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Neil and Debra Schott pose in front of some of the Farm Rescue equipment that helped harvest soybeans on their Alfred, N.D., area farm. Neil Schott had open heart surgery earlier this fall. Submitted photo / Ann Knecht

Farm Rescue aids Alfred, ND, farmer with soybean harvest

ALFRED, N.D.—Neil Schott, a farmer near Alfred, said he kept feeling worse as the growing season progressed and his crops matured.

"Started having problems this summer," he said. "I went in for a stress test, and that didn't get me off the hook."

Not doing well on a stress test resulted in bypass surgery about 5 1/2 weeks ago. The timing of the surgery fell after he had harvested the wheat but before his soybean crop was mature, so he looked to Farm Rescue for some help.

"They're a good organization that has kept in touch with us," Schott said. "It really takes some of the stress off a person to have them step in."

Levi Wielenga, operations manager for Farm Rescue, said the organization has harvested between 8,000 and 9,000 acres this fall across a three-state area but hasn't been immune to the delays caused by the wet weather during the past three weeks.

"The wet weather has slowed us down big time," he said. "It's the whole region. While it was wet, there wasn't one client we could help because the fields were too wet all across the region."

According to its website, Farm Rescue's mission is to help farmers and ranchers who have experienced a major illness, injury or natural disaster by providing the necessary equipment and manpower to plant, hay or harvest their crop. Livestock feeding assistance is also available to ranchers. Farm Rescue helps farm and ranch families in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska and Iowa.

Even with a few days of drying conditions, harvesting soybeans is still difficult.

"The beans are dry, but the ground isn't," Wielenga said. "This is a hard year for soybeans."

Schott said there will be some areas that are still too wet for harvest while Farm Rescue is at his farm. He will combine those areas with the help of family as the fields dry out after the Farm Rescue crew leaves. Some family has been working alongside the Farm Rescue crew along with Schott, who continues to recover from the heart surgery.

"They (Farm Rescue) are a great asset, and for some it's a lifesaver," Schott said, referring to farmers who don't have family available to help during times of illness. "The other options are hiring people, and that can be difficult."

Wielenga said Farm Rescue has about 20 farmers on its client list this fall. They've completed work on most with five or six farms yet to go.

"We'll be working until the middle of November," he said.

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