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Working Together

18 May


By:  Tom Heck

Working Together

                Dairy farming here in northern Wisconsin in the wintertime can be very challenging, especially when it’s bitter cold out.  Then, the equipment has a harder time working too, and can break down occasionally.  A while back here, the motor on our silo unloader that’s in our corn silage silo, didn’t want to start anymore.  So we knew we had to get it out of the silo and get it fixed.              

                The big problem was though: it was forty feet up in the silo.  It’s a seven-and-a-half horsepower motor weighing approximately 130 pounds.  I knew Joshua and I could get it off the unloader o.k., but to get it down the silo chute and a different one back up safely was my big concern.  I gave it some thought, and decided I better call up the dealer that put the unloader in.  I thought it was better to spend a little bit of money and make it a lot easier and safer for us here.

                So I made the phone call, and got a real shock!  They could send a crew of men to do the job.  They would charge me from the time they left their shop, till they got back.  Then they would take the motor some place and get it fixed, and then bring it back and put it in.  It would end up costing me about $1500 plus the cost of repairing the motor.  As I just said, I was shocked.

                I got thinking how we could safely do it ourselves.  I had made a bracket a number of years ago out of angle iron, iron rod, pipe, some chain and a heavy pulley that we could hang in the silo chute for lowering and raising heavy things.  But, in this case now, I needed something more along with my bracket to raise and lower the motor. 

                I prayed about it and gave it a lot of thought and came up with the idea of a two-way winch for raising and lowering the motor.  We looked online, but didn’t really find what we were looking for.  So my wonderful wife, Joanne, made a bunch of phone calls to local businesses telling them what I wanted.  We were able to get the stuff we needed from two local businesses.  Then we put it all together and hoped we could fasten it to the silo unloader so that it would work well.

                The next day came, and we got up earlier than normal and went at chores really fast.  Once they were done, we went at the silo-unloader motor.  We hung our bracket in the silo chute with the chains.  Then we hooked up the winch to our unloader.  I keep a big, rebuilt motor on hand for things like this.  Then we raised our rebuilt motor up the silo chute and swapped it out with the bad motor.  Switching the motors didn’t go as easy as I had hoped, but we got it done.  Then we lowered the bad motor down the chute.  By the time we got it all done, it was getting dark outside.

                Well, our silo unloader is working great again, bringing out a lot of corn silage for our cows.  And they eat it right up; they don’t want to be without their corn silage.  Our bracket/winch setup worked really well, which was a real blessing.  The next day, I took the motor into a motor-repair shop and they fixed it for me.  It needed a new, internal-starting switch and new bearings.  So now, I have a rebuilt motor on hand for the next time I need one.

                I have to add two things more though; if God wouldn’t have given us the wisdom on how to do this all and blessed it, we wouldn’t have been able to do it.  God is so good.  Secondly, if I didn’t have the wonderful family to help me with all of this, I could never have done it.  They are just super helpers. 

                God made family.  Husband, wife and children.  I can’t imagine farming without family: they are so helpful and such a blessing.  The love and support in a Christian family beats anything the world has to offer.  It’s a real blessing to take on a big challenge with your family and succeed.  There’s a great sense of accomplishment in a job well done.  And yes, we did save around $1500.  And yes, I did give each one of my family members a special bonus.

My Special Valentines

9 Mar


By:  Tom Heck

My Special Valentines

                Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, and it’s a great time to express your love to your sweetheart.  It’s also a great time to express your love to your children.  I know my wife and children are my special valentines.  I love them so much, and I can’t imagine life without them.  They are such a great, great blessing in my life.  And since they are, I try to show my love to them every day.  I am a very blessed man to have such a wonderful wife and children. 

                All of the above that I just said is true, and what I’m going to say next is also true and very sad.  I’ve seen so many broken marriages and homes over the years.  I’ve seen men marry women and promise to love them and be faithful and true to them all the rest of their lives.  But then down the road they start living for self, oftentimes for their own pleasure and entertainment.  Or they try to grow a big farm or business and make lots of money. 

                The wife and children suffer and oftentimes the marriage ends tragically in divorce.  God never meant it to be this way.  If the marriage and home were built on God’s ways, this would never happen.  I’ve been on farms with the man there running the farm with hired help, and the wife and children are gone.  And it sure shows.  The men may be making a lot of money, but they’re sure not very happy.  There’s a lot more to life than making a lot of money, or having a large farm to your name. 

