All Aboard Harvest | Brian: Full circle finale
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Brian: Full circle finale

Brian: Full circle finale

Greenfield, Iowa—Today I’m sipping coffee, looking out my window at the cows grazing in the pasture. I see corn and soybean fields in the distance, their color shifting from green to yellow and brown hues. A few leaves are starting to fall from the trees, and I hear a load of laundry tumbling in the dryer behind me. Fall is approaching, and wheat harvest has come full circle. After 77 days on the road we find ourselves back home.

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After over 2.5 months we are back at the beginning where it all started. It’s a different feeling to be home again, and it’s our first chance to preview what our fall harvest fields look like.

Our return home marks the end of another successful summer harvest. South Dakota was a record breaker. This year Onida provided us the longest time spent in one place, the highest average yield ever seen, and the most acres harvested in one state. As we loaded equipment for the final time, it seemed odd this momentous occasion wasn’t occurring in North Dakota. The summer seemed abbreviated by missing that stop (and Nebraska), but our services were rendered unneeded this year by poor weather.

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One final effort to clean and load machines before the long journey home. We’ve had enough practice to know the drill, but it’s still a hot and dirty job as the summer sun beats down. 

The long trip home thankfully proved uneventful. After 46 days in South Dakota it’s nice to finally be back in real houses, with real rooms and with a water heater that provides hot showers lasting longer than 5 minutes. Dishwashers seem extravagant at this point, and refrigerators that hold more than two days of groceries feel luxurious. Mail is delivered daily, breakfast is no longer shared with ten people, and unlimited internet means that streaming movies is suddenly an option again and on a TV larger than 20 inches. For all the enjoyment wheat harvest brings, rediscovering the pleasure of not living in a house on wheels is remarkably satisfying.

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The excitement of rediscovering toys and endless floor space to play is acceptable chaos. Not washing cloths at a public laundromat requiring pockets full of quarters also seems exciting. Sometimes the most mundane tasks suddenly seem easier to complete in your own home.

We now find ourselves working in reverse order. Equipment is cleaned and put away. The school year is beginning. Everything is taken out of the house trailers. If getting ready to leave seems like a big job, returning home always seems a bigger task. The combines might be temporarily parked as wheat harvesting has come to an end, but another type of harvesting is underway.

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The equipment gets one final bath before being put away for the season. As school starts again the Hamer boys adjust to a new schedule and new classroom protocols. 

Silage chopping is the next big task to complete on our farm. As we prepare high-quality feed for our beef cattle this winter, it is also the first glimpse of what our fall harvest will look like. Much of the Midwest has seen drought conditions develop, and here in Iowa our crops have been severely damaged.  “Splotchy” isn’t a very technical term, but it best describes the green, yellow and brown spots throughout the fields caused by lack of rain. Thankfully the crops in Minnesota are faring better. Fall harvest will begin earlier than normal, so we work diligently to prepare equipment for “COVID Combining, stage 2.0.”

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With silage chopping completed Cameron and Glen work to replace worn chains and sprockets on the 16-row corn head. Virtually all of Iowa’s crops have been severely stressed by a flash drought (red and orange indicating the most severe). It will be an early fall harvest.

So here we we are once again. We’ve come full circle, back to where it all began. South Dakota provided the perfect finale. Still it can be emotional ending the harvest season we have come to love. The smell of fresh cut straw. The sound of wheat rustling in the wind. The unforgettable sight of the sun slipping away beneath a sky of neon hues.

I know you understand. It’s why you’ve been a part of the harvest all summer long. We’ve been sharing this adventure together, and we all share a unique connection to the land. We do if for the way it makes us feel.  For the memories it leaves behind.  It is the reason why we labor. For the love of the harvest.

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It’s almost impossible to choose, but I’ve tried to compile the best images from the summer in the video below. It is your chance to take one last combine ride for the season and enjoy the beauty of the wheat fields. Jones Harvesting thanks you for being a special part of the AAWH family, and we can’t wait to continue sharing our passion for the harvest next year. Until we meet again stay safe, healthy and be kind to one another.

