Wednesday, August 09, 2017

An Oldie


A Farm Side from last year, which seems to not be behind the usual paywall.....

It is just about time for this year's event. You can read the Farm Side each Friday on the Recorder website or pick up the hard copy at any number of locations in the area.


The last thing you want to discover when visiting one of the premier agricultural events of the year is that you ran your camera batteries dead. This happened because you were taking flash photos of a Border Collie puppy wearing a pirate hat earlier and had forgotten to bring spares. The pup was real cute in the hat, but forgetting spare batteries is a cardinal sin for a photographer.
To make matters worse, the batteries actually went dead during a flying trip to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge where we missed getting clear photos of a really weird duck we saw, which didn’t match anything in the field guide. Alan digiscoped it…that is shot photos with a cell phone camera through a spotting scope…but so far no ID has been made from those.
Anyhow, when we visited Sundae on the Farm at Glen Meadows Farm, hosted by the hard-working Egelston family, other than a few pictures snapped with my phone, I have only memories to savor rather than a raft of pictures as would be more normal for me.
Sunday ended up being a beautiful day, although the weather had sure been a teaser. Rain is not a friend to outdoor events, but intermittent precipitation fell through the night before and then threatened well into the morning. In fact, as we hustled west to look at water fowl and sandpipers, we passed through bands of driving rain that would have given even the ducks some second thoughts about outdoor partying.
However, all was dry when it was time for guests to arrive at the farm. And guests there were. Well over 2,000 free ice cream sundaes were served to a multitude of cheerful visitors. A hilltop photo taken of the parking lot and the road leading to the farm showed a wonderful crowd all through the day.
It was a real treat to see the dainty little Jersey ladies led out for the celebrity milking contest. So much personality in such sharp, tidy, golden-brown packages. No matter how long we are removed from the actual work of dairy farming, we never seem to lose our delight in beautiful cattle.
Among the best moments for me was meeting a nice young man from Texas, who had read the Farm Side, and came up to talk to me. I mean, Texas, just wow. Plus visiting with busy farm women, whom I only see about once a year, (if I’m I lucky and they stay in one place long enough for me to catch up with them.) Hugs were shared all around, as well as that great feeling of connection that true friends share when they meet after long absence.
Well off the beaten path, surrounded by grassy pastures and lush cornfields, Glen Meadows is a special place on any day of the year. All spiffed up for the party, with friends and family in matching shirts, flowers everywhere, and vendors selling still more flowers, cheeses, maple products, and all sorts of locally grown and produced farm products, it was downright magical. The addition of an opportunity to observe agriculture in action and learn about a local family dairy farm was priceless.
Kudos to all concerned in putting together the delightful event and to the Egelston family for doing such an awesome job as hosts this year.
National Farm Safety and Health week takes place from Sept. 18 to the 24 this year. Since Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first proclamation in 1944, the event has been commemorated every year, promoting safety in all aspects of farm production. The mid-September timing is perfect. While some farms are still pursuing late cutting hay, many are chopping corn for silage. Whether the crop is packed in bunks, fermented in tile silos, piled on the ground, or bagged in plastic, the job is dangerous. Add shorter days with less daylight for work, fatigue from long, hard hours, and the influence of the changeable fall weather and you have a recipe for danger.
Farm accidents are no small matter. In 2010 there were almost 600 work-related deaths in United States agriculture. Injury statistics are even more telling.
According to OSHA there are 9.2 injuries to people involved in farm work every hour.
That amounted to over 80,000 such injuries in 2004.
Machinery, trucks, and tractors together accounted for 65 percent of such injuries, with animals doing 11 percent of the harm. However, perhaps not surprisingly, on dairy farms surveyed in Wisconsin, cattle caused 28 percent of reported job injuries, mostly from kicks and cows stepping on people.
Indeed just reading OSHA’s module 2 report on farm injury trends was sobering. Farming and ranching consistently rank in the top ten most deadly jobs in the US, along with logging, law enforcement, fishing and several others.
In light of these numbers several Schoharie County fire departments joined to host a farm medic class, teaching first responders how to deal with on-farm accidents. There is also a national program, developed by Cornell University, to teach rural responders how to cope with such events.
Although in many states farm accidents have been trending downward over recent years, 2016 saw some horrific tragedies on farms across the nation. Farm workers died from manure pit fumes, a mixer accident, tractor rollovers, and an electrical malfunction.
Hopefully this fall harvest will bring better news for farm families and rural communities.
Even the president has weighed in on the topic. This year’s official proclamation said in part, “The best farmers in the world have enriched our Nation and driven our agriculture sector forward; it is our shared duty to ensure their health and safety, because we all have a stake in the well-being of those who provide us with food and energy. By maintaining safe work environments and taking steps to practice caution on our farms, we can minimize risks and increase productivity in one of the greatest and most essential industries in America.”
Keep calm and stay safe my friends, and have a great harvest season.

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