                God made marriage and He made it good.  He made it to be a great blessing for both male and female.  I’m so blessed of the Lord to be married to my wonderful wife. Too many times, we take our spouse for granted.  This is not a good thing to do. 

                Like growing a good crop of corn, we need to work on growing good marriages and homes.  There needs to be mercy and forgiveness along the way, none of us are perfect.  Love forgives and lifts up.  A little love goes a long ways.  Love gives, it doesn’t demand its own way. 

                If there was more love in the world today, there wouldn’t be as many divorces, suicides, broken homes and lives.  There wouldn’t be near as many wars and killings in the world either. 

                A gift of roses and/or candy is really nice for your wife on Valentine’s Day; but loving words and actions throughout the year are much more important.  Although, the candy and roses are very good.  When your sweetheart is hurting, put your arm around them and listen to them.  Pray with them and for them. 

                Things get old and break down, but God’s love doesn’t.  Neither should ours.  Our love should continue to grow and flourish.  Our words should bless and encourage those around us, not tear them down.  Harsh words kill.  The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”  Proverbs 18:21.  So bless your spouse, your children and those around you, and you’ll be amazed how blessed you are in return.  And husbands, don’t forget the candy, flowers, and a few choice loving words on Valentine’s Day. 

A New Beginning

30 Jan


By:  Tom Heck

A New Beginning

                Well, New Year’s Day is past, and many people made many resolutions about things they were going to change in their lives.  And now, just a short time later, in mid-January, almost all those good resolutions, that were supposed to make them better have been broken.  I know from experience; as a young person, I’d make some wonderful resolutions only to fail to keep them.  Somehow I just didn’t have the strength within me to keep them.  Sad to say, it had to do with my fallen nature. 

                It has to do with two kingdoms: the Kingdom of God – Light, and the kingdom of Satan – darkness.  As an infant, I was baptized in mid-January, in the local church, and my family attended that church regularly.  But, being baptized and going to a church doesn’t make one a Christian, or a child of God.  Just like going out to my dairy barn where my cows are, doesn’t make me a cow!  Any farmer knows that. 

                I remember many years ago, life looked totally hopeless, and I knew from experience that no good resolutions would change it.  Oh, yes, the pastor in our local church told us repeatedly that we were all going to heaven.  But as I sat there and listened to him, I would look down at the floor knowing I was going to hell.  Down in my heart, I knew I was a wicked sinner, and I had no relationship with God at all.  I knew the pastor was very wrong about me, he certainly didn’t see my heart.

                Looking back now, I see myself back then as a ‘Chief of Sinners’.  I couldn’t change myself, even though I tried very hard.  I always failed; life looked totally hopeless and empty.  I nearly committed suicide.  Life at home was terrible, even though we went to the local church every week.  People thought our family was a great Christian family, looking at it from the outside it appeared so.  But, nothing could be further from the truth! 

                I was a Chief of Sinners, but on January 17th, 1982, God reached out to me.  He moved upon my heart and let me know that He loved me.  I had never experience love like that before in my life.  I got down on my knees that day and confessed to God the terrible sins I had committed over the years the best I could and asked Him to forgive me.  I then asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my Lord and Saviour.  I told Him my life wasn’t worth anything, but I was giving it totally to Him.  If He could use it in any way for His glory, He could.  But at the time, I didn’t see how He could at all. 

                When I got off my knees that day, I was a new person.  I had finally stepped over into God’s Kingdom.  My horrible sins, all of them, were fully forgiven.  I knew right then that if I were to die, I’d go to heaven to be with my Lord.  I was a changed man, not because of a resolution, but because of an earnest prayer and a wonderful, loving God.

                Sadly, after this, one person in my old family would continually remind me of sins I had committed in the past, to bring me down to his level.  All I could tell him was, “Yes, I committed those sins, but God has forgiven me.”  With that he would mumble some words and walk away.  But I knew I was fully forgiven.  The Bible tells us the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  It also tells us in Hebrews 10:17, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”  I’m so glad that God forgives and forgets all of our sins when we truly come to Him.

                Needless to say, life has never been the same for me since.  He has led and guided me these many years and blessed me above and beyond what I could ask or think.  I have to admit that I have failed Him many times, but He always welcomes me back, with loving arms, when I repent and ask Him for forgiveness.  I love Him more than anything or anyone in this world.  He is life to me.  Jesus even said in John 10:10, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” 

                I have a question to ask, “Why didn’t God let me go to hell?  I was in the fast lane going there, so why didn’t He just let me go?”  All I can say is that His love is so great for me.  And I know His love is the same for you.  Even if we are Chief of Sinners, God’s great love is greater than all of our sin.  A new year’s resolution probably won’t do you much good, but a prayer certainly can.  I know.

