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Kevin Schwader, 38, broke his leg in March when he was doing a routine check of his cows. Farm Rescue is assisting him by cutting and baling his field. (Katherine Clayton/Republic)

At it again: Farm Rescue helps Howard, S.D., farmer with broken leg

HOWARD — Thanks to the assistance of one national organization, a broken leg hasn't broken one farmer's spirit.

On March 17, Howard farmer Kevin Schwader, 38, found himself trapped beneath a four-wheeler, leaving him with a broken leg.

"I jumped off to prevent it from falling on me," Schwader said. "And I should have let it fall on me."

Unable to bear any weight on his leg until recently, Schwader has been incapable of cutting and baling his hayfield since the incident.

That's when Farm Rescue swooped in to save the day.

Schwader was recommended anonymously to Farm Rescue, an organization established in 2006 to assist farm families who have experienced a major injury, illness or natural disaster.

Its mission is "to assist these farmers in unexpected crisis so they continue viable operations," said Carol Wielenga, operations director of Farm Rescue.

And Schwader fit the bill.

Volunteers from Farm Rescue came to the farm on Monday and starting cutting the hay so it could be baled. The five members of the Wielenga family came to Schwader's farm on Tuesday and have been staying in their camper as they complete the baling of the field.

According to Wielenga, Farm Rescue has helped over 374 families since its inception. This year, they have the capacity to help 50 families.

Carol's husband, Levi Wielenga, was one of the volunteers in Howard this week. Levi spends most of his days in Sioux City, Iowa as a locomotive engineer, but he found himself in Howard this week during his sixth year as a volunteer for Farm Rescue.

"Running trains is my paid hobby, and running tractors is my unpaid hobby," Levi said.

Levi, who was raised on a farm near Sioux Center, Iowa, enjoys the opportunity to get back to farming. He said he feels "tied to the land" when he assists farmers through the challenging times in their lives.

While Kevin Schwader is thankful for the assistance from Farm Rescue, he said he has mixed emotions about needing help from others.

"You're frustrated at yourself you can't do it," he said. "It's very hard to watch somebody drive your stuff."

However, he said it is "amazing" that the Farmers Rescue are willing to help him, and his wife is glad that she does not have to complete all of the tasks around the farm including baling, calving and all of the other daily responsibilities.

"At first, (Kevin) wanted me to do it all and I've never done any of this before," said Ashley Schwader. "I am very grateful and we couldn't have done it without them."

This is the second year that Kevin Schwader has had other people help out on his cow-calf farm. Last year, he had open heart surgery to replace one of the valves in his heart. His neighbors and family helped to maintain his farm by feeding his cows and assisting with calving as he recovered.

After two challenging years, Schwader is appreciative for the assistance on the farm.

"It's hard to see done, but it needs to get done," Schwader said. "It's a relief. It wouldn't get done in a timely fashion if it weren't for Farm Rescue."