southwest nebraska + high plains disease

On the third, we thought we were finished in Tribune but after rain appeared in the forecast, Stan decided to have us cut an additional four 80s. Altogether, we cut around 450 for Stan so Tribune turned out to comparable acres of a “normal” year. The guys finished cutting on the fourth, cleaned the machines, and loaded them up for the next day’s drive.

The heat wore Blake out so Leigh and I took the kids up to the football field to watch the community fireworks show. We stay on Central time but since Tribune is in Mountain, so it was later than desired. However, the kids had fun. We got back to the campers and listened to the party continue well after midnight.

The guys made it to Chappell without any issues and were back at a decent time. We settled up with Stan the morning of the sixth and then took off for Chappell. After setting up, Blake went to unload equipment and after unsuccessfully attempting to get the kids to nap, I just took them to run wild at the park. No one was getting away with a early evening nap. They ran around for about an hour and a half, then the whole shenanigans of bedtime. I think we found a new favorite family show – BBC America has a few Planet Earth shows and it’s good.

I talked with Sarah, my sister, on Saturday morning. After hanging up, she called back to ask if she could take the girls to Denver. Sayonara! I knew the girls would have a blast and so after taking out lunch and packing for their adventure, we headed off to just past Sterling where we did our swap. Cal told me “bye, mama!” and was quite disappointed when I made him come back with me. Maybe next year buddy!

The girls lived their best life, going to the pool five times and eating shakes before bed every night. Because of this, they convinced Sarah to let them extend their stay by an additional night so I got them back Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, the little guy was missing his sisters and the other guys cut away on what was ready. Chappell got ample moisture this year but High Plains disease / virus has devastated so many fields. Last year, mosaic, this year High Plains. There is a variety that is resistant and that’s 60 bushel wheat. Last night, I asked Blake what it was making and it was 14.

We are down to our last 200 acres here in Chappell and then the short move to Chadron. Once we get moved up there, we have about 500-600 west of town and then 700 or so east of town. Hopefully we can buzz it off quickly and start the trek to Circle. We are getting in and out of here in record time which is good because we need to be starting that trip up to Montana.

Once we get to Chadron, I’ll do a cupboard restock and get the kids to the park and maybe the pool. The summer is moving quickly and the kids and I only have five weeks left before we head back for school. Hard to believe on many levels. Hope everyone is having a good week.

finishing kansas

We finished up Tribune Saturday early evening but got a call this morning for about 150 acres. In the scheme of things, 150 isn’t a lot but years like this, we recognize how fortunate we are.

Gilbert, our main farmer in Tribune, was down a couple hundred acres that got zeroed out and we finished him up Friday evening. One of the biggest perks of making the same stops, in good years and bad are definitely the relationships you make and maintain. Gilbert was calling around to see if anyone needed some extra help and found us 160 acres near his house. The farmer lives by Leoti (30 miles from the field) and it was organic wheat, which is a little more finicky when it comes to weeds after it gets rained on, at least from my understanding.

Then in typical years, what is a typical year?, Stan has been having us cut 500 acres up by Wallace. Wallace tends to get more precipitation than Tribune but that also means more chances of hail. This year the hail came and those acres were zeroed out. Since they were down those acres and perhaps more, the family thought they could manage but this morning, we got the call to cut 150 if it was ripe. Typically, we have been cutting 1600 acres at this stop. We should leave town in the 1200 acres ballpark so again, given the year (past 7 summers?), we are going to move forward grateful for the acres.

I don’t really know how some crews are doing it. I know that on the list of fortunate/unfortunate crews, we definitely fall under the fortunate column. Insane machinery costs, expensive repairs for those basically new machines (even though Blake and Bruce take on most of our labor), truck maintenance, labor challenges of finding and keeping good help, insurance expenses, taxes, it all adds up to an amount that can make your head spin. Farmers, whether they follow “the rules” of good farming or not, are entitled to government assistance. Custom harvesting, having no insurance, no assistance, and no contracts with their farmers is a tough business. This isn’t a poor us rant (I’ve already declared we are in the fortunate column) but I know the expenses / challenges and every thousand acres short is a significant pinch. When guys’ full runs are in turmoil, I feel for them.

Moving forward, once we get moved to Nebraska, we should be able to cut right away or soon after in Chappell. We are short some acres due to some unforeseen bug (last year, it was mosaic in Kansas but it is something else in Nebraska this year). After that, we will see how it all works out with Chadron and Circle. It seems Circle is ready much earlier than it used to be, especially with the addition of more pulse crops, peas and lentils, being planted.

Blake got a call from a friend/customer just to give him a heads up on time frame in Montana. From the sounds of it, peas will be first, followed by lentils, and then spring wheat. There probably isn’t going to be any / much winter wheat since it was so dry last fall and instead, there will be more peas and lentils. I’m always getting my information from Blake amidst three rambunctious kids so if I tell you something different in a few weeks, don’t be surprised! Anyway, the sprinklers got turned on in Montana so barring hail, there should be a great crop up there.

Speaking of rambunctious kids, they are all doing well. The girls hit up the pool on Saturday and Cal given the choice between the combine and pool, chose the combine. I’m a huge fan of night swim, given my hate of keeping three kids and myself sunscreened up, so I told the kids we could go last night too (the only night the pool has evening hours). To my surprised, machinery boy had a blast. He was running around like a madman, no surprise there, but he was having a blast. Once Blake was done settling up, he came and the kids had fun with him.