The Best Christmas Present Ever

12 Jan


By: Tom Heck

The Best Christmas Present Ever

                This may sound strange, but as I get older, I think I look forward to Christmas more each year. 

The time spent with family and friends, fellowshipping together, loving one another is priceless.  The giving and receiving of cards in the mail and of giving gifts to one another is wonderful.  Reading the Biblical account of the first Christmas, when God sent His only Son into the world, and singing all the Christmas songs is such a joy.  It seems like the Christmas season goes by way too fast.  It is such a blessed season.  Especially in this world we live in today with all its trouble and turmoil. 

                Sadly, in our country and around the world today, so many governments and people are trying to take Jesus out of Christmas.  When you take Jesus out, you basically have nothing left.  Yes, you have a holiday with Christmas lights and decorations, food, gifts and get-togethers, but that’s it.  It’s really pretty empty.  I know from experience.

                The experts tell us that after Christmas, drug overdoses and suicide rates go way up.  For so many people, life after Christmas is so empty, so hopeless.  Without God, without love, life is empty.  I know, I lived the first twenty years of my life that way.  At the age of 18, a week after Christmas, I nearly killed myself.  Life was so empty and so bad for me.  There was no love, joy or peace in my life.  I had heard of God, I had heard the Christmas story, but I didn’t know God at all.

                But, that all changed two years later in January, I read a book about a personal loving God.  I got down on my knees that day and repented of all my sins and asked God to forgive me and then I asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my Lord and Saviour.  I gave Him my whole life and promised to follow Him all the rest of my days.  I had just received the best Christmas present ever. 

                He totally changed my life right there, and I’ve never been the same since.  The Bible says in 2 Cor. 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  That is exactly what happened to me that day.  No, it wasn’t Christmas day, it was three and a half weeks later, but it was the best gift I ever received.  My only regret is that I didn’t receive Him much sooner.  I’m so thankful that God is so loving and patient, waiting for lost sinners to come home to Him.

                Since receiving Him, there have been many trials and battles in my life to say the least, but He has helped and guided me through them all.  What a loving God I serve.  I owe my whole life to Him.  No more suicide or depression for me, I just keep looking to Jesus and following Him.  I know someday I will step over to the other side and see Him face to face, what a day that will be.  But for now, I keep working and following Him here.  And yes, I’m really looking forward to Christmas this year again, not for the presents under the Christmas tree, for I’ve already received the greatest Christmas gift of all time: Jesus.  Christmas is to celebrate Jesus coming into the world to save sinners such as me.  If you’ve never received Him, I can’t urge you strongly enough to do so.  If you do so, like I did, you’ll never be the same again.

                From me and my family to you, have a blessed, merry Christmas, and remember: Jesus is the whole reason for the season.

The Geese Are Going South Again

14 Dec


By:  Tom Heck

The Geese Are Going South Again

                Fall is a very busy time of year out here on the farm as we get the crops all harvested and prepare for the long winter ahead up here in northern Wisconsin.  Even though there is much work to do, we greatly enjoy it.  Being outdoors working this time of year is wonderful. 

                Almost every day now, we see flocks of Canadian geese flying over, honking and honking as they go.  We always have to look up at them and watch them go in their V formations.  We hate to see them heading south, because we know there’s a long winter ahead for us, who have to stay here.  We sure look forward to their return in the spring. 

                For these birds to travel thousands of miles every year is absolutely amazing.  God, the Divine Creator, gave them the wisdom and strength to do so.  I know also, as I look to Him daily, He will give me the wisdom and strength that I need, to do the work He’s called me to do.  After all, He tells us in His word that we are of much more value than the birds! 

                Sometimes, we will have a flock of geese land in our harvested hay and corn fields to find food to eat before heading south more.  Once, a number of years ago, we had flock after flock landing on our farm here, till their numbers totaled way up into the thousands.  It was amazing when they all took off, how they darkened the skies. 

                There is one incident a number of years ago that I will never forget.  It was Dec. 24th, a bitter cold day with strong winds out of the north.  Wind chills were way below zero, and we were finishing up some work out by our silos.  We have a freeway that runs north – south by our farm which has a speed limit of 70 mph on it.  Often times though people exceed that.

