(You can right click if you want to look closely at men wearing tool belts and carrying hammers)
Or should I say these pictures? Hmmm, a farmer in his sixties, his son in his twenties, out working on the land, building new fence where the deer took it out over the winter. Alan has worked beside his dad since he was a wee lad. Along the way he learned how to do an amazing number of things from working on machines to driving them to doctoring cows and planting and harvesting crops. He learned to know our land...where the boundaries are, what fields have wet holes, which ones grow what crop the best and the myriad things a man (or woman) needs to know to be a farmer. The girls can feed and doctor and milk and raise calves and more other jobs than I can even think of to list. All three of them choose the bulls to make the matings on their cows. They could among them start running the place tomorrow and do it well.
There was a lot to learn while they were growing up. Each and every single farm is different from every other one in the world. Heck, each field is different from the one next to it. Farming can be and is taught in college and at seminars and all sorts of such places, but the kids who grow up learning by doing bring more to the table than students who didn't benefit from farm background.
Funny how these on the farm lessons translate so well out in the "real" world. All three of our farm-grown kids are valued out in the public workplace for the skills they learned and the attitudes and work ethic they bring with them. Across the USA thousands of farm and ranch families are raising kids who work along side them every day and have been since the dawn of agriculture, which is pretty much since we started planting seeds in the ground with sticks and rocks.
Funny how our government in its infinite wisdom wants all this to end. Sadly kids have been hurt and killed in farming accidents over the years and the Department of Labor wants farmers to stop allowing our children to help us on the farm to ensure that kids don't risk getting hurt.
The way the new regulations are written, when our own grand babies come along, if we are still farming or the kids are farming after us, those impressionable children, who could grow up to be the next generation of land-learners, food producers, capable, hard-working, useful folks, will be prevented by law from doing so.
They won't be allowed to feed bottle calves, ride horses, show calves at the fair, participate in 4-H livestock projects, or much of anything but sit in front of the TV, cocooned in bubble wrap and safe from everything but drugs and drivebys.
This safe-from-all-possible-danger mindset of the government, if it is going to take away our lifestyle and our right to raise our kids the way we think is right, will be a terrible thing for farm families and for the whole nation. How will anyone learn to manage the land and grow our food, if we are not allowed to teach our children? How many generations of know-how will be lost, ending with the generation that is farming now if we can't let them learn what we do?
It is not as if farming is the only danger to kids. If farm kids are no longer allowed to work on the land with their folks, then NO kids should be allowed to ride in cars until they are 18, or play baseball, or football, or go swimming, ride ATVs or any other activities wherein they might come to harm. As I contemplated this story over the past week I saw headline after headline about children killed or injured in everyday activities like those above, or murdered. Now there is an all too common cause of death to children. Why don't we outlaw that? Oh, wait.....
Here are some links to stories on this topic:
Leave our kids alone
Proposed labor changes
FB Video on the Changes
And here is a link to the Congressional directory. Call, write, email your representatives if you don't want this to become the law of the land. NYFB has an easy to use ELobby form, which will send letters to our particular representatives on their site if you are a member. I used that Saturday.
This issue needs immediate attention from every one of us, whether we simply appreciate the values of farm families, or hope to raise our children and grandchildren the way we were raised. Please, if you want to teach your grandchildren to do what you do make those calls. Thanks