One more foot and Harold would have been pulled into the silo blower. Jimmy stopped a bad thing from happening.
Harvest time is coming fast upon the farmland of the country. It has been a tough season with the late spring, the overabundance of moisture and the sagging commodity prices. But, harvest will come no matter what happens.
Machinery is being repaired and replaced as this column is written. Harvest was always one of my favorite times of the year. The time of year when a farmer's efforts were rewarded by grain coming to the bins. After avoiding hail, drought, wind storms and floods, corn and soybeans would be brought to the farmyard to be sold or used as feed. Some years were better than others.
And, along with harvest came the dangers that are always present. I had several relatives who were devoid of fingers or arms as a result of farm accidents. Laboring far into the night was tiring and we knew that an errant slip or grab could result in a missing limb or worse.
One of our neighbors had lost both hands and one arm up to the elbow due to reaching into a running machine when it would have been better to have pulled the machine out of gear.
We had a device on our farm that was called a "speed jack." The contraption looked like death warmed over as it rattled there on the ground with several exposed gears churning. The machine was used to raise the front end of wagons to make unloading ear corn a more pleasant experience.
Our John Deere Model "B" tractor was belted to the end of a long tumbling rod that turned at ground level and looked like it wanted to grab any farm kid who ventured too close with ragged threads hanging down from his jeans. My dad had just a simple warning to those of us who worked around these danger zones.
He simply said, "Don't get caught in those things. They will kill you."
We took his advice seriously and none of us ever got tangled up. I look back at that time and wonder how we came away not missing a part of our anatomy.
The nearest I ever saw a man almost lose his life came one year while we were chopping corn silage and filling our upright silo. It had been a long day and we were in a hurry to get the last loads of silage unloaded and blown up into the silo before a rain.
Our neighbor, Harold, was in charge of unloading the wagons that day. His partner was a muscular young man named Jimmy. Jimmy was known for his strength in the neighborhood and had arm wrestled his way to prominence at the country gas station just down the road. Those muscles saved Harold.
Before the wagon end gate was opened the silage blower was started and the chains of the feeder bed started to move. In an unwise move, Harold stuck his hand under the feeder chain to check its tension. As the chain moved forward toward the running blower a chain tightener drew the chain down and across Harold's upturned hand. Harold was going to be fed into the blower.
We moved quickly to try to help him get out in time. That was when Jimmy came running over, hearing our yells, and without hesitation he grabbed the big farmer around the shoulders and yanked him out of the chain about a foot from the churning blower. Harold's hand didn't look good, but was still attached.
We all sat on the ground shaking and thankful that Jimmy had the strength to keep this accident from happening. It could have been a very bad day.
I think of that day as I see the combines and other machinery heading for the fields in the upcoming weeks. Farmers have battled about everything they could this past season and they don't need such an accident to end their year. Farming has been called the most dangerous occupation. Without Jimmy being on the scene that day, it would have been fatal one on our farm.
Be careful out there on the farmland. A missed step could kill you. Dad's advice still rings in my ear.
See you next time. Okay?