Another kid has died in a farming accident and is showing up in my newsfeed.
It seems like there have been more than the usual number of these this year, but I know that it’s probably more that I (or perhaps the national news media) have been paying attention this fall. Farming is dangerous. It’s particularly fucking dangerous for kids.
I hate the popular commentary around these deaths. People say “It’s just a tragic accident. Impossible to prevent.” or “I worked on the farm when I was a kid, and it was great. No reason to call for more farm safety.”
I worked on the farm when I was a kid too. And some of the stuff we did was pretty dangerous. My parents had an age requirement participating in various farm tasks. For some tasks, that age requirement was “never”. I don’t remember exactly what the age requirement for driving the tractor was (Maybe my parents will weigh in here.) But here’s the thing: that age requirement was…Not sufficient. Sure, maybe it meant that we had enough maturity to understand the directions, to know in theory how to be safe. But what we really needed was a minimum weight.
I have a distinct memory of being…maybe 12 or 13, and being sent to drive the tractor to the field and rake hay. It’s a simple enough task, and I had raked hay before, but I was not heavy enough to use the brakes on the tractor at road speeds. I just couldn’t press them down far enough fast enough and so I lost control and took out the mailbox.
The 10 year old killed this week losing control of a piece of heavy equipment…I understand how that might have happened.
These ideas about farm safety are not new. My parents knew them, even if they did misjudge what we needed for safety. When I was a kid we were taught in school some of the basics of farm safety. And yet, my facebook feed is regularly filled with images of little kids on heavy farm machinery (The comments: It’s so cute!) alongside stories of little kids being killed by heavy farm machinery (The comments: Completely impossible to prevent!)
The other comment that you sometimes see under these stories of farm accidents is that farms are such a wonderful place to raise a family, such a great lifestyle, blahblah nostaligic bullshit. How can people say this after reading a story about kids who were killed in a farming accident? Sometimes I think that the industrialization of farming and the disappearance of family farms can’t happen fast enough if it will prevent these stupid and completely preventable deaths.