Life Changing Stories
In the small town of Windsor, there's two people who have learned to deal with change no matter how fast it hits.
Meet Larry and Cheryl Barnson. They have a big farm, complete with Clydesdale, goats, dogs, burrows and even a room full of carriages. They also have a story or two to tell. Stories about change.
The two met in California where Larry trained race horses and Cheryl went to college. After years of working together they were married and needed a change so they moved east and, in 1993, Barnson Farm was born.
"Being with the animals is the most important part of what I do."
"The freedom it gives you from being out here like this."
The couple lived their perfect life for almost three years, working side by side and retreating to their 100-year-old farm house at night. Life was sweet. Then, in 1995, things changed.
"He had some complications getting off the tractor and on the horse- that's where it was first recognized," Cheryl said.
Larry was losing strength in his arms and legs, a visit to a new doctor confirmed something was definitely changing in his health.
"He told Larry he needed some testing to see if he was right and that's how we discovered the diagnosis," she added.
Larry has Inclusion Body Myositis, a type of Muscular Dystrophy that weakens muscles.
"They gave me a very bad prognosis, this wasn't going to be an easy thing," he said.
Luckily, it's been a relatively slow progression confining him to a wheelchair in only the last three years.
"I don't have a lot of pain, some people have a lot of pain. Everyday they say is the best day you're going to have, everyday is down hill from there," Larry said.
As Larry's condition worsened it was harder for him to help out, still there was no question about giving up the farm.
"We love what we do, we love agriculture and we couldn't see ourselves living in town."
But change wasn't finished with the Barnsons and a big one was coming their way fast.
"It was a typical day in Missouri where the weather can change at anytime and I was outside," Cheryl said.
A storm was coming and Cheryl was working outside.
"Larry called me and asked me to come in the house, which it's not normal for me to respond very quickly, but I did," she said.
And it's a good thing.
"On March 30th, at approximately 8:15, our lives were changed forever."
Two minutes after Cheryl got to the house a tornado ripped through their farm. Since the house was so old there was no way to get Larry downstairs so Cheryl sat in the stairwell and Larry was stuck in the middle of the house.
"I was in the stairwell and he heard glass breaking. We talked to each other constantly, we just continued to talk and 'are you ok?'"
After the storm was over Cheryl was able to crawl out of the home under trees and debris.
"It was dark, we had no electricity."
It wasn't until help came that the Barnson's realized the tornado had destroyed every building on their land, except for the house they were in.
"Trees went through the roof but neither one of us were hurt."
In the next weeks they began to rebuild their farm and their lives.
"We enjoy what we do and we are not going to change it."
"She's been a great inspiration, a lot of these ideas are hers, in fact most of them as I look around are hers, things that make her happy," Larry said.
Now they are building their dream home, with a basement Larry can get to and a storm shelter, just in case.
"Through tornados or health limitations- would that be the way some people would want?- probably not, but you know, things happen for a reason."
"Everything going to be okay for now, but nobody knows what's going to happen down the road. Don't worry about way down the road, worry about now and today."
Yes, Larry and Cheryl have a story or two to tell, stories that will change your life forever.