(Sam) Welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host, Sam Capoun. And today we’re in Finney County, just northwest of Garden City and we’re cutting wheat. Today we’re with High Plains Journal and a part of their All Aboard Wheat Harvest that they have and we’re going to be talking to some custom harvesters and the new facet that they’ve added – the webcam, which you can see right here, which is live streaming now. So stay tuned for more of That’s My Farm.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.
(Sam) Welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host, Sam Capoun. And today I’m with Holly Martin, who is the editor of the High Plains Journal. So Holly, I understand that High Plains has a project called All Aboard Wheat Harvest. So tell me a little bit about All Aboard Wheat Harvest and kind of how long this has been going on? (Holly) All Aboard Wheat Harvest is a blog that is on the internet. Anybody can access at www.allaboardharvest.com and it follows the wheat harvest from the south where wheat just gets started early in the year, all the way north as it progresses across the plains. It’s a project that’s been going on for about seven years. We started…we were just trying to find something new, a new way to cover wheat harvest, instead of just the standard old, the yield’s this, the moisture is this, and came up with this idea. And we thought wouldn’t it be cool to follow the harvest through the eyes of a custom harvester. And so when we got started doing that, we thought we need to define some great harvest custom cutting crews that would be fun to follow along. And went out and searched out some great ones, some great crews to follow and they blog for us. Several times a week they will write what’s going on on the farm that they’re on and tell us all about their lives and the way that harvest is going. (Sam) So, how many states are you guys in right now, how many different facets do you have in each state? (Holly) We have five different crews that blog for us. And over the years those crews have changed. But those different crews started…some started in Texas, some started in Oklahoma and they are moving north as the wheat harvest progresses. So, right now we might have two or three or four different crews going in harvest in Kansas. And then they’ll leap frog and go… somebody will go to Colorado or Nebraska or South Dakota as the harvest moves forward. (Sam) So, you said people can check out the blogs, on the website is how they check ’em out? (Holly) Yes, and also we print a synopsis of what they’ve written on line in the High Plains Journal every single week. (Sam) I understand that you’ve had a custom harvest group that’s been with you for seven years now. Tell me a little bit about them. (Holly) That’s true. Jim and Tracy Zeorian, Zeorian Harvesting and Trucking. They have been with us the whole time and it’s been fun because they have four girls, and we’ve followed along through all kinds of great things, through having grandbabies, through Jenna graduating from college and now the other girls are growing up and going to college and getting ready to graduate from high school. So, it’s really been fun to follow their family along. (Sam) Stay tuned we’re gonna be right back talking to the Zeorian Family, which they have named the “Z” Crew.
(Sam) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. We’re here with Tracy Zeorian. So kind of tell me a little bit about your family’s operation and how long you guys have been in the business. (Tracy) Well, I’ll try to keep it short, but it’s kind of a long story. My Grandparents started this business in the early ’50s. And my Grandma asked me to go along with her when I was 12 years old, so that I could help her with her crew. And they ran three to four combines. And Grandma made the mistake of taking me to the field and I fell in love with the combine. And that was just kind of the beginning of the story. The next year they hired my husband so, you know hazards of the trade, I met my husband. He was a hired man. And from there, after we got married, then we bought our own combine and we’ve lived on the road in the summertime ever since. (Sam) So, you guys have kind of taken on the family operation then? (Tracy) Right. (Sam) So you have four daughters, correct? (Tracy) Right, yep. (Sam) So tell me how your four daughters help on the operation. (Tracy) Well the two older ones don’t go anymore. They’ve kind of gotten real lives now. Our oldest daughter is married and has two little kids. So, I’m missing out on being a Grandma right now. And our number two daughter, Jenna, works for Claas out of Omaha, Claas of North America. So, she has a real job. So, that leaves the two younger ones. And they’re not young anymore. My number three daughter is almost 21 and Callie will be a senior this year. So, my time of having my kids around are almost gone. But they help by taking care of us. They bring supper out to the field. They have our laundry done. They have the mail picked up. They have the groceries all taken care of, so that just gives me and Jim the opportunity just to leave in the morning, pack our bag or lunches and leave for the day. (Sam) You definitely can’t look past the importance of family and farm and ranch families. They kind of are the cornerstone of the operation, they keep everyone together. (Tracy) Absolutely and you know, when you start to look at the kids, I hate to sound like “nowadays” because now I sound like an old person, which I guess I am, but you see a difference in the kids who’ve grown up in the agriculture and those who haven’t been a part of it at all. In our small community we live around corn fields and soybeans. But not so many kids actually live on the farm anymore. So, that work ethic is something that really stands out with the kids being on harvest. (Sam) So, what are kind of the differences that you’ve seen from when your Grandma and Grandpa had combines to kind of now? I know you have the GPS in the combine now, so how does that work? (Tracy) Well, when I was 12 and I went on harvest for the first time, my Grandparents had four Masseys. And I believe it was a 750 Massey. And the very first time I got on the combine the air conditioner quit. And so you just got used to leaving the door open, and the dirt rolled in anyways, so you might as well not have even had a cab. It went from like a 15-foot head, and I can remember when Grandpa bought a 20-foot, he thought it was huge. And now that combine does the work of two combines that Grandpa used to run. The technology is amazing. We’ve got… with the push of a button we can see our yield, we can see our moisture, we can see a camera that shows me how much wheat’s in the grain bin. We’ve got GPS, so that you push the button and it steers all by itself and keeps a nice straight line. It’s amazing. (Sam) Well, that’s awesome. It really benefits your operation and how you guys work, right? (Tracy) And you’ve got to work efficient. With one combine and two people, you’ve got to be as efficient with everything as possible. (Sam) Thank you Tracy. Stay tuned. We’ll have more on That’s My Farm in just a moment.
