High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest

Tracy: Thank YOU!
Z Crew

Limon, CO – The final proso millet windrow was picked up and ingested by The Beast on Friday afternoon – which also coincidentally marked the first day of Fall. We can now close the books on the 2017 summer harvest. Before I go into more, I’d like to begin this post with saying thank you to all who have made it possible to share our story with you.
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Before we got started with the millet harvest, Taylor, Callie and Eli made a trip to visit us. We had the opportunity to take a couple of days and go into the Colorado Rockies. (photo credit to Taylor Josoff Photography)

When putting something this large together, it takes so much more than just an idea. Someone has to put that idea into place and make sure it can be turned into a reality. This is the Z Crew’s ninth year of contributing to the All Aboard Wheat Harvest program. I was around when it was just an idea and Pete Weil did everything he could to make it a reality. It is now a reality, Pete, and one that so many love and appreciate (see what you did?)! There have been many people involved with this program since its inception and because this is only my second year of writing, I hesitate to start naming names. You know who you are and I want you to know how very much I appreciate your love and dedication to the program. Thank you for giving us an outlet to tell our stories…to educate others what it takes to get their food to their table.

Besides the idea and the people who make it happen, it takes money and that’s where our sponsors come in. Again, over the years, there have been various sponsors step up to the plate and make this all happen. Without you, you know it couldn’t and wouldn’t happen. Thank you to our 2017 sponsors! Some have given more than others but it takes everyone to make it happen. The sponsors who deserve the love and appreciation for making this all happen for harvest 2017 are:

John Deere
Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children and the 10-Acre Challenge 
Unverferth and the UHarvest System
AgriPro and Syngenta
Brent Grain Carts
National Association of Wheat Growers
U.S. Wheat Associates
Colorado Wheat 
Colorado Farm Bureau
Nebraska Wheat

I purposely left two businesses off the list because I wanted to give an extra special shout out to ITC Holdings and Kiowa County Media Center. Because of you, the Combine Cam continues to offer the All Aboard Wheat Harvest followers another segment of the harvest story – a live feed (when the cell service and weather cooperate). This summer was not a good one for the Combine Cam due to weather. Between the drought and hail, it was shut down way sooner than normal. It was a huge disappointment to me not being able to continue to provide the live feed as we have in the past but I guess it’s all a part of the 2017 harvest story…one like I’ve never seen before. Just like everything else with harvest, we can only HOPE for a better story in 2018! 

So, THANK YOU! To all of you. And to you, the reader. For seeing something that’s worth taking time out of your busy schedule to be a part of. For me, it’s just our job. I don’t see it through the eyes of someone outside looking in. I’ve often thought it would be interesting to take the view that you have and see for myself what it is that pulls you into our lifestyle. I know one thing (well maybe two), I feel blessed to be a part of this segment of agriculture and I wouldn’t change anything about how we’ve spent the last 35 years of our married life. I would have never dreamed my last summer of harvest with my parents and grandparents wouldn’t be my last!

I began this post informing you we picked up our last proso millet windrow the afternoon of 9/22. We had been going pretty much every day for the previous 18 days. Some days were longer than others. The mornings were sometimes a bit “dewy” and it would take most of the morning to dry off. Other days, we could get started about 9:30 or 10:00. The days are beginning to get shorter so most evenings ended about 7:00. Moisture was plentiful when the proso needed it during the growing season. That resulted in a better than average crop with heavy test weight. Our farmer family isn’t done with the millet harvest. We have been able to help them with just half of what they have laid down. But it’s time to head home for soybeans and corn. The rains moved in on Saturday (9/23) and we knew by the time the millet was dry enough to start being picked up again, it would be too late for us to help.
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This is what proso millet looks like prior to being swathed and laid into a windrow.
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Proso millet windrow.

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The view from the driver’s seat.

What’s next for the Z Crew? The plan is to clean the combine and maintenance on the trucks prior to making the first of two trips home. Our farmer family will continue their harvest of millet and corn without us. I just heard Jim tell someone he hopes to make the first trip mid to later part of this week and then he’s hoping to be back in the soybeans mid to later part of next week. 

