Knee, back pain doesn’t stop Brownlee

MEEKER — Alden and Anita Brownlee have been a part of agriculture in northeastern Colorado since 1975. Throughout the years, Alden drove trucks during sugar beet harvest, worked cattle during calving season and ran cattle on his pasture.
As with many farmers and ranchers, the years of hard work have taken a toll on his body. Recently, because of chronic pain in his back and knees, Brownlee noticed that normal chores had become more difficult to complete.
He has had a couple surgeries for his back and shoulder, but they have not taken away all of his pain. Learning how to work smarter instead of harder has become more important. Last year Brownlee received a flyer in the mail from Colorado AgrAbility inviting him to attend the AgrAbility workshop in his area.
“I was interested in learning about how they could help people with injuries and disabilities stay on their farm,” states Brownlee.
After attending the workshop, Brownlee contacted Marsha Hunt, AgrAbility Project rural rehabilitation specialist for Easter Seals Colorado. Hunt met with Brownlee to discuss his situation and how they could help him. “We were glad that Alden contacted us,” states Hunt. “After talking with him and visiting his farm we felt that some simple modifications could really help him better manage his back and knee pain.”
Hunt suggested Brownlee contact the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). “This organization has made it a priority to help farmers and ranchers find resources including adaptive equipment so that they can continue to farm and ranch,” states Hunt.
One of the first pieces of adaptive equipment that Hunt recommended was a replacement tractor seat and seat suspension for his Farmall tractor. “A replacement seat would help quite a bit,” states Brownlee. “My current seat is in terrible condition.” Another idea was to add a quick hitching system to his three-point hitch to make it easier to attach implements to his tractor. “The quick hitch would be helpful,” states Brownlee. “If I had that a couple days ago I wouldn’t have had to cuss so much.” Hunt is continuing to work with DVR to help find additional equipment that will make it easier for him to farm with his knee and back pain.
This year the Colorado AgrAbility Project will offer 16 free workshops in eight communities throughout the state. On most days there will be a workshop in the morning and a workshop in the afternoon. The morning workshop for farm and ranch families is titled “Got Knee/Hip/Joint Problems on the Ranch/Farm?” They will run from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. with a free lunch served from 12-1 p.m. for those who pre-register a week ahead of time.
If you are planning on attending a workshop please call Dr. Bob Fetsch (970) 491-5648 or e-mail for more information and to register so that a lunch can be provided for you.
The afternoon workshops are from 1-4 p.m. and are for professionals who work with farm and ranch families with disabilities. The workshop will focus on “AgrAbility and Utilizing Knee, Hip and Joint Problem Resources with Farmers and Ranchers with Disabilities.”
The workshop in Rio Blanco County will be in Meeker Feb. 20 at the Meeker Extension Office at 779 Sulphur Creek Rd.
Colorado State University Extension and Easter Seals Colorado work together on the Colorado AgrAbility Project to provide on-site evaluations, information and workshops directly to farm and ranch families for equipment modification and assistive technology.
The USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service funds the Colorado AgrAbility Project, a Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Program, which aims to keep farmers and ranchers healthy and able to continue their agricultural operations.