Overall, we are having a pretty good summer. The sleeping arrangements leave A LOT to be desired but it’s safe to say that if that’s my biggest challenge of life right now, we’re doing alright. Hope you have a good week.

two weeks in

Year after year, I never know where to start on this thing once harvest begins. I mean, is it December when Blake and Bruce have to make the decision again on whether or not to purchase new combines. March, where the bad news starts coming in on the outlook for the start of harvest and how Montana is getting so much rain that crops are being planted so late. April, where we remodeled our camper that finally got wrapped up just days before we left.

What I am inadequately trying to say is that even though we are on the wheat run typically from early June – late August, so much of our lives is wrapped up in the wheat harvest run. Maybe in subtle ways like how I know if a house project isn’t well on it’s way by February, it just has to get moved until the following winter. It also affects our lives in the bigger ways. Obviously, the financial outlook on the year is largely based on harvest but also, how we schedule our year and the plans we make with friends is so dependent on harvest.

So I’ll unwisely start a good 8-9 months ago and get this all up to speed. Fall Harvest ’17 was a late start. The rain would not go away until it finally did and it was fast and furious until we finished about a week before Thanksgiving.

When we finally were able to go, this little bug was excited to get a ride. He wasn’t able to last too long last fall before yanking at the wheel, climbing all over, and just being a pain in the cab.

The next week was a little hectic with Blake trying to get things cleaned off and put away on top of my sister Tess’s wedding Thanksgiving weekend.

We cleaned up better than expected. 😉

As it always is, December was a fast month. Between celebrating the girls’ combined 5th and 3rd birthdays, preparing for Christmas, and heading to Minneapolis for a weekend, the month flew by. We ordered the new combines somewhat late, partly because of everything we had going on.

In March, we found out that Oklahoma had 75-80% of their crop zeroed out and a full crew wouldn’t have to go down there. It was somewhat decided that if hauling was available, either Blake or Bruce would head down to Sentinel and the other would stay home. This is also when the discussion of taking two machines instead of three began. We may bring the third machine to Montana if needed but time will tell. April came in wet and hauling wasn’t happening until toward the end but my camper got a little renovation, which is a whole separate future post.

Toward the end of April, things dried up and the guys were putting in some really long days hauling fertilizer. A few days before the first group left for Oklahoma, one of our drivers just slightly missed the corner but hauling liquid fertilizer, it ended up pulling the whole truck in and totaling Blake’s truck. With all the hauling up until Bruce and Leigh headed to Oklahoma, Blake had a busy week and a half taking a load down to Oklahoma, getting things ready, such as packing the cargo trailer, finishing up the other combine, dealing with the insurance claim, etc. While Bruce was cutting In Oklahoma, he hit an unmarked old oil well and totaled the MacDon Header. At least, it’s totaled in our heads as we are still dealing with insurance on the matter. Blake then had to take a different header halfway to Oklahoma, meet Lloyd, and bring home the empty trailer. The header is so bent up that it wouldn’t go back on the trailer. Not our best luck / month. From mid-April to the time we left, the kids don’t see Blake much and during one tired outburst, Briar stayed matter of factly, that it was time to go on harvest so she could finally spend time with her daddy.

I also had a busy month, seeing people before we left, keeping the kids occupied, cleaning up the house, and packing the camper. My mom was a huge help with keeping the kids for a few days and also coming down to help out the couple days before we left.

June 12th, about two weeks behind schedule, Blake and I headed out to Manter, KS. We got there the next day and Bruce and Leigh arrived a few hours later. We thought we would have a couple rest days before we could cut but surprisingly, we were able to cut Thursday. It ripened south of town basically field by field. While in Manter, we had a whole slew of storms come through SW Kansas but we hadn’t been hit too bad, unlike Garden City and Scott City who have been absolutely hammered this month.

With the rain days, we were able to have some fun. We took the kids to the Garden City Zoo, a free zoo but we chose to rent a bike cart and during it, Briar said, “This is the funnest day I’ve ever had.” Hyperbole runs in the family but it really was a fun day.

Besides the whole zoo day, the kids have also been getting in plenty of rides, even all heading out one morning. With Blake and Bruce in the combines, they split up between dad and papa and they all have fun, but probably not as much as I do. Joking aside, there has been a shift from overwhelm to more enjoyment with the kids all getting a little older. Simple things like going to the park aren’t some huge ordeal and going to the field is going to the field compared to a daily Presidential Physical Fitness Test I remember from elementary school, along with the shame of not ever “passing.”

Run out, start the car, get Cal in his car seat, wait did I burp him? Shit! The potatoes are burning. Briar, where are your shoes? Grab the main dish, load it up, where did I put the plates? Okay, Cal, back in the car seat and out to the car. Grab Addie and her shoes, I’ll deal with that later. Come on , BRIAR! Oh my gosh, the vegetable. Start them, go to the bathroom, fill my water, take the diaper bag out to the car, come in and grab the dessert. Calculate if I should grab a bottle for Cal. Load it in the car and then wait for the vegetables while I sadly look around at the mess we were living in and knowing I was going to have to deal with that later. Take the vegetables out and call Blake that I was finally in the car, a full 20 minutes later than I planned. I told you hyperbole runs in the family but 2016 was rough, on top of being split up every stop besides the first and last that the summer. Now when I think of how easy things currently are, it’s a comparison to that summer. Last summer was also hard but not that hard.

Cal stayed out with Blake but didn’t have his blankie so four shop towels did the trick!

