17 May Brian: Seasons of change
Greenfield, Iowa—”Nature gives to every time and season unique beauty; from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it’s just a succession of changes so soft and comfortable that we hardly notice the progress.“—Charles Dickens
How I’ve already turned the calendar to May is a mystery. It seems not long ago I was putting away equipment for winter, attending socially distanced holiday gatherings and dreaming of a warm island getaway. Nevertheless, spring has sprung here on the farm, bringing with it the work of a new growing season.
Long days and nights in the planter will soon transition into long days in the combine. We will also trade our green grass for red Oklahoma dirt, a constant reminder we are not in Iowa any more.
The weather has been more cooperative than is should be, the sunny skies holding back the rains that often delay corn and soybean planting. Our beef cattle herd has been spared muddy feed lots this year, and around the clock care for newborn baby calves is winding down. Field work is all but wrapped up on the farm. The pastures are fertilized, the planter put away and all our attention now turns to preparing for our 39th year of wheat harvest.
Moving our heard of beef cattle to pasture for the summer is always a huge task, especially if rains create muddy conditions. Once the cows step off the trailer they usually make a mad dash for the green grass and (nearly) unlimited space to roam.
I’m Brian G. Jones of Greenfield, Iowa, and I am a second generation farmer and wheat harvester. I was born and raised on a family farm about 50 miles southwest of Des Moines in the rolling hills of southwest Iowa. In 1983 my father Glen Jones and grandpa George Rahn began (unknown to them at the time) a 35-plus year legacy of wheat harvesting across the midwest for our family.
One of the first harvest pictures taken back in 1983, our first year of wheat run. Brian and Brenda Jones found the entire adventure exciting as little people, but they never would have dreamed it would become their life-long summer experience.
During the tough financial times for farmers in the 1980s we were looking for additional income to keep financially viable during the farm crisis. Inspired by George’s brother who ran a custom harvesting crew we loaded up our own equipment and headed to Oklahoma on a wing and a prayer. From knocking on farmer’s doors randomly in the countryside to referrals from locals, one job miraculously lead to another. As they say, the rest is history. Today we are preparing to head to central Oklahoma to start our 39th harvest season, followed by two stops is southwest Kansas, western Nebraska, central South Dakota and southern North Dakota.
Sometimes looking back at the equipment we used early on in our harvesting career makes us wonder….how did we ever survive? The easy answer is….barley. Blown tires, overheated engines, and barely enough horsepower to get to the top of the hill are all headaches we rarely have to deal with today with modern equipment.
Jones Harvesting is completely a family operation. Glen Jones and his wife Vernelle farm in southwest Iowa with their son (your author), Brian Jones, and their daughter, Brenda, and her husband, Cameron Hamer. Brenda and Cameron have four young boys, and all nine of us spend the summer working together harvesting. My grandfather George Rahn retired from the wheat run after 27 years. His son David Rahn (my uncle) now operates the Rahn family farm near Butterfield, Minnesota. David joins us with his equipment each summer, continuing the Jones-Rahn Harvesting legacy.
The entire crew together: back row (left to right), Brian Jones, Brenda Hamer, Cameron Hamer, David Rahn, Vernelle Jones, Glen Jones. Front row (left to right) Titus, Ezra, Judah and Canaan Hamer.
For many of us, the past year has been unlike any other. Socially distanced, our routines have been changed by masks, vaccines and challenges we never could have anticipated. And yet, for me the one constant that hasn’t changed is harvesting. Not even a pandemic keeps us from planting, growing and harvesting the crops that provide food, fuel and fiber for our country and the rest of the world.
The farmland you drive by every day impacts the lives of everyone around you, and yet only the smallest fraction of the population actively is engaged in production agriculture. But for many of you there is an unseen connection to the land, a desire to be a part of nature and that amazing time of the year that is unlike any other—harvest.
Wheat as far as the eye can see, swaying too and fro in the gentle summer breeze…an unexpected place of peace and beauty.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine amber waves of grain swaying in the warm summer breeze, the smell of fresh-cut straw and listen for the hum of the machines off in the distance lumbering across the fields in laser-straight lines. Harvest 2021 is just around the corner, and in just a few weeks you won’t need to imagine it any longer.
Amber waves of grain and the sinking sun below the horizon combine for a beautiful scene permanently stored in our minds.
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is an amazing way for you to escape the monotony of your work and “get out of the house” for a few minutes each day. So come join the AAWH family and experience life on the harvest trail this summer. Jones Harvesting is glad to have you be part of our virtual crew, and I can’t wait to hear from you as I share our three month Midwestern adventure.
A little dirt never hurt anyone, so roll up your sleeves and get ready to go to the field. You’re always among friends here, so climb on up into the cab. Combine rides are always free….guaranteed.
The sun sets on another day of harvest in Onida, SD. Long days become the norm, but the satisfaction of a job well done makes it worth while.
The first day of harvest in Oklahoma is always busy, but not enough to stop for a quick photo to commemorate the start of a new season.
Brian can be reached at email@example.com. All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by Case IH, Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc., BASF, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Gleaner, ITC, Westbred, Huskie, Western Equipment, US Custom Harvesters, and High Plains Journal.