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Read online content from popular columnists, including Ryan Dennis, Baxter Black and Yevet Tenney, as well as comments from Progressive Dairy editors.

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As farmers, we get bored easily. So a lot of farmers drink. And when farmers drink, things happen. Amazingly, some of these farmers have made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

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As wives, mothers, “farmHers” and other off-farm professionals, we tend to get caught up in the day-to-day activities that go along with each of those roles. We can barely keep up with laundry and vacuuming. There’s the never-ending bookwork, low commodity prices, battling the weather, restless children, and the list could go on.

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“Is he still staring at us?” my girlfriend asked.

I glanced over my shoulder. An old man stood in the glaring sun, nude. His small chest was caved-in and bent forward, his legs spindly and knobby.

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Karl Collett, my son-in-law, passed away March 7, 2019. He spent 23 years in a wheelchair, and his story is an inspiration, an excuse-breaker and a testament to the fact the Lord helps to fulfill life’s mission even in the crucible of adversity.

Karl came into the world in Douglas, Arizona, on June 11, 1969. He pushed his way into a family of 10. He was No. 7 but he wasn’t ever overlooked. Everybody noticed him. When he was a little guy, his family went to Mexico; he put on his drama hat and began to entertain the onlookers. The Mexican fishermen took a liking to him and put him on a giant sea turtle and went about their work. As little Karl sat on the turtle, it meandered into the sea. Karl swears the water was up to his nose before the fishermen noticed: “Hijola!” Everyone scrambled in his direction. Today, we are not sure whether the fishermen were more interested in saving the turtle, which was their dinner, or Karl. But that is Karl’s story, and we are sticking to it.

Those fishermen loved Karl. When they saw him on the beach, they would square off, gunfighter-style with their gun-fingers in their pockets and stroll down the beach. When they got within range, they’d shoot, and Karl would die like a true hero of the Old West, sprawling flat on the sand. He was so good at acting they dubbed him “Yohn Wayne.”

Many remember Karl’s magic acts. He would fill huge balloons with air and stick a long needle through them without popping the balloon. He even taught Cub Scouts to do magic tricks. I don’t know how many parents were impressed with the long needles the kids brought home, but they loved Karl.

When he was in first grade, his house burned; he swears he had nothing to do with it. We must believe him because he was in school at the time. It was at this point in his life Karl began to learn from his parents, “When you have lemons, you make lemonade.” They had lost everything, family photos, heirlooms … everything. But they counted their blessings. They were grateful for the insurance money which allowed them to rebuild and finish their house.

Karl, a curious little fellow, saw a hole in the brick wall surrounding the basement and said to himself, “I wonder what will happen if I put the hose in the hole and turn it on?” He left the hose running. Since he didn’t immediately see water building up inside the brick, he promptly went off to play. It filled the new basement with water. Grumpy (Karl’s dad) was not a happy camper and took him to the woodshed. Then all was forgiven. Grumpy was that kind of a guy. Karl and his dad had a wonderful relationship, and they spent many happy hours together on pack trail rides on horseback, cooking and camping.

Karl loved all things to do with horses. When he came home with Holly to meet her parents, they were going to the Crandell ranch to brand the cows. Karl wanted to show his prowess with horses. Thinking he was experienced, they gave him a big black horse named Jug Head. The horse’s name says it all. Karl put his foot in the stirrup, went right over the horse and landed on the ground on the other side. Jug Head just stood there and looked at him.

When Karl was 21, Grumpy invited him to help cook for various regional Scout camps. Karl learned to cook for large groups and used that talent to bless many people. Breakfast with Santa events, Fourth of July hamburgers and hot dogs, and Navajo taco fundraisers. If there was food to be cooked, Karl was there to take charge.

