October 22, 2021

Farmers band together after death to harvest man’s crops

BRIDGEWATER — Roger Jensen, Bridgewater area farmer, said that in Iowa, it’s just what you do when someone’s in need: you come to help.

That’s the resounding message of what happened in a handful of soybean fields south of Bridgewater Tuesday, Oct. 5.

Ernest “Ernie” Dunn, 66, passed away July 5. He’s remembered as a loving husband to Mary, a father and grandfather, but also a farmer.

Dunn’s obituary read that he had a strong work ethic and was dedicated for his entire life in his family, his farming and his friendships.

Those virtues all came full circle in an effort of Dunn’s entire neighborhood last week as they came together to harvest his soybean crop. In a few weeks, they’ll come back and harvest his cornfields.

In all, seven combines, six or seven tractors and grain carts and six semi trucks were on hand, operated by Dunn’s family and friends, to finish off about 200 acres of soybeans in approximately five hours’ time.

Jensen, with Dunn’s brother-in-law Brian Christensen, were instrumental in organizing the day’s work.

Christensen said that it hasn’t been uncommon through the years for the local farming community to come help someone in need harvest their fields. It’s been done for a farmer who broke his arm, one who broke his leg, one who had cancer, and Christensen and Mary Dunn’s father, Wilbur, when he had appendicitis in the 1970s. That’s how Mary and Ernie met.

“If you know the history of that area, people have been doing that for 50 or 60 years. When a tragedy happens in these certain times of the year, especially harvest, it’s a given that the community asks if they can help,” Christensen said.

Workers gathered for lunch just before noon on Tuesday. At noon sharp, the work began.

FNB Bank provided the lunch to those who helped with the soybean harvest. Representatives of the bank on hand to serve the lunch were Mark Amdor, Joe Platt, Todd Jones and Tony Mensing.

“As soon as the bank found out, they set up to feed all of them,” Dunn said. “They just called, said they’d bring their food. It wasn’t just sandwiches either, it was a whole meal.”

Ernie loved farming. Mary remembers that he’s always loved farming.

“We’ve always been in this area. We rented for quite some time and then bought here. We have been here for 30 years,” Mary Dunn said. “His death was a shock and a tragedy. I’m just now even able to talk about it. The community has been 100% supportive. I’ve never had to worry, there’s always been someone.”

Farmers hauled the grain to 21st Century Cooperative in Fontanelle, and Dunn is also grateful to the elevator for their cooperation in this project.

Jensen said he was grateful for all those who willingly answered the call to come help with the soybeans, and expects the same will be true when the corn comes out of the fields.

“We knew we had to get them out, and all I had to do was start making phone calls,” Jensen said. “It was one of those deals where I didn’t have to beg anybody.”

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson has served as News Editor of the Adair County Free Press and Fontanelle Observer since Oct. 2017. He and his wife Kilee live in Greenfield. In Greenfield and the greater Adair County area, he values the opportunity to tell peoples' stories, enjoys playing guitar, following all levels of sports, and being a part of his local church.