Farm safety is something that continues to be at the forefront of my mind now with Harper in the mix.
Recently, in a neighboring town, a little girl wandered off into her family’s cornfield. Luckily, she was found after about 8 hours. I can’t even begin to imagine the worry, heartache and then relief that family felt throughout the ordeal.
I can remember my parents always telling me find a row and keep walking until you reach the end or a road if I ever got lost in one of our fields. I honestly, can’t say I really remember ever playing in any of our fields, yet the thought of how quickly an incident like this could happen to any farm momma weighs on my heart.
Farm kids grow up faster. They have responsibilities that most won’t have until they are 10 or 12 or maybe even 16 by the age of 5 or 6 a lot of times. I think of how Harper isn’t even 3 and she knows how to feed her chickens, pig, and give treats to her “neigh-neighs.” She collects eggs from the chickens, can haul the bucket back to the garage and place them in the carton to go in the fridge. She knows how to water the plants, has her own wheelbarrow and work gloves, and helps in the garden.
Sometimes it never ceases to amaze me what she already know and all she does. We are a working farm and safety issues do happen. Simple things that I would have never thought twice about before I am over-cautious of now. Things such as making sure the bucket is all the way down on the tractor before letting her anywhere near it if we are hauling rock.
One thing I personally won’t let her do is let her ride on a lawn mower. At least not until she is old enough to actually drive it herself, and I can pass on the task of mowing the lawn to her. It irks me to no end when I see people on Facebook posting photos of tiny babies and toddlers riding on lawn mowers with their parents or grandparents. It takes one bump or quick stop for that kiddo to be under the blade. It just isn’t something I want to risk or encourage even if the blade isn’t engaged or it is just flat ground. A shift in family culture can be difficult, but can be necessary for the sake of safety.
Sometimes it is very hard when I am working out in the yard and she decides to wander to the other side of the house. I frequently have to stop what I am doing, go get her and bring her back or stop all together because she refuses to come back. Having a watchful eye on my kiddo gives me a heart attack and is frustrating all at the same time. I know I struggle with not being able to go out and help Mark with everything because I have to ensure Harper’s safety first and foremost.
As harvest in Minnesota really gets into full swing, after about a three-week delay due to rain, I know many farmers, including us, will have late nights, be moving equipment, and generally working longer hours in an effort to make up for lost time. Sometimes I fear a simple mistake may be made. Someone is in a rush or is over tired, and misses a simple safety step. It happens.
We don’t have OSHA standards in farming or a big sign up that says 159 days since the last incident in a shop. Most farms probably don’t have a protocol in place in case an emergency was to happen. It is one of the reasons I still maintain my emergency medical responder license – to be prepared in case an incident happens.
Safety isn’t something to take lightly.