The farming community reacts

Oct. 28 – For every grain of corn from the Baker family farm left at Gavilon Grain on Thursday, John Baker likely doubled the number of “thanks” he gave to the volunteers who harvested the fields.

John was told by dozens of people with combines, tractors, grain carts, grain wagons, grain trucks that they would be harvesting the corn within days of the death and funeral of his brother and longtime farming partner, Paul. And if that weren’t enough, other individuals and businesses provided meals for the same volunteers. Paul died on October 20. The funeral took place on Tuesday.

“It’s amazing,” John told Gavilon as he watched the number of grain trucks line up to deliver corn to Gavilon. “I can’t believe friends and neighbors.”

John estimated that at least 25 people volunteered their time and combined to harvest the corn. “The beans were cooked before Paul died.”

John, 63, and Paul have farmed together for decades, still on the family farm and land south of Creston.

“We’re still on the original land,” John said of the family history. “We’ll probably get to 600 acres of corn today.”

As the trucks full of corn went through the unloading process at Gavilon, John did the related paperwork for each load. He greeted the drivers and thanked them for their generosity.

“There’s not a lot of people we don’t know in town,” he said of his Union County roots.

Because of the number of acres and volunteers, people have offered to organize the work. “I couldn’t be in every place at once,” John said. “And we have to put up a stop sign,” he said, laughing at the extra traffic for the harvest.

Paul was born on July 17, 1956 to Mary and Dennis Baker in Creston. Paul was a 1974 graduate of Creston High School and earned an agricultural business degree from Southwestern Community College. He married Lynn Keenan and the two farmed and remained in Union County throughout their marriage. They have two daughters.

John said not every acre of corn was meant to be harvested by the volunteers. It wouldn’t be a fall without him in a combine.

“I have things I want to do,” he said.

Sam D. Gomez