Farmer Hit with Stage 4 Cancer, So Neighbors Grab Their Combines and Get to Work
In the world of farming, one devastating harvest can undo the work of generations. One Washington state farmer faced the prospect of no harvest at all — until his neighbors rolled up in their own equipment.
When Larry Yockey was hit with a diagnosis of stage 4 melanoma earlier this year, the farmer became less and less able to get outside and work in his fields.
“The cancer has spread to my bones, so I have a broken hip and ribs,” Yockey told KREM.
Injuries like that would put anyone on the sideline, but they can be devastating for a farmer. Even work in the comfort of a tractor cab can become excruciating with hip injuries.
As Yockey’s choices became slimmer, he came closer to the possibility of not harvesting his crops at all.
“I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to harvest like I did in years past,” he said. Yockey finally had to tell neighbors that he didn’t plan on bringing in his wheat that year.
For the three months leading up to harvest season, the families surrounding the cancer-stricken farmer began collecting supplies and finding crews. Leaving a neighbor and fellow farmer in pain while the fruits of his labor rotted away was simply not an option for this group.
“I wasn’t hesitating a bit,” one of the neighbors said of the operation.
When the time came for the harvest last month, Yockey was floored by his neighbors’ response.
Roughly 60 farmers shows up to Yockey’s 1,200-acre wheat field, geared up with 18-wheelers and wheat combines. Although there was over three weeks’ worth of work in the field, the group was able to make short work of it, finishing everything in 6 hours.
Video from a local news station shows the scale of the operation.
“It’s just awe-inspiring to see how fast these fields are evaporating now,” Yockey said. “It’s not describable the gratitude I have for what’s going on.”
Fortunately for this farmer, his neighbors’ actions saved him heartache and financial worries for the time being.
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