                While working by our silos there, we heard the familiar honking of the geese.  We were surprised to hear them this late in the year.  We looked up to see a large flock of snow-white arctic geese heading south as fast as they could go.  I said to the kids that they had their after- burners on.  They were flying south along the freeway and they were going far faster than what the highway traffic was.  I’m sure they were doing at least 100 mph. 

                We watched in amazement at the speed they went in their large V formation.  Each one of them working together for the good of the whole group.  The strongest one by himself could never fly that fast, they have to work together.  We can learn from them.  On the farm here, things go much better when we work together in love and harmony.  And it’s so much more enjoyable then too.  That’s how God meant it to be.  But it’s each one of us doing our part for the good of the whole.  We can learn a lot from God’s geese.  The Bible says we are to love one another and serve one another.  If the geese can do that, we ought to be able to also. 

                From our farm to your home, have a very blessed Thanksgiving, and don’t forget to give God thanks for all His many wonderful blessings to us this year again.  He alone is worthy. 

A Helping Hand

18 Nov


By:  Tom Heck

A Helping Hand

                We can all use a helping hand from time to time, especially if you’re a farmer.  Things come up where you really need another person’s help.  It’s nice when you have good friends you can call on in such situations.

                After many years of use, the hood on my chopper here was wearing and rusting out.  It was getting in really bad shape and since we didn’t want to have a major problem with it when I was out chopping feed for our cattle, we decided to get it fixed.  Much easier said than done. 

                First we unhooked the hydraulic cylinder, and then the electric motor that operates the deflector on the hood.  Next we took off the brackets, and then tried to lift the hood off of the throat of the blower.  Impossible.  So we had to get wrecking bars and blocking so we could start driving it off.  Those six inches seemed like a mile.  It took us close to two hours to get it to the point where we could lift it off.  When we got it to that place, we were all thinking the same thought: that thing looks pretty big and clumsy and heavy to get off the chopper and down to the ground safely.  We talked it over and we all agreed we should have another man here to help us so that nobody would get hurt. 

                So we called up Harley on his cell phone and asked him if he could come and help us for a few minutes.  Harley, a retired dairy farmer, happened to be in town when I called him.  He said he had just finished up his town business and was ready to head home.  He’d swing by our place on his way.  Ten minutes later, he swung into our place.  We showed him our problem and he quickly helped us get it off and safely to the ground.  Having an extra pair of strong hands makes a world of difference at times. 

                With that done, we thank Harley for his help, and he volunteers right away to come back and help us put it on once we get it fixed.  We are surprised and happy with his offer, and tell him we will take him up on that. 

                As Harley is starting to get into his car, he asks us, “Do you need a shop vac?”  I replied, “I sure could use one.  I looked at buying one once, but I didn’t like the price on it.”  Then Catherine adds in, “When he cleans out the seeder here every spring, he borrows Mom’s vacuum cleaner.”  Harley says, “Well, I just stopped at a thrift sale when I was in town and bought a good-sized one for three dollars.  Would you like it?” “Does it work?” I respond.  “They said it does,” Harley replied, “take it and plug it in.”  Joshua quickly took it and plugged it in and it worked. 

                I asked Harley if he didn’t want to keep it and he said, “No, I already have a good one at home, I just couldn’t pass up a good deal.  I knew somebody could use it.”  With that we thanked him and he left.  A week later he came back and helped put our fixed hood back on our chopper.  With an extra set of hands, it went real easy.

                It’s a real blessing to have good neighbors and friends who are more than willing to help out in time of need.  I count such friends as great blessings from God.  The Bible teaches us that we are to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  We are to love our neighbors and help them out.  If more people did this, this world would be a much better place to live in. 

It’s Right To Celebrate Thanksgiving

15 Aug


By:  Tom Heck

It is Right to Celebrate Thanksgiving

                “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good:  for his mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm 107:1 KJV).  Quite a statement!  And yet, that is exactly what the Pilgrims did their first years here and afterwards.  History tells us that so many of the Pilgrims died the first couple of years here.  Very poor housing, little food and bitter cold winters lead to many of them dying.  And yet, every year in the fall they would set aside some days to rejoice and give thanks to God for His many blessings. 

                History tells us they had many hardships and trials here, yet they gave God thanks for their many blessings.  They were blessed with life, liberty and the freedom to follow God and praise Him for His many blessings on them.  Something no amount of money on earth could buy. 

