over for supper. It’s always good to see the people you said goodbye to the previous year. And, WOW, has Charley ever grown! We had supper with Scott, Sarah, Riley and Charley and probably extended our stay a bit too long. When questions about the summer and the different locations start flying, it’s always fun to bore others with the answers and our experiences. I hope we didn’t bore them too horribly bad!! At one point, I even had to walk back over to the trailer and get my bags of lentils, chickpeas and green peas to show them.

The next morning, we packed our bags and gathered our necessary items, loaded them in the Pete and set out for Chadron one last time for the summer. We made it as far as Bridgeport that first evening, found a quiet (close to the railroad tracks) corner of the gas station and parked for the night. I think by now, I was so tired from all the miles we had covered over the past week, I didn’t even care we were that close to the trains. However, I don’t remember hearing more than two or three. Speaking of miles, I asked Jim while we were headed back with trip #2 how many miles we had driven over the past week (including our trip to Canada) and he said about 3,000. “What a normal truck driver drives in a week”. Yikes! I think I’ve mentioned this before – it’s interesting to me when we’re on the road with the harvest, the miles are all a part of the job. When we’re home and think about driving 500 miles somewhere, it’s questioned a bit more. On harvest, you just do the job, regardless of the miles and the amount of fuel purchased.

As I’m making the bed in the Pete the next morning, Jim opens the truck door and tells me the plug he had put in the tire the day before didn’t hold. So, now we have a low truck tire and it’s Saturday morning. A call was made to the tire repair man and several hours later, we were headed north once again. And then I started smelling something that smelled like a campfire. “That’s an interesting smell”, I told Jim. I knew there had been a lot of smoke in the air but I really wasn’t seeing anything that I felt would create that strong of an odor. It went from smelling like a campfire to smelling like marshmallows cooking and then to smelling like garbage burning. “Do you think we should stop and see if something’s burning”? “No, I think it’s outside”. So, I rolled down my window to see if I agreed with him. “I don’t think it’s outside”. He didn’t act too concerned, so I sat back in the seat and watched out the front window. “I think it may have been paper towels burning under the hood. I just saw some out the rear view mirror”. By this time, we were almost to Alliance. “Are you going to stop and check”? “Yeah, when I find a wide spot. When we do, I’ll quickly open the hood and you grab the water jug…just in case”. So, when he found a parking lot of an abandoned gas station, we pulled in and he did what he was going to do but there was no fire so no need for the water jug. I got out to see where he was telling me the fire had been. Not a big deal but guess you might want to make sure you grab the paper towels before you close the hood of the truck. He had washed the windows in Bridgeport and forgot to grab them before closing the hood.

While walking around the Pete and checking things over, he simply rubbed the area the towels had caught fire and a bolt and spacer from the exhaust manifold fell to the ground. Apparently, the bolt had broken at some point and decided to make his day by falling off the truck at that time. This happened once before and we got stuck in Russell, Kansas. But that was after multiple bolts had broken. We’re hoping this will be the only one for now. Goodness, I went back into the NebraskaWheatie archives to find that post to link on here – that was over five years ago already. So, needless to say, this incident trumped both the tire and the fire in Jim’s head.

We got to Chadron before noon but neither of us were hungry (and we hadn’t had anything more than just a cup of coffee while waiting for the tire). So, we decided we’d get the combine loaded and stop back in Chadron for fuel and a bite to eat before heading south again. Who would have known what usually took us about an hour to do would take about three. It was hot, we hadn’t had anything to eat and everything seemed to be working against us. We were just checking truck lights and nearly done with the job when the clouds started rolling in from the north. As soon as that first cloud covered the sun, Jim says, “Of course…now that we’re done”.

It took him way more times to get the combine on the trailer than it typically does. See Frank way down the hill by the yard?

The cloud that finally gave us some relief from the heat…after we were done.

Waiting on the light check. 

The view from where Frank was parked. 

It was 3:30 when the tornado warning alert came across our phones. We had just left the farmyard and was headed back into Chadron to start making our way south again. “What should we do?”, asks Jim. I voted to stop on top of the hill I was at and watch for tornadoes. The storm was headed directly in our path but appeared to be moving eastward. I told him I thought if we stopped where we were at, we could watch the storm as it moved away from us. We haven’t been in hardly any storms or rain this summer and I’m a cloud freak. I love to watch the clouds and am amazed with the beauty of a storm. We sat for 15 minutes or so before deciding it was good to go. We were just south of Chadron about three feet and it started hailing and I thought we had probably made a wrong decision. But the further south we went, the more we were driving out of the storm. Needless to say, we opted to wait until we got to Bridgeport for fuel and a bite to eat.

The tornadic storm making its way towards Chadron. Pretty good place to watch it here on top of this hill!

Same storm cloud – seemed to be following us for a while before it took a more eastward turn. 

A very brief stop at Bridgeport for a drink.

The closer we were getting to Bridgeport, the more we were aware that we were up against the sun going down. And with the combine, we have to have it parked at sundown. After arriving at Bridgeport, we decided the Frank had enough fuel to make it to Chappell. We would stop there for the night, get fuel and something to eat. We arrived at the Chappell fairgrounds at sundown, unhooked Frank from the header trailer and cruised main street Chappell (thinking there might be a motel still in operation). We decided if there wasn’t one, we would just continue to Julesburg – which is what we did. We stopped in a tiny little motel on the outskirts of Julesburg, rented a room and headed to Subway for something to FINALLY eat. It was about 9:00.

Chappell, Nebraska fairgrounds – a common place for harvesters to park when harvesting in this area. 

I was a bit concerned with the small town motel but was PLEASANTLY surprised! The Holiday Motel ended up being the best room we have ever stayed in! If you’re ever in Julesburg and need a place to take a shower and go to bed, I would highly recommend this place! It was like stepping back into the 1950’s. The tiles on the bathroom walls sparkled, the corners of room were spotless, the bed was great and not one bug did I find! I was so impressed, I even left a note to let them know how impressed I was.

The next morning, we headed back to Chappell, hooked the Frank back to the header trailer, got fuel and we were off…once again. We stopped in Burlington for lunch and made it to our destination about 6:00. We were both so tired, we shut off our trucks, gathered our overnight stuff and headed for the Cottage. The unloading could just wait til morning. “What are you going to do now?”, asked Jim. My reply, “Nothing”! And that’s exactly what we did…nothing. I finally tapped my snoring husband on the forehead about 11:00 and told him I was going to bed. He followed.

Sounds like we are going to sample tomorrow afternoon. See where we are and how things are going to work. The couple of down days that we’ve had have been welcome but it will also be good to get back in the cab of The Beast.

Best news of the day…Taylor and Callie are coming to hang out with us over the Labor Day weekend. And I can’t wait!!!

And here’s a few pictures I got over the weekend.

Brooklyn’s holding Ben, as Jillian watches. Mark is in the background. They must have had a family meal at the Rathe’s house on Sunday night.  

All the kiddos who call me Grandma…Eli, Jillian, Nora and Brooklyn holding Ben. So blessed!!!!

This kid is barely one month old…

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:

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.

img_5369

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.

img_5393

img_5394

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)!