Farming community comes together to help in time of need
By Sparta Live | June 6, 2019 10:16 am
By Rachel Auberger
Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State, but the people of White County have always taken that a little farther and have created a community known for its willingness to help a neighbor in their time of need.
Memorial Day weekend 2019 was the most recent of those occasions where the “community” was put to the test and rose to shine.
On May 26, Tracey Tollison, who works for Carlen Carter as together they farm land throughout the county, was injured in an accident involving a tractor. The accident, while not fatal, was tragic and sent Tollison to Erlanger and left Carter with a lot of hay that needed to be taken care of and no one to help.
On May 25, Carter and Tollison had worked together to mow a large farm in the Bear Cove area and had made plans to meet on Sunday to rake and bale the hay. When Tollison didn’t show up, Carter went looking for him and found him soon after the tractor he had been working on slipped and rolled across his upper body.
“I knew he was in bad shape,” Carter said.
By the afternoon of May 26, Richard and Martha Jane Clark, who own the field that the men had mowed, were contacted. Carter said he just wanted to let them know what had happened and that it would take a while for him to be able to get the hay up, and, as any farmer knows, hay that has been cut needs to be raked before it gets too dry or gets rained on and is too wet.
Knowing that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for Carter to get all of the hay raked and baled alone, Clark left early morning of May 27 to go lend a hand. He wasn’t the only one who had that idea, however. According to Clark, several others began showing up.
“Richard Mackie, Jerry Roberts, Gary Roberts, Tracey’s boys, they all started showing up,” said Clark. “It wasn’t really coordinated or anything. Word had gotten out about the accident, and people knew help was needed. So, they just came.”
When asked how they knew to come and why they came, the answer was always the same. They just knew there was a need, and they came to fill it.
“No one wants to act like a hero,” Martha Jane Clark said about the men. “But they all furnished a lot of equipment and donated a lot of time. Because of all of them, they were able to get all of the hay baled, on Monday, and we won’t lose the crop.”
“There is a real sense of community here,” Richard Mackie said. “I remember when my son was injured in a logging accident. There were so many people there to help – from the day it happened all throughout – helping us and praying for us. That’s what this community does: they work to make things so much easier when a neighbor has a need. Now it was my turn, so I just came to help where I can. We all did. Everybody just worked together to get a job done for a friend, a neighbor, who couldn’t do it himself that day. There were probably 300 bales of hay – no one can do that by themselves.”
Carter struggled to find words to express his appreciation for the help that the community brought him.
“I didn’t know I had so many friends,” he said. “That’s what happens when there is an accident. Everyone knows they need to do something, and they just show up.”
And over a holiday weekend, while many people were taking a break from the business of their lives, the farming portion of the community in White County did what it always does: it showed up and took care of one of its own.
NOTE: Tollison is home recovering. He has a broken collarbone, broken ribs, and facial fractures. He will be going back to Erlanger, in Chattanooga, for reconstruction surgery.