Helping hands

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DORSET, Ohio — Reid Fetters had just finished helping his neighbors with chores when it hit him.

The pain was so intense, so fierce, it took his breath away.

“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Reid said. “I’ve never felt such a headache and I went straight to my knees.”

It was two days after Christmas and besides helping his neighbors, Reid was feeding a small herd of beef cattle on his own farm while trying to harvest his last 150 acres of corn. His snow plow business was in full swing and customers called regularly to buy hay and straw.

At first, Reid and his wife, Camille, thought maybe the pain was just a bad case of the flu. But it wouldn’t go away.

The next day, Reid went to the doctor, who immediately sent him to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Warren. There, Reid found out why he’d had such pain the day before and why he was seeing two of everything.

He’d had a stroke.

Story Continues Below Photos

On Dec. 29, it happened again. Reid, 53, had a second stroke — this one made the entire left side of his body completely numb.

The following day, the farmer was moved to University Hospital in Cleveland. The man who raised 750 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and hay this year couldn’t walk or shower or even speak clearly.

“I could barely feed myself,” Reid said.

The neurologists at the hospital told the Fetterses that Reid had a blockage in his right carotid artery. It couldn’t be corrected surgically, but through medicine, diet and rehabilitation, he could make a full recovery.

“They told him, ‘Do not worry about your corn. We will
get it harvested when weather permits.’”
Camille Fetters

However, there was no telling how long that might take.

At home, Reid’s longtime friends, Tim and Gary Britton, heard what happened and they didn’t waste any time deciding how they could help. The brothers quickly mapped out their idea and asked several other local farmers for assistance.

Then, Gary and two other friends — Bill Marrison and Marc Stringfellow — showed up during Reid’s five-day stay at University Hospital to let him know the farm was in good hands.

“They told him, ‘Do not worry about your corn. We will get it harvested when weather permits,’” Camille said.

On Jan. 19, the three made good on their word. Eighteen friends, five combines, two grain buggies and four semi-trucks took over Fetters’ Farm.

Reid was home by then and watched from a truck as bushel after bushel of corn was hauled off to the local grain elevator.

The crew harvested half the corn that day and came back Feb. 2 to finish the job.

They donated their time and equipment to the project, but they don’t see their effort as anything extraordinary.

“Reid needed help and we helped him,” Gary said. “That’s all it was.”

For some, it was a chance to give back to the Fetterses. Deryl Hamilton, who drove one of the semi-trucks and a combine, had a very simple reason for pitching in.

“He helped me out,” Hamilton said.

Reid acknowledged that without the help, those 150 acres may have fallen by the wayside.

“It would probably still be out there if it had to wait for me,” Reid said.

The farmer’s left side is still numb, but he is on his way to recovery with physical, occupational and speech therapy twice a week at Jefferson Health Care.

He’s ready to be better, but knows that it could be many more months before he’s back on the farm full time.

For now, though, there’s one goal that pushes him forward and gives him the ambition to keep fighting.

He wants to be ready for spring planting.

(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at jskrinjar@farmanddairy.com.)

About the Author

Former reporter Janelle Skrinjar wrote for Farm and Dairy from 2005 to 2009. More Stories by Janelle Skrinjar

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