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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may…the under-told story 

A friend of mine just said this to me,

“May is the “under-told” story for WHOA!”

She’s right! The “under-told” story of WHOA…Women Harvesters of America. She just created that acronym and I’m thinking it might stick!

May is hard on most harvesters. This is the month of preparation and deadlines. It’s also full of uncertainties:

A. When is the money going to be depleted? This is the worst month for spending. Most harvesters are as broke as they’ll ever be this month. A lot of expenses going out and NOTHING coming in.

B. When will the farmer want you in his yard? This, of course, depends on the weather. How soon will the wheat be ready? How long will the rain hold off? The estimated date of departure seems to change on a daily basis.

C. How much preparation do you do before you finally just hit the road? Guys can “tinker” on equipment as much and as long as they have the time. It gets to the point, though, when you just have to put the tools away and load the combine!

D. Will all the help show up when needed?  The stress of employees must be a minute by minute worry for a lot of harvesters. Finding quality people willing to take on the job is getting harder and harder to find. We are fortunate not to have to deal with this.

For the gals, it’s usually a different sort of uncertainty (depending on the above). We’ve still got to go on with our daily routines of being moms, being involved with school and church, preparing for graduations, taking care of an elderly parent or neighbor, etc. until the day of departure. All this PLUS getting a trailer house cleaned and packed, feeding the crew, mowing the yard and everything else it takes to shut down a house for the extended “vacation”.

Most of the last minute packing and leaving stress is saved for the day(s) just prior to leaving. When the trailer house and the combine are headed out the drive, it’s a relief.

In the meantime, life as usual must happen AS WELL AS getting ready to head south.

Today, I am spending my day in the little town of Adams with the Jr. High track team. Yep, I had to put on my bus driver hat. All I can think about is everything I should be doing to prepare for Callie’s graduation. I still have a week. And all the while I’m thinking of this, Jim is preparing for the day of departure. I’m sort of in denial for both events. I’m guessing, though, they’ll both happen whether I’m really mentally ready or not. So, I may as well just march right on through both.

Small town Nebraska.  I decided a walk through town would be a must before the anticipated high of nearly 90°. This town reminds me of the small towns we call home during the harvest run. It has all anyone needs to survive without the hassles of the big city!

I remember a particular time that Zeorian Harvesting had to make a sudden detour to the basement of the cafe here in Adams.

As we left home, we realized the clouds were looking a bit scary to the SW. But it was time to leave. As we were heading further south and further away from home, the clouds were getting angrier and angrier. All the while we were driving, Jim’s sister and my mom were tracking the tornadic storm for us (prior to iPhones and radar apps). The final call from one of them was to tell us we were driving right into it. We pulled off the highway and parked the equipment next to the grain bins just outside of town. That’s when the tornado sirens sounded. The girls were scared and I was a bit concerned too.

We jumped in the pickup and headed for main street. The only business that we could see which might allow strangers at this time of day was the cafe. We parked the pickup and ran inside. Thankfully, they had a basement and we were all ushered down the steps to safety. The storm blew to the north of this little town but I will forever have that memory etched in my mind. And every time we pass Adams, I think of that night. Thank you, Adams (and cafe owner) for taking care of strangers when the need occurred.

I enjoyed walking the streets of this little Nebraska town this morning. Seeing the flowers and smelling the freshly cut grass. The stress of the upcoming days disappeared for a fleeting moment.



Looks like a picture I took by mistake, right? Nope! Did you ever throw these maple seeds up in the air just to watch time twirl to the ground? Such great kid fun!

The amount of work that needs to be done now until we drive out that driveway is crazy. How it all gets done is beyond me. Lots of late nights, I guess. Yes, May is truly the under-told story for the harvester family!

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…

final days of wheat harvest 2015

Most of these pictures don’t need any “splainin”.

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the end of wheat harvest 2015

Yep! You read that right. Just about as quickly as it began, it was over. Jim doesn’t agree with me when I said we’d only actually cut wheat for 3.5 weeks this summer. I didn’t write the dates down but I know it went awfully fast. It wasn’t supposed to be over this quickly. It happens, though, when the timing of jobs and weather come into play.

Normally, after we finish with our acres in Limon, we clean up, pack up, load up and head for Jordan, MT. (my most favorite place to be during the summer) Not this year. The weather dealt a rough hand for the Z Crew this year. The wheat in Limon was set back due to the late season freeze on Mother’s Day weekend. The wheat in Jordan was moved ahead of schedule because of heat and lack of rain. These two circumstances clashed and made our schedule unworkable.

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all of z crew present…for a week

IMG_6734-1Thanks for sharing your picture, Taylor! This little guy loves the equipment!!!

Sitting here waiting for my fingers to move and my mind to shift gears to writing is the reason I fail at keeping a journal. It’s not the writing that I fail at – it’s the getting behind and trying to catch up. When this happens, I become overwhelmed with the amount of time that has passed and then I just don’t even want to do it. Once I’m caught up again, I tell myself I’m not going to let that happen again. Guess what…I generally do let it happen again.  I’ll start catching you up and if need be, I’ll just have to make it a continuing story. Otherwise, I’m certain you’ll lose interest.

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