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Jones Harvesting would like to thank the All Aboard Wheat Harvest staff and all its sponsors for allowing us to share our unique story of agriculture in a special way. We are proud to be a part of such a dedicated group that was committed to sharing our content this summer with readers despite the challenges COVID-19 presented. We are all in this together.

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc., Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Agri-Pro, Gleaner, BASF, and High Plains Journal.  

Join the conversation by leaving a question or comment.  Brian can be reached at brian@allaboardharvest.com.

#AAWH20 | #harvest20 | #wheat

16 Comments
  • Barb Jestic
    Posted at 14:57h, 11 September

    Loved feeling like I was there with you when I read your posts. Thanks for making it so real! Stay safe and may God bless you and your family

    • Brian Jones
      Posted at 15:09h, 11 September

      Thanks for following along Barb, and I’m glad you enjoy the journey along with me. It’s hard to convey in words and 2-dimensional pictures the full experience, but I’ve done my best to make you feel a part of the “virtual crew”. Take care!

  • Sherry McKie
    Posted at 15:56h, 11 September

    Thanks Brian. I always enjoy your harvest season, thank you for sharing, it seems extra special since I know the entire family.

    • Brian Jones
      Posted at 14:00h, 23 September

      We love to know family and friends back home are following along all summer!

  • Judi
    Posted at 16:15h, 11 September

    Oh myyyyy! I really enjoyed this last post! Just seems as I learn more from you each year! Thank you, and may God keep you all in his hands. Have a safe winter!

    • Brian Jones
      Posted at 14:00h, 23 September

      We will plan on seeing you again next year!

  • Bernie Westhoelter
    Posted at 10:54h, 12 September

    Enjoyed your harvest journey 2020. Keep up the good work. Bernie—Washington MO

    • Brian Jones
      Posted at 15:11h, 18 September

      Hopefully next year will provide another great journey for you to follow again. We’ll see you back here next year!

  • Dean Taton
    Posted at 17:01h, 12 September

    Back in the mid to late 70’s, we had two brothers and their sister show up in our small southcentral Kansas town looking for acres to cut. They were just barely out of high school it seemed. One combine and a truck, small travel trailer and a service truck. maybe a pickup trk, too. Anyway, working at the elevator, I got them some acres, and they did I good job. ABC, they called theirselves. Anderson Bros Combining. Always wondered what became of them!!

    • Dean Taton
      Posted at 17:03h, 12 September

      Forgot to mention they were from, Iowa, don1’t remember just where, tho.

    • Brian Jones
      Posted at 15:10h, 18 September

      Having been doing this for nearly 40 years we have seen a lot of crews come and go. We sometimes wonder what becomes of some of those folks as well. We sure get to me a lot of great people along the way. Thanks for spending some time with our crew this summer.

  • Frank dietrich
    Posted at 04:59h, 13 September

    Great stories good luck with fall harvest frank dietrich from lucan Ontario canada

    • Brian Jones
      Posted at 15:13h, 18 September

      It’s so fun to see people from long distances following along. I’ve always wanted to harvest in Canada, and maybe one day I’ll get the chance! Take care.

  • whit mccall
    Posted at 12:31h, 13 September

    Enjoyed following your summer!

  • Carol Warner
    Posted at 15:53h, 13 September

    My husband and I have followed you all summer, including last year and have enjoyed the ride tremendously! We are from the Ankeny, Iowa area — not too far from you — and had a custom combining business for 20 years starting in 1973. We are still in touch with many friends who still harvest and follow along their harvest trails too. We are associate members of USCHI and usually have a booth at the annual meetings. You have such a gift for writing and for drawing the reader into your experiences, and your pictures are outstanding. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us. We hope you have a great fall harvest and we look forward to following you again in 2021. Carol & Chuck

    • Brian Jones
      Posted at 15:08h, 18 September

      Thanks for the kind words “neighbour”! Long hours in the cab gives a person time to think about what to write next, but it’s not always so easy. I’m glad you enjoyed “reliving” the experience having owned your own crew. A lot has changed over the years, but some aspects never do. Be sure to join the crew again next year!