19 May Brian: The price of admission
Greenfield, Iowa—Someone once told me that the best things in life are free, but whoever said that clearly has never prepared a harvest crew to leave for a summer abroad in the Midwest. Don’t get me wrong, it’s super exciting to know in a few weeks I’ll be far from home, sitting high up in my combine cab and looking out across golden wheat fields. Many find it the experience of a lifetime, but just like when you attend your favorite concert or movie you have to pay for that experience. But the price of admission doesn’t always require spending your hard earned cash. No, sometimes the price of admission includes stressful days, hard work, and demands all your time.
That’s the price you pay when you’re a custom combiner about to hit the harvest trail, and that’s who I am. I’m Brian G. Jones of Greenfield, Iowa, and I am a fourth-generation farmer and second-generation 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—unbeknownst to them at the time—a 40-plus year legacy of wheat harvesting across the Midwest for our family.
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 led to another. As they say, the rest is history, and we are gearing up for our 41st harvest season.
Jones Harvesting is completely a family operation. Glen Jones and his wife, Vernelle, farm in southwest Iowa with their son and 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.
Just like any good show, you have to pay the price of admission before you get to enjoy all the entertainment and fun. Making payments on equipment doesn’t come cheap, and neither does buying diesel fuel, truck tires and enough food to feed a small army. But the mental stress of preparing to leave might be the biggest cost of them all, and that’s where the crew currently finds themselves.
Everything comes out of storage and needs to be washed and serviced. You sort through your closet and decide what you want to wear … for the next 3 months. There are floors to mop and refrigerators to clean out before you unplug them and vacate your home. Then you have to move it all into your summer home, a rectangular aluminum box on wheels that seems a lot smaller than you remember. Oh, and then there are those small tasks to complete like planting our corn and soybean crop before leaving and turning out all the cows to pasture for the summer.
Don’t get me wrong … it’s a price we are willing to pay to be part of the harvest, but sometimes when you are right in the middle of it all it makes you question your sanity and life choices. Lucky for you the price of admission is less steep. You get to be a virtual part of our harvest crew for the unbelievably low price of … free, all thanks to High Plains Journal.
While Jones Harvesting celebrated our 40th anniversary last year, All Aboard Wheat Harvest is celebrating its 15th year this summer. There are some special surprises in store for you, and AAWH is an amazing way for you to escape the monotony of your work and “get out of the house” for a few minutes each week. So roll up your sleeves, grab your sunglasses and join us in the field each week. Don’t worry about a little dust on your dashboard or some wheat kernels in your boot. It’s just the price of admission to enjoy one of the best shows of the summer, and you’ve got a front row seat when you’re a part of the All Aboard Wheat Harvest crew.
Brian Jones can be reached at email@example.com