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Farm Rescue helps injured Fullerton man

John M. Steiner / The Sun Members of the Janssen family, from left, Jannene and Don, parents of Larry, and his wife, Angel, share a happy moment Thursday while talking about the farm that is located near Fullerton. Farm Rescue is assisting the family with their haying after Larry injured his arm.2 / 3
John M. Steiner / The Sun William Rudolphi, from Champaign, Ill., is a volunteer for Farm Rescue. He is pictured here after baling hay for Larry and Angel Janssen who live near Fullerton.3 / 3

FULLERTON, N.D.—A late-season injury had a Fullerton farmer scrambling to find help to cut 150 acres of hay.

Larry and Angel Janssen say they don't know who called on their behalf, but they were grateful when the nonprofit Farm Rescue called to say that equipment and volunteers were on its way.

The call to welcome the Janssens to apply came on July 1, and following some due diligence work by Farm Rescue, the call to approve assistance with volunteer labor, equipment and fuel came on July 15.

According to the organization's website, farmrescue.org, Farm Rescue was started in 1995 by North Dakota native Bill Gross and provides planting, harvesting and haying assistance free of charge to family farmers who have suffered a major injury, illness or natural disaster.

The work in Fullerton started last Friday and by Thursday volunteers had finished their haying at the Janssen farm.

"It's something that we started last year," said Stephen McKitrick, Farm Rescue volunteer coordinator, referring to adding haying to the kinds of support it offers. "We had cleared ranchers' livestock before, but with this program we were able to extend outreach into some areas where we saw some need."

Haying support has been fairly well accepted, McKitrick said.

"There are not a lot of hay cases, which means that somebody's not getting hurt, and that is good," he said.

Larry said he didn't have the resources to hire work done.

"There was a lot less stress," Angel said, before Farm Rescue arrived. "Now he (Larry) doesn't have to worry about finding help to get it done."

Larry, who lost his left arm to a baler accident in 1995, had to have surgery this spring to repair tendons in his right arm.

"He hurt his arm once before two years ago," Angel said. "Now he tore his tendons while lifting calves. We run 200 head of cow-calf pairs."

It will be another three weeks before Larry can take off the sling and longer yet to do his physical therapy. He wants to work but doesn't want to reinjure the arm.

"The second time around is worse," Larry said. "If you rip a tendon or a muscle again then they might staple it and then go in again and remove the staples."

Friends also helped with tasks during the past week. Gary Klein handled the mowing, and Donny Peterson did a lot of baling.

It was the mowing that saved the alfalfa, said William Rudolphi, the Farm Rescue volunteer who showed up after a semitrailer was dropped at the property with a John Deere 569 baler and a 6170R tractor from the sponsoring company, RDO Equipment Co.

If the alfalfa had not been mowed then it would not have dried as easy after raining, Larry said. If it is wet then it cannot be baled or it will mold.

"We were lucky to have the helpers," Rudolphi said. "We've had exceptional weather and I don't believe we could have predicted that we would have done this in five days."

Although he is from Champaign, Ill., Rudolphi got the call from Farm Rescue while he was in Seattle. He went to work on Friday and continued through Thursday with two rain days.

It was 20 years ago on Wednesday when Larry said he lost his left arm while baling alfalfa on a California farm. He had left home to try various occupations in other states before the injury.

After recovering, Larry said he wound up in Sidney, Mont., where he met Angel, and the two settled down until Larry's parents, Don and Jannene Janssen, asked them to return to the farm and help out in 2008. Don retired in 2011 and the couple now live in LaMoure.

"We're very proud of Larry," Jannene said.

Don bought the 750-acre farm in 1963. He now leases land to corn growers while Larry uses the remaining acreage for grazing land.

McKitrick, of Colorado Springs, Colo. was raised on a farm and was wounded while serving in the Middle East with the U.S. Army. He was a logistics specialist and found that his farming background and organizing skills were a good fit with Farm Rescue.

Farmers are independent and when faced with a situation are more likely to be referred to Farm Rescue by friends than themselves, he said. Volunteers drive from surrounding states or across the country to work a few days or even a few weeks at a time.

Around 880 Farm Rescue volunteers assisted more than 300 farms through 2014. This year began with 22 spring planting cases in Eastern Montana, North and South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota.

"You can hear the relief in their voices when we call to say the case was approved and are sending resources their way," McKitrick said. "That is really rewarding."

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