High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest

Combine Cam connects us to the world
Combine Cam connects us to the world avatar

By Tracy Zeorian
Technology is an amazing tool for any business. But it’s especially good if you’ve got a story to tell and you want the world to know about it. Your story can be told to the entire world if given the proper tool. Technology is sometimes used as a negative resource, but I would like to believe that I’m a “glass-half-full” person and see it as being good.

Agriculture has a story to tell. One the consumer needs to hear about. It’s the story about where their food comes from. As we all know, too many people are basing their decisions on opinions, books and well thought out marketing campaigns.

We, the custom harvester, have a story to tell and High Plains Journal is giving us that opportunity in a rather large way. The story of our lifestyle and how our involvement in the process of getting grain from the field to market was first exposed in 2009. This was the year the Journal created the All Aboard Wheat Harvest program.

I’m going to get a little personal with you for a minute before I continue with my story. Sometimes in life, you are given opportunities to do something that may seem a bit risky or unsure. Those are the times I think you need to step out of the boat. It’s scary being at the edge of the boat, lifting your leg and placing your foot on the water. It takes a lot of faith to make that first step. That’s when you hold your breath and do it anyway having the faith that God led you to the edge of the boat and He’ll keep you from drowning.

This is exactly what our family has done since Jenna was given the opportunity to be one of the first All Aboard Wheat Harvest correspondents. It was scary as heck knowing that we were about to expose our family to the entire world. What it has done, however, is given us the opportunity to tell the story of the custom harvester and our importance in grain agriculture. Since that first door opened in 2009, we have been led to more scary doors and have chosen to continue to walk through them. Have we ever second guessed and wondered if it was the right thing to do? Absolutely!

We have been given yet another opportunity that some may say we are absolutely crazy to have agreed to. This spring, Holly Martin of High Plains Journal asked our family if we would agree to place a camera inside the cab of our combine. The idea was to live stream what was happening in the field on a day to day basis. This has never been done before (that we know of) and would give the consumer another way to see the process of getting their food to their table. This would also give Zeorian Harvesting the chance to better tell the story.

I was a teeny tiny bit afraid to mention the email to Jim. I was afraid he was going to say, “Enough!” I wasn’t expecting him to agree and to actually understand how this would be a useful tool in continuing what had begun in 2009. After I let Holly know we were good with the idea, she lined up Kiowa County Media Center to get the camera and necessary equipment placed in the combine before we left home for the summer.

Next step was to try the system out. I think all of us who have been involved since the initial idea were holding our breath when I turned that camera on for the first time. The whole while I was trying to figure it all out, I was either texting or emailing Holly and Grant. When the link to watch it on the website was given to us, the next email I get from Holly reads, “IT IS SO AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! SERIOUSLY! I’M TYPING IN ALL CAPS. Wave to HPJ friends!!” I think she was a wee bit excited.

Personally, I don’t understand the excitement—it’s just what we do. It’s what we see every day that we’re in the wheat field. What I have to remember is that not EVERYONE gets that chance to see a wheat field like I do and to watch the combine chomp its way through the acres. What I have to remember is not EVERYONE has had the opportunity to watch the combine’s grain bin fill. What I have to remember is not EVERYONE has experienced the hot, windy days of summer wheat harvest.

Combine Cam will now give EVERYONE that opportunity—as long as we have good cell service. It may be “iffy” with the places that we go (especially Colorado). There won’t be any streaming if we’re not in the field due to rain or if we’re moving. But, any other time, you will actually ride along with me or Jim as we’re in the field.

The official launch was made late Wednesday afternoon (6/24). On Thursday, I was receiving tweets on my Twitter account from people letting me know they were watching me in the field. How cool is that? My favorite tweet of the day was from a follower in Holland: “Lovely idea to follow you combining live. Greetings from Holland, where harvest is 2 months away.” Perfect illustration of how small our big ‘ole world is becoming!

We ALL have a story to tell. Step out of that boat and start telling yours! Consumers need to know the truth about their food. Something other than the scary things they read about in social media and they see on YouTube. Thank you, Holly—and High Plains Journal—for giving us the opportunity to tell ours!

If you’ve got a moment or two and want to see what the Z Crew is up to today, visit us and the other correspondents at the All Aboard Wheat Harvest blog. If you’re a “tweeter,” follow me (@newheatie) and ask for a wave. If I’m in the cab and I can, I most certainly will wave back.

Click here to watch the live streaming Combine Cam.

If you were watching the Combine Cam on Thursday, you would have seen me take this picture.

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