All Aboard Harvest | Tracy: If Combines Could Talk
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Tracy: If Combines Could Talk

Limon, Colorado – It was exactly a week. We walked away from the too-green-wheat field on July 11 and finally got moving again on July 18.

It sure didn’t happen very quickly. After the showers we received on Monday and Tuesday, we opted to wait until the afternoon of the 18th to even attempt to get rolling again. What did we find? Well, good news and bad news. I was going to work on the north side of the field, Kyle on the south. He was able to roll right through the field he was on. Mine…just not good enough. I worked and worked to find some dry enough to keep rolling. The best it did was 15%.

Z Crew My sassy little Nora got her pinafore aprons in the mail. I’m sure Jamie probably said something like, “Smile, Nora, and we’ll send this picture to Gramma.” The straps need shortened a bit but otherwise she likes her new aprons.

Z Crew And, yes, we had additional days of waiting…so I made Christmas stockings. 🙂

Z Crew This “lake” south of Limon is not supposed to be in the middle of this wheat field. The rains have been spotty and have no consistency in the amount dropped. Some places have received 3-5 inches while other places, maybe, 20/100ths.

Z Crew Testing for moisture. The remaining fields that needed cut were very thin as a result of no rain after it was planted. It seemed to take forever to dry down.

Z Crew Manual moisture test to compare with the combine.

So, once Kyle was done, we moved back to the south and across the road and…it worked! By this time, the day was nearly over but we cut later than we had typically. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t know why. But it’s like the night I mowed the yard at 11:00 pm just prior to leaving for harvest. I guess because it’s a change and something that we don’t normally do. We were just shy of finishing the field by about 15 acres.

Z Crew Couldn’t resist. This just screamed, “Take a picture of me!”

Z Crew The “golden” hour.

Z Crew A good picture of what droughty wheat looks like in Eastern Colorado.

Z Crew The final Colorado sunset through the window of The Beast.

Z Crew A luxury for the Z Crew!

We finished the job, easily, the next day. And then, we moved right back over to the field the previous day was running a moisture test of 15%. Today…it was 12% or better. Amazing what one day, some hot sunshine and no humidity will do to a green wheat field! And the final acres in Colorado were complete.

Z Crew DONE!

We still had plenty of daylight left to begin the clean up. But, as typical for those clean up days, it was way hot and no wind. But, I was determined that we WERE going to get that header clean! We have a schedule to keep now. We’ve GOT to get moved up to Montana and in place as soon as possible because we are about to have visitors from home!

Z Crew Let the clean up begin!

Z Crew This was my view while cleaning the header with the air compressor. It was just too lovely not to share – and a view most don’t get to see (through the back of the header).

Z Crew Let the cool down begin!

Curt, Jamie and the kids are leaving home on Sunday with intentions of spending a couple of nights in the Black Hills and then making their way further north to Jordan. Eli HAS GOT to see REAL cowboys! We have approximately 2,100 miles ahead of us. Three trips on the same highway tends to get boring but the incentive of getting to Jordan for hugs from those kids will make it less horrible. Once we get there, we hope to find enough acres to keep us busy until it’s time to head back home for fall crops. Please keep your fingers (and toes) crossed for us!

We spent all of today cleaning the combine, settling up with our customer, and getting equipment in place for the move. In the area we were using for all of this activity, there sits this lonesome ‘ole C2 Gleaner. So, at the end of the day, I decided to take the time to jump in. As I sat in that worn, torn seat, I thought about the days when it was new and the acres it covered and the people who loved it. And I thought about how simple it was and how simple life must have been. Harder…yet simpler. Oh, if combines and equipment could only talk! Can you imagine the tales they would tell? Of the people who owned them and took care of them, the kids who crawled all over them, and how important they once were.

Z Crew The grain facility Jim was hauling to.

Z Crew I just had to. I had a few minutes to kill waiting on Jim and I had to climb in the cab of this beauty! “Hey, Jim, come take a picture of me in this!”

Z Crew No AM/FM radio, no air conditioner, no auto steer, no fancy joystick, not many gauges to watch, no computer screen. Just simple, simple, simple! I think the air conditioner would have been a plus in something like this. But they didn’t know any differenly!

