All Aboard Harvest | Tracy: “Second Verse, Same as the First”
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Tracy: “Second Verse, Same as the First”

Manley, Nebraska – Do you know how difficult it is to write an introductory blog when you feel like you’re saying the same old thing? Sort of like “second verse, same as the first”!

Hancock Custom Combining

Grandpa, Elvin Hancock, preparing to hit the road – 1951.


How do you NOT tell the same old story when it’s your story? When it’s who you are and how past events led you to where you are right now? I guess I could fabricate some sort of wild tale but then that wouldn’t be who I am.

Hancock Custom Combining

Grandpa, Elvin Hancock, with his crew in 1971.


That's my Dad! (Larry Hancock)

This is my dad, Larry Hancock. I’m going to guess this picture was taken in 1977.


Me & Dad 1971

Just me and my dad in the wheat field. Looks like he must be pumping gas into a vehicle. (1971)


The brothers and me.

Me and my brothers, Mark and Matt Hancock. (1971)


I have been asked to speak about custom harvesting which led to the creation of a power point presentation. I bring this up because it gave me an excuse to actually visit with my dad about the “beginnings” of this lifestyle for our family. To me, it’s just a job. It’s what we’ve done, as a family business, since 1951. The one person I wish I could talk to is my grandpa. He and Grandma used to tell tales of the harvest all the time – back when it didn’t matter to me.

In 1929, at the age of 17, Grandpa (Elvin Hancock) and his brother used their Rumely pull type combine (pulled with a Farmall Tractor) to begin custom harvesting for local Kansas farmers. That’s grandpa on the tractor!

Hancock Custom Combining

Grandpa and his brother on their pull type combine. That’s grandpa on the tractor – age 17.


Grandpa hit the open roads with his combine in 1951. It wasn’t until the summer of 1957 that my dad entered the picture. He had all kinds of stories to tell me about what the harvest was like for him. They didn’t have the luxury of a 40 foot trailer house with all the amenities of home. They either slept in the truck box (filled with wheat) or under the truck. He recalled one rainy day when they spent the entire day under the truck. There were no cabs on the combines. So most days began with prying open matted shut eyes due to the dirt and chaff from the previous day. And showers were a luxury when returning to camp after a long day. If the line was too long, they would often opt to jump in the river.

Hancock Custom Combining

That’s Grandpa with his hands on his hips – a stance you could see him in often. And those coveralls…they were his uniform til he died. The only time I saw him wearing anything different was if he was dressed up in a suit. It looks like he may be talking to my dad. Not sure what year.


Hancock Custom Combining

Hancock Custom Combining crew in 1970. Looks like they must be enjoying a little watermelon while parked in a lot.


Hancock Custom Combining

Hancock Custom Combining – not sure what year.


Hancock Custom Combining

Grandpa – 1970


Hancock Custom Combining

Hancock Custom Combining – 1969


Jim was Grandpa’s hired man in 1975 and 1976. I was also with them those same years. I ended up marrying the hired man in 1982. We bought a combine the fall of 1982 and the rest is history.

Jim in 1975

That’s the guy I fell in love with! This would have been his first summer as a hired hand for my grandparents – 1975.


After raising four amazing daughters while on this journey, we’re now back down to just the two of us. I typically run the combine while Jim drives truck. We eat lots of sandwiches and sometimes just have a bowl of cereal after we get in at night.  #whateverittakes

In 2009, Jenna was chosen as one of two of the first All Aboard Wheat Harvest correspondents. We’ve been telling the story of the custom harvester through our eyes and our crew ever since. After Jenna had to grow up and move on, the baton was passed to Taylor. And when Taylor also had to grow up and quit following the trails with us, the baton was placed in my hands. This marks the tenth year of story telling for the Z Crew. WOW…how time does fly! You’ve been with us through growing pains, graduations, weddings, babies and all the challenges of being on the road with the wheat harvest.

This summer is setting up to be a bit of a challenge due to weather and other circumstances. We thought last year was tough…but this one could be even more interesting. I believe God has a plan!

Hancock Custom Combining

George was like no other dog I’ve met! He was definitely a field dog. He LOVED to ride in the combine. He’d climb straight up the ladder to get in the cab. And was a bunny chaser! That’s Grandpa in the background. 1971


Hancock Custom Combining

Hancock Custom Combining 1971


Hancock Custom Combining

Maybe you’ll recognize where this elevator is. I don’t have a clue which one it might be – any one of them from Oklahoma to the Canadian border. 1971


Hancock Custom Combining

Hancock Custom Combining – 1970


Hancock Custom Combining

Grandpa and his Dacoma, Oklahoma farmer – Eldon Berry. This picture was taken in 1969. I don’t know when he began cutting for him but he was still working for him in the late 1980’s.


Hancock Custom Combining

Not sure what year this was taken and not sure who it is. I’m guessing a hired hand. Maybe someone will recognize it and can tell me. 🙂

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

  • Karen
    Posted at 08:17h, 31 May

    I recognize someone in a few of these!

    • z crew
      Posted at 14:22h, 31 May

      Of course you do!!!

