All Aboard Harvest | Tracy: My Harvest Top 10 List
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Tracy: My Harvest Top 10 List

Chadron, Nebraska – This came to me today as I was following Jim and The Beast to the field. YES! I said… field. It’s been quite the week. And when it began on Monday, I would have never guessed we would be making a move northward. It’s been an emotional roller coaster for me; and from what I hear, other harvesters are experiencing the same, crazy feeling.

We finished south of Wallace, Kansas late Monday afternoon. Once the last standing straw of wheat was cut, we decided that regardless of what happened next, the combine and header would have to be cleaned. Jim and I had talked a little about what we thought we would/should do next. We had no acres to move to so we had decided that we’d just clean the equipment up and see if we could park it at the New Holland dealership in Goodland until moving it to Colorado for the millet harvest in September. That’s what we thought when we laid our heads on our pillows Monday night. 

Early Tuesday morning, we woke to the sound of a text on Jim’s phone. We both figured it was either news of a dear friend’s death or Jamie letting us know baby #3 was happening soon. It was neither. It was the same friend who had just allowed us to finish the acres they had to leave south of Wallace. “Why don’t you and Tracy just move up here to Chadron, and you can cut some acres we have west of town.” I know why Jim didn’t jump on that right away and say, “Yes! Sure! We’ll be right there.” Instead, he told Bruce he would talk it over with me and get back to him. 

Have you ever had a plan made only to have that plan changed? It really does mess with your brain – or at least it does with mine. We were convinced we were supposed to go home. Plans in our head to make that happen had begun… and now they changed to “go time” once again. Jim didn’t jump on that proposition right away because of two reasons. 1) We had come to grips with the idea of going home. 2) They didn’t have to give those acres away. It wasn’t like the acres we had just finished for them. They had plenty of time to do the job. It almost felt like we were taking something that wasn’t ours. We both knew they needed those acres as bad as we did, and yet they were willing to sacrifice to share with us. What do you say? How can you repay their kindness? God is good ALL the time – it wasn’t a coincidence.  

“Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.” Philippians 2:3-4

Jim called Bruce back and told him we’d take him up on his offer and would do our very best to get everything to Chadron by the end of the week.

So, now, back to what I was thinking about while following The Beast… my top 10 list.

Things you can count on happening while on harvest:

10. When it breaks, it can surely be fixed with duct tape and baling wire (most of the time). 
  9. While on a parts run, you realize you forgot your wallet in the trailer house… after arriving at the auto parts store. The guy behind the counter trusts you will return with payment as he hands you what you came in for. 
  8. The day you clean the combine and header will also be the hottest day of the week… with no wind.
  7.  You wake up wondering where you are on a daily basis. 
  6.  You’ll ask someone else, “What day is this?”
  5.  Unfamiliar roads will cause anxiety. Thank goodness someone taught you your directions!
  4.  The boss will ask you a question over the two-way at the most inopportune time. 
  3.  You will experience the best sunsets… ever!
  2.  The sweet smell of the night air mixed with wheat straw will remind you why you love this job. 

And the No. 1 thing you can count on happening while on harvest:
The best friends you’ll ever have will be the ones who share the same love and passion for this lifestyle as you do! 

Throughout the years, I have had numerous people ask me what it is I like most about this nomadic lifestyle we lead. Two things always stick out above the rest (and there are many). The forced time with the family was the best and then the next is the people you meet and the friends we have. Jim always told me, “Friends don’t pay the bills.” This afternoon, he told me he needed to apologize to me. I had no idea where he was going with this. He said, “I always disagreed with your thoughts on this lifestyle regarding the people we meet and the friends we have. I take it back…friends can pay the bills.” You see, to me the best part of this job is the people whom we call friends. If you don’t have true friends in this business to share your ups and downs with, it just wouldn’t be worth the craziness.

 Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness.

The week in pictures:

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

Arriving in Wallace, Kansas.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

Wallace, Kansas – Until now, I hadn’t noticed the reflection of The Beast in Frank’s front window.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

The hands of a man who works hard to keep everything running as smoothly as it does. We had to replace this gearbox before we could start cutting.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

More visible signs of the heavy, wet snow that fell on this crop in April and how resilient the plant is.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

Thank goodness Kent (Braathen Harvesting) was in the field this day. It took six hands to make it all work.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

Wallace, Kansas – Wheat had been snowed on in April and also hailed on. It still had an end result of 25 bushels per acre.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

One more minor issue while cutting in Wallace required a visit by Monte and the New Holland Harvest Support pickup.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

Finished with cutting… now it’s time to start the clean up!

