farmers harvest
Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
December 26, 2023 ·  4 min read

Farmers Come Together to Harvest for a Neighbor who Suffered a Heart Attack

Farmers are icons of hard work. They have to be. They have to endure everything nature could throw at them. Infestations to droughts to storms to injuries to broken equipment, and every way possible way things could go wrong seem fixed on trying to cripple the harvest. Farmers are true survivors for living year-to-year to provide sustenance for the rest of the world. 

However, one farmer was hit with a calamity that could have ruined his entire harvest: a heart attack. His fellow local farmers came to save the day. They harvested all of his hard-earned produce while he recovered in the hospital. 

Read: Why Independent Farming in America Is Close to Extinction

Farmers Come Together to Help a Friend in Need 

Lane Unhjem farmed durum wheat and canola near Crosby, North Dakota. Things were business as usual until his combine caught fire. As he struggled to put it out, he began experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack. 

He knew that his body was being plagued by something worse than the stress of fighting the fire, and he was rushed to the hospital. While his condition stabilized, his crops in Crosby waited to be harvested to no avail. 

Until the local farmers picked up on the problem. They banded together to pick up the loose ends of Unhjem’s work. One of the farmers involved, Don Anderson, shared the deed on Facebook

“Approximately 40 to 50 farmers, driving combines, pulling grain carts, driving semis and various other harvest related items, converged on the Unhjem farmstead and they will take care of harvest for Lane and his family today,” Anderson shared about a week ago. “I believe there was about a dozen combines involved.” [1] 

KFYR-TV reports that about 60 farmers, 15 semis11 combines, and six grain carts showed up to help. Together, they completed the harvest across 1,000 acres in just seven hours. They also hauled 714 bales in just under four hours. [2] 

Read: Want to double world food production? Return the land to small farmers.

Helping a Fellow Out

Jenna Binde, a family friend, was among the first of three people to organize a group to help out the family. However, as she explained, she didn’t need to do much rallying. Once the news began to spread, more and more people arrived to help. She didn’t even need to call anyone herself. 

“I talked to a couple of farmers, got their equipment, and then other people just started calling and we had equipment offered from all over the place in the county, and their workers to go with it,” she said. 

You reap what you sow! Thats the old saying that can apply to a lot of things in life. Well, today it has a two fold…

Posted by Don Anderson on Saturday, September 12, 2020

“Everybody knows the Unhjems, and they’re good people and good in the community, and just kind of the farming way of life too. You help your neighbor out when they need it, and don’t expect anything in return.” [3] 

There were volunteers for the volunteers; a secondary group cooked a large meal for everyone who helped with the farming. 

Binde said, “The volunteers that came that day did more than just volunteer their time. They all had their own fields to still harvest but they selflessly put that behind them and made the Unhjems a priority that day.” 

“It saved the family a lot of headache and frustration of trying to figure out how they would get their crops off without Lane or a combine,” she said. “It was a pretty remarkable day and I was so happy to be apart of it.” 

She added that the family was blown away by all the support.  

Read: How One Man Turned His Backyard Garden Into a Full-Fledged Community Farmers Market

Supporting the Unhjem Family  

Unhjem was flown to Minot where he remains in a stable condition. However, he has a long way before he fully recovers.  

“The Unhjems have a beautiful crop that will be safe in the bins today, and more importantly they have the comfort of knowing that they have a community of friends that are helping, praying and doing whatever they can to help them get through this tough time,” Anderson added in his post. 

“What a great sense of pride we can all have knowing that when we face something like this, we’re not alone.”  

“This is just what we do around here when someone in our community is in need of help,” said Binde. “What seems completely normal and natural to us here, unfortunately isn’t the case across the nation. I hope others read this story and forget about all the turmoil going on currently and just remember to lend a hand when needed and expect nothing in return. If we could all just do that, we’d be in a better place.” [4]  

We hope that Unhjem can rest now that all the work is done and focus on his recovery. Surviving a heart attack is not a simple experience. All the best to him and his family! Although you can’t join the harvest, you can support the family during this difficult time through their Go Fund Me

[1] Don Anderson. Facebook

[2] “ND farmers finish neighbor’s harvest after heart attack.” Aleisa Tanner. KFYR-TV. September 14, 2020 

[3] “After a farmer suffered a heart attack, his neighbors banded together to harvest his crops.” Marika Gerken. CNN. September 19, 2020 

[4] “When a farmer suffered a heart attack, 60 neighbors showed up to help out on his farm.” Caitlin O’Kane. CBS News. September 21, 2020