Harvesting the crops on thousands of acres of farmland is tiring, time-consuming work.
But when a farmer from Ritzville, Washington, was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma and found himself unable to get his work done on his own, the other farmers in his area came together and selflessly added some extra work on top of their own—just to make sure that their neighbor didn’t have to struggle any longer.
It was only February when Ritzville resident Larry Yockey received his cancer diagnosis. At first, he had hoped to be able to get his 1,200-acre farm harvested without turning to others to do the work for him.
Amazing photos from Garret as the farming community comes together to help harvest Ritzville farmer Larry Yockey's wheat…
But his cancer was so advanced that it had spread throughout his body, he revealed. “The cancer has spread to my bones, so I have a broken hip and ribs,” he told KREM Channel 2.
He finally had to admit to his friends in the area that the work wasn’t something he could get done.
“I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to harvest like I did in years past,” Yockey said. “I finally had to tell them, ‘No.’”
These are a couple of the about 60 farmers that are helping a neighbor harvest his 1200 acre field.
Larry Yockey was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and has been unable to harvest his field.
So this team of neighbors is doing 3 weeks of work in about 6 hours. pic.twitter.com/ShTFopb904
— Shayna Waltower (@KREMShaynaW) July 28, 2019
As soon as he told his friends that he was too ill to work, though, Yockey was informed that there was nothing to worry about. And for the next three months, a group of 60 farmers from the rural Washington region planned out how they would pull off an incredible day of work.
Neighbor Mike Doyle said that none of the crew even hesitated when they learned that Yockey wasn’t going to be able to harvest his own crops. And by July 29th, the group had banded together with dozens of 18-wheelers and wheat combines brought from their own fields, determined to get about three weeks’ worth of work done—all in the span of about six hours.
— WGXA (@WGXAnews) August 1, 2019
It took an unbelievable amount of support, but the farming community showed just how quickly they believe in stepping up to help a friend in need. Dozens of workers arrived during the day to make sure that Yockey’s crop yield wouldn’t go to waste, leaving their friend completely amazed by their kindness on display.
“It’s just awe-inspiring to see how fast these fields are evaporating now,” he said. “Just gratitude. It’s not describable the gratitude I have for what’s going on.”
The story quickly went viral as people embraced the clear kindness on display out in Yockey’s fields, but some rural-area social media users pointed out that city-dwelling consumers of the story can’t quite understand just how impactful and immense the gesture was.
And it’s true; while it’s incredible to think about how much effort has to go into getting three weeks’ worth of work done in just six hours, it’s hard to truly grasp that scale when thinking about it in hard labor hours instead of relating it to a desk job.
For Yockey, this got his crops harvested in a way that didn’t physically exert him during his treatment. But beyond that, the stress relief that it likely provided may be an even bigger game changer; by making sure that his livelihood was taken care of, his friends and neighbors allowed him to focus exclusively on his treatment for a little bit. That kind of gift is hard to even fathom.