Grisly childhood injury doesn't stop farmer


Associated Press

Posted on April 7, 2013 at 12:01 PM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Central Kentucky farmer Mark Wells does all the typical work of his chosen profession.

He fixes fences, drives tractors, tends cattle. He intends to do it until the day he dies.

"They'll plant me out in one of these fields when I'm gone, I reckon," he told The State Journal ( as he leaned against his pickup truck and looked out on a pasture.

Forty years ago, farm work might not have seemed possible.

On a cold afternoon in January, 1973, a then-12-year-old Wells was unloading corn with his dad on their Scott County farm.

Draped in his father's oversized winter coat, Wells turned to pick up some extra kernels when the jacket got caught in a piece of whirring machinery.

His right arm was swiftly torn off at the shoulder, both legs shattered and a gaping hole ripped in his side.

Wells' next memory is waking up on a bed in an intensive care unit.

"I opened my eyes and saw my arm sitting there on my stomach, black as the ace of spades."

He spent the next five months in the hospital, re-learning to walk, figuring out how to write with his left hand and teaching himself to tie his shoes with one hand. After all that, Wells had to learn to farm again.

Today, Wells, 53, works full-time at six different farms for Teddy Greathouse. Wells doesn't have any special accommodations. Anything a typical farmhand would do is fair game.

The 35-year partnership began when Wells, at the age of 15, approached Greathouse one summer and asked if he could help hang tobacco.

Greathouse let him help, and Wells just kept coming back.

"He would never let that arm be a handicap," Greathouse said. "He would never use that to get out of a job."

Wells' wife of 14 years, Dodie, 56, is quick to add to the list of things he does. He hunts with a crossbow, fishes, skins animals, plays baseball. She interjects another four or five things any time there's a break in conversation.

In fact, the two had a hard time thinking of something Wells couldn't do.

"I'm bumfuzzled," Mark Wells said with a laugh. "I can't think of nothing!"

One thing he takes great pride in doing is raising his three grandchildren with his wife. Logan, 10, Hannah, 8, and Dylan, 4, are growing up on a farm, just like he did. And with no hesitation in light of his accident, Wells champions the virtues of farm life.

"I think every kid should be raised on a farm and have chores," he said.

Dodie Wells nodded in agreement, then added another few things to the list of Mark's accomplishments for good measure — nailing down boards, picking up hay bales and climbing silo ladders.

"I never set out to prove anybody wrong," Mark Wells said. "I just feel in myself that I can do whatever I want."


Information from: The State Journal,