(Sam) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. We’re here with Jim and Tracy Zeorian in Finney County, Kansas. And Jim is a part of the All Aboard Wheat Harvest and you’re a custom harvester. So kind of tell me where have you been this year. (Jim) Our summer only started two weeks ago in Shattuck, Oklahoma. That’s about 180 miles south of here, in western Oklahoma. (Sam) So where do you plan to go throughout the year? (Jim) We started in Shattuck, now we’re 10 or 15 miles northwest of Garden City. From here, unless we find a little fill in job, from here we’ll go near Limon, Colorado. Then to Montana, back to Limon, Colorado, and then home near Omaha, Nebraska. (Sam) So what have you been seeing yield-wise for this year versus last year? I know you’ve only been cutting for about a week or so, but is there any differences you’ve seen? (Jim) Well, last year we didn’t even go to our Oklahoma job because it got zeroed out. So anything was better than that. The fellow we cut for pastured it hard because of the cattle prices, cattle was good. The rain was a little bit late. In January he told me it was one of the best looking crops he ever had. Then no rain through February, March and April right when it needed it. And then it started to rain in May. So it salvaged a crop. It made 10 to 20 down there on the average. (Sam) So, what do you guys do in rainy conditions when you can’t get in and combine? How do you wait it out? What do you do throughout the little bit of time that you can’t do anything? (Jim) I might take a few naps; we fight. And it’s just mostly some downtime. (Sam) So, it’s basically just the waiting game, just wait until it dries out. (Jim) Yea, it’s a waiting game. We can’t ever venture too far because right when you think that you won’t get in the field for two days, you’ve gone on a little road trip, two hours later, you get the call, guys are in the field. So, you can’t ever stray too far away. (Sam) Thank you Jim. Stay tuned, we’ll have more from Finney County.
(Sam) So, how did you guys become a part of this? (Tracy) That’s kind of a fun story to think about. I’m not really sure how we go back to it, but the High Plains Journal was taking some applications for correspondence. And Jenna, my daughter, Jenna, happened just to be coming out of school and she was real interested in the journalism and so she applied. And they accepted her as one of the correspondents and that was in 2009. And just since then it has just been an amazing…amazing things that just snowballed from being able to explain to people what we do, the lifestyle that we have and what a custom harvester is all about. (Sam) So, I know a new part of this All Aboard Wheat Harvest is a combine cam, correct? (Tracy) Yep. (Sam) So you guys have had one installed in your combine this year. Tell us about your experience. (Tracy) It was just launched yesterday, so it’s been open to the entire world for less than 24 hours already. And I’ve already had people on my personal Twitter account that have let me know that they’ve seen me. So, I try to…I probably shouldn’t be doing it, but I wave at ’em. (Sam) So, they can see us right now? (Tracy) They can see us right now. Yep. (Sam) So, when does it live stream? And what if you don’t have any sort of service or if you’re not combining, how does that work? (Tracy) Then we just push the button and shut it off. So at the end of the day we’ll shut it off at the… when we get ready to leave. If we have no service you’ll probably just see a black screen. I think there’s probably issues with maybe sometimes with weather and that type of thing, but just kind of hang on with us and we’ll be back. (Sam) Well, that is an awesome, awesome technology that we have today. (Tracy) And I just recently had a tweet on my Twitter account saying that somebody that followed me from Holland was watching me combine. So, our huge wide world is now getting smaller with technology. (Sam) It’s so great. It’s such a small world. (Tracy) Yea, yep. (Sam) So, another facet of yours, is you were a past president of the US Custom Harvesters correct? (Tracy) Yep, that’s right. (Sam) So, how did that happen? Tell me a little bit about that story. (Tracy) I’m not really sure how that happened either; I think it was a god thing. It was just a situation where I was given the opportunity to become a board member on the US Custom Harvesters and somebody encouraged me to run for the president slot. And I’m thinking, I don’t know if that’s something that I should do or not, because a female’s never done that before and it’s pretty much still a man’s world. So, I just got to thinking about it and thought you know I have enough to offer, I think I’m gonna shoot…I’m gonna try it. And I ended up being the only female president so far on the US Custom Harvesters for three years, so it was great. (Sam) Wow, wow. So, tell me a little bit about the Custom Harvester? (Tracy) Well, I think a lot of people think that if they just have a combine they can just load it up and head out. Which I suppose you can if you have a lot of determination. But I think a lot of it also comes back to knowing the lifestyle. You know we travel from south to north. We’re gone for about 100 days, away from home. And most of the time it’s farmers that have the machinery sitting around and they know it needs to be worked more than two weeks from the summer or of the year. And so they try this as an option. (Sam) Well thank you Tracy. Stay tuned. We’ll be back in a moment in Finney County from That’s My Farm.