We finished up in Manter Tuesday evening, they loaded that night, left Wednesday morning at 8 am and pulled into Tribune around 9:30. I walked the kids to the convenience store to use the bathroom and by the time we got back, Blake was just plugging in the electric and then took off to grab the remaining equipment. Pit crew style. The kids and I got set up and then Bruce and Leigh showed up, they had went to settle up on their way. When all the guys got back, we ate, and they headed up to unload equipment. Surprisingly, they were able to start cutting and got two 80s cut that night. Yesterday, they were able to cut 440, which only having two combines with this summer, a pretty good day.

There isn’t any rain in the forecast so this may be a quick stop. Next on the list will be Chappell, then Chadron, followed by the final stop of Circle. This is bound to be the strangest summer I’ve had on the road as miss Bri starts kindergarten in August so the kids and I only have about seven weeks left on the road. As always, I don’t want to make promises but hopefully the next update won’t be of the past 8-9 months. Have a great weekend!

German documentary

Hey everyone!

We are in the midst of fall harvest currently and are finished with the beans and making good progress on the corn. We could be done within the next couple weeks providing no major setbacks. It was such a late start and so I am grateful we are as far as we are!

We recently were in touch with the guys that filmed us during our wheat run in Kansas. The documentary has aired and is getting good reviews in Germany. They are pleased with how it turned out and though it is in German, you can still get a solid glimpse of the day in the life. It’s a little awkward to see yourself on a professionally produced film but the footage of the machines and the scenery (and the kids) are so on point. It will be something to look back on for sure.

In case you are interested, I will leave the link below. They were with us and the Zeorian crew for about two weeks and produced a 45 minute film. If you watch it, be sure to share your thoughts!  🙂  Have a great week!

http://www.ndr.de/fernsehen/sendungen/laender-menschen-abenteuer/USA-Per-Maehdrescher-durch-die-Great-Plains,sendung696184.html

pea harvest

Hi guys! It’s been another busy week in the lives of the Krumbach Harvesting crew. Since I last updated you, plans have pretty much stayed the same which is a pretty rare occurrence.

Early last Sunday morning, Lloyd headed north, dropped a grain trailer off in Belle Fourche, and headed back to Chappell. As expected, we finished easily in Chappell on Sunday. The ground was still damp but the truck drivers took caution in not getting the trucks stuck and all was well. Once the guys were done cutting, it was time to blow off the combines and tractor / grain cart, which always everyone’s favorite job. (Said with sarcasm.) Blake’s new – and expensive – air compressor broke. Luckily, the replacement parts are under warranty and it sounds like they will be shipped to Circle. Which, being in use less than two months, it should be covered but you never know anymore. Once the cleaning was done, it was time to load. There was absolutely no wind and it was hot that day. All the guys looked pretty wore out by the time they came in to eat. 

We had some settling up to do Monday morning so I wasn’t in a super big hurry getting the kids up and moving. That is until Blake popped in and told me we were leaving ahead of the group to make sure the construction by Alliance wasn’t going to be an issue. After a rush to get going, we were heading to Chadron. After making it through the construction (it was fine), we continued on our way and the kids did great. I often take for granted how great of travelers they really are – and Blake takes for granted my tolerance of screaming when the kids are absolutely over it. Ha. 

We tossed around the idea of moving ahead to Belle Fourche but the combines needed to be unloaded, trailers picked up from Chappell, and ultimately decided to just get everything together in Chadron and leave in the morning. The kids FINALLY took a nap (good at traveling, bad at sleeping, can’t have it all) and so Leigh and I took them to the park. We were there about fifteen minute before it started lightning but even a little park time makes a difference in their moods. Speaking of park time, I have been expotentially better at getting the kids to the park this year. I know I could be doing a hundred things better but am happy to have made this improvement for the kids. In return, they have gotten pretty good when I say it is time to leave. There is always the request to do one more thing but we usually are able to get out of there within five minutes of me calling time. For me, that’s half the battle. At the beginning of the summer, I made it clear I would take them more if they were good when it was time to leave and it’s worked out really well for us. 

So happy to be out of the car.

Addie girl looking almost as crazy as she is!

So when we back from the park and Blake had put a new wheel on my sliding glass door. Praise the Lord! It has been getting stickier and stickier and then it broke while in Chappell so glad he was able to fix it without too much hassle. We fought the kids to go to sleep and Blake throws out, “Traveling tomorrow is going to be awful.” So I inquired about who it was going to be awful for and silence. 

Tuesday was an early morning and we took off around 8. I think. Remembering is hard. Of course, Briar refused to eat breakfast and was complaining of hunger before long. Blake asked when we were approaching Rapid if we should stop and I gave him the go ahead to make it to Belle Fourche. The truck stop in Rapid is pretty horrible to get in and out so wanted to just get that crazy stretch of traveling done. It is pretty stressful traveling through the Hills and it is always a relief to make it to Belle Fourche. 160 miles down so we got out for lunch and took our time so the kids could get a good stretch. 

We got back on the road and the next stop is Broadus, MT, another 95 miles. Addie needed to use the bathroom before we made it and requested to “go in da grass” so the kids and I made a pit stop. I ran her in quick while the others were sleeping. We caught up with them at the scale in Broadus and it took a while before we were able to get the green light to go. We were the sixth crew of the day and two more showed up while we were still there. 

The next planned stop from Broadus was Terry, 116 miles away. However, before we hit Miles City, Addie started screaming and I pulled to the side of the road to take care of her issues. She spilled chips in her car seat and oh my gosh, it was a serious issue. She decided she needed to go potty. Then Bri wanted a try. And then buddy guy screamed his way out of the car seat. So we were a solid 15 minutes behind but caught up with them at the Terry exit as it’s a little harder to pull the combine through those hills compared to the cargo trailer. After Terry, it’s Brockway, only 47 miles. We left the truck and combine there since it is much closer to our farmer’s from there. Cal was NOT impressed when I put him back in his car seat for those final 13 miles to Circle. After the 430 miles, I stopped at the park while Blake was setting up the camper and let the kids play. Once Blake was set, we headed up to eat. We were wiped when we got home.