Personally, this is always a difficult transition for me. Even though I am anxious to get home to be with the kids and grandkids again, it’s the change of what is currently “normal” and routine to a new “normal” and routine (even though it’s familiar) that is very difficult. I don’t think I can explain it to you in words that would make sense. When we picked up that last windrow and I dumped the last bin full of grain in the truck, I texted Tara of Mark Heil Harvesting. Of all people, I knew she would understand. And she didn’t let me down. Her reply was EXACTLY how I felt, “I’m sad for you. I understand completely how you feel. It’s a little bit of a relief but mostly just such a chilling, empty feeling to turn it off and climb down the ladder after the last dump and know you’re not coming out to run in the morning regardless of how nice the weather is. Doesn’t matter what the calendar or thermometer say — on that day, there’s a little winter on the inside.”  

YES! She nailed it!

Until next time…
Z Crew
Before we ever got started with the millet harvest, Taylor, Callie and Eli made a trip out to see us over the Labor Day weekend. Because we were unable to be in the field, we took the time to head to the Rockies. I promised Eli we would play in a stream and climb a mountain. Here he is with his Papa having a great time throwing rocks in the lake.
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Taylor and Callie being their silly selves – Cottonwood Pass, Colorado
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Playing in the magical river at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado. Sand and water…what more could a boy need? Maybe a dump truck or two.
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The last picture of the three amigos as we were making our way back to the trailer house. They would head home again early the next morning.
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Typical view through my window – nearly every day.

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There was a stretch of time where these clouds built up almost every night. It would shower just enough to prevent us from getting a good start the next morning. Made for a pretty picture, though!

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Looks like Jack found a space ship in the field! This is the base of one of the 190 wind turbines being built in the surrounding area of the fields we cut. Each base takes at least 30 truckloads of cement. After it’s set, the dirt will be replaced and it will look like this:

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Lots of bolts to work with! I wonder if they ever have any issues with the holes of the tower lining up with them? The countryside will certainly look different next year!
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At one point, there were three different farming actions taking place on this farm…swathing, harvesting and planting the 2018 wheat crop. This picture was taken on 9/11. Since then, the field has turned green with the HOPE of next year!

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Just one of the benefits of this job – a beautiful sunset to enjoy nearly every night!

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One morning before we headed to the field, I took a picture of my “garden” to show the girls. My two buckets of flowers were shining brightly this particular day!

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Jack and Jim looking pretty deep in thought! I’m guessing they were trying to figure out how the move to the next field was going to happen.

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Jim and The Pete…with Pikes Peak in the background.

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Pretty much my same position most days! Can you see Pikes Peak in the background?

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Yep, another one of those sunsets!

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The final sunset of Summer 2017. Sorta ready to shut the book on this adventure and think about 2018! I CAN’T WAIT TIL SPRING!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and
John DeereTracy Zeorian can be reached at zcrew@allaboardharvest.com.
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5 Responses to Tracy: Thank YOU!
Z Crew

  1. Thank You,Tracy, for taking the time & effort to share the Z Crew’s 2017 Harvest run. We had a super dry season also only 5 3/4 in. from April to now.That picture of Jim & You by the lake is mint !! Was sure nice you two did come up to Banff.We are still going to hook up one of these days,will have to plan it just like a Wheat Harvest stop !!!

    • As always, Tom, thank you for your kind words and for following our journey in 2017. Yes, one of these days…we will meet in person.
      Take care and God bless!!

  2. When I read your thoughts an looked at your great pictures. Harvest time is lots of pressure every day of the farmers “O My another harvest is over” an YOU get to move on to another pressure of harvest !!! How do you do it !!!!!
    Looking forward yo next year 2018.

    • Well…I guess we just do it. 🙂
      There are a lot of factors that go into this job of ours. Equipment costs, expenses of being on the road, insurance, the weather and all the unknowns. Much like farming. But one thing different is we have no safety net. So, it’s an added risk that we have that a lot don’t understand. I guess we do it because it’s what we know. It’s what we love and its who we are. Thank you for following along in 2017. I hope to see you again next harvest season!!! Enjoy the winter. 🙂

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