Farm Rescue volunteers help injured farmer in Howard
In much of the upper Midwest, farming is a way of life. It brings together hard-working people, forming an instant community with relationships that last a lifetime.
So when someone gets sick, or hurt, and can't keep up with the work that needs to get done, there's one organization that steps up to help.
It's called Farm Rescue.
In Howard, Wednesday, volunteers made up of complete strangers were there ready to help a local farmer.
"They're baling hay. Some other guys at my place cutting to stay ahead of them. By the end of the week we should have all my cutting hay put up," Howard farmer Kevin Schwader said.
Kevin Schwader broke his leg after he fell off an ATV in March. Last year, he had open heart surgery.
Today, 140 acres of alfalfa grass hay are getting cut and baled so he can heal.
"It's heartwarming to have people out of the goodness of their heart volunteer with Farm Rescue and come and help," Schwader said.
But for the volunteers, that feeling is mutual.
"Touching to see total strangers come in when you didn't even know these people three days ago, now they're helping and doing your work," volunteer Levi Wielenga said. "We're able to come in with fresh equipment and manpower and alleviate the pressure off neighbors who have helped in the past."
Getting this work done is crucial to a farmer's livelihood.
"If you let it go too long, it'll lose nutrition. It's going to start blooming and you can't get your second cutting in on time either. It's all very time-oriented that you get it in and baled right away," organizer Carol Wielenga said.
"You can't possibly get this done with my condition. Without Farm Rescue and friends and family, our community, my work wouldn't get done and it means the whole world that I can go to bed at night knowing my work is still getting done without me having to do it."
Farm Rescue is a non-profit organization that helps with planting, haying and harvesting in a five-state region. Organizers are accepting applications through harvest of 2016 if you or someone you know needs help this year.
For more information about Farm Rescue and to apply, click on the link to the right side of this story.