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Oct 17, 2013

the hardest part about being a farm wife

Two days ago, I wrote about 10 great ways to be a farm wife.

Today I am writing about one of the hardest things about being a farm wife.

Fatal farm accidents.

Seeing or hearing about a farm accident is something that hits so close to home that it makes your stomach churn even if you didn't personally know the person that was killed. All you can think about is that could have been my husband. 

My home community where I grew up lost a very young farm hand this week. It's not something that happens often, but when it does, the news spreads like wildfire and instantly everyone reconnects wanting to know how, when and why.

I feel like when an accident happens in a small town it becomes a part of everyone's life whether you knew that person or not. If you didn't them, you sure knew someone that did and that's all it takes to get emotionally involved. It tugs at all of our hearts and our minds. When it happens in a big city, it's just another head line to get lost in the news.

That's the beauty of a small town. You'll never find a more amazing support group.

I knew this gentleman personally but he wasn't a close friend that I kept in touch on a regular basis. When we'd run into each other he always asked about my dad. He always thought very highly of my dad. My brother and I grew up playing with he and his sister occasionally when we were kids. I can still remember his bedroom lined with shelves full of toy John Deere tractors clear as day. He and my brother would play with those toy tractors for hours. I worked at  John Deere dealership the last few years and he came in quite often to purchase toys for his son.

It was an over cast kind of day with scattered sprinkles on Tuesday. Tuesday night, this young man was hauling grain for his employer on a small, two lane highway. For some unknown reason that has us all in a daze, confused state of mind, his truck swerved into the other lane and then on into a yard where he struck a tree turning the truck over. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

This accident could have been totally unrelated to the farm. He could have had a seizure or related health issue. Maybe he was texting or playing with the radio. Maybe he was just so tired and worn out from the busy season of harvest that he just... fell asleep. No one knows why he veered into the other lane. Maybe some day his family and friends will know so they can have closure.

I find myself staring blankly out the windows a lot these last few days. When I stare I see nothing. Not even the brown, dry crops or the gray sky. I can't stop thinking about why these things happen. He was so young.

Just last week a man two towns over lost his life in a skid loader accident. He went out to move some things around before dinner and his wife wondered what was taking so long. She went outside to find him crushed under the machine.

 It reminded me of the time I was hauling dirt in our skid loader down hill last winter while digging our pond. I had the bucket too high and I tipped forward. I saw the ground right before my eyes but luckily the machine tipped back. Then forth. Then back. Then forth. Then it slowly stopped. My heart was racing. Very close call. I know how much my husband and his dad zip around on that little thing too. We just need to be more careful.

I know we farm wives and husbands don't have it as bad as military spouses. I couldn't imagine having my husband shipped off into an unknown country wondering every waking minute if he's alive and okay.

Farmers put their lives on the line just like military men and women do along with many other dangerous occupations. To name a few, linesman, a police officer, a fire man, over the road semi drivers, delivery and mail persons, factory workers, you name it. Heck, even teachers are putting their lives on the lines these days with all these school shootings that you hear about. I once thought about going to linesman school but my husband absolutely refused me to go because of the dangers. Not sure how that is any different than him jumping on or off onto a moving tractor or farming in general.

There's a lot of big and heavy equipment involved with farming. You also have bins full of grain, augers, gears and other sources of danger. You have to respect and know the machinery. When you're on the ground, your eyes need to be locked with the driver of the machinery at all times. I don't like having our nieces around the big machinery but they have to learn to respect the equipment somehow and we can't put kids in a bubble their whole lives. Being raised on the farm or being able to visit often is one of the best memories a child can have. I couldn't imagine a better life for a child.

One of the very few things my husband and I fight about is farm safety. He just downright makes me nervous sometimes. I am lucky that he is very talented, a good operator, responsible and pays attention to what he's doing. He knows the inside and out of his machines like the back of his hands. He has made a few small mistakes in his day but not very many. All it takes is one time, though.

One time.

Our machines are older and they don't have all the technological advances and safety covers on them like the new machines and I guess that's why I get exceptionally nervous when we are all working and running around the field. You can easily get injured in a brand new machine as well. Don't get me wrong.

My husband's grandfather was trampled by a mother cow years ago long ago when my husband was a kid. She recently calved and if you don't know much about mother cows, they are EXTREMELY and I mean EXTREMELY territorial. Being around cattle a long time, I am sure he was pretty confident going in. But all it took was one time. He crawled into the house where an ambulance was phoned. He spent a long time in recovery with several broken ribs among with other injuries. He was lucky to be alive. It's something this small community brings up from time to time. It just goes to show that even the most experienced farmer can still get hurt.

Just a couple of years ago when I first started dating my husband, his neighbor was crushed under a combine head. The hydraulics came loose.  I remember several members of the community finishing up his fields for him shortly after his death. I also remember all the pieces of farm equipment being sold off one by one later that year and the ground being rented out. His wife was done. She didn't want anymore of it. His family's lives have since changed forever.

I'm not trying to be a debbie-downer by sharing all of these stories but farm accidents happen. They're real. And we have to be aware. These stories tug at my heart strings and I hope they tug at yours too.

Keep nagging at your spouse to be safe. Make sure their clothing isn't too loose. I'm constantly nagging at my husband to drink lots of water. To sleep in a little and get more rest. To take off that wedding band before it gets caught in something. To loosen his lead foot. To just slow down and take it easy. It's all going to get done sooner or later.

I know they don't like to hear us nag but it's our job, dang it.

We can't put our farmers and ourselves in a bubble. The job has to get done.

If farming was easy and safe, then everyone would be doing it.

Just as you would thank a solider, a linesman, a fireman, a teacher or a police officer, be sure to thank a farmer too.


  1. Thank you for sharing. You always shed a tear for the farmer and his family, if you know them or not. I pray that soon the family will have closure and that his son will always have memories of his dad. My husband has not worn his ring for three or four years now. He does not want to take the chance of it getting caught on something. As much as I miss seeing it on his finger, I would rather have him, than not have him.

  2. Ugh, I know exactly how you feel. Farming and agriculture is such a great way of life that sometimes you forget the risk that is associated with it. Hope the rest of your harvest is successful and accident free.


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