The next morning, Blake and Mike headed out to Jack’s to unload the combine and then drive back to Belle for two grain trailers. I let the kids sleep in and sleep they did until 10 am. Blake and Mike made it back from Belle, put on the cross auger, and tested the peas. The kids and I took out supper and it was a pretty big day for the guys. Since then, Blake has been cutting peas. He probably has about 460 acres cut the past few days. The first field averaged 20 and the second one is averaging upper teens. Considering how dry it has been, this is pretty decent. 

Blake and I are wondering when they are going to get a family cab with stadium seating near the back window?!

Dad was dumping on the truck and it got the kids’ attention!

Cutting peas with dad.

Jack, our main farmer, is south of town. North of town is worse with the drought. Blake talked to a guy we used to help cut for and he said some of his fields have gotten 1/4 inch of rain since the snow melted. Up by Wolf Point, about 50 miles north, everything has been zeroed out. We are so fortunate to be cutting here this year. 

I took this on Wednesday, our first day out. It has changed so much since then. I’ll try to do a progression of this field. 

Once you are in the field, it looks more sparse but it appears the heads are filling. 

The other half of the crew is finished in Chadron. They finished Friday but have been working on some things there and choosing not to travel in super hot weather. They will make the trek tomorrow. We will have some remaining equipment down there and some of the guys will have to head back for it sometime this week. 

Crazy enough, we could be heading home in about three weeks. Since we have gotten here, the spring wheat has been turning with the high, dry heat. As a non-expert, it appears to me that it is a couple weeks off. We will finish the peas and then lentils and then spring wheat and finish with chick peas, at least that would be the typical order. A month ago, we were leaving Sentinel. It’s been a fast summer  to say the least but before I know it my sixth summer on the road will be ending. It’s crazy how quickly six years have gone!

the madness continues

Since I just shared a longer post yesterday explaining what has been happening around here, this one is going to be short & sweet. Last night, the guys cut pretty late and had an amazing cutting day at over 700 acres (I think Blake told me 710?) and only had two 80s left for Chappell. We have never ever cut Chappell this fast. Granted, we have around 1200-1300 acres here total this year but still! We had 0% chance of rain for last night when I checked yesterday evening but it definitely rained in town and on the field. They went and checked out the remaining fields after lunch and though the wheat would have dried down, it was just too muddy. 

Once they were back in town, Bruce popped over to say they would watch the kids while Blake and I went and picked up parts. Date night! Jokes but still nice to have a little break from them after the past couple weeks. We got ready and when we were dropping Cal off over there, Bruce said he had gotten a text from our main guy in Montana that the peas and lentils won’t be great but they’ll still need to be cut and they’ll be ready in a couple days. 

So basically here is the plan. Tomorrow morning, Lloyd is making the 500 mile trek to Brockway and dropping off a grain trailer. He will start heading back but obviously won’t be able to make it too far. The rest of the guys will finish the 160 acres and load the equipment. Blake made most of the maps already for settling up so he’ll just have to make a couple maps tomorrow evening. We’ll settle up Monday morning and head to Chadron. (I am not sure if they will send up some grain trailers to Chadron tomorrow or if they’ll have to head back down on Monday but there will definitely be some equipment shuffling going on.)

Come Tuesday, Blake will be hauling the combine, I’ll take my vehicle and fuel trailer, and one truck driver will come with our camper. So two guys, three kids, and me and that’s it. I’m not sure who is coming up there but they will stay at a friend’s house for those few days. Once the 500 acres of peas are cut, Blake and the other guy will head back to Chadron to help move everyone else up to Montana and we’ll cut lentils, chick peas, and God willing, some spring wheat. 

Provided no travel issues, we should be in the field on Wednesday, JULY 12. This is so early and crazy and despite the impending travel exhaustion from pushing through Nebraska is one week, I’m so relieved we have a reason to go up there. 

My mom and I were trying to figure out a time for the girls to go stay with her and my dad for a week and had been planning on them going after next weekend. Once the stay was over, I’d meet her in Bismarck again or something. Well, with this change of plan, I am not sure we are going to be able to work it out. Driving from Circle to Bismarck and back to Circle (7-8 hours of actual driving round trip) once is fine but twice is a little much, especially if we should be finished up much earlier than normal anyway. Blake and I were talking and assume we will be home mid-August. Once we are home, they might have to go stay with papa and nene for a few days while I unload my camper, then take a real shower, and enjoy a large glass of wine in pure silence. Haha. 

So, that’s the new plan. Twelve hours ago, we were talking about getting done here, moved up to Chadron Monday, resting Tuesday, and start cutting Wednesday. We all are so grateful for the change of plans if it involves cutting a crop in Montana. Now, time for bed!

whirlwind

The Kansas 2017 Harvest is officially over for the Krumbach crew. Blake and the guys put in some long days in Tribune, as did Bruce and Lloyd in Manter, and we were able to finish our Kansas jobs earlier this week. Besides the guys, Leigh and I also had our hands full with our supporting jobs. I tried to get the kids doing something fun most days (ride with dad, pool, or park), took out lunch, packed the cooler for supper, got the groceries, and felt like I just kept treading. But we made it! Leigh had less people to feed but she had to stay out in the field often to help shuffle around from field to field so that combine could keep on cutting. We are both looking forward to getting back to a normal “routine” for this stop, whatever normal means anymore.


