Inspiring farmhand born with no hands, arms, or legs

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Chris Koch considers himself to be just another farmer. That’s how his dad raised him; no different than any other child.

With that attitude, it’s no wonder that Chris, born with no arms or legs, has gone on to inspire so many. He has inspired even more through a video released by the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in late May.

Chris was raised on a farm in Nanton, Alberta, Canada. The OWN video, shot at the picturesque Apricot Lane Farms in California, owned by filmmaker John Chester, shows him driving a tractor, pitching hay, and even older footage of him showing cattle.

Chris continues to work as a farmhand and motivational speaker with the message “If I can…” His Twitter account (@IHopJRWalks) shows pictures of him with calves in southern Alberta and at the helm of John Deere planter and combine near Torquay, Saskatchewan.

He has climbed both the Calgary Tower and CN Tower in Toronto (tallest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere) for charity, swam in the Amazon River, and even skydived. He drives (although he can’t legally), skateboards, and wakeboards. But, he notes that he can’t swim or run a chainsaw.

The Calgary Herald recently interviewed him on another farm where he works, Mesabi Ranch.

It’s the kind of story that makes you want to make the most out of every day, because Chris does.

The dairy industry is an important economic engine in America. The farm value of milk production is second only to beef among livestock industries and is equal to corn. Milk is produced in all 50 states, with the major producing states in the West and North. Dairy farms, overwhelmingly family-owned and managed, are generally members of producer cooperatives.

USDA’s Economic Research Service finds that major trends in U.S. milk production include a fairly slow and steady increase in production as gains in milk output per cow outweigh declines in the number of cows, and a consistent decline in the number of dairy operations, matched by a continual rise in the number of cows per operation.  The USDA Census of Agriculture, released earlier this year shows four of the top five “milk cow counties” are in California with Tulare County leading the way with a reported 490,000.  (The other top county is Gooding, County, Idaho).

According to the International Dairy Foods Association, National Dairy Month started out as National Milk Month in 1937 as a way to promote drinking milk. It was initially created to stabilize the dairy demand when production was at a surplus, but has now developed into an annual tradition that celebrates the contributions the dairy industry has made to the world.  After the National Dairy Council stepped in to promote the dairy industry June effort, the name changed to “Dairy Month.”  Now, many states including California, Vermont and Wisconsin have special events and observances in honor of dairy farmers and the industry.

Dairy is important to health.  Through programs like Fuel Up to Play 60, the National Dairy Council provides cutting-edge nutrition information that can be used by people of all ages. You can learn more about the innovative research and promotion activities by visiting the Agricultural Marketing Service website.  So no matter where your dairy comes from, thank a farmer. Dairy farming is a labor of love, but it is hard labor, and we thank everyone involved in producing the milk you drink.

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Kansas City, Missouri  |  June, 13, 2014 at 09:50 AM

Thank you Lucas! And a huge thank you to Chris! I need to carry your spirit in my heart every day! Truly inspiring!

Fort Collins, CO  |  June, 13, 2014 at 02:23 PM

What an inspiring life Chris leads. You can see the happiness and optimism in his face. It looks like he has found some innovative ways to adapt farm equipment, but FYI there is a U.S.-based organization that helps tailor equipment to those with physical limitations: Agrability ( Not sure if there is an equivalent in Canada!

Burlington, VT  |  June, 16, 2014 at 05:22 PM

What those without things most of us take for granted can do, is truly inspirational. Thanks for sharing!


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