Lyle Schlomer is an organic crop farmer in Osseo, Wisc., where he has been farming and living his whole life. He loves growing crops on the land he grew up on, so when he sold the cows a couple years back, he didn’t regret it, because he realized his passion was growing crops organically. Currently, Lyle is farming 140 organic acres of corn, barely, and clover.
Growing crops, and farming in general, has never been a breeze for Lyle. He found out how dangerous and unpredictable farming can be very early in life. At the age of two, Lyle lost his right leg in a grain auger accident. He sustained a right-leg amputation to the hip area, but remains unable to wear a prosthetic. His left leg was also involved in the accident, but didn’t require amputation. Lyle uses crutches to get around. The crutches have cuffs that go around his arms to prevent stress and strain to his shoulders.
As an organic farmer, Lyle spends extra time in the fields to protect his crops from the pests that other farmers might use chemicals against. He states, “It’s challenging being organic.” Lyle spends additional time getting in and out of tractors, especially during harvest when he is filling his grain bin. Lyle only has one grain bin, so he has to move quickly during harvest and make sure the barley is cleaned out of the bin before he can put the corn in.
Being a farmer, organic or not, requires a lot of physical work. Lyle, like all farmers, has been pushing on in his love of farming. Constantly walking with crutches has left Lyle with shoulder pain. Lyle’s left leg often gets sore from repetitively walking and often shifting all his weight on it; often times he can’t move very quickly.
When Lyle still had milking cows on the farm, he and his brother got in touch with AgrAbility so that Lyle could get assistance to feed the cows and continue field work. With the help of AgrAbility, Easter Seals, and the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), Lyle was able to get the help he needed to continue farming today.
One accommodation that the DVR provided after recommendation by the Easter Seals specialist was a Polaris Ranger that helps Lyle to move around the farm more easily and quickly. He uses the Ranger for checking his crops and moving between buildings on the farm. With the help of the Ranger, Lyle is also able to easily transport farming supplies, instead of trying to balance supplies in his hands as he walks on crutches.
The DVR also provided Lyle with a John Deere 4020 with a power shift transmission. The power shifting makes it easier for Lyle to simply drive a tractor, because he doesn’t have to use his left leg for both the clutch and the brake.
“They helped with a lot of stuff, and I am very grateful,” Lyle said. He hopes to continue farming for years to come, remaining an organic farmer, learning and applying the best organic practices as he goes.
Lyle’s eagerness to keep learning organic tips and tricks and his dedication to his farm, along with the help he’s received, will keep him farming and moving forward for years to come.
Lyle was featured on Wisconsin Public Television’s “Around the Farm Table,” and the full episode can be viewed here.