Handing Over The Controls In An Emergency


My plane was circling Fresno’s Yosemite International Airport on June 16 after a fruit farmer’s Cessna two-seater had a landing gear malfunction, forcing him to make an emergency landing.

The pilot and his wife walked from the plane unharmed.

But I, my flight mates and the passengers of two other planes didn’t know that couple’s fortunate fate until hours after we were diverted to another airport and finally landed on the cleaned-up Fresno airstrip half a day later.

For the most part, we had imagined the worst. So it was a good surprise to watch the local news and see the couple calmly talk of how he handed her the plane’s controls, searched the emergency manual for solutions and called for help. At the end of the interview, they told the reporter they were going to do what they came to do – go out to breakfast.

Somehow, the way this couple dealt with what must have been a horrific experience typifies what I’ve seen as I’ve traveled to farms and fields from one coast of this country to another. When it doesn’t rain or rains too much, when hay prices plummet or reach the roof and when farmers lose crops or animals or family members, they stoically know they have to hand over the controls, search through the emergency manual and call for help. They do what they can to make the best of what they have. Then, hopefully, they go out for breakfast.

In California, I visited three dairies. One producer dairies with a brother and has taken on the risk of adding a family creamery to his workload. Yet he takes time to offer grade-school and family tours to help educate people one or more generations separated from the farm.

Another was busy preg-checking cows with a vet who also lost half a day to that emergency landing. The producer’s family recently celebrated a 100-year anniversary in dairying, but still think of the brother/son/uncle who died six years earlier.

The third dairy family was gracious enough to let me take photos on their dairy with a half-hour notice. They, too, lost a family member years ago but now look to the future and the building of a new milking facility.

They’re just a few of many farmers/ranchers/producers/growers I am privileged to meet year in and year out. Join me as I discuss my travels, my conversations and my observations while working to provide you with the forage production and equipment information you need to weather the weather, produce good crops and live a healthy farm life.

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