All Aboard Harvest | Brian Jones – Jones Harvesting
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Brian Jones – Jones Harvesting

My name is Brian 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.  During the tough financial times for farmers in the 1980s my father Glen Jones and grandpa George Rahn began  were looking for additional income to keep financially viable during the farm crisis.  

 

With combines being such expensive investments we were inspired by George’s brother who ran a custom harvesting crew to load up our own equipment and head to Oklahoma.  From knocking on farmer’s doors randomly in the countryside to referrals from locals, one job lead to another that moved us northward one state at a time.  As they say, the rest is history, and the 2022 season marks the 40th anniversary of Jones Harvesting.

 

Our crew is completely a family operation.  Glen Jones and his wife Vernelle farm in Southwest Iowa with their son (thats me!) Brian Jones and their daughter Brenda and her husband Cameron Hamer.  Brenda and Cameron have 4 young boys, and all 9 of us spend the summer working together harvesting.  David Rahn now operates the Rahn family farm near Butterfield, Minnesota.  David joins us with his equipment each summer, continuing the Jones-Rahn Harvesting legacy.

 

Back in Iowa the Jones and Hamer families works together raising corn, soybean, and hay along with running a cow-calf herd.  We also do some customer farming and harvesting locally as well.  With spring planting finished and the cows turned out to pasture, we load up equipment typically early June and head to our first stop in central Oklahoma, followed by two stops is SW Kansas, Western Nebraska, Central South Dakota and Southern North Dakota.  

 

As we begin our 40th year of harvesting the amber waves of grain on the plains, it’s hard to not look back and consider all that has changed over the years.  Yet one thing has remained the same…our love for the harvest.  It’s been quite the adventure, and we look forward to sharing our journey together with you as we celebrating our 40th anniversary together.

Onida, South Dakota—Everyone can use some good advice from time to time. After 40 years of harvesting, we probably qualify to offer some helpful harvesting pointers. But there is always something more to learn in life, and I recently stumbled across an old saying that seemed worth sharing with you. Benjamin Franklin is well known for saying, "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." The crew maybe has not been following the "early to bed" part, but the rest of this age-old proverb rings true this week.

 

The crew's health

Onida, South Dakota—No matter where I go or what state I am in, I've been noticing a trend while traveling the harvest trail. Maybe everyone's schedule is so busy there's simply no time to take decorations down. Perhaps people are just so enthusiastic they can't help but celebrate all year long. Or maybe it’s just pure laziness. Whatever the reason, everywhere I go this summer I still find Christmas trees wrapped in garland, glinting in the summer sun. Storefronts display fake frosted windowpanes despite the excessive heat advisory just issued, and icicle lights hung from the

Onida, South Dakota—The crew always looks forward to moving to South Dakota, but getting there is always the hard part. It's the longest move of the summer, and our route takes us through the desolate Sandhills of Nebraska. The beautiful scenery is filled with wild flowers, rolling hills and grasslands that seem to stretch on forever in every directions. The famous (or infamous) Oregon Trail cuts across our path as we travel north. If you know where to squint you can still see parallel ruts that scar the hillside.


Those ruts, created by hundreds of thousands of wooden wagon

Big Springs, Nebraska—It's a pretty long pull from southwest Kansas up to Nebraska. With nearly 400 miles to cover, the crew has to be on the ball if we want to make it in one day. Last night we worked late loading machines in the dark, and everyone is exhausted from the heat. We finally get to bed after midnight, but it seems like the alarm clock goes off just minutes after our heads hit the pillows. Reluctantly we roll out of bed extra early, roll up the water hoses along with the electrical cords and roll down the

Plains, Kansas—The crew has finished up harvesting in Minneola, and we are eager to get moved to Plains, Kansas, as quickly as possible. This is the only time during the summer we have two jobs in such close proximity to each other. It's a lot of work to pack up the house trailers for only a 50-mile move, so we decide to commute back and forth and leave them in Minneola.
For this move we don't remove the dual tires from the John Deere combine, opting to drive it over to Plains to save time. Before I

Minneola, Kansas—The colorful dirt of Oklahoma slowly shifts its hue from red to brown every mile we draw closer to the Kansas state line. The hot afternoon sun beats down on the grasslands of southern Kansas, and the pastures look pretty parched. This area has received precious little moisture over the last year, and a quick scan of the horizon looks as if a sepia tone filter has been applied. Squint a little harder and you can see rows of white masts sprouting up in the distance, wind turbine blades spinning in the brisk Kansas breeze.

 

The crew has

Thomas, Oklahoma—I think the crew is suffering from weather whiplash. Weather is always in the driver's seat at harvest time, and we are just along for the ride. With eleven inches of rain, the weather had pulled the crew over at a rest area. While we appreciated a few days to take a breather and acclimate to our Oklahoma surroundings, we really needed to get this show on the road. Apparently the weather heard us whining in the back seat. It grabbed the steering wheel, told us to hang on and whipped a weather u-turn. Those cool temps

Thomas, Oklahoma-The equipment is no longer new. Straw, chaff and the dust swirl around the machines as they make their way across the first field for the season. We squint through smudged windshields as we drive into the setting sun. The unmistakable red mud of Oklahoma sticks to the wheels of the machines. Yield monitors are configured, settings have been adjusted, and a semi is headed to town to deliver our first load. This may be the 40th time we have harvested on "the first day," but the mood is always a little tense those first few hours. We

Thomas, Oklahoma–And just like that, the day you thought would never arrive finally arrives. It doesn't matter anymore what didn't get finished, what isn't packed or what was failed to be checked off the to-do list. Most days it seemed impossible to be ready in time. Leaving home is arguably the worst part of the entire summer, packing your life up into cardboard boxes and then moving them into aluminum boxes on wheels. But once we hit the road the anxiety of leaving is replaced with the excitement of arriving.


Getting to this point certainly was

Greenfield, Iowa–What dreary weather. Brisk winds carry a fine mist through the air, remnants of soaking rains earlier in the week. The ground is a soggy mess, and muddy boots and shoes track everywhere we go. Hoodies and heavy coats are required as we plan and pack for our imminent departure for Oklahoma. With morning temperatures in the mid-40s we are feeling very confused. Our gloveless fingers keep going numb from the cold, the furnace is running in the house, and every time we start the pickup the heated seats automatically come on.  Are we really just a few