Rock Walks

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Dairy farmer shows off progress with prosthetics

By Linda Ireland

Saturday’s AGstravaganza gave residents a chance to visit six farming enterprises around the county. The program, sponsored by LaRue County Farm Bureau, is in its second year of promoting local agriculture.

One of the most visited stops was Rock Brothers Dairy in Roanoke. Owner Gary Rock – one of four dairy farmers in the county – was on hand to show off his rebuilt dairy barn – and his new legs.

Rock had a trio of tragedies last year that began with the death of his elderly father in May. A month later, on June 26, an EF2 tornado destroyed his dairy barn and injured or killed several of his cows. On Aug. 29, he lost his legs in a farming accident.

Rock was in a field using a self-propelled chopper to cut corn stalks. It jammed and he attempted to clear the clog with his foot. Within seconds, both of his legs were severed.

He was flown to a Louisville hospital with a grim prognosis. Nineteen days later, he came home.

The community held a fundraiser for him, “Farmers Rock,” to assist with the cost of prosthetic legs. He received the legs in February and has made great progress in relearning how to walk.

Inside the dairy barn, Rock talked about aspects of his farming operation: the average pounds of milk (68) produced daily by each cow; the regulations imposed by the government; and quality controls.

Outside, he demonstrated his new legs, taking a few steps while family and friends hovered, waiting to steady him if needed.

“The energy it takes to take two steps (for a bilateral above-knee amputee) – just multiply it by five,” he said. “If I had a knee, it would make all the difference.”

At the end of his demonstration, he balanced using a walker, and shook one of his legs.

“Out of funness, I can shake a leg sometimes,” he said, with a laugh.

He estimates he is a year away from walking independently.

Rock said he tries to stay positive – and he believes God has a purpose for his life.

“Many times we choose to not let our life unfold as God has plans for us,” he said.

Oscar McGufffey, who has built ramps and rails for Rock, said his friend inspires him.

“My problems are penny-ante (compared to his),” he said.