We finished Tribune Monday. The averages varied immensely as we dealt with some mosaic. Our farmer was quite disappointed because he said when it was first heading out, it was such a beautiful crop and then the virus hit. The test weights were low as well so that was also disappointing. We cut for one other farmer up there and had to leave 160 acres because it had been hailed on. Though the yields were still fine, it had lots of sucker heads and wouldn’t dry down without waiting a couple days. With our fields in Nebraska ready, we couldn’t sit there for those acres, which he understood. 

We had two options. Bruce and Leigh could have stopped and cut it when they were done with Manter. This way, two combines could get to Nebraska and get started. Our other option was to ask the farmer if he minded if friends of ours cut it. Our friends had lost their Colorado acres to drought and are unfortunately available until the millet is ready in Colorado in September. Tracy writes for All Aboard Wheat Harvest and wrote a very interesting and well thought post on the different challenges many custom harvesting crews are facing here. I can’t even begin to express how fortunate I feel for the acres we have had this year but that could easily be a whole separate post. Jim & Tracy will be cutting those 160 acres for us. 

So Monday, once finished cutting, it was cleaning and loading time. Additionally, the German crew was there with some final filming. They hired an aerial videographer with hopes to get all three combines cutting together. Unfortunately, they didn’t get us together and they didn’t even get us cutting but they did some loading video and then when we pulled out of Tribune. Briar became besties with the aerial guy because he was flying a sweet drone and she really wanted to fly that thing. Also, he played with her so drone and playing, what’s not to like?! She was crying when we left because she really wants to be friends with him. Ha. Once we were done feeding the guys Monday and playing with the drone guy, I had to get my dishes done from lunch, pick up sandwich things, pay the fuel and parking, and prepare the camper. Our main farmer came to settle up Monday evening and the sky started changing. After a while, I became paranoid. 



We ended up going to Gilbert’s house to settle up and the kids had such a great time. During harvest, they love the opportunity to be in a house and his house had a circular path that it was 100% run and fun time. And scream time. And giggle time. They loved it. Before long, I looked over and realized Addie got comfy and had taken off her pajamas and was running around in her underwear. Before long, Bri joined her. The storm never did anything in Tribune besides some rain so the kids and I headed home and I got them to bed before Blake got home. When he got back, he told me that Chappell got rain in the storm as well so we weren’t in as much of a hurry to get there. I emailed the Germans that our sendoff wouldn’t be as early as I had told them but it was too late at that point.

The German crew showed up shortly after 6 and then filmed the kids getting up. Addie’s eyes were as big as saucers as she was talking about how it was America’s birthday. Cal woke up as smiley as he comes and Bri woke up saying, “I want to sleep longer!”

We made it up Tuesday without any issues. However, once we pulled into the campground, Blake informed me that the wheel of the fuel trailer was about to come off. Newsflash: I’m good at some things but things like noticing wheels and the bounce of a bouncy trailer aren’t one of them. Anyway, grateful it didn’t come off. It was warm when we set the campers up and then the guys went to unload the combines. I threw supper together and Blake and I were able to watch fireworks with the girls. We did call it an earlier night with Blake and the other guys heading back to bring the remaining equipment up with a 6 am sendoff. 

I was up early again on Wednesday, preparing sandwiches for the guys. I had dozed off after sending my sister a text at 7:07, only to be greeted with Addie screaming at 7:15. Once the kids were fed, it was park time. Since it was already getting hot out, we just ran over to Sidney to get our errands done before it was absolutely blazing. We picked up lunch and headed back to the camper for the day. The kids were excited when they saw our neighbors pull in. Grandpa and grandma were back with us late Wednesday evening and even though it was only a week apart, it gets to be long days for the kids when I’m so busy too.

Yesterday, they headed to cut our acres in Oshkosh. It is a haul up there so we packed sandwiches for their supper meal. They got rained on but Bruce was determined to wait it out and see if the sun would allow them to cut after a while. They sat for about an hour but then were able to finish cutting the wheat. They then had to road the combines back down to the table where they got another 100 acres done. A really good day with all that moving! We should finish tomorrow, provided we don’t pick up anything else. From the last we heard, Chadron would be ready around July 20 so I’m not sure what the plan will be until then. It’s also been warm so maybe it will ripen up more quickly than that too. The coop where we get fuel from in Chadron called Leigh to see if we would be coming. When she found it we were planning on it, she said we were one of the few this year. I’m really not sure how this is happening but I will say that I can take no credit for this but Bruce and Leigh and Blake have made the decision over the years to stick with our stops and our customers and in turn, our customers have stuck with us. Having these long established business and personal relationships have proven to be so beneficial for us in these tougher harvesting years. 


Another thing we have going on is the Montana crop. Bruce talked with a friend up there who we cut for on and off and he asked to be on the list this year. So it sounds like we should have some acres to cut, provided it all doesn’t burn up with their high temps last week and the forecast ahead. 


Some years, we have cut nearly half our whole summer run up there and though we cannot expect to have a year like that, we will all be so grateful for any acres we can cut there. When I was paying the parking in Tribune, I was chatting with Kathleen who has worked at the elevator for years. I mentioned how few trailers were parked this year. She said she hadn’t heard from some crews so she called them to see if they were coming and one guy told her he wasn’t and that he just got the call that his 14,000 acres in South Dakota were getting bailed up. If you are cutting 14,000 acres in one stop, you most likely have a lot of payments and I just feel bad for a lot of these crews. 

