“On Feb. 27 I was checking one of our cows that had just calved to see if it was nursing. All of the sudden the calf gave a giddy-up buck, and for some reason that set the cow off. I was just five feet from the cow and she hit me down on the first blow and just kept on after me. The result of that was me breaking my back,” Nord said.
Following his broken back, Nord tested positive for COVID-19. Then just a few weeks ago, he had his gallbladder removed.
“He’s really been through the wringer these past months,” said Dan Erdmann, program manager for Farm Rescue.
Farm Rescue volunteer Tom Meyer drives a tractor while planting corn for Robert Nord on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, south of Fargo. C.S. Hagen / The Forum
Nord is on the receiving end of Farm Rescue’s help this planting season. A crew on Wednesday, May 5, was on hand at one of Nord's fields in North Dakota, not far from Wolverton, to get his corn
“Farm Rescue is a nonprofit organization and we’re dedicated to extending the livelihoods and legacies of family farms,” Erdmann said. “The sole purpose of us coming in is for us to help with an illness, injury or natural disaster just to keep them doing what they love to do and hopefully keep that operation going for the long-term.”
Farm Rescue program manager Dan Erdmann on Robert Nord's farm on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, near Kindred, N.D. Farm Rescue helped Nord and his family plant hundreds of acres of corn and soybeans because Nord has recently suffered injuries and illnesses. C.S. Hagen / The Forum
Farm Rescue helps farmers and ranchers with an abundance of tasks that need to be done on the farm, such as assisting with planting and harvesting, and feeding livestock.
“Farm Rescue’s goal is to come in and get them through that short-term crisis and hopefully get them ready for the next season,” Erdmann said.
That means a lot to Nord, whose operation includes corn, soybeans, alfalfa and a registered herd of Angus cattle.
Farm Rescue helped Robert Nord plant corn and soybeans on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, on the farm his family has owned since 1904. Since February, he's suffered a broken back from an angry Black Angus protecting her newborn calf, contracted COVID-19 and had gall bladder surgery. C.S. Hagen / The Forum
“It’s hard to put words together for what it means to us. It’s a blessing,” Nord said. “It’s a great stress reliever knowing it's getting in and it's getting in on time. It’s wonderful.”
Farm Rescue was founded in 2005 in North Dakota. However, the volunteer-led organization is now present in seven states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Montana and, most recently, Kansas.
The organization has volunteers from 49 states and all different walks of life. From pastors to pilots, veterans and law enforcement and even a rocket scientist, the volunteers are all called to help farm families in crisis.
Farm Rescue volunteer Tom Meyer sits in the swiveling "command arm" of a tractor while planting corn on Robert Nord's farm on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, south of Fargo. "Feel's like Captain Kirk," Meyer said of the tractor's cabin. C.S. Hagen / The Forum
“It’s the volunteers that are truly the lifeblood of what we do,” Erdmann said. “Farm Rescue is very much a needed program. Operations nowadays are getting bigger, and there's fewer farmers to tackle those acres. It's harder nowadays for neighbors and friends to come in to help out with that, simply because they have their own acreage and work of their own to tackle.”
A look through the sideview mirror while planting corn on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, on Robert Nord's fields south of Fargo. C.S. Hagen / The Forum
Farm Rescue helps on average 50 to 75 farmers and ranchers each year, helping over 700
since the organization’s birth. Farm Rescue relies heavily on referrals, as many farmers and ranchers do not like to ask for assistance, even in their times of need.
“All of us farmers and ranchers don’t want to take any help from anyone else; even when we’re offered help, we incline to not even take up some of the help. But I would strongly encourage you that if you’re in this situation to please look at it. That's what they’re here for, and it's a great organization,” Nord said.