THEN & NOW
Ideas & Inspiration
Since they were featured in Landscapes in 2001, Texas AgFinance customers Luther Hueske and Harold Luhn have been fighting to protect their patent on the Rakehand. The ups and downs have highlighted the blessings of family and friends in their small communities of Brenham and Bellville, Texas.
Luther Hueske and Harold Luhn could write a book about their experiences since patenting their invention, the Rakehand. But, they say, they couldn't publish it yet.
It is a story filled with frustration and heartache, but most of all, friendship. Not just any friendship either. The kind of friendship that is best experienced in the country, where people step in and help whenever you need it.
Hueske and Luhn invented and patented the Rakehand, a device that allows you to rake and bale hay in one pass around a field, with one piece of equipment.
"It reduces the need for fuel and labor, which have always been our biggest selling points," Hueske says. "We thought back when the last (Landscapes) article was written, that saving on fuel was a big deal. It's a much bigger deal now. The price of farm diesel has quadrupled since then."
They have continued to sell the Rakehand, primarily to repeat customers and people who have heard about it by word of mouth. They also have advertised it in magazines and at farm trade shows.
Among their satisfied customers is their neighbor, Max Baranowski. He purchased one of the first units after he saw it work during a field day at his farm. It is an investment he has never regretted.
"I love it," Baranowski says. "I've been using it for years. It works great, and it really saved me on labor."
For many agricultural producers, including the inventors featured here, ingenuity is a way of life.
Protecting Their Patent
Instead of enjoying the fruit of their labor, however, Hueske and Luhn have spent years fighting in court to protect their patent from infringement. They won the first round, but now they are in an ongoing battle, with the case under appeal.
"Everybody thinks they have a great idea and wants to get a patent, but they don't realize what it takes,"
Luhn says. "I guess it depends what the invention is."
Despite the frustration, they are still inventors at heart.
"I've always been a dreamer, thinking of ideas," Luhn says. "And you think of ways to make things better. You gotta make it easier for yourself."
Friends in Need
In August 2006, the frustrations of the slow and lingering court battles were dwarfed by a different set of bad news. Luhn was diagnosed with colon cancer.
"Talk about a life-changing event," he recalls. "That put things in perspective real quick." Neighbors
and friends, including Hueske, stepped in to help. One neighbor took over all the hay baling while Luhn recovered from surgery.
Within a month, he was back on a tractor and running his equipment again. Although he is still undergoing chemotherapy, he is doing well, and he credits his progress to his family and friends.
Hueske agrees. "He's lucky. He's got a lot of good friends and a great, sweet wife. Plus, it's about attitude. Harold's always had a good personal attitude, friendly, easy to get along with. People remember what you've done, and they want to help you. That's what friends are about."