If we are able to cut in Montana, it will likely be quite early for the peas so then the whole logistics of who’s going, who is staying, what is going, who is taking it, and so on that Bruce and Blake figure out on a weekly basis will begin. I’ve stopped trying to guess what they are going to do! Just tell me where I’m going, please. 

Today, they are cutting away and have finished customer #1 and #2 and onto #3 currently. After we took lunch today, we ran to Sidney to stop at a little shop we like to browse, took the kids to see the geese at Cabela’s, did a dreaded Walmart run, and then picked up pizza for supper. Bri stayed out in the field after supper and hitched a ride in with Lloyd. You guys, I haven’t even mentioned yet how great our crew is this year. Two years in a row that we have knocked it out of the park and I’m so thankful for that. In general, it’s great to be around good humans but then throw three little kids in the mix and it is obviously that much more important to me. 


So things are going well here overall. Just really cruising through this stop and not sure what’s next. Hope everyone had a great 4th! Be in touch!

and the split begins

It has been a crazy few days here in southwest Kansas. I went back to see I just posted Saturday but it feels like a week or two of stuff has happened since then. 

Saturday. They were able to cut a field south of town, moved to the next, it started off dry but as they got into it, it was wet. They decided to head north of town and try going on that. The farmer whom they were cutting on, sprayed for rust so the earliest they could cut it was Saturday. They got up there are it was 11%, averaging above 60, and one load had a test weight of 65. They were able to get a decent day in after all, cutting close to 500 acres that day. 

Sunday, they were still on the same customer. He had two back to back three quarter fields so 480 acres a piece, 960 total. It’s such a time saver to be so close. They got rained out Sunday afternoon around 4:00. 

Then Monday, I spent more time than I care to share making homemade enchiladas. I start these projects and then remember I’m in a camper and it’s just not a good decision. However, they did turn out pretty well so that makes it almost worth it. Two guys took one of the grain carts to Tribune so I made too many and have an extra pan that was tonight’s supper, so that might actually make it worth it. We also had visitors Monday. Three men from NDR, Norddeutcher Fundrunk aka Northern German Broadcasting, are here to make a documentary on custom harvesting. When we asked them how they chose this to film, they said there is nothing like it in Germany.


Monday afternoon, the guys headed out and were able to cut. They finished up that farmer and as they were moving to the next one, it started pouring out of nowhere. This weather is no joke, especially this year. I had seen that Scott City was potentially going to get hit, went and checked it out, we were clear, and not long after that, I thought I had heard thunder. I summoned Leigh to help me get my awning in before the wind came up. So not to be overly dramatic, but you just need to be aware. Luckily, I married my very own wannabe weather man so he usually keeps me pretty up to date. However, the storm even surprised him.

Tuesday morning, Blake and Bruce had the old should we stay or should we go now discussion, where they go through no less than 10 scenarios of our different options. I told Blake I was going to shower and he said to pack after that. I got out of the shower and he said we weren’t leaving until Wednesday, going to just get a bunch cut north of town so it would be easier for Bruce and Leigh to finish up. 

The film crew (a videographer, a sound guy, and then the host/narrator?) showed up at 11, I got my film debut at 11:25, loading the car with food and kids. The film crew were happy to hear we make it a real family affair every meal – the kids, the grandma, the mom, the whole crew. They filmed me driving down the gravel road, and then us getting the food ready, and trying to get all the kids to eat. And then they put Leigh on the spot and asked her, “How is it working so close with your daughter-in-law.” We all got a good laugh. Hi, I’m right here! Ha. They asked a few questions and then miked up Bruce and they rode with him for a while. The field they tried after lunch had some mosaic in it so couldn’t be cut. And then the next ones got dumped on during the storm the night before so the moisture was 19%. 

So back to the drawing board. It’s about 40 miles south to where the fields south of town are form the north of town fields. So instead of going all the way down there, Blake’s and Peter’s combines got loaded for Tribune, Bruce headed south, and the machinery shuffle began. I got my camper prepped and then we waiting for the go ahead. We took off around 5:30 pm and got set up in Tribune at 7:30 pm. It’s only about 70 miles. While setting up, it was discovered that there wasn’t enough sewer hose for the guys camper packed so our camper has a small holding tank that we used until this morning, when I headed back to Manter with the kids to pick it up. Bruce and Leigh had an extra new one so they sent that with me so I didn’t have to put a used one in the back of my vehicle. When we made it back to Tribune, I did what I said I would never do – I hooked up the sewer. Perks of the job, guys! Actually, it is about the simplest system possible but you can’t do too much or next thing I know Blake will want me setting up the whole camper and NOT HAPPENING. There are some women who do that and I mean, way to go but I don’t feel the need to do impressive things. 

So anyway, after the campers were set yesterday, Blake and company headed out to unload the combines. And then, it rained last night. No joke, unfortunately. And Bruce had a big cutting day down south. So we probably should have stayed down there, loaded this morning, and just headed up then. But you don’t know and that’s a very frustrating thing about harvesting. 

On the home front, while the guys were setting up, I asked Addie if she wanted me to tell her a secret. She pounced on that opportunity.
Me (whisper): you’re a very good girl and I love you very much. 

Addie: hehe, thank you.

Me: want to tell me one?

Addie (whisper): you’re the best mommy I’ve ever had.

Me: oh Addie, that’s so nice. Thank you.

Addie (so loud): I’m just joking!

And then after bath, my very good girl whom I love very much, decided to throw our DISH remote in the bath water. Why though? It spent the day in rice and it’s not working 100% but you can do some functions on it so we’ll see how it runs in a couple days. 50/50 I’ll be ordering a replacement. 

