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Five combines, many farmers come to aid of farm family

Neighbors help bring in the harvest at the Duitsman farm near Spafford, Oct. 13, 2010. (Julie Buntjer/Daily Globe)2 / 2

ROUND LAKE -- Dennis Duitsman pumped his fist in appreciation as a neighboring farmer drove passed with a couple wagon loads of grain Wednesday morning on a minimum maintenance road near Spafford.

The farmer was among nearly 30 neighbors and friends to come to the aid of the Duitsman family after Dennis' dad was hospitalized late last week. Bill Duitsman has long filled the role as load hauler during the harvest season, but this year his health got in the way.

"It's pretty special," an emotional Dennis Duitsman said as the last rows of a 45-acre corn field were gobbled up by a big Case-IH combine. "I'm just overwhelmed -- very overwhelmed with the area farmers."

Duitsman, who owns a plumbing business, said it had been a challenge to combine, haul loads and still do his full-time job, so when neighbor Merle Baumgard realized what was happening, he rounded up some farmers to help.

"There was a lot more people here than I thought we were going to have," said Baumgard.

Five combines made quick work of the field -- getting it harvested in about an hour -- and there were more semis, tractors and wagons than there was grain to fill them.

Baumgard, who drove one of the combines, joked with Duitsman after it was all done, saying, "Just remember now, when I'm 90, you'll be there for me."

And that's what Wednesday morning was all about -- helping a friend and neighbor in need.

"Whenever anybody gets sick, we get a bunch of people together to get a crop out," said Bruce Lubben, who has done something similar three or four times over the years.

Though he has a few days worth of work to get his own corn fields harvested, Lubben didn't think twice about volunteering a few hours of his time to help the Duitsman family.

"It feels good," he said. "Hopefully if something would happen to me, the neighbors would return the favor. It's just an excellent gesture. If you can't ever help a neighbor in time of need, don't ever expect to get help back."

Lubben, along with his brother Arland and nephew Bryce, brought a combine, grain cart and semi to the Duitsman farm, while a number of other families brought combines, grain carts, tractors and wagons.

Mark Yackel-Juleen, minister of Grace Lutheran Church where Bill Duitsman is a parishioner, was excited to see so many people helping out with the harvest.

"I just think it's a wonderful thing when friends and neighbors and fellow Christians come together to help out a neighbor," he said.

Yackel-Juleen was on hand as a gesture of support, but he also relished getting to ride along in a combine for a couple of rounds.

"It's a chance for me to ... meet some of my parishioners in their office," he said with a smile.

Duitsman had so many offers to help with Wednesday's harvest that he had to turn many of them away -- there just wasn't enough work for everyone.

"It's just really something to see guys taking time out of their farming to help," he said, adding that his dad -- expected to be released from the hospital sometime this week -- would have loved to have watched the harvest.

"He really would have appreciated it," Duitsman said. "It's just awesome -- words can't describe it."

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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