Fellow farmers help family after passing
BRANCHVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Branchville farmer Otis “Larry” McAlhany lived and breathed farming his entire life.
He grew up on the farm with his father Tom Clint Sr. and continued to till the land to help support his family through the years.
It was no different in 2017 when McAlhany planted 300 acres of corn, 250 acres of peanuts and 300 acres of soybeans.
But on Labor Day morning, McAlhany died of what family members believe was a heart attack. He was 67.
Seeing that he was about halfway done harvesting his corn crop, other farmers decided to take it upon themselves to help the McAlhany family in their hour of need.
Thad Wimberly was joined in the effort by his father Harry, Ronnie Weathers, Ernie Kirven, Blaine Huffelfinger and Jonathan Berry.
“The passing was just a shock to the community,” Thad Wimberly said. “No one was expecting that. When I heard the news of him passing, I called Blaine, who works with him, and he said he had about 100 acres left of corn to cut.”
“I pulled together what we were doing and stopped where we were at to help him get his crop out of the field,” Wimberly said. “We knocked it out that day. I really felt like we needed to do that as a community and for a fellow farmer.”
By that afternoon, the entire crop was harvested and shipped. Later, Steve McAlhany and Bryan Delk harvested McAlhany’s peanut and soybean crop.
Wimberly had known and worked with McAlhany for many years.
“I have helped him sell his crop ... and have handled his grain,” Wimberly said. “He has been a good friend.”
While generally private people, farmers do love one another as a family,” Wimberly said.
“When the right thing needs to be done, we pull together to get it done,” he said.
McAlhany’s daughter, Tracy Mills, said the outreach shows the heart of a farmer and the heart of Branchville.
“It just shows you what a close-knit area that Branchville is for everyone to come together to show love and support of other local farmers,” she said.
Mills said she just knows her father is looking down on what has been done for him.
“He would be smiling and smiling and saying ‘thank you so much,’” Mills said.
Teresa McAlhany, who was married to Larry for about six years, said her husband was a hard worker who would give the coat off his back to others.
“He was not happy if he was not on the tractor or playing with dirt,” Teresa said. “That was his life.”
“He would go out many times at night to help pull hunters out with trucks who may have gotten bogged down in holes,” she said. “He would just do things for others.”
As to what he would say about the help received on the day of his death, Teresa said, “He would probably be at a loss for words.”
“He would probably feel guilty he was not out there doing it himself,” she said. “But he would be grateful they stepped up to help him out.”
“Farmers just don’t get the support they need from the outside, but in actuality they are a pretty close-knit group of people,” she said. “They help when one is down.”
Now a couple of months since his passing, Mills says her heart still grieves for her father, who was the example of a family man who loved spending time with his only grandchild, Becky.
“He will be very missed,” Mills said. “I was his number one. I was his firstborn and nothing will ever change that.”
Her father’s passing is also the passing of an era. Mills works in the medical field and her brother is a school teacher. Neither has plans to return to the family farm.
“The future of the farm died when my daddy passed away,” she said. “It costs so much to keep it going.”
Information from: The Times & Democrat, http://www.timesanddemocrat.com