I’ve never been a farmer, but I live in a rural community, and I’ve seen personally just how committed these people out here are to the life they love. Even more than that, though, is that they’re committed to each other. Farmers are survivors because they have no choice. Their family’s livelihood is at the mercy of the weather, and a personal injury or a couple of bad days can cripple a harvest. Most farmers live year-to-year just hoping that it’s not a bad year. The fact is, no amount of hard work can help a farmer overcome a drought, and no amount of hard work can keep a man in the fields when he’s had a heart attack.
A farmer from Crosby, North Dakota experienced that recently. A farmer of durum wheat and canola, Lane Unhjem was working on putting up his harvest when he realized that his combine was on fire. As he was working to put out the fire, Lane started having a heart attack. Fortunately, he realized quickly that something urgent was happening inside his chest and he was quickly rushed to the hospital. As his condition stabilized, he started his recovery in the hospital. However, his crops were ready to be harvested and their farmer was out of commission.
Something I’ve learned from my wife, a gardener, is that when a garden is ready to be picked, it has to be picked. If you wait even a day, it can be too late. We don’t know anything about durum wheat and canola, but I imagine it’s pretty much the same situation. The local farmers, Lane’s neighbors and friends, banded together to save Lane’s harvest. One of the farmers, a man named Don Anderson, posted a photo to Facebook that shows just exactly what these kindhearted men did. In his Facebook post, he explained, “Approximately 40 to 50 farmers, driving combines, pulling grain carts, driving semis and various other harvest related items, converged on the Unhjem farmstead and they will take care of harvest for Lane and his family today.”
Anderson added that he believed there were about a dozen combines on Lane’s farm gathering the harvest. KFYR-TV reports that altogether, there were about 11 combines, 60 farmers, 15 semis, and six grain carts and they got the work done, harvesting 1,000 acres in less than seven hours. A family friend, Jenna Binde, said that when the word got out, it spread like wildfire, and farmers and owners of equipment were offering up their time. She said that people from all over the county were volunteering both their equipment and their workers. Sha said that where they live, “You help your neighbor out when they need it, and don’t expect anything in return.”
As Don Anderson said, they all have a great sense of pride that when they face something like this, they’re not alone.