I generally think that commemorative weeks and months are examples of too much promotion. But when I hear about September 19-25 being Farm Safety Week I think about farmers without fingers.
All my career I’ve worked with people from farming communities, and the sight of a man with one dramatically shortened finger, or a couple missing, or a misshapen hand is so common in those communities it generally goes without comment.
But it doesn’t go without a silent reaction from me. I know those deformities resulted from farm accidents. I didn’t grow up on a farm, so I can only imagine the circumstances that caused the injuries.
And I do imagine.
I imagine the unspeakable physical pain of getting a limb caught and chopped in a machine meant to process plants. I imagine the gory, bloody nightmare of getting from the farm to a hospital. I imagine the sick feelings in stomachs and teary eyes of spouses, children, and friends as they try to help the victim-if anybody is even around at the time. Afterward there’s the sense of loss, of anything from a fingertip, all the way up the arm. I imagine senses of regret and foolishness that never go away.
And that’s losing a limb. I imagine the farmers I never met at all because even more horrible farm accidents ended their lives. I feel cheated that I will never benefit from their lives. I feel sad for their families.
Finally, I think about these things happening to children. I know they do. And while farm families are well-meaning, accidents are preventable.
Several months ago our magazine staff was putting together a photo essay of a tractor show. We couldn’t, or wouldn’t, use most of the pictures because they showed children hanging on to the sides and seats of tractors as they moved through the field.
Please be careful. Take care of your children. Take care of yourself. Think. Don’t take that shortcut. Try assuming that if an accident can happen, it will, and it will happen to you. Imagine what an accident would be like. Take that safety course from the Extension Service or the Farm Bureau. Make every week Farm Safety Week.