  • Alan VanNahmen
    Posted at 11:13h, 31 May

    Thanks for your blog. I love the pictures, stories and history. Have a safe year. Our wheat harvest in southwest Kansas will be below average this year so I am going to take a trip to Ukraine (AGRO Expo) next week, then continue on to Moscow, and a six day train ride across Russia, Mongolia, and China through the rest of June. I worked for John Deere Harvester Works in Heilongjian Province in 1984. So it will be interesting see the Ag developments there over the past 34 years. Our HRW wheat should be ready to cut in SW Kansas by 4 July when I get back to Kansas… or it might be done by then.
    Have a safe Harvest

    • z crew
      Posted at 14:23h, 31 May

      Thanks, Alan! Sounds like you’ve got quite the trip planned…who needs wheat harvest??? Have a great time and safe travels!

  • Brian Dalgarno
    Posted at 11:47h, 31 May

    Tracy I’m not sure that picture of your dad climbing up into the 750 (or 760) was taken in 1977. Here in Canada the silver on the cabs of the 750s and 760s didn’t happen until i979, and the same for that style of turret unloading auger. I pray that you and Jim will get the work you need for this year.
    Brian Dalgarno

    • z crew
      Posted at 14:26h, 31 May

      Well, you’re probably right, Brian. But I know my dad didn’t go on harvest in 1979. He would have been there in 1977 and then again in 1980 – so maybe 1980. I just went through several photo albums and started taking pictures of pictures. 🙂
      I thank you for the prayers! From last year, I know we won’t get what we WANT…we’ll get what we NEED!

  • Carol Warner
    Posted at 18:44h, 31 May

    What an interesting post! You have such a gift of storytelling and have created a wonderful “Readers Digest” version of your family history. Some day your grandchildren will appreciate reading about the harvest legacy that is a part of their roots. I look forward to following you along the trail. God bless you

    • z crew
      Posted at 11:14h, 04 June

      Thanks for the encouraging words, Carol! I certainly appreciate knowing that others enjoy reading and seeing the pictures I share about our family and the lifestyle that seems to have chosen us so long ago! I started printing my personal blog from year to year so maybe one day, the girls and their kids will enjoy reading my stories. I so wish I had something like this from my grandparents! Thanks for being such a loyal follower and continue to see what the heck is in store. I guarantee this year will be one for the books!

  • Tom Stegmeier
    Posted at 20:45h, 31 May

    The Watermelon pic must be in the late 50’s or early 60’s the back of the combine is a MF super 92 . The MF 10 series started in 1963. The MF 410 in my eyes was the best combine that Massey built. Our family We were Massey from 1947 to 1983 , then clued in to Twin Rotors ,New Holland .

    • z crew
      Posted at 10:30h, 01 June

      Hi Tom!
      You may be right.. I figured that it was probably developed and printed in 1970 based on what’s on the picture. The combines Grandpa owned were Rumely pull-type, M-H 27, M-H 82, Massey Ferguson 410, 750 & 850. I don’t think he ever owned a 92 (according to my dad). But who knows!

  • Ricardo Alberto Senteio Rocon
    Posted at 17:14h, 01 June

    Estas fotos são um tesouro .Belas ! História de uma vida !

    • z crew
      Posted at 11:21h, 04 June

      I translated Ricardo’s comment. This is what he said – “These photos are a treasure .Bellas! History of a Life.”

      Thank you Ricardo!! They are on a small portion of what I have for pictures and I’m so very thankful for them. However, I wish I knew the story behind each and every one of them. They most certainly are treasures!!

      Obrigado Ricardo !! Eles estão em uma pequena parte do que eu tenho para fotos e eu sou muito grato por eles. No entanto, eu gostaria de saber a história por trás de cada um deles. Eles certamente são tesouros !!

  • George Hopkins
    Posted at 05:18h, 02 June

    The picture of the elevator in 1971 is in Dalton, Nebraska

    • z crew
      Posted at 23:17h, 02 June

      Dalton!!! I KNEW someone would be able to tell me where it was! I remember them staying in this town. They camped in a campground located on the farthest western edge of town. Am I right? Thank you so much, George, for putting that piece of the puzzle where it belonged.

      • george hopkins
        Posted at 12:57h, 03 June

        You are correct. The campground is west over the rr tracks. Have a great and safe harvest.

        • z crew
          Posted at 11:23h, 04 June

          Thank you, George!!

  • Leon Stohler
    Posted at 18:30h, 02 June

    Love that 82 Massey Harris. Dad bought a 1958 92 in 1959 and as a 13 year old to get to operate it was great!

    • z crew
      Posted at 11:25h, 04 June

      Yep…these old pictures are priceless and bring back so many memories for so many!! Glad I have them to share.

  • Gene Benson
    Posted at 19:49h, 02 June

    Eldon Berry’s daughter lives just a block from us and they are our closest friends! I will get a screen shot of this to her.

    • z crew
      Posted at 11:33h, 04 June

      What a small world, Gene!! Is she married to Eddie? I remember them, if so. It would be fun to see the place again and visit with them. 🙂 Please tell them hello for me. We used to stay right there on the farm when we came to do the harvest. Lots and lots of awesome memories of Eldon, Mary and the family!

  • Volkert Schult
    Posted at 07:17h, 03 June

    What nice pictures! – So many untold stories…