                Life was very hard for them, they knew it would be when they set sail from England, yet they did it to follow God.  They never regretted it.  Today, their descendants along with the rest of us enjoy so much because they sacrificed so much. 

                Growing up and working on my parents’ dairy farm, we never celebrated Thanksgiving; it was just another long day of work on the farm with the cattle and the crops.  After coming to know the Lord at twenty years of age, I started to see that it was right to set time aside to give God thanks for His many blessings to us.  So I started to do it, and then several years later after I got married and we got our own farm, we were able to set Thanksgiving Day aside and give God thanks for His many blessings. 

                It’s been a privilege to write this column for many years now along with serving on a very important board.  One of the great benefits of this has been all the people that we’ve had visit us on our farm here over the years.  We’ve learned so much from them.  People from a number of states along with people from several different nations.  One time I happened to be talking to Mark, from Paris, France, right at Thanksgiving time, and I asked him about celebrating Thanksgiving in France.  I was shocked at his answer, “They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, that’s strictly an American holiday, you should know that.”  I replied, “I know it started in America, but I thought over time that many countries around the world adopted it to give thanks to God for His many blessings.” Mark’s reply? “No, that’s just an American holiday.”  I was stunned. 

                On our farm, we as a family celebrate Thanksgiving every year.  Joanne prepares a very special dinner, and as we eat we recount the many blessings God has bestowed on us in the last year and in previous years also.  We thank the Lord for them all, that’s what Thanksgiving is for.  Afterwards, we will play a game or do something else fun together as a family. 

                No matter the trials, hardships and battles we go through, sometimes from the most unexpected places, we have much to thank God for.  Now, I must admit, there have been a couple of years when we did not celebrate Thanksgiving on the official day because something major came up.  When that happened, we just picked a different day to celebrate it on.  The important thing is to set time aside to give God thanks for His many blessings on us.  We always need to do this.

                From our farm to all of you reading this: have a blessed Thanksgiving.

A Very Worthwhile Project

28 Jul


By:  Tom Heck

A Very Worthwhile Project

                For years here, we worked with our neighbors in putting up our high-moisture corn to feed to our cattle.  They had a combine and two good-sized grain trucks, and I had a tractor and roller mill that we used to fill our corn silo with.  Well, that worked great for many years, but in time they got out of farming and sold their equipment.  I was blessed to get a different neighbor after that to combine my corn, but we had one big problem; he didn’t have grain trucks to haul my corn in from the fields.  He had large semis to haul grain with, but they just wouldn’t work at my building site – they were just too big.

                So, we started to look for two power gravity boxes to buy.  Since high-moisture doesn’t flow very easy, we wanted power gravity boxes.  This type of box has an apron chain in the bottom that is driven by the tractor, thus saving a lot of hard work shoveling a lot of corn. 

                We started to pray that we could get a couple of good ones at a reasonable price, and then my wife put into the prayer, “Close by”.  We started to look in the newspapers and online for them, but we couldn’t find any close by, and the ones we did find had a higher price on than we wanted to pay.  But, then I ended up talking to my farm insurance agent about my farm insurance, and I asked him if he knew where there were some.  He told me his brother had two that he wasn’t using anymore. 

                I called up Mike, and he told me he had two sitting in the back of his shed that he hadn’t used in several years, since he had sold his cows.  He said he was thinking about selling them and that we could come and look at them.  Well, we went and looked at them, and I have to give Mike full credit, he was totally honest with us on them.  In this world today, a lot of people are not honest or truthful when they’re trying to sell something, but Mike was.  That means a lot to me and more importantly to God.

                Mike told us that a number of years before, early one morning when there was a heavy frost out, they were bringing them down a hill loaded.  With the boxes being loaded heavily, and the frost on the ground, the boxes got away from them and ended up tipping over.  Thankfully, nobody was hurt, but the boxes along with their running gears sustained a lot of damage. 

                The insurance company totaled them out; Mike bought them back from the insurance company. With extra iron and some old running gears that he had around his farm, he did a remarkable job fixing them back up.  We could see that they could use some more work done on them, which Mike acknowledged.  I asked Mike what he wanted for them and he told us.  We thought it was a very fair price and agreed to it.  Mike told us that he could fix them up better and ask more for them.  I told him that that was all right, we could fix them up and save the money.  With that we all broke out laughing. 

