After injury from cow kick, farmer gets help from volunteers to plant soybeans

BATTLE LAKE, Minn. - Lee Evavold still doesn't know which cow kicked him. The lifelong farmer was delivering a calf last month when one of his animals struck from behind, breaking his shoulder blade and five ribs. Evavold spent the better part of...

753498+052414.N.FF_.FarmRescue 2.jpg
Kathy and Lee Evavold of Battle Lake, Minn., monitor planting of part of their 1,200-acre farm Friday, May 23, 2014, as part of a Farm Rescue volunteer effort. Lee was hospitalized last month after a cow kicked him in the back. (Kia Farhang / Forum News Service)


BATTLE LAKE, Minn. – Lee Evavold still doesn’t know which cow kicked him.

The lifelong farmer was delivering a calf last month when one of his animals struck from behind, breaking his shoulder blade and five ribs.

Evavold spent the better part of a week in the intensive care unit at Sanford Health in Fargo after his wife insisted he go to the hospital.

But the Evavolds still had planting to do. And with the help of family, neighbors, a North Dakota nonprofit and a former pro football player, they’ve done just that.


Farm Rescue volunteers spent Thursday and Friday at the 1,200-acre Evavold farm in Battle Lake using sophisticated planting equipment to keep the family’s crop schedule running smoothly.

The nonprofit organization, based in Jamestown, N.D., picks up the slack when injured or sick farmers can’t finish their normal duties.

“We’d be really late getting crops in (without them),” Evavold said. “It would have been a battle.”

On Friday, a mammoth tractor hauled a 60-foot-wide planting machine through about 230 acres of Evavold’s land, pushing soybeans into the soil with pinpoint precision.

Piloting the tractor – and using its refined GPS equipment for the first time – was former Buffalo Bills defensive end Phil Hansen, who stopped by to lend a hand.

“I value the farm work and the lifestyle I grew up with,” said Hansen, who grew up near Oakes, N.D., and played for North Dakota State University. “I’m looking at the field that the farmer couldn’t plant, and to do something like that is more of a connection.”

Evavold, 60, grows a number of crops but concentrates mainly on cattle. His farm is tucked among rolling hills, which make planting a chore even with the help of machinery.

He talked shop with the volunteers over lunch, discussing soil types and genetically modified seeds.


Most of the volunteers were farmers themselves.

Jim Baird, who heard about the program at a county fair, signed on for a few days to keep himself busy. His retirement couldn’t stop him from farming for others.

“You’ll never get it out of your blood,” he said.

Volunteer Dan Feige of Wentworth, S.D., is in the middle of a two-week tour with Farm Rescue that began in South Dakota and will end in Albany, Minn.

“There’s a need out here,” he said. “Nobody asks for injuries, nobody asks for illnesses. But it’s a situation where we need volunteers to come and work for them and get their crops planted.”

Often used to independence, farmers can struggle with asking for help, Baird said.

Evavold’s wife, Kathy, agreed.

“He never would have asked for this,” she said.


This isn’t the first time a cow has put Evavold out of commission. He needed about 30 stitches four years ago after one of his animals kicked him.

After he was hit last month, he walked about 100 yards from the barn to his house and fell asleep. He went to the hospital the next morning at his wife’s insistence.

Evavold joked about carrying a baseball bat to protect himself from his animals, but conceded it wouldn’t help much in his recent surprise attack.

When asked what he would do if he knew which cow kicked him, Evavold smirked.

“She’d probably be sold,” he said.


753497+052414.N.FF_.FarmRescue 1.jpg
Farm Rescue plants part of the 1,200-acre Evavold farm near Battle Lake, Minn., Friday, May 23, 2014. The program helps sick or injured farmers plant or harvest their crops. Kia Farhang / The Forum

What To Read Next
Get Local