Z Crew Old School.

Z Crew The Gleaner “CII” was introduced in 1964. For a short time, the Gleaner “CII” combine was referred to as the “Flagship” of the Silver fleet. It was powered by an A-C 6 cylinder/262 cubic inch engine that put out 93 HP and had the ability to run a 6 row corn head and a 24 ft rigid grain head. This machine would have been ideal for a custom harvester at the time.  The “CII” ended production in 1967 and as its time as the “Flagship” of the line. In 1968, an even bigger combine replaced the “CII” and that was the “G”.

Z Crew The grain bin capacity of the “CII” was 85 bushels. The Beast will hold 400 bushels plum full.

Z Crew No buddy seat in this ‘ole gal!

Z Crew A view of the feederhouse and header connection brackets.

Z Crew

I looked out over the rows of old equipment and thought about their owner. And I thought about the hard work and the days spent worrying and caring for a crop in this dry, arid and desert-like land.  I’m certain it was a hard life but a good life. And that string of equipment would have wonderful tales to tell…if they could only talk.

Z Crew See ya in a few days, Beast. In the meantime, I hope the older and wiser one can give you some pointers (and tell ya some good tales)!

We’ll be on the road for the next several days. If I’m lucky, I will have an evening to catch you up on our happenings. And if I don’t, the next update will be from Jordan, Montana.  Can I just say how very happy I am about going back there????

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

  • Robert E
    Posted at 19:38h, 23 July

    Wow, that CII brought back a lot of memories! The buddy seat was the bar for the unloading auger and the air conditioner was a bicool water cooler. Thanks for the memories!

    • z crew
      Posted at 02:06h, 26 July

      Thank you, Robert, for your comments and memories! I certainly hope people, like you, are taking the time to jot down all these memories of harvest past. Because when they’re gone, they’re gone. I absolutely love hearing how it was done back in the earlier days! I’m glad the pictures brought back memories of a machine you once ran and the harvest you once cut! 🙂

  • keith ferris
    Posted at 19:49h, 23 July

    Great post. Praying that your next job is a good one.

    • z crew
      Posted at 02:04h, 26 July

      THANK YOU, Keith!! I’m excited about the next one mostly because it’s in Montana! And, this place always tend to include a few adventures!

  • Tom Stegmeier
    Posted at 21:02h, 23 July

    So Glad you are in the real Harvest Mode, From Limon Co, to Jordan Mt .. Home coming !! Tracy you have such an eye for photo shot’s . Sure love you & the Gleaner pic’s. a couple seasoned Jem’s !!! Can you remember back when you were with your Grampa’s outfit what was the Combine of choice with the Harvesters then?

    • z crew
      Posted at 02:02h, 26 July

      The combine of choice then was the Massey 750. That’s what I learned on. That was in 1974. And I thought that was difficult. 🙂 That ‘ole combine had a tendency to have the air conditioner konk out. You’d see most of us on the crew with the door open hoping to catch a breeze that didn’t include chaff and dirt! Thank you for your encouraging words and for taking the time to leave a note, Tom!

  • Randy Sawatzky
    Posted at 15:54h, 24 July

    I learned to run a combine on a 1959 Gleaner A. 14 foot header.. Talk about simple,2 sticks Header up and down and variable speed faster and slower. Not very many years we had to use first gear. Wheat in western oklahoma then was good if you did 25-30. In the mid 70’s dad bought a one owner C2 . Still simple, no cab but a buggy top shade. But it had an 18 foot header. I thought we should go into business cause we had a BIG combine.

    • z crew
      Posted at 02:00h, 26 July

      A BIG combine…shoot, I used to think the Massey’s I ran for my grandpa were BIG. 🙂 I oftentimes wish he could just sit beside me in the one we have now. I know he would just shake his head! They just keep getting bigger and more complex. He’d probably just as soon have his Massey 750. Thank you for taking the time to write, Randy! I love hearing the stories of days ago!!