                Mike was happy to see them stay in the area on a small dairy farm where he could see them being used.  We wrote Mike out a check, hooked them behind the pickup and pulled them the six miles home.  God had answered our prayer to find two of them at a good price close to home.  Once again, we saw how God delights in answering our prayers.  He is so good.

                We got them home and spent the next week working on them.  We found extra stuff on them that needed fixing, but that can be expected when you buy older equipment.  From fixing on the boxes, the apron chains, the running gears, and the wheel bearings, we put in a full week of work.  It was a great challenge and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was very rewarding bringing them back into excellent working condition.  And work they did with the new crop of corn.              

                 We’re very thankful Mike sold them to us, and I must say that the price was right.  It was very enjoyable bringing in big loads of golden corn and unloading them.  What was more enjoyable than that though, was working on them as a family.  There is something about doing projects together as a family and seeing the rewards of it.  

                In America today, families are so divided up, running in so many different directions.  God made families to be together.  There is something about working together and seeing the fruit of your work.  It’s also a great way to teach your children so many things.  I wonder if all parents would work together with their children, and teach them in a loving Christian environment, if it would keep a lot of young people away from drugs, alcohol, crime and so many other things, bad things.  Actually, I know it would, for the Bible says in Prov. 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  What more can I say, my kids greatly enjoyed working on those boxes with me and I enjoyed it too.  It was very profitable for all of us in more ways than one. 

One of our power boxes unloading at the roller mill.

Riding The Munitions Train

3 Dec


By:  Tom Heck

Riding The Munitions Train

                My dad, Earl Heck, was born and raised on a small farm in Wisconsin.  There, his parents taught him hard work and responsibility.  As a boy, things were hard, since the country was in the Great Depression.  The family worked very hard to put food on the table, put clothes on their backs, wood in the stove and to pay the bills.  But they were greatly blessed, since they lived in America, the land of freedom, a nation under God.

                WWII came and my dad was on the young side to go to war, however, as the war was getting close to being over, my dad got put on the short list of having to report at a moment’s notice.  Well, the war ended, and he didn’t have to report. 

                But, then came the Korean War, and he got drafted by the army.  He went through boot camp, and while there, the leadership found out that he was very good at mechanics.  So, after boot camp, they sent him to another camp for several weeks to teach him mechanics.  They put him in a group of men called the Engineering Maintenance Aviation Company (EMAC).  Once they got their time in there, they shipped them out to Korea. 

                And what can I say, if he would have landed on the moon, it wouldn’t have been as shocking as Korea.  What did he find there you ask?  A land totally bombed out.  So many people half starving to death.  So many people who only had a few rags for clothing.  And orphans by the thousands.  What he had growing up in the Great Depression was exceedingly great compared to what these people had.  He couldn’t even find one nice standing tree in the area where he was stationed.

                He was stationed at K 13.  That is Korea Airstrip number 13.  At that time it was the largest airstrip in the world, he said.  It was used 100% for our aircraft for fighting the war.  When the war was raging, the jet fighters would be taking off literally all day and all night. 

                It took a lot of earth-moving equipment to keep the airstrip up and running.  And equipment they had, acres and acres of it.  All left over from WWII in the Pacific.  When the Korean War broke out, our government gathered up all that left over equipment and moved it to Korea. 

                The job of the EMAC was to keep this equipment up and running so that they could continually keep the airstrip in excellent shape for the planes.  And they did this very well.  How?  By taking parts off of the acres and acres of junked out equipment left over from WWII. 

                But, they got a couple of other jobs once-in-a-while that they didn’t like.  When the fighting got really bad, the planes would fly around the clock.  So many of the planes then would come in shot up badly, and sometimes the pilots would too.  At these times the airplane mechanics couldn’t keep up with fixing the planes.  The orders were, “Get those planes back in the air as fast as possible.”  At those times they would pull the EMAC off of the earth-moving equipment and onto the planes. 

                Their orders: “Get those planes back in the air as fast as possible.”  So they would fix them up as fast as they could, so that they would fly.  They were not fixed as good as they should have been, but they got them so they would fly, and they hoped the pilots would make it back in them alive.  But, they had no choice; the men fighting on the ground at the front lines desperately needed them for support.  It was literally a matter of life and death for so many men.

                The other job the EMAC got sometimes was to ride guard on the munitions trains running up to the front lines to supply our troops with ammunition.  They would send the trains up in the black of night so they wouldn’t be easy for the enemy to spot and attack.  On the back of the railroad cars they would have a platform with a machine gun mounted on it.  They would put one or two men on each machine gun to protect the train. 

