The Gentle Giant Farm is run by the teamwork of its owners, Greg and Maureen Sikora. The animal chores are Maureen’s domain and Greg does all the maintenance and veterinary work. In the middle of December, just before the storms and holidays, Greg suffered a back injury that put his half of the teamwork out of commission. The news spread rapidly across the Key Peninsula farm community. A fellow farmer hauled in two truck loads of firewood to keep Maureen from taking up the chainsaw, another came to dress turkeys that were sold for Christmas dinners, neighbors stepped in to finish the new chicken house extension and keep the chickens dry, egg customers stopped in to help with chores, though many of them had never worked on a farm.
Some of the Sikora family made long distance flights to take on the chores. Greg’s 88- year-old mother, Eleanor, left her home in Albuquerque and is staying at their home. She literally gets up with the chickens to do the chicken chores and then helps Greg during the day. Maureen’s family from England will arrive after Greg’s back surgery, scheduled for Jan. 23, and work while Greg recovers. In between times, cookies arrive, meals are brought in, and friends drive Greg to his medical appointments.
“How much people put themselves out is more than could be imagined,” said Maureen. “So many people wanted to help.”
The injury occurred when Greg was working with two neighbors to pull the pump out of their community well. He doesn’t think pulling the 82-pound pump hurt his back but, “I must of twisted wrong when I stood up,” he says. His back felt worse and worse and by the next evening he was in an emergency room with the diagnosis of three herniated disks and three damaged nerves. Eventually, he lost the use of his left leg.
“Hopefully I can get my left leg fully mobile but I’ll be on light duty for quite a while,” he says.
The Gentle Giant Farm is named for Lady, a Shire Horse. They brought her to America from England. She is bigger than a Clydesdale and a descendant of the Great Horse which was the breed knights in armor used to ride. Maureen takes care of Lady and her colt, Quest, keeps up the farm chores by working 12-hour days and admires her new muscles. But spring season without Greg has her worried.
“I need him because of the lambing and kidding coming up,” she said. “I’m okay at noticing what’s going on; but the idea of assisting the birth…”
“I do the veterinary,” says Greg.
“I just do the panicking,” explains Maureen.
The Sikora’s are confident they will get through Greg’s recovery months. More family is on their way to help and they know they have the support of the community. “I’m not alone in this. For as bad as it has been, the goodness of people has much (exceeded it),” Maureen says.
Maureen put their appreciation in an email to KP News:
“We can’t find the words to express our thanks to those friends, neighbors, strangers, and family who have telephoned to offer help or support and those saints who have turned up at the farm gate with firewood, chainsaws, hammers, cookies and love. We have traveled the world but could never imagine a place where community spirit is as evident as it has been expressed here on the peninsula. Thank you to all of you. We are so glad that our home search, four and a half years ago, brought us amongst you all,” she wrote.