Joe Kincaid may have lost his mobility to MS, but says there’s nothing he can’t do
Joe Kincaid has always loved life on the farm. Working with cattle, harvesting hay and fixing what needs to be fixed are just a few of the pleasures of farm life he has enjoyed.
“Had beef cattle all my life,” he said. “After school, I went out on the road doing construction and I had my own excavation business, but I always came back to the farm. I lived in town for a little while, but I couldn’t stand it. I love newborn baby calves and just everything on the farm. We also have a lot of wildlife and I enjoy being outdoors.”
In 1993, Joe was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The disease has gradually taken away Joe’s ability to walk and use his hands, but it has not hindered his work ethic or his love of the farm.
Joe and his mother and devoted caregiver Rose Mary call a 100-plus acre farm outside of Stafford, Mo., home. Joe and neighbor Ted Anderson were partners for a few years on a cattle herd, but Ted has now taken the operation over. Joe and Ted are still partners in the hay from the farm. The men also discuss any projects that need to be done and decisions are made as a team.
“I still like to get out and be in the fields when I can,” Joe said. “I still have to have something to do.”
To help him get around his farm, Joe rode in a trailer pulled behind a truck. It served the purpose, but it wasn’t always a smooth or safe ride.
“I have an old four-wheel drive truck now. I built a concrete ramp, which I call my loading dock, and I can wheel into and ride in the bed. The trailer scared me sometimes,” he said with a laugh. “It would get a little rough in that trailer.”
Rose Mary said there is a photo of Joe in his trailer, with a log splitter bringing up the rear.
Joe hires young people to help him with his projects around the farm, which may include fixing a tractor, building an outbuilding, making repairs around the farm, rebuilding a 1986 John Deere mower or building raised garden beds for Rose Mary.
Many of the young people who come to Joe’s farm have no farming background or mechanical skills, but they leave with a piece of Joe’s knowledge. Joe enjoys passing his knowledge to young people, hopefully giving them life skills they will carry through into adulthood.
“I can’t keep someone busy seven days a week, so they are usually high school kids I can get a few days a week,” Joe said. “I can’t move my hands, so it’s hard to tell someone how to do something; something that should take 5 seconds takes a half an hour. The first few years, it drove me insane because I couldn’t do it.”
One of most significant projects Joe undertook with his hired hands was the reclaiming of a more than the 100-year-old barn that was part of the original homestead.
“It went from falling down to usable,” Joe said. “We put square bales in the loft and store equipment.”
The project took five years to complete, but Joe lead every step of the way.
“When we started putting in the loft floor, they knew nothing about how to do it,” Joe recalled. “I got into the bucket of the tractor and they laid two pieces of plywood down so I’d have a place to be up there.”
Rose Mary was in the barn loft as their young hired hand was lifting Joe.
“They had their own signals, and I didn’t know what those signals were. I saw Ted coming down the hill and he flew down there. He came running up and I said, ‘Ted, I’m gone.’ Made me a nervous wreck.”
“We had it tied in,” Joe said.
“You didn’t have that tied in there,” Rose Mary said. “He’s a daredevil; has been his whole life. They didn’t want to put him in the loft, but he kept saying, ‘you can do it, it’s OK.’”
“They just have to watch and do what I say,” Joe added.
A cabin area was added to the barn, and a nearby natural spring was developed to allow for running water for washing. Tin from the sides and the roof of the barn was reclaimed and used inside the cabin.
Joe and Rose Mary have hosted family get-togethers, a wedding and many other events for their friends and family at the barn.
“I just wanted to take something that was junk and make something useable out of it,” Joe said. “I’m really proud of it and enjoy using it. In 2012, I was in the hospital for six weeks and the cabin wasn’t quite finished, but the neighbors finished it up.”
With the help of his two nephews, Joe was also able to build his dream car, a 1970 Chevelle, which remains one of Joe’s prized possessions.
“They would ask him what to do, and he’d tell them they had to describe it better than that because he couldn’t see what they were looking at,” Rose Mary recalled.
“They’d ask what this thing was by this other thing,” Joe said. “Well, I didn’t know that thing was.”
Joe is humble when asked about not allowing his disabilities to overshadow his abilities, and his desire to remain active.
“If I can get someone to be my hands, I can do anything,” he said. “There’s no reason to sit around and feel sorry for yourself. On a farm, you’ve always got something going on, like a tree down or a fence that needs fixing. When I look out that window, I see things that need to be done; it bugs me to see something that needs to be done. It is getting a little harder now, but I stay busy.
“Everyone tells me that I’m an inspiration, but I don’t think about what they see. I don’t need to be told I’ve done a good job, and I know the difference between bad and good. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it good. I know I might not praise people and compliment them enough, I guess because I don’t need it, but I’m getting better.”
“Joe won’t brag on himself; he’s too modest,” Ted told OFN. “He’s a pretty sharp guy and I just admire him for his courage. I have learned patience from Joe. He wanted me to build a gate, from scratch, out of pipe, and he told me how every step of the way. He has his own way of designing things and he’s taught me that. Once you get to know him, he’s a lot of fun. Joe has his own standards for things and they are pretty high.”
As for his next project, Joe isn’t sure what’s on the horizon.
“Hay season is coming up, so I’m sure it will be something,” he said.