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Friends, Farm Rescue harvest We Fest victim's dream crop

Kelly Perhus from Kindred smooths over beans harvested Wednesday at the Schreiner farm. David Samson / The Forum1 / 2
Samantha Schreiner, 8, and her mother, Shelly, watch as friends and family harvest their bean field Wednesday near Argusville. "It's just ... in a way, it's just sad. This was his dream crop, and he's not here to take it in," Shelly says, talking about her husband, Mark. David Samson / The Forum2 / 2

ARGUSVILLE, N.D. - Last December, a North Dakota blizzard was blowing across the Red River Valley while farmer Mark Schreiner was alone in his fields, still struggling to harvest the first crop on his own land. This year, his 700 acres of soybeans will be finished before the end of October - but he can't be there to see it.

Instead, Schreiner is now struggling to recover from a coma-inducing head injury he sustained Aug. 7 while at WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Schreiner, an eight-year National Guardsman, has been farming for more than 20 years, but this is only the second year the south Fargo native planted crops on land of his own north of Argusville.

This week, Farm Rescue stepped in to help Schreiner and his family harvest the soybean crop.

Farm Rescue, a nonprofit that provides planting and harvesting for families that have experienced a major illness or injury came to the family's aid, arriving Sunday night with a combine and truck.

But Wednesday, friends, family and neighbors showed up as well, equipped with combines and trucks and ready to yield what they called a "dream harvest" for Mark.

"This is his dream crop. Boy, would Mark love to be here," Bob Schreiner, Mark's brother said.

Charlie Hardie, a Wahpeton farmer with Farm Rescue said Wednesday that they expected the harvest to take about a week after starting Monday morning, but not anymore.

Five combines, five semis and two grain carts among neighbors and friends had nearly finished the two quarters of land by mid-afternoon Wednesday.

Schreiner's wife, Shelly, said she was surprised and amazed when she arrived at the fields with their two children, Samantha, 8, and Thomas, 4, and the dust of the combines was already swirling through the half-harvested fields.

It was also bittersweet.

"It's just ... in a way, it's just sad. This was his dream crop, and he's not here to take it in," Shelly said.

Mark is currently in a St. Paul facility, where he is undergoing a coma stimulation program.

Tommy has continually told his father he "needed to get better so they could ride in the combines together."

Shelly said she didn't know many of the area farmers who were helping out.

But for Kindred farmer Kelly Perhus, whose harvest is finished, he felt he needed to do his part for a fellow farmer.

"I just wanted to help out," Perhus said.

Mark's mother and father were also in the fields. Holding back tears, his mother, Gerri Schreiner, said it was incredible the way area farmers had stepped up for her youngest son.

"I am absolutely amazed. This is all for my kid, my baby. I can't believe it," she said. "Farmers just do this. In this part of the country, this is what farmers do for each other."

The family says Mark is making progress. The extent of his recovery, or when that may be is still unclear.

Farm Rescue can help a family for up to a year. Hardie said if asked, they may be able to return in the spring to help with Schreiner's planting.

Shelly said she plans to keep the farm going for Mark while he recovers.

"I don't have it in my heart to let it go. If it's possible to work it out, we will," Shelly said.