Cal is the tannest, most blonde, smiley guy you’ve ever met. He has gotten really into getting the volume on the tv turnt up, trying to reach for things on the counter with some success, wrestling Addie, and has said his first word consistently. Mama? Dada? No, it’s ADDIE. Plain as day. And when it happened a few times, I almost started crying because this past year with the two of them so close has had its share of challenges but oh my gosh, they love each other so much. And they love Briar too but she’s just growing up and isn’t into the rough housing and screaming games they play (thank goodness). But I feel like I’m the luckiest mom out there. I know, all moms are supposed to say that but that’s how I feel. 

Briar is hilarious. If the girl is well rested, there aren’t many people I’d rather hang out with. She doesn’t forget a thing though and as soon as she heard we were going to Tribune, she asked if we could go to her favorite pool. Of course, I was planning it but she never forgets anything that has happened the past two plus years. And I’m over here like did I shower yesterday? Hmmm. So, Wednesdays and Sundays, they have night swim which is my favorite because it’s not so hot for the kiddos and I don’t have to be smchasing them with sunscreen the whole time. The girls started talking to another girl and they played so hard. And Bri was laughing so hard and she does so well with hanging out with her brother and sister but it’s also really fun to see her interact with kids closer to her age too. We were leaving, and she was like, “Oh mom, that was just the best time ever.” I’m so glad we went even though it was a wild day. 


Hope you have a great rest of your week. I’m hoping to be able to keep up with this even while we are split up. Be in touch!

in the wait

A few days ago, I had started a post about how hard it is to sit here and wait. We have been in Manter for over a week, finally started cutting Thursday after lunch, and then got rained out at supper time. And as expected, our farmer in Tribune gave us the head’s up yesterday that we are about a week off from harvesting up there. And we’ve been sitting and I think it’s hard but then earlier this week, that perspective had some shifting due to different areas in Southwest Kansas getting anywhere from golfball to softball sized hail. How disappointing to have it survive the conditions this long to see it pummeled a week before it is ready. And then the harvesting crews, who already are short on acres, are enduring the loss of yet another job. Now that is stressful.

The other thing that stinks for the Kansas harvest is the mosaic virus. The short story: the virus lives in volunteer wheat and if you don’t keep your crops clean, it spreads and can destroy your crop and your neighbors. In these tough farming years, it may seem appealing to try to save on not spraying but then this happens. It’s tough.

So even though we aren’t getting much done in Kansas yet, at least we have acres to cut here and somehow, it always gets done. We have been in this situation before and we will be in it again and there is just not one thing you can do about it. Leigh and I are preparing ourselves for splitting up which means we each get to do double the cooking, double the fun of what we typically do. I also lose a spot for the kids to go to be entertained while I’m getting things done and she misses having anyone around all day, which can make for some really long days. My really long and quiet days were already five years ago when I was pregnant with Briar and we were split up most of that summer too.

So, we have a few fields done south of Manter. And since the storm came in Thursday night, we have had a weather cool down. It was a cool 75 yesterday and will be low 80s today. They tried the fields way out west by the Colorado border yesterday afternoon and it only dried down to 13.8 yesterday and they needed 13.5. Blake isn’t sure what they will do now, sit and wait it out to dry and get that far stuff taken care of or move two combines north of town in attempt to get started on that. They are headed out this morning to try to decide.

Blake and Bruce and the guys did get one big job done while we have been here and that is, put a third axle on the new combine trailer. They purchased a combine trailer in May so each combine has a trailer now, which is nice for moving. They can take all the oversized loads together and there isn’t having to worry about the logistics of returning this trailer so we can move that combine if we get split up. Once they got it though, the weight was just a lot. You can purchase heavy weight permits but this will just be better to have it taken care of. They picked up the part from Ness City and used one of our farmer’s machinery shed to put it on. They had it mostly done in a day, with a few loose ends to finish the next day.

So now for the topic you’ve all been waiting for: the kids. (Kidding.) Since it was cooler yesterday, Briar put on her favorite pants and I instantly noticed that they now appear to be an inch shorter than they once were. I’m not sure how I shrunk the pants since I haven’t washed them this summer. Bad mom joke. But seriously, she has been so tired and so wore out despite typically taking naps. We’ve been battling more than I prefer when I know she is just so stinking tired but won’t just give up and SLEEP. Then she wakes up, and she couldn’t be much sweeter until the tiredness sets in and the cycle repeats itself. Being four and growing is tough. She is super into Ninja Warrior and really likes to get her practice in on the monkey bars or in obstacles she and Addie create in the campers or outside on the chairs. Briar has also been into the hot lava game lately and gets mad when I don’t participate, turns out a full sized adult jumping around a camper isn something I’m into. She also runs off with Blake or the guys when she gets a chance and makes her way to the neighbor lady’s (Grandma’s) multiple times a day. She also enjoys talking on the truck CB and annoying every other trucker in Southwest Kansas any chance she gets. She’s been so on the go with everyone else I don’t have many pictures of her this past week. I need to grab some that Leigh has of her working with Blake. 

Adeline is Adeline. Super bubbly, pretty bossy, and livin’ la vida emotional. She is still into rhyming at all times and Mom Tom is frequently used. And she calls a lot of people Bob despite knowing their names. I don’t get where it comes from but she is highly amused. “Good morning, Bob.” *giggle* “What are you doing, Bob?” *giggle* She has been into dresses a lot lately so she does actually have more clothes than just that yellow dress, ha. Addie likes to clean and help with dishes and play with/torture her brother.