With all the things that Karl accomplished, one would think he never had any problems. However, when he was 26 years old, he was helping to repair the roof of an apartment and fell. His life totally changed. This began his long love/hate relationship with hospitals and nurses. Over the course of his medical history, he had both legs amputated below the knee, and later, the left leg was amputated at the hip. Through these challenges, friends and loved ones fasted and prayed for him.

He courted death many times. The first time was when he was 4. He was playing hide and seek with his friends and chose to hide in an abandoned freezer. The game was over – and no Karl. His mother received a prompting to check on him and found him in the freezer just in time. Later, he lived through pneumonia, sepsis and significant loss of blood. Once he spent four months in the hospital away from his family. He was a miracle.

Through all these challenges, he had a sense of humor. He loved Halloween, when the kids would ask him “Whoa, how did you get your legs to look like that?” He’d often say with a laugh, “I would agree with you, but I don’t have a leg to stand on,” or “I’m 2 feet short without a leg to stand on.” Laughter was his way of dealing with challenges.

Karl’s therapy from the total devastation became service. For many years, Scouting was his life. He dove in with both feet or, as he would say “dove in with both stumps.” That was Karl. He began his Scouting career with the 11-year-old Scouts. From there, he served the local troop Scout Committee and moved on to the district. Because of his prowess with the computer, he was made big chief of finances and organization for Mountain Man Rendezvous. His Mountain Man name was Iron Horse. He wore his homemade skunk hat and made knives to trade. He earned the District Award of Merit, Extra Miler Award, the Silver Owl and Silver Beaver, which is awarded by the council for distinguished service. He was a catalyst for helping Silver Creek District honor 80 Eagle Scouts in 2010 to celebrate 100 years in Scouting.

If there is a computer guru, it would have to be named Karl. Computers helped Karl keep his sanity through those hours of depression and bed rest. Karl became a rolling computer center for anyone in need. He never charged for his service because he enjoyed being able to “pay it forward.”

Karl never stopped learning and teaching. He tutored math college students, junior high and heavy equipment students. His skills took him into ham radio and emergency preparedness. Karl made friends wherever he went. He enjoyed talking to people over the radio and encouraged people to learn ham radio for emergency’s sake, but we are sure it was to widen his network. He worked with CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service), and the Kachina Amateur Radio Club. Karl took emergency preparedness seriously; he was even CPR-certified, if you can imagine that.

Karl was a husband, father and grandfather. When Holly brought Karl home with her to meet her parents, there was no question eternal love was in the making. They sparkled with love in every turn. Even after a two-hour grilling from his future father-in-law and falling off Jug Head on the ranch, he was still ready to seal the deal. Together, they raised two sons and adopted another. Karl was a doting grandfather and grateful the Lord allowed him that privilege.

Karl remains an inspiration to many, and he never stopped making lemonade from the lemons he was given. He loved the Savior and had a testimony that the Lord never gives a trial without providing a hidden blessing that would come from walking or rolling through the crucible of adversity.

We Will Dance

Yesterday I lay
in my crucible of adversity
With a circle of loved ones
gathered round.
We said our last goodbyes
and I rose from my bed
and stood upon my feet.
Yes, I stood upon my feet!
Running, leaping, dancing
I flew into the arms of my Savior
with tears and a warm embrace.
Then joy became ecstasy
As I embraced the ones I loved
Who had gone before.
Now I reach back across eternity
Waiting for you to come
Where we will waltz
In the golden corridors of heaven
In the dawn of perfect light
Where shadows never darken
And sunset never comes.  end mark

—Yevet Crandell Tenney

Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writes about faith, family and freedom.

If I had a dime for every time I heard, “He’s [or she’s] not a real farmer,” I would probably make more than I do currently milking cows. Actually, I don’t milk cows. I hate milking cows. In my opinion, I think it’s the most monotonous job on a dairy farm.

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These are arguably the most difficult times in (dairy) farming history, with high costs and low market prices. The conversations and climate among dairy farmers and agriculturalists often reflect this. It can be disheartening, unsatisfying and, frankly, depressing. 

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