Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Born To Farm

'We never talked about our incident and these things do happen. Grain is dangerous ... Things turn dirty and real nasty in an awful hurry before you even know what's happening."
"Had I said that back then, when I had a chance, [spoken publicly to warn other farming families] who knows?"
Barry Becker, Burstall, Saskatchewan

