Urging farmers to use extreme caution
As I drove across southeastern Minnesota over the weekend to visit my son at college in Madison, I admired all the wonderful fall colors. I also noticed the farmers busy at work, and it made me think about what they will be facing in the coming weeks.
It is a special time of the year for farmers, as they bring in the fruits of their labors by harvesting soybeans and corn.
I have many fond memories of growing up on our family farm in central Minnesota. Besides operating a large hog operation, at least it was in those days, my father also ran 200 acres of corn and soybeans.
Even though I ended up leaving our family farm for “greener pastures,” I have many cherished memories of my time on the farm. It’s a childhood experience I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. And it has become much more precious to me as I grow older.
I’ll never forget the hard efforts our entire family put into the farm operation, especially around harvest time. It seemed like it was always a race against the clock and calendar to get the crops harvested and the ground turned over in preparation for the next planting season.
My favorite aspect of the harvest season was hauling in the crops from the fields. I had a blast driving the tractor to and from the fields, bringing the crops back to the farm. I also loved the aroma of freshly dried corn as it filled the crisp fall air.
Anybody with connections to the farm knows hard work is a big part of farm life. I believe that’s where I gained my strong work ethic. It’s my feeling that hard work pays big dividends in many ways.
During harvest time, my family banded together to get the work done. Besides my parents and siblings, my grandfather and uncles came to help get the farm work done. My grandpa helped on the farm until he was nearly 80 years old and physically couldn’t any longer.
Being around my grandpa on the farm created a special bond between us that continued until he passed away.
Farming is not an easy occupation, as most farmers will relate. In fact, it is one of the most dangerous occupations in this country. While growing up, I was surrounded by some unpleasant realities of farm life.
The harshest dose of how dangerous farm life can be came on harvest season for me when I was about 10 years old. I was working outside on the farm when I heard the news that my 13-year-old cousin was killed when the tractor he was operating tipped over and crushed him. This was an extremely tragic time for our family.
I also had a close call myself. I was operating a Bobcat and unloading rock into a hole. I raised the bucket too high, causing the entire machine and myself to go flying into the hole. I escaped with a couple holes on my head that had to be snitched up. Some would argue, perhaps, that I haven’t been the same since, and I’ve lost my marbles.
As a teenager working at my hometown newspaper, I profiled a farmer who lost his arm in an auger accident. The remarkable part of this story was that the man kept farming despite using a prosthetic arm.
Farmers will be burning the midnight oil in the coming weeks to finish harvesting. While this is necessary to reap the fruits of their labor, I encourage all farmers to use extreme caution in operating tractors, combines, trucks and other heavy machinery. It may require farmers to slow down just a bit and take a few extra minutes to get the job done safely.
Harvest is here. Let’s encourage our farm friends to go in hot pursuit of practicing farm safety. I don’t want this harvest season marred by tragedy for anyone.