                Talk about being a moving target.  And if your car load of ammunition gets hit, it’ll blow sky high and you along with it.  Fortunately, the train never got attacked when my Dad was riding guard on it.  And it was cold in the wintertime riding those trains.  I remember my Dad saying a number of times that that was the coldest he ever got in his whole life. 

                My Dad was blessed; he came home from the war alive, in good health.  He farmed the rest of his life living to an old age.  Others came back wounded and hurt.  Many others didn’t make it back alive; they paid the ultimate price.  They paid the price to keep other people free. 

                We in our nation today, owe a great debt of gratitude to all of those who have served our country so well.  We should never take for granted the great blessings of liberty and freedom that we have in America.  They have been bought with a great price.  God has blessed us greatly, may we never forget this, and may we live our lives wisely.  We owe so much to so many.

Chasing The Big Black Bear

3 Dec


By:  Tom Heck

Chasing The Big, Black Bear

                Sometimes in life, and especially in farming, the most unusual things happen.  Things you would never dream of or predict, but they happen anyway. They have a way of making life much more interesting and to some degree, entertaining.

                Such is what happened here a while back.  It started out as a normal hay-making day.  We did our morning cattle chores and then Joanne and the kids went to town on some business.   I went out to rake my long upper marsh hayfield so I could bale it later in the day.  It was a hot, sunny day, without a cloud in the sky, perfect for baling dry hay for our cows to eat in the coming cold, snowy months ahead.  I had raked a few swaths around the outside of the field and was on the lower end of it, when the unexpected happened.  A great big, black bear came out of the woods into the swath of hay I was raking about thirty yards in front of my tractor.  He didn’t seem to know I was there, until I was just yards away from him with my tractor.

                Now, if I would’ve been out there on foot, I would have been scared of him, but on the tractor, I knew I was perfectly safe.  As I got close to him, he took off running down the swaths of hay in front of my tractor.  I knew if he kept running in that direction, when he got to the end of the field, he very well could cut across my other fields and end up in the small woods next to my building site where my dairy cattle are.  That would not be a good thing, because sometimes big bears kill cattle.  I knew my family was safe because they had gone to town, but I was concerned about my cattle. 

                So, I speeded my tractor up to almost full throttle, raking hay faster than I ever had before in my life.  I hoped by chasing him hard, he would go back into the big woods on my field’s edge.  But, it didn’t work that way.  He kept running in front of my tractor the full length of the field.  It was a hot day, and he was giving it his all to stay in front of my tractor.  We finally got to the end of the field and Mr. Bear turned and headed towards my building site.  He did exactly what I didn’t want him to do. 

                Well, I was at the end of my field, so I couldn’t chase him anymore.  As I watched him, he slowed down considerably as he crossed my other fields and entered the little woods by my buildings.  All that I could do then was pray to God, that He would keep our animals all safe from the bear.

                I kept raking my field for the next couple of hours, and was almost done when what do you expect happened?  Mr. Bear comes out of my little woods and heads back across my fields into my hayfield again.  This time though, he gets into the upper end of it when I’m up there raking heading to the lower end.  Again, he gets right in front of my tractor without realizing it, until I’m just yards away from him.  I wonder if the super hot day was affecting him some.  Well, he takes off running in front of my tractor for nearly the full length of the field.  And yes, I had my old tractor at nearly full throttle as I chased him the length of my field.  As we got close to the other end, he finally cut across the end of the field and went crashing into the woods.  He was all done in; he had had enough of being chased twice in one day by a tractor across the length of that field. 

                Well, what can I say?  I’ve never chased him across my field since, and I’ve never had him up here by my building site since either.  God answered my prayer that day and kept all our cattle safe in His care.  I think Mr. Bear learned that he didn’t want to get chased by that tractor and rake anymore.  At least I hope he did. 

                By chasing him with my tractor, I tried to guide him to where he should’ve gone.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way.  God does the same thing with us.  Through His Holy Spirit and circumstances, He tries to guide and direct our lives.  We are very wise when we are sensitive to Him and follow Him.  Otherwise, things will not go so well for us, and we will live to regret it.  I know that’s certainly been true in my own life at times. 

                As for Mr. Bear, once he got rested up, I’m sure he was alright, although, he might have had nightmares about being chased by a tractor and hay rake after that.