Harvest help three-fold

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, farm people are some of the best around.

I’ve written numerous stories about and photographed when the neighbors and total strangers came through for a family in their time of need to harvest, plant or do work when disaster hits.

A message popped up recently on my Facebook from a friend, and honestly, a family member. Her dad and my father-in-law were cousins. Her dad died May 21 very unexpectedly. Now we’re all part of that dreaded club where we’ve lost a parent. Their farm work is tended by one of Chris’ four daughters, but it still left her in a bit of a bind to bring this year’s wheat crop in.

Her mom was surprised by a neighbor’s offer to come help cut the wheat on their farm. Kristie wanted me to document. Without a hesitation I replied, “Sure!” My oldest son and I were out the door in a matter of minutes with camera bag in tow.

Now, I never know the right words to say when someone suffers a loss. Whether it be a person, animal, farm or ranch or what ever it may be. But one thing I do know how to do is use my camera. Words don’t always come quickly but the camera can help show what I’m feeling or the feeling in the field. Luckily we were able to document the event and have some keepsakes for the Enlow family.

After I’d posted a couple photos to my social media, a former coworker, Rod Swafford, messaged me and told of a story from his childhood. It was 1957 or ’58 and a local farmer (ironically not far from where the Enlows and I both call home) had gotten sick because of some sort of chemical exposure. Unfortunately, it had happened at a time when the wheat needed to come out of the field. Rod thought there had to have been 18 or 19 combines in the 80 acre field that day, and I would imagine it left quite the impression on a 10-year old boy at the time. He said all the farm wives cooked up a heck of a meal. I’m picturing fried chicken and all the fixings.

He thought there was a photo somewhere and gave me the name of the photographer. I sure hope I can find it. The ironic thing about his story though was Chris’ dad Cressie was one of the combines who came to help.

Even in the rush of harvest, there are neighbors and kind people who will stop what they’re doing and come help someone else. Maurice Bleumer and his crew stopped what they were doing and helped their neighbors across the road last week and I’m sure there was enough help to go around and make it a quick pit stop on their own harvest adventures.

I told my older sister about the photo. She works at the Kansas Heritage Center in Dodge City and she had some time to research it. Although she didn’t find an image from the 50s, she instead found another farmer helping farmer instance in the 70s. Again, the Enlows and Bleumers were there to help. Funny how things come full circle.

So glad we have good neighbors in my part of the world.