Harms Inc. of Brule, Nebraska
The Harms Family came to Brule, Nebraska in 1909. The youngest son of the Harms family, Evert, farmed north of Brule. Evert entered into a rental agreement with his son Milan to farm the land and to share rangeland from 1955 until Evert’s death in 1960.
The farm was incorporated and named Harms Inc. Milan then became a full time partner with his mother Margaret, until purchasing Harms Inc. in the late 1970’s.
Both Margaret and Milan passed away in 1997. Harms Inc. is now owned by Jo Anne Harms and their five children: Patty, Jean, Amy, Brad, and Faye.
Late in the 1950’s a heavy spring snow fell, creating a rapid snow melt and flooding. The Harms home in town was surrounded by flood waters.
Around this time, the “Brule Watershed” was organized by area farmers and Brule citizens.
In 1961, the first small dam was constructed north of Brule in Harms rangeland by Beal Enterprises. The main watershed dam was constructed in 1969 north of the farm, and waterways were built on the Harms land east of Brule to provide drainage to the South Platte River.
Beal Enterprises drilled an irrigation well and Harms Inc. furnished pipe as a water source needed for the dam construction. Ten million gallons of water was used to “presettle” the ground on which the dam was being built.
The Brule Watershed Dam construction project was designed and supervised by the USDA Soil Conservation Service (Natural Resources Conservation Service).
Over the years, more flooding problems have occurred in the town of Brule. In 1994, the Twin Platte Natural Resources District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service Engineers cooperated with Milan to find a cost effective way to correct the flooding problems. Two small dams were constructed on Harms rangeland, and highly erodible land was terraced and seeded to native grasses to help control water run-off.
A total of 389 acres of highly erodible land was enrolled by Harms into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in 1996. Native grasses were planted in the spring and fall of 1996. Fences were constructed to exclude livestock.
A two day rain event in September, 1996 caused a considerable amount of flood water to drain from north and west of Brule. The county road east of Harms farm was nearly washed out. Flood water drained into the large dam north of Harms, but was contained in the reservoir. The over-flow drains of the smaller dams drained for two and a half days. The flood water was contained in the road ditch waterway, and prevented flooding at the Brule Cemetery.
In the fall of 1998, the Union Pacific Railroad, the Twin Platte NRD, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service cooperated on a project to remove silt from beneath the railroad bridge east of Brule. The bridge is part of the outfall channel, which was constructed to allow water to flow to the South Platte River.
The County and the Nebraska Department of Roads continue to remove any excess silt in their structures in conjunction with the Brule Watershed and the outfall channel.
In 1997, Milan and his mother Margaret donated land adjoining the Brule Cemetery to the Cemetery Association to allow for future expansion. Improvements on the donated land of trees and waterways around the perimeter provide additional protection for the cemetery. Funds given in memory of Milan and Margaret allowed for two rows of evergreen trees and installation of a fence. The Twin Platte Natural Resources District cost-shared on the trees. All work was supervised by the Brule Lions Club.
Brad and April Harms and Stan and Ken Rhoades have leased all of Jo Anne’s cropland. Brad and April use minimum tillage in their corn and wheat crop rotation. The Harms rangeland is in a rotational-use program to allow for proper grazing. Jo Anne still has a cow herd that is cared for by Brad and April.
The Harms family cooperates with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to maintain the dams in the rangeland and CRP land. The Twin Platte Natural Resources District provides the maintenance for the Watershed Dam north of Harms farm.
Jo Anne resides on the family farm and is active in the management of the operation. All of the Harms children are involved in agriculture. They all enjoy riding horses for work and for pleasure.
Jo Anne and her family gratefully accept this award with much appreciation on behalf of the Harms family, both living and deceased.