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

Cleaning the header of dirt, debris and chaff.

I do more than just drive all the time.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

Final sunset in the field south of Wallace, Kansas.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

Yes… I really did forget my wallet in the trailer house. And, yes, they really did let me come back and pay for the item I walked out the door with. Small town USA is the best.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

Chaining down the combine for the move to Chadron, Nebraska.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

Somewhere in Colorado on the way to Chadron with the first load.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

North bound!

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

This can be found along Highway 385 – south of Angora.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

Chadron, Nebraska.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

Chadron, Nebraska.

Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do!

Still only two. Jamie is convinced they have devised a plan to do everything they can to make her life hard right now. She calls them Bonnie and Clyde.

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Tracy Zeorian can be reached at

  • Trish
    Posted at 11:23h, 17 July

    Welcome to our corner of the world. Drive safe and have a great rest of the summer.

    • Tracy
      Posted at 16:57h, 18 July

      Thank you, Trish! It was already 20 years ago that we were in this part of Nebraska for harvest. Too many years ago. It’s so beautiful here!

  • Paul Tomlinson
    Posted at 12:32h, 17 July

    I like all of Nebraska, but the N.W. part is hard to beat!

    • Tracy
      Posted at 16:58h, 18 July

      Agreed! Although, I’m a bit prejudiced about Eastern NE too. ?

  • Tom A
    Posted at 17:25h, 17 July

    Glad things are working out. If you get a free night take in the show at Fort Robinson if you enjoy those type’s of thing.

    • Tracy
      Posted at 16:58h, 18 July

      Might have to wait til the next time. Wheat is cut and now it’s time to go home and wait for a baby.

  • Sharon and Harry Drake
    Posted at 18:50h, 17 July

    Well, Tracy and Jim. Glad all worked out with wheat for you to cut. My Husband and I grew up on farms in south central Kansas around parents and neighbors that did the same thing your Friends did . I always said if all girls and boys grew up with people we grew up around their would be less troubled people and more responsible.
    Hope you continue to have work. By the way. It is ok for you to wear your emotions on your sleeve. Be safe. Harry and Sharon Drake. South Central Kansas

  • Tracy
    Posted at 17:01h, 18 July

    Ag has the best people involved! Blessed to be able to say this because of experience. The wheat is cut and now it’s time to head home to hold a baby! Thank you for letting me know it’s okay…some people just don’t get it. But, that’s who I am.

  • Karen
    Posted at 16:57h, 19 July

    The combine cab camera is shut down??! Say it isn’t so since you are moving on one more time!!

    • Z Crew
      Posted at 08:54h, 23 July

      Shut down for now – unless given the okay for the millet harvest in September.

  • Tom Stegmeier
    Posted at 20:35h, 19 July

    Great Video, Jim & Tracy. Love the pic of Bonnie & Clyde, tooo sweet !!! We are getting crispy here in southern Alberta ,lots of smoke from the wild fires in BC.40k people were evacuated.Many homes lost. Our air quality is like Beijing China. This drought has effected many people.

    • Z Crew
      Posted at 08:53h, 23 July

      Drought, hail, fires, and loss of acres everywhere. It seems to be the common denominator this summer. It feels awful but I have to wonder if it’s really any worse than any other year – it was just our year to face it head on and have to deal with the losses. Good luck with the issues you’re facing, Tom!

  • Betty Budd
    Posted at 12:13h, 20 July

    Always enjoy the stories and pictures. Makes a Kansas born farmer who lives in North Carolina feel like I really went home for a little while as I enjoyed the stories and pictures as well as identifying with the challenges. Best wishes for the rest of the harvest as you move North. Betty
    First time that I have posted.

    • Z Crew
      Posted at 08:51h, 23 July

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a note! I’m so glad my stories and pictures can take you back to a time that apparently means so much to you. The good memories are so easily recalled! I appreciate your words of encouragement.

  • Mike McKinzie
    Posted at 22:03h, 30 July

    Thanks for taking the time to let us peek over your shoulder and better understand how our food is produced. Those of us that play outdoors know how the weather and machines can give us glorious days and sometimes keep us humble. Maybe the next combine will be self cleaning! All of our best to you and Jim and your family!

    • Z Crew
      Posted at 09:30h, 31 July

      Thank you, Mike! Hmmmm…that self-cleaning combine sounds like an awesome idea! Wish there was a way to make it all happen. Glad you enjoyed the “trip” and hope you continue to check in once in awhile. I’m going to assume by “peeking over my shoulder” you meant the combine cam. That has been the best tool to help educate the viewers about the process of getting that grain from the field to market! So thankful for the people who make it all possible.