“I just keep on moving forward …” – An interview with Jacob Freeman

by Anna Ferraro

A fourth-generation farmer, Jacob Freeman knows what a full day of work looks like. From running the sprayer in the field to interacting with his Pioneer Seed customers, he says, “I’m going 100 all the time.”

In summer of 2014, an accident occurred on Freeman’s farm that threatened to disrupt the flow of his life forever. He says, “I was trying to get a seed tender ready for a customer … the accident happened in a matter of seconds.”

One minute he was working with both hands, and the next minute, he had lost four fingers on his right hand.

The following two weeks of hospitalization were a painful and traumatic blur. In the course of three surgeries, doctors attempted to reattach the fingers that had been severed from his hand. Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful. At the end of two weeks, Freeman was released from the hospital and sent home with less than half of his right hand.

How did that affect him? The honest answer he gives is, “Not much … I got out of the hospital on a Friday, and on Saturday, I was looking at crops with Dad.” Despite the loss, Freeman says, “If you don’t get back up on the horse and go, you’re going to be thinkin’ that you’re paralyzed. You’ve just got to learn and move on.”

Looking back, he says, “It was a pretty crazy year … I thank my family for their support, and I had a great account manager to help get stuff out the door – lots of guys stepped up to the plate to get seed delivered. The business kept on moving …”

Initially, he kept his right hand propped up and did everything with his left hand, including running the sprayer. As time went on, he began to regain some mobility and function – using his right thumb and the nub of an index finger that remained to their fullest capacity. He shares with a chuckle, “I can now write with my right hand, and my handwriting’s no worse than it was before.”

In closing, Freeman shared, “At the end of the day, it has changed my life, of course, but I don’t view my life any differently. I just keep on moving forward, and think twice before I do anything. Sometimes I just need a chill pill, and I need to stop trying to do about three things at once all the time – I’ve got to think for a lot of people, and a lot of people depend on me, so I need to take care of myself so I’m here for them at the end of the day.”

Currently a sales representative for Pioneer Seed, Freeman farms 1,700 acres of corn and beans with his dad. Together, he and his wife, Kaila, have two small children.

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