Rural Reflections: Accident reminds us of dangers in what we do

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Farm Forum

Coming home Monday night, dust was in the air, not from loose soil but from the dirt and chaff churned out by local combines. As I talked to people last week, it was clear that little would get in the way of getting the crop taken from the fields. Bean harvest was underway in earnest.

However, the words, “There’s a farm accident,” stops all in their tracks, no matter what those in ag country are doing.

That’s a phrase that strikes fear in every heart of those involved in agriculture. In a small state such as ours, it’s likely that we may know the person, may know the family, may know the community. We’re connected by the bond of what we do and our common goal. There’s always the uneasy thought that it could have been my husband or my neighbor. Each time I see an ambulance speed by or hear the CareFlight helicopter take off, I pray for the person and their family.

This week, on hearing there was a farm accident in the area, my mind raced through images of the faces of all those farmers, young and old, who have talked to me in recent years about their operations. One slip of a wrench, one misstep can take a life. It can also change the whole dynamics of a family and a community.

I didn’t know Wayne Feller of Groton. I’ve heard that he worked here at the American News in the 1970s. One fellow said he was working with his sons, apparently something that was important to him. There are no words to express the sorrow that those in the world of agriculture feel at times like these. While equipment and technology improve minute by minute, it only takes one short moment to snuff out a precious future.

There are statistics to show how many deaths and injuries occur on farms and ranches each year. We work around machinery that is meant to dig furrows to plant seeds, and then other machines pull the resulting crop from the stems, process the kernels and then auger the result into trucks. In livestock operations, a swinging gate or a loud noise can push a corralled cow into an anxious frenzy, causing her to strike out at anyone within her vicinity.

Each day we accomplish mundane tasks. Sometimes that’s squirting grease in a zerk, fixing a latch on a gate, tightening a belt, starting an auger or checking a wire. It can mean moving a trailer, cooking a meal, or washing work jeans. Does doing those things make a difference in how many bushels are harvested from the field? Do they make any difference in how many pounds a calf gains? No, but the common tasks we share bond us together in a common task of providing food, fiber and fuel for our neighbors and the world. And with that common bond, we offer our sympathy to the Feller family and all others who have been touched by farm accidents as we continue in this amazing mission to care for the land. Stay safe.

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