Cal is doing great. He likes to escape from his mom and has pure joy as he’s running away from me as fast as he can. I can’t believe how much he has changed since his tubes in a fast 4.5 months…

He is just a happy guy now and though he isn’t the biggest kid around, he is pretty darn tough. The other day he fell off the top step into Leigh’s camper and after he landed, he made a confused face and got up and kept moving. He also handles his sisters’ attacks fairly well and is starting to fight back a little more. He is really into trucks, machinery, and driving.

So that’s all I have, hopefully I’ll have some information on cutting VERY SOON. Have a great weekend and be in touch!

we made it to manter 

As expected, they were able to finish Sentinel easily Monday evening. They called around 5:30 saying they were heading in for an early night. After supper, I have the Blake and Cal a quick hair trim. Cal has fuzzy hair just like Addie and it gets pretty fluffy fast. We watched the game and even though the girls had a nap that was nearly four hours long, they went to bed fairly well. They were just overly exhausted and needed to catch up. The attitudes improved immensely after that catch up nap but it’s looking like they could use another long one.

The attitudes may have been better but he’s is still 100% efficient at making a mess.

Bri wanted to help clean the grapes earlier this week. She did a great job but is starting to look TOO BIG. 

The guys have to blow off equipment once we complete each stop so Tuesday was the day for that job. Blake and Bruce each got a new air compressor this spring to help make the job go faster. All three combines and the tractor and grain cart were done in an hour and a half. Lloyd said it is the best thing that happened to him on harvest. Lloyd has been coming along on harvest for as long as I have so air compressor + futon = all the harvest dreams coming true.

They were done loading when they came in for lunch at noon. After lunch, they headed out again to take care of some truck things and Leigh, the kids, and I headed up to The Pour House, Sentinel’s new coffee shop. When I say new, I mean, within the week new. Leigh, who has a coffee shop at home, helped the owner out with some things. Besides coffee, she also has some ice cream for the kids. However, I’m sure Addie would pick a latte over a scoop any day. She is such a coffee crazy. I’ll catch her sneaking drinks of my black coffee and will throw complete meltdowns if I take it away from her. “But mama, it’s so good! I love it!” Whenever I grind coffee beans for the next morning’s coffee, she needs a smell and let’s me know how “delicious” it smells. Just in case there is any truth to “coffee stunts your growth,” we are going to limit it as that little shorty can use any height she can get. And mostly, I don’t need a jacked up two year old.

Cal was not deprived of a treat but I don’t trust the guy, especially on that cute antique couch!

With his head turned, you can see just how light his hair is getting and how tan he already is. He gets both from his mama. 

When we got home, I asked Ads if she loved coffee. She came and grabbed my empty cup to make sure she wasn’t missing out on some hazelnut latte. It was empty and she was disappointed. 

Cuddling with Big Sis with a treat in hand. 

Cal wanted some bro time and this pretty much sums up camper life. Blake is eating Oreos on the floor with Cal while Addie naps inches away.

Wednesday morning, the guys took off hauling the first load to Manter, KS. They got going around 6:30 and were able to make good time without any issues. Leigh and the kids and I (crew #2?) headed to do errands in Elk City. We didn’t have that many stops but my gosh, errands are such a time suck. When we got back to town, we ran around and paid bills. Leigh was able to see a friend and then we headed out to Britt’s house so the kids could play. The kids always get pretty excited to be in a real house with room to wiggle – and scream and shout.

Thursday was a pretty lazy day. It has been wicked hot in Oklahoma with heavy humidity and it has just felt heavy by 8:00 am. We did get a family nap taken and the camper fairly ready to take off Friday morning. We had plans to head out to Ryan’s house (a friend of Blake’s for pushing 30 years) but according to Briar, “We were supposed to go play at Ryan’s but his child got a pink eye and so we couldn’t go see them. Maybe next year. Shoot.”

With the lack of energy burned yesterday, the kids had a hard time going to bed. We got them tucked in around 9 pm and Blake headed off to bed while I showered, I was greeted about two minutes in with Addie wanting to be rocked. I told them to give me some space, be quiet, and I’d see them in a few minutes. When I came into the living room, Briar was rocking Addie and told me, “I kept our bedroom door cracked so if Cal started crying, I’d be able to take care of him for you.” Though I’m unsure on the level of care she would have provided, I can’t believe what a big girl she is turning into. And what a good girl she is! As long as she is well rested, that is.

Today came early with getting the kids up shortly after six to get moving before it was so dang hot. We had to stop and say bye to Bill Bill, as the kids call him, at the elevator. Once on the road, we facetimed my family. Both of the girls had glasses on, they called Briar “Hollywood” and she agreed but when they called Addie “Hollywood”, she said, “No, I’m her sister.”

Briar was pretty excited to see a gray combine on the drive…
Briar: Mom! I was a gray combine!
Me: Oh that is a Gleaner.
Briar: A wiener?
Me: No, a GLEANER.

The trip went well and we made it to Manter around 2 pm. When we pulled in, it was a cool 98 degrees but we need the heat to ripen the wheat, especially since it is a ways off. Blake and Bruce went to check the crop when we got all set up so I’ll be interested what they’ll say. Though we have some sitting ahead, the guys might be doing some work to a trailer, I have to get caught up on paperwork, and Blake needs to get fuel reports done as much as possible (they are quarterly and are due early July, which is a difficult time to get them).

We have a tradition of when we come to Manter, we eat at the Mexican place in Johnson the night we get there and are going to keep it going for another year. So I’m off to get ready and maybe organize my camper a bit more. Maybe. I hope you have a great weekend and I look forward to hearing from you!