Day that Went Awry

Stuck in the mud

Bemboom buries skid loader


GILMAN, Minn. — Drier-than-normal conditions made for the ideal situation for Ron Bemboom to clean up a section of pasture that goes through a swamp — or so he thought.

Bemboom and his son, Shawn, milk 70 cows near Gilman.

They have been renting pasture ground for Shawn’s herd of beef cattle and farming the land that surrounds the pasture. A section of fence in the pasture needed to be replaced.

With the warmer temperatures, March 11 seemed like an ideal day to tackle the project.

“We figured since it is dry and the ground should be frozen, it should work to push out the old fence and clear room for a new fence,” Bemboom said.

To increase their chances of success, the duo borrowed a skid loader with tracks from Shawn’s father-in-law. Bemboom drove the skid loader to the rented ground 1 mile down the road and started the job by cleaning up the pasture ground.

“Everything was going just fine,” Bemboom said. “Then, I noticed some standing water I thought should be frozen. So, I did another big push, and I slid into the water. I tried to back out, but the skid loader just dug deeper in the rut.”

The skid loader started to tip to the side as it got hung up on the uneven ground. The sensors kicked in and automatically turned the skid loader off. With the bucket of the skid loader halfway in the air, the door could not be opened, locking Bemboom inside.

“Luckily, I had my cell phone with me, and I called Shawn,” Bemboom said. “He brought a tractor and chain. He was able to tip me back upright but had to go back home and get another tow strap to pull me out.”

With Bemboom still in the skid loader and Shawn in the CASE IH 2294 about 80 feet away, the duo tried for an hour to get the skid loader unstuck. The ground where the skid loader and Bemboom sat was rough, but where Shawn and the tractor sat was smooth and frozen, making it hard for Shawn to get traction and enough force to pull the skid loader out.

 “We finally got it unstuck, but when we were pulling it out, the track started to fall off,” Bemboom said. “It was completely full of mud.”

With little track skid loader experience, the father-son team called a friend, Charlie Lentener, to help them with the track.

“It took a couple of hours to get the skid loader track back on and cleaned up to be able to present to the father-in-law once again,” Bemboom said. “It wasn’t my skid loader, and it was one of those situations where everything happened just right so everything that could go wrong did go wrong.”

Bemboom’s eventful day was not over yet. Once everything was cleaned and addressed, Bemboom went home for supper. As soon as he walked in the house, his wife, Amy, said she had bad news. Their 6-month-old puppy had broken his leash and run away.

The Bembooms put down their old farm dog a year ago, and last summer, a family friend gave them a puppy, Bear. The young Bear is still learning about farm boundaries.

“We looked in all the sheds, barns and calf huts,” Bemboom said. “We were about ready to give up and say we will have to just wait for him to come home when Amy said she was going to drive around town to look for him. I didn’t think he would go that far.”

The Bembooms farm is on the edge of town, and after driving a few blocks down the road, Amy found Bear sitting in front of the liquor store. She opened the car door, Bear jumped in, and the two went home.

“When Amy told me where she found him, I said, ‘With the day I had, I should be the one standing in front of the liquor store,’” Bemboom said.

At the end of the day, the skid loader was clean, in working condition and back with Shawn’s father-in-law, and Bear was home safe and sound.

“Thinking about it later, I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have my cell phone,” Bemboom said. “How long would I have had to sit there until someone found me?”

In the days since the incident, Bemboom learned why that spot in the pasture was always left alone.

“Now I know where not to drive,” Bemboom said. “The people that own the pasture said they always meant to tell me to never go down in that spot because there is a natural spring, so the ground is always soft and doesn’t completely freeze over. They had gotten stuck there before too.”


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