(Sam) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host, Sam Capoun. And we’re back with Holly Martin, the editor of High Plains Journal. So, Holly, we’ve talked a little bit about the webcam in the combine. So, tell me a little bit of how it works, and how you decided to put this webcam in because this is an awesome opportunity for people to watch live from everywhere. (Holly) Yea, it was one of those brain child things where you sit sitting around the table and you go, wouldn’t it be cool if we could…. and out of that came the combine cam. We thought it would just be awesome to be able to share what’s going on, up to the minute, live with the people out there. And one of the things that we’ve found is so cool about All Aboard is that people enjoy following along. They like seeing what’s happening everyday. They like getting into the finding out whether the wheat’s good or there’s weeds or it’s raining or whatever. But seeing it live just really takes it to a whole new level. (Sam) Yea it does. Cause you started out with a blog for the first six or seven years. (Holly) Six years, uh huh. (Sam) So now you’ve added this. So what kind of … how many people are viewing it? Can you tell how many people? (Holly) We are. We’re following along there. I told Tracy the other day that she had 56 people riding in the… right at that moment riding along with her. And as it goes along it just seems to grow and people are really enjoying it. And we’ve got thousands of followers out there who have followed along reading the blog every day and reading in the High Plains Journal. So, we’re really anxious to see it continue to grow and get bigger and bigger as we go along. (Sam) And you guys have just started it correct? First day and you’ve already had 56 viewers. (Holly) Yes. At one time. There’s been more than that over… (Sam) Over time, yea. (Holly) So, as we’ve gone along there’s been more throughout the day, but just at that particular moment when I looked at it there were 56 people on there. So, it’s kinda cool. (Sam) So, how do people stay involved in watching the live stream if the farmer isn’t cutting or if there’s rain or bad cell service? (Holly) As you know, if you’re a harvester or a farmer there’s times when equipment breaks down or doesn’t always work like it’s supposed to. So, for the most part we’ve just been streaming along just great. But if it’s raining, or if the Zeorian Crew is moving, it won’t be broadcasting and they’ll just have to check back later. And we know there’s probably going to be some places that are a little remote because that’s how agriculture works. (Sam) Oh yes. (Holly) And so the internet service might not be great. But for the most part, it should be streaming along all the time and they can check it out. (Sam) So, right now. Do you just have it in one cab and then you’re planning on implementing it in more in the future? (Holly) We would love to be able to show different shots and be able to show the truck or a view from the header or some different things like that. But we’re taking it one step at a time right now. And so right now, it’s just in the combine cam. (Sam) Well, it sounds like it’s working with all the views. So, tell me a little bit… I know you’ve reached out to a different audience world wide, but kind of a different audience that some people don’t think about is the consumer. I know in today’s industry that’s kind of what we need to focus on is the consumer. So tell me a little bit about that. (Holly) Well that’s right. Tracy got contacted from Holland earlier today. But there’s all this whole other audience that is the consumer. And we’ve found that it’s really kind of interesting that they’ve never experienced harvest at all. They love the blog. They like to read the stories, they like to find out how the harvesters are bringing back product that will eventually be bread on their table to them. And so adding this combine cam is just another element where they’re able to just really simply ride in the cab with them. (Sam) Tell the viewers how they can watch the live stream. (Holly) All they need to do is go to the blog and on there there is a menu item that has the streaming cam and they can click on it and just watch, sit at their desk all day, and just watch and see what Jim and Tracy are doing. (Sam) Thank you so much. Holly this has certainly been an awesome project to report on. And make sure you go and check the live stream at allaboardharvest.com and make sure you check us out next week on That’s My Farm. Thanks for watching today and I’m your guest host, Sam Capoun.
Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.