Farmers rally for neighbor

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OAKLAND – Despite the physical distance between homes, farmers are among the closest of neighbors when one needs help.

That neighborliness was shown again Thursday, Nov. 7, when a group of farmers pooled equipment and other resources to help Roger Reed with his corn harvest.

Reed fell behind after his wife became seriously ill and was hospitalized approximately two weeks ago.

“We just got to talking about what we could do to help,” said Chris Gordon, one of the organizers for the one-day harvest event. “It’s been a tough harvest for everybody, but you can’t give up and not do it.”

Area farmers donated a day of labor and equipment to help even though many, like Gordon, are not done with their own harvest. Gordon had about 100 acres of his own corn left to harvest Thursday when he took time to help on the Reed property where two combines, an augur cart and multiple trucks were moving the grain out of an 80-acre field north of Oakland, near Walnut Point State Park. Another crew was working a similar size field near Murdoch and there was yet more ground in the Arcola area needing harvest.

“We may not get all of the fields done, but we’ll get a big chunk of it knocked out,” said Gordon, noting one of the limitations is if the elevators close early before the fields are fully harvested.

He explained the elevators have been closing early this harvest because the wet corn coming in requires drying before going into storage and when drying capacity reaches maximum, the elevators cannot accept more until space is freed up.

There was an added kink to this effort so it wasn’t as simple as showing up with the equipment and getting started. Reed plants his corn in 36-inch wide rows, but almost everyone else uses 30-inch rows. As a result, the volunteer had to find the correct size corn heads since those on their own combines cannot work in Reed’s fields.

Gordon said three used corn heads were found at John Davis Implements at Newton. When one broke while harvesting, Birkey’s Implements at Oakland responded and fixed it so the group could keep working.

Other support came from the ADM elevator at Oakland, which supplied lunch and was working with those hauling the grain in to credit Reed’s account. The Farm Bureau assisted in organizing the event, and Gordon said another individual promised to fill the diesel tanks of the combines, tractors and trucks at the end of the day.

“It’s just typical of a small community to help everybody out,” said Gordon. “That’s why I like farming.”