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‘It was unbelievable’: Shuswap farmer overwhelmed by kindness of residents

Sidelined by injuries from a fall, 91-year-old Tappen man wondered how he’d handle the hay crop
Syd Wand and his spouse Jean have raised mostly Red Angus cattle for 25 years in Tappen. On July 29, 2022 the cows were busy grazing on a field that was not used for hay this year. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

With fields full of hay bales and a body suffering from two broken ribs and a possibly fractured collar bone, Syd Wand was pretty worried about his hay crop.

Syd, 91, has been working for 29 years on farmland in Tappen alongside his spouse, Jean.

They’ve had cattle for 25 years, mostly Red Angus. He speaks highly of the animals.

“I like them, they’re gentle. And if I want them, all I have to do is stand at the gate and whistle, and I get a stampede. They’re just a good breed to take care of.”

Once the hay is cut and baled, Syd and Jean usually move the bales off the fields together. Syd, however, was injured in a recent fall. This time Jean tried dragging the bales herself – but it was too much.

Concerned about the chance of a thunderstorm soaking the bales, Syd was at a loss what to do. With 10 head of cattle to feed, hay is a necessity.

“I was just sitting there thinking, what in hell do we do next?”

Then, without warning, help arrived.

He couldn’t believe his eyes when, on July 22, pickup trucks, tractors and flat-decks drove up to their place. About eight people got out, ready to work.

In approximately three hours, 248 bales were picked up and moved to the hay shed.

The neighbourly workers even brought beverages and cinnamon buns, so they stayed for a while afterwards to visit.

Asked how all this felt, “fantastic” was Syd’s enthusiastic reply.

“All of a sudden people who you don’t know pop up,” he remarked, adding that the work isn’t without risk; anytime a person lifts a bale of hay, there’s a chance they could hurt their back.

He said the assistance was a wonderful contrast to all the rotten things you hear about in the world.

And the group wouldn’t allow him to do anything, which, with his injuries, “was just as well anyway.”

“Some of them didn’t know me, I didn’t know some of them. They came just out of the goodness of their heart. It was just goodwill on their part – because they were good people to begin with. That basically is what it is.”

He emphasized the whole reason for him telling his story is to express his gratitude for such overwhelming kindness.

“It was unbelievable.”

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Syd Wand of Tappen says he is immensely grateful for the people who showed up unannounced to move about 250 bales of hay from the fields into the hay shed after he was injured in a fall. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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