Harvest Kick-Off

headshot2Manley, Nebraska—I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is that we are still sitting at home. Instead of sitting at my kitchen table at home in eastern Nebraska, I would much rather be sitting in Oklahoma waiting on wet wheat to dry with the rest of the custom harvesting crews. Last week I made a four-day, last-minute trip to Frederick, Oklahoma, with Mom. I was quickly reminded of our profession’s dedication, care and love.

The specific reason we took our quick trip south is all thanks to the Case IH ProHarvest Support fellas. Every summer before the combines make it into the field, the ProHarvest team puts on a breakfast for harvesters and their crews where they review important safety habits along with how the support team is there to help.

Mom and I started our journey on Tuesday, May 26, and our first stop was in Emporia, Kansas. We stopped in Emporia to pay Persimmon Forge a visit because the owner, David Edwards, had made a special gift for a dear friend of the harvester community. Mom and I visited with David for a while and got a run-down on his forging and metalwork’s shop. It was a real treat!

Z Crew: Persimmon Forge
The Persimmon Forge shop where David creates his art. Forging is an art form of metal work where you heat the metal and shape it. It took David five years to build all of his own tools to use.

Z Crew: David E.
Above, David of Persimmon Forge is pictured.

Z Crew: Tour of the shop
Mom and I both really enjoyed listening to David talk about his metal work and history. 

Z Crew: Blueprints
This sheet of paper I found looked like the blueprint to his wheat sculptures.

Z Crew: forged wheat sculpture

David made this beautiful piece for Dan Renaud, an employee of Case IH and friend to the harvester community. After dedicating 35 years to his job he was let go this spring. Upon hearing the news, Mom called David of Persimmon Forge to ask for the favor.

Z Crew: new lake
I don’t think this field is supposed to have a river running through it. Here’s just a small peek at the flooding that has affected Kansas.

Z Crew: green wheat
The wheat was still looking pretty green through most of Kansas.

After visiting with David in Emporia, we made it to Frederick, Oklahoma, late in the evening on Tuesday. We had dinner with the Diebert crew where the current wheat situation was discussed about the table. Jim Diebert, owner of JKD Harvesting, expressed a hopeful outlook on the upcoming crop. “Last year, we didn’t know if it was ever going to rain again. Wells dried up. It wasn’t just the people on the farm who were affected. It was the people in church or that you’d meet on the road. Everyone was worried. We all need a good harvest. This year is shaping up to be one.”

Z Crew: Kent, Ma and JimD
Kent Braathen, Tracy Zeorian and Jim Diebert posed for a picture after a nice dinner in Vernon, Texas. 

Wednesday and Thursday morning, Mom and I arrived at the Frederick location for the harvest kick-off breakfast. We set up the U.S. Custom Harvester’s Organization table full of T-shirts, log books for the road, cookbooks and much more.

Z Crew: working the USCHI table
Mom is shown above standing behind the booth we worked for a couple mornings!

Z Crew: Dan R.
Dan Renaud (standing, red shirt) has spoke at majority of the ProHarvest Kick-Off Breakfasts.

During the end of the Wednesday session, with the help of sweet Evie and Dan Misener, Dan Renaud was given his gift after announcing his removal from his position. An emotional moment for all, Dan was especially touched when Evie walked on the stage. Evie has Spina bifida. It is a birth defect that caused her spinal cord to fail to develop properly. Her parents were told from the get-go she would never be able to walk on her own. Thanks to her parents’ love and dedication, Evie has worked hard during her five short years and took her first steps, truly on her own, this spring at the U.S. Customer Harvester’s Convention in Grand Island, Nebraska, as she walked across the stage to Dan Renaud.

Z Crew: presenting the gift
Mom led the way to the stage as Evie and her uncle Dan stood behind waiting with the gift.

Z Crew: hugs for Evie
Dan said when he turned in saw Evie he knew he had to sit or else his legs may have just given out. I had tears in my eyes! 

Z Crew: Frederick, OK FFA
Here are the kids who helped set up and serve breakfast along with clean-up for the Wednesday and Thursday sessions. A huge shout out and thank you to the Frederick, Oklahoma, FFA for all their help!

We packed up and headed back north on Thursday afternoon but didn’t make it very far. Mom and I stopped for the evening in Elk City, Oklahoma, to stay with the Misener crew. They were kind enough to cook us a huge dinner and provide a place for us to sleep. Dan Misener took Mom and me for a quick tour around Elk City to see the monumental flooding they had suffered a few days before.

Z Crew: wet wheat
Wheat and thunderheads north of Vernon, Texas.

Z Crew: MacDon support trailer
We made a pitstop on our way through Altus, Oklahoma, to hang out in the MacDon harvest support trailer!

Z Crew: Elk City, OK
Elk City, Oklahoma—The small creek in the right corner flooded up above the road and topped off a foot above the gas station on the left. 

Z Crew: flood damage
A small creek runs behind the trees in the far right of this photo. During the flooding, the water rose so high and was so powerful that it moved this trailer completely off its blocks.

Friday morning, Mom and I headed home and arrived back in Nebraska late that night. I know we’re home but I also know our minds are out in the wheat fields! I know there are a few crews lucky enough to be in the field but there are more crews sitting in water and green wheat. As of now the Z Crew hopes to head out around June 10 for Arnett, Oklahoma. The poor wheat looks like it may yield 15 to 20 bushels per acre while the “good” stuff looks to do around 30 bushels per acre. If I hear any other news, you’ll be the first to know!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. The Z Crew can be reached at zcrew@allaboardharvest.com.

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