Ages before Mount Mansfield had ski slopes and Stowe was a tourist attraction, there was a man named Merton Pike.
"I didn't know we were having a party," said Merton.
It's a surprise celebration to honor two old timers, Merton and Daryl Lowry.
"Daryl Lowry how are you," said Merton.
The University of Vermont Extension Service recognized the men as early advocates for farm safety. Something Merton knows all too well.
"Why down in the corner of that field," said Merton.
It was a farm accident in 1971.
"My dad was wondering why I didn't come back from the field," said Merton.
Merton tried to remove a broken pin in the manure spreader. He put the tractor in reverse but his feet got stuck in the snow.
"I was pinned under the tractor, waved my hand to let him know I was in trouble," said Merton.
His dad came to the rescue, but the damage was done. Both feet were badly mangled. At the hospital an infection almost killed him. The doctors determined his legs needed to be amputated, one above the knee, the other below.
"You don't forget something like that," said Merton.
Reporter Joe Carroll: Was there ever a point why me?
Merton: Right of the start with.
He credits his wife, Ora, for setting him straight.
"I said to my wife, I guess I ruined our lives and she said your brains weren't in your feet," said Merton.
Three months later he was back on the farm, running the tractor and even climbing ladders. And at 94, Merton doesn't just putter on the lawn mower; he also drives the big boys.
"This is one of the things they did for me is put these steps on," said Merton.
The farm has five tractors with hand-controlled brakes.
"I haven't been milking cows since, but I've been driving the tractor a lot since then," said Merton.
Merton still does some haying and other farm chores, but he has another responsibility-- giving inspiration to others who have lost limbs, like a farmer in Orleans who thought he would never hunt again. Merton firmly said that yes he will.
"Couple years later I saw him there at a meeting I went to, he came to me and said, guess what, I got my deer," said Merton.
Back at the party, familiar faces arrive including George Cook, a UVM farm specialist.
"Merton can walk into a hospital room with someone that's just experienced a tragic situation and sit down and talk with them and when he leaves they have a whole different perspective on where there life is at and it didn't stop," said Cook.
And he tries to live by example. As he says, you don't know who's watching.
Now his son Les and grandchildren keep an eye on the patriarch of the family. They run the day-to-day operations.
The cane is a companion and reminder of the accident that happened 43 years ago,
Carroll: Did it make you a stronger person?
Merton: I expect it probably did!
Merton and Ora will have been married 71 years in June.
PO Box 4508