Grady County-- Farming isn't an easy job. Many of us know that. But it can be dangerous. Few of us think about that. That danger hit home for many farmers in Grady County recently when a friend and colleague was killed in a freak accident.
Last month, Stacy Mills was crushed between two pieces of farm equipment. His death was an awful shock for his family and it came during harvest time. His friends came together to help Mills' family harvest and heal.
The cotton fields of Grady County will no longer be the same. Above the sounds of cotton pickers, bad news traveled fast.
"When I got the news, it was a sobering experience," said farmer Freddie Miller.
Freddie Miller was working just two miles away when he learned that his life-long friend, 43-year-old Stacy Mills had an accident on his farm.
"He got pinned between two pieces of equipment and there was no way to save him," said Miller.
"All my hopes was that he'd be alright but things turned out different," said farmer Bruce Godwin.
Mills passed away at Mitchell County Hospital leaving behind friends, family and more than 400 acres of unpicked cotton in his fields. The close-knit family of farmers came up with a plan.
"We're going to take care of the job and get it done," said Godwin. "We all decided that it would be better if we gathered his cotton to help his wife and his family," said Miller.
It's help that's needed. It's an especially hard time for Karis Mills. "October 26th was our ten-year anniversary," said Mills.
Her husband died not even a month after their anniversary and just days before the holidays. But the sights and sounds of dozens of farmers pulling together offers a little comfort. "They volunteered their time, their equipment to do whatever they had to do to finish picking the cotton for Stacy and I just want to thank each and every person that's done that," said Mills.
She's been taking pictures of their hard work in the fields. "I think Stacy would be proud," said Mills.
"I think he would do the same thing for us," said Miller. They're making a sacrifice for Stacy, abandoning their own farms at the busiest time of the year. Bruce Godwin says knowing Stacy, he's pretty sure that he's thankful.
"He would if he could. I will see him one day because I know where he's going. He's going to heaven," said Godwin. A void is here. But their work will continue beneath the blue sky, picking white cotton until the dew falls.
The family has set up a scholarship at ABAC called the Stacy D. Mills Agricultural Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship will go to deserving AG students. To donate to the fund, contact the college.