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Nearly 60 Neighbors Band Together To Harvest Crop for Farmer Battling Stage 4 Cancer

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Farmers are a special breed of people.

They live and die by the land, staking everything on good weather and a good growing season. And few other professions are as manual or as dependent on conditions entirely outside mankind’s control as farming is.

But farmers are crucial.

Without them, no one else would be able to function. They are the backbone of society, and while they work quietly in their fields, out of sight, sometimes a story bubbles to the surface and demands recognition.

One such story revolves around struggling farmer Larry Yockey. At 63 years of age, the fourth-generation farmer is not only battling the elements to grow fields of wheat on his 1,200-acre farm, but also fighting stage 4 skin cancer.

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Fellow farmers in the Ritzville, Washington, area saw their companion’s struggle, and they decided to pitch in to do something wonderful for him in late July 2019.

Harvesting his crop this year would’ve taken Yockey three weeks — weeks that could be spent resting and being with family.

But it took nearly 60 of his caring neighbors just six hours.

Miles Pfaff, who was present that day, wrote a touching post on Facebook describing the “Harvest Bee” that took place.

“Farmers don’t quit,” he wrote. “They don’t retire. They’re tough. Even when told they’re quite sick, they still lace up their boots, throw on that ball cap, and go out and farm as long as their bodies will allow. Day in and day out. They know no different. It’s their land, their livelihood, it’s what they care for, and it’s everything to them.

“But there comes a time when farmers do quit. They quit what they’re doing, put aside their own obligations, their weekends, when one of their own needs help. They donate their time, their diesel, and their equipment. They do whatever it takes to ensure a fellow farmer can finish his harvest and get the crops in. The crops he’s worked all year, tirelessly for.

“And when this happens we call it a Harvest Bee. And it’s not just the farmers, it’s the local volunteer firemen with their fire trucks, the chemical company with their dust defeating water trucks, and their mechanics with their service rigs. It’s rare sight. A tangible, palpable feeling and environment. And it’s living, breathing proof that community, compassion, and goodwill still exist.”

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“Here’s to the farmers who put their life on hold today. Those who didn’t think twice when asked to help. And likely never will.”

Another farmer who pitched in, Mike Doyle, said that he was simply happy to do what needed to be done, according to CBS.

“I’m just glad to be here and help where I can and where I’m needed,” he said.

Yockey was left speechless as dozens of machines and operators rolled onto his property, ready and willing to help him harvest his massive crop.

“It’s not describable the gratitude I have for what’s going on,” the overwhelmed farmer said.

And the buck won’t stop with Larry Yockey, as his daughter Amanda plans to carry on her family’s tradition of living off the land.

“I plan to be the fifth generation out farming our grounds some day,” she said, “so yesterday we had a few moments that were bittersweet for the both of us.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking