Community comes together to help injured farm couple
July 16, 2018
When Randy and Mary Jane Fehringer were injured in an auto accident earlier this month, it didn't take long for neighbors to come to their aid.
The Fehringers were hurt in a July 1 highway crash between Sidney, Neb., and their home near Peetz, Colo. That kind of misfortune is bad any time, but this was on the eve of one of the most important times of the year for a Peetz wheat farmer. The Fehringers had 475 acres of ripe wheat in the ground and they were in no condition to harvest it.
Their sons, Justin, a helicopter mechanic, and Sean, who works at the Cabela's Store in Sidney, Neb., figured it would be up to them to get the crop in.
They figured wrong.
"People started calling us not long after it (the accident) happened," Sean said. "I just couldn't believe how many people called, wanting to help."
It's a story as American as the heartland itself; a farm family is in trouble and the community comes together to help.
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On Thursday, July 12, about 30 people, 11 combines and around 10 trucks descended on the two Fehringer farms and made short work of the ripened wheat.
"We had to leave about 150 acres of wet wheat," Sean said "If the weather stays hot and dry, we'll be able to harvest that in a couple of days. It shouldn't take more than a few hours."
Estimates are that about half of the wheat on the Peetz Table is harvested. Sean said unseasonal rain last fall delayed some planting, so those farmers still have to wait for their wheat to ripen.
"Those that got the wheat in the ground before the rains pretty much have theirs harvested now," he said.
Sean said some of the farmers left their own fields sitting to help the Fehringers.
"That's the community we live in," he said. "When a community member goes down, the community just comes together and does what needs to be done."
Sean and Justin organized the volunteers and their equipment into two gangs, one for the north field and one for the south. And the estimate of 30 people doesn't even count the "support troops" who helped with coordinating, fueling and feeding the effort.
"We had a lot of extra hands working behind the scenes," Sean said. "I can't even tell you how many people were involved. It just seemed like the whole community came together."
Sean said he and his family were deeply grateful for the assistance as his parents now can deal with healing and rehabilitation knowing that the crop is in.
"Just please let everybody know how very thankful we are for all of their help," he said. "I just can't stress that enough." ❖
— Rice is a staff writer for the Journal-Advocate in Sterling, Colo. He can be reached at (970) 526-9283 or firstname.lastname@example.org.