Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Farm Rescue: Like neighbors helping neighbors November 7, 2011

NO ONE EVER expects to need help. But then an accident happens or sickness befalls us or tragedy strikes. And we suddenly realize how much we need each other.

Back in October of 1967, neighbors rallied after a corn chopper sliced off the fingers on my father-in-law’s left hand. Not just the tips, but so much that amputation was required between the wrist and the elbow.

An Allis Chalmers corn chopper like this one exhibited at the 2010 Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Show, claimed my father-in-law's left hand and much of his arm in a 1967 accident. That's my husband, Randy, who saved his dad's life by running for help.

In the week after the accident, neighboring farmers came with plows to work the fields of my father-in-law’s Morrison County farm.  Others arrived with tractors and manure spreaders to haul away a manure pile. A week or two later, the neighbors were back to pour a slab of cement at the end of the barn.

Several farmers and a high school student continued to assist the family with twice daily milkings and other farm chores while Tom recovered and adapted to farming with his prosthetic hook hand.

Neighbors helping neighbors in need.

This fall, farmers gathered south of Lucan in Redwood County to harvest corn and soybeans on the farm of their friend and neighbor, Steve, my sister-in-law’s father who was found dead at the scene of a single-vehicle accident on September 20.

Neighbors helping a grieving family in their time of need.

Stories like this are not uncommon in rural Minnesota.

Harvesting corn this fall in southern Minnesota.

But it wasn’t until this past week that I learned about Farm Rescue, “a nonprofit organization that plants and harvests crops free of charge for family farmers who have suffered a major illness, injury or natural disaster.”

Founded in 2005 by a former North Dakota farm boy, this Jamestown, North Dakota-based nonprofit has assisted 155 farm families, mostly in the Dakotas, but also in western Minnesota and eastern Montana, the states within the organization’s coverage area.

In early October, Farm Rescue harvested beans for Renville area farmer Kurt Kramin who is recovering from serious burns sustained while he burned debris following a July 1 severe storm that passed through southwestern Minnesota. (Read a story published in the Morris Sun Tribune about the Farm Rescue assistance provided to Kramin by clicking here.) 

All of this I learned from Paul Oster, a Farm Rescue videographer. Oster read my July blog posts about the tornadic and strong wind storms that swept through southwestern Minnesota and contacted me last week about using several photos in a video he was preparing about Kramin.

Before agreeing to his request, I first checked out Farm Rescue. I wanted to assure that the storm photos my brother, uncle and I had taken would be shared with a respected organization.

My photo of the July 1 storm damage at Meadowland Farmers Co-op in Vesta which Paul Oster included in his video of Kurt Kramin. Renville, where Kramin lives, is north of Vesta.

No problem there. Farm Rescue accepts applicants from farmers in need, reviews the applications and then, if approved, coordinates volunteers to plant or harvest crops. It’s like neighbors helping neighbors.

Click here to read all about Farm Rescue and how this nonprofit truly shines at neighbors helping neighbors in need.

Then, click here to see the videos about farm families aided by Farm Rescue in 2011.

If you want to contribute in any way to this worthy organization, do. Because you never know when you, too, may need your neighbors’ help.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling