Harvest brings heartfelt community support
Farmers help Brewer family after loss of parents
Neighbors harvest 170 acres of soybeans Oct. 6 at the Brewer family’s farm near Albany, Wisconsin. Neighbors poured in to help the Brewers complete the harvest in three hours. PHOTO SUBMITTED
ALBANY, Wis. – A southern Wisconsin farming community came together to help one of their own Oct. 6 as a fellow farm family suffered the devastating loss of both parents to cancer this year. In three hours, neighbors of the Brewer family harvested 170 acres of soybeans with six combines, six semi trucks and four grain carts.
Nearly 75 people poured in from a 10-mile radius to help their beloved neighbor with the soybean harvest. Many hands made light work of the harvest on a sunny, 70-degree day. Some worked in the fields while others came to offer moral support to the family and take in the action. It was a moment that exemplified the generous hearts of the farming community.
Glenn-Ann Holsteins is run by siblings Traci Brewer, Tony Brewer and Tami Brewer-Behnke and Tami’s husband, Brian Behnke near Albany. The Brewers, who milk 40 cows and farm 700 acres, lost their father, Glenn, in February and their mother, Joann, in September.
“This day gave us a chance to reach out to the people who helped us in the last couple months with everything from unloading hay to dropping off food or even helping us at the dairy,” Tami said. “We wanted those people to enjoy the day with us.”
The family’s friend and crop insurance agent, Heather Golz, worked with the Brewers’ seed dealer, Loran Klitzman, as well as Jayson Butts to pull off the event.
“They started putting this together unbeknownst to us,” Tami said.
Recruiting volunteers was easy as the community was eager to help. It was the first harvest without their parents, but farmers rallied around the Brewers and helped harvest the soybean crop in a matter of hours.
“The weather was perfect,” Brian said. “Prior to that Tuesday, we had a couple weeks of rain, and things weren’t drying down. Then all of a sudden on Sunday afternoon, it cleared up. Things dried out on Monday, and by Tuesday it was great. There was no dew in the morning so we could start early.”
After a stretch of bad weather, farmers put their own fields on the backburner to help the Brewers instead.
“It’s hard to even put into words what that meant to us,” Tami said.
With grateful hearts, the Brewer family watched as their fields were harvested, and 10 semi loads were hauled into the local cooperative to sell for feed. Farmers then raked and baled the stalks for bedding.
Tony and his wife, Nicole, have two children, Jaxson, 4, and Kinslee, 2, who love being on the farm and enjoyed seeing all the equipment that day.
“Seeing all those combines together in one space was pretty amazing,” Tami said.
Golz organized a lunch for the crew and friends, and many people stayed and enjoyed beverages with the family until late in the evening.
“It was a pretty emotional day,” Brian said. “We were so thankful for the help, but it was also bittersweet as we all knew why they were here. We’d like to thank Loren, Jayson and Heather for coordinating all of this and bringing it all together and all the farmers who came with their equipment. It was truly appreciated.”
The Brewers do not own a combine and usually rely on a custom harvester for getting the work done – work that Tony said would definitely not be done in a three-hour timeframe. The Brewers said neighbors have also been helpful in answering questions about farming – questions the siblings would have previously taken to their dad.
“It’s been a difficult, challenging year,” Tony said. “We were together every single day, taking care of the farm and even eating meals with each other. My mom and dad worked alongside us each day until they couldn’t anymore.”
Tony’s sisters agreed.
“There’s a big hole in our family right now,” Tami said. “But we are blessed to have friends and neighbors step in to help us.”
It has been a year of heartbreak for the close-knit Brewer family who said goodbye to both parents within a seven-month time period. The day of harvest that took place Oct. 6 was a special way to honor the memory of Glenn and Joann Brewer, who Traci said would be remembered for their giving and supportive nature.
“Mom and Dad were always the first ones wanting to help others, and that’s how we were raised too,” Traci said. “They enjoyed being around family and friends, and they were just really good people. Everybody loved them.”
Knowing that so many in the community have their backs, the Brewers have found solace and support in the generosity of neighbors and friends.
“This is a story of farmers and friends stepping in and helping us through a really tough time, and for that, we’re very grateful,” Tami said.