A Harvest Made Possible By Caring Neighbors

Family and friends come together to help a farmer in need.

By Jeff Caldwell

Galva, Ill., farmer Carl Bates needed a helping hand.

Galva, Ill., farmer Carl Bates needed a helping hand.

Galva, Ill., farmer Carl Bates needed a helping hand. Instead, he got 80, maybe more. There were too many to count, especially considering how busy all the hands were helping Carl and his family with his harvest.

After word got out that Carl received a terminal cancer diagnosis this past fall, his neighbors, friends and family came together to bring in his 450 acres of corn. “Dad was just wondering what they should do, and he and a couple of neighbors decided they would get together and take out all of Carl’s crop at once,” says Eric Bates, Carl’s cousin.

“Everybody else heard what was going on and came over, whether they brought a combine or semi or grain cart. It just exploded,” continues Eric, whose father, Dan, has farmed with Carl for decades.

“It went from being just a few people to being 10 combines, 12 grain carts and 16 semis. Four hundred and fifty acres of corn in one day. It was amazing.”

Carl was there in the field. It wasn’t the best day for him health-wise, but he and his family were worried about getting the corn crop out of the field. Though a little shy about the event and the attention it garnered at first, the family has been “amazed” by how the community has come together for a higher purpose, says Eric, himself a salesman at local AGCO dealer A.C. McCartney Farm Equipment.

Carl Bates with grandchildren Ava, Grady and Griffin.

Carl Bates with grandchildren Ava, Grady and Griffin.

“[Carl] tried to stay as much as he could that day. He wanted to thank the guys. There were some people choked up at the end, but everybody was in pretty good spirits. Everything went pretty flawlessly,” Eric says.

“All these people have known each other for years. They grew up together. Everybody took a little pride in doing the job. They wanted to help the family out.”

Editor’s Note: We’re sad to report Carl Bates passed away in early November, 2015. We extend our sympathies to his family and friends.