  • Scott Glasscock
    Posted at 23:07h, 24 July

    That’s too bad eastern Colorado is still in a drought. Most of Montana has had a good year so you should get to cut some nice crops. You will go right by our place we are south of Jordan about 45 Miles on the north side of the highway on the Garfield county line. Hope you have a safe trip and great rest of your harvest. Thanks for sharing the pictures and commentary.

    • z crew
      Posted at 01:57h, 26 July

      We went right by your place three times on our journey from Colorado to Montana. I absolutely love the country you call home! When I “topped” over the hill that opens up the valley just on the Garfield County line, I know I’m back! You live in an amazing area. And, I see the wheat is looking like some of the better stuff we’ve seen all summer – well…since we left home. We haven’t been on the road all that long. Thank you for leaving your note! I appreciate the fact that you took the time to write it!

  • Mike Lefever
    Posted at 09:13h, 25 July

    Love reading about your harvest adventures across the country!
    Thank you and safe travels.

    • z crew
      Posted at 01:54h, 26 July

      Thank you, Mike! And thank you for taking the time to write your comment. When someone takes the time to send me a note, it give me more encouragement to continue telling our story. 🙂

  • Ernest F.
    Posted at 19:10h, 25 July

    OK Tracy Z—This post with the CII Gleaner photos have put my pacemaker to the test and I must get into this loop!!!! And with
    roots in the Lebanon & Esbon areas–Your 31 May “Hancock & Massey” photos & commentary also challenged my pacemaker!!!
    As you may remember from our past visits–I may have been the youngest custom harvester in history to be the owner & operator of my own equipment & manage my own crew beginning in 1964 at age 18!!! I operated those “Flagships of the Silver Fleet” Gleaner CII’s from Texas to combine wheels on the ND–Canadian Border with Sund Pickup Attachments as a teenager & into my early twenties until the US Army draft forced me to liquidate & Vietnam put an end to several years of my custom harvesting fun & profits & memories—and the members of my crews that continue to remind me of same to this day!!!
    In any event—I have a narrative summary of about five decades of my active & inactive involvement in the custom harvesting business & some photos of my “CII Flagship Combines & Crew” in action & loaded for travel during the “Sixties” at one of my favorite and best jobs East of Hemingford in the Nebraska Panhandle!!! However–I doubt if the attachments will work on this
    site—so I will try to send them your way via a couple of other cyber routes….. Your/These “Flagship” Posts/Photos–that I just opened a few hours ago—require a response here & with some follow-up to TZ via separate cover!!!

    Thank You for ALL your delightful posts & photos & safe travels & blessings on your pilgrimage to Montana!!! Regards–EFB

    • z crew
      Posted at 01:52h, 26 July

      I do declare!!! A familiar name that I haven’t heard from in quite a LONG time! I’m so glad you wrote your note and reached out to me. I’ve missed your emails and since I’m no longer in the seat that I once held, I miss hearing from a few of the people I used to enjoy “chatting” with. I’m SO GLAD you commented on the post. I value your history and the information you have always been so willing to share. Between you and Roger Peters, I have been well educated about an industry I so dearly love!!

  • Tom A
    Posted at 07:46h, 26 July

    Truly enjoy your posts. Very Very interesting . I really do believe we would all be better off if we could go back to those simpler days. My mothers family used to sell those Gleaners.

    • z crew
      Posted at 00:33h, 27 July

      Thank you, Tom! I’m glad you find them interesting and, enough so, that you felt lead to leave a note. I do agree with you regarding the simpler times. They worked hard – physically harder than anything we do now, and yet had time to be together doing things. They went to church, they danced, they quilted, they gathered. We don’t seem to have “time” for anything like that anymore – and yet we have more machines to make our lives “easier”. As far as your mother’s family selling Gleaners – where?

  • Tom Anderson
    Posted at 07:06h, 28 July

    HANCOCK Farm Equipment Co Blair Nebraska. I have no idea if our families are connected but I kinda wonder.

    • z crew
      Posted at 00:31h, 30 July

      I don’t know. I don’t remember anyone talking about relatives in Blair with an Equipment dealership. But that doesn’t mean anything.