I have been told several different times since I became a parent that there is no better place to raise children than on a farm. They have plenty of room to roam and many different activities to engage in.
The downside to raising kids on a farm, however, is the dangers that lurk on farms. The threat of being injured or even killed by large farm machinery, livestock and in and around buildings and facilities is always present.
While we have been fortunate not to have to worry about this with our own kids on the farm, we haven't been without a few close calls. A few years ago, I was doing chores one evening at dusk. The kids were outside around the house where they normally play -- or at least that's what I thought.
As I was picking up a round bale of hay to feed our cows with our loader tractor in an area where we store bales of hay quite some distance from our house, I glanced over my left shoulder before backing up. It was a good thing I did, as our middle son, who was probably 5 or 6 years old at the time, was just standing there behind the tractor.
Now, I suppose he could have moved out of the way as I backed up since he was looking right at the tractor, but he also may not have moved and I would have run over him. I think of that day quite a bit and how lucky we were.
Accidents happen, but knowledge is key and some farm communities are coming together to hopefully prevent accidents in the future. One such event was the Farm Safety Day held recently at the Central Missouri Produce Auction in Fortuna, Missouri.
Nearly 800 people attended the event and visited the seven interactive farm safety exhibits provided by the University of Missouri (MU) Extension and area businesses, according to a news release from MU Extension. Nearly 98% of the people attending the event were from the 17 churches in the area's Mennonite community, Joni Harper, MU Extension agronomist, said.
"Our county has experienced a couple of fatal accidents involving children recently, and it has been heavy on the hearts of many in our community to do something that might prevent another loss," Harper said.
Harper said the Mennonites' farming methods follow their scriptural beliefs and are representative of 20th century practices that pose more safety risks than modern techniques. Mennonite parents teach their children the importance of hard work at an early age. Children work in the barn and in the garden as early as five years of age, she said.
The event allowed both children and adults to learn about the dangers of grain bins and power takeoffs, poisons in the home and farm, and how to make low-cost lifesaving devices for ponds and lagoons. Pharm to Farm, a joint effort of the Missouri AgrAbility Project and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy, offered free health screenings while MU Extension offered free educational pamphlets for adults and safety-themed coloring books for children.
Among the supporters of the event was Lowella Zimmerman of Barnett whose 2-year-old son, Norman, died in a 2016 farm accident. Norman was struck and killed as his father, Curvin, was operating a skid loader.
The Zimmermans attended the safety day with their other seven children. Lowella appreciated the exhibits that engaged the Mennonite children.
"It made the children more aware of where others are when they are on the tractor," Lowella Zimmerman said. "We came today to learn more about safety. I don't think there is such thing as being too safe."
I would agree with her 100%.
To read the entire MU Extension news release, please click on the following link: https://extension2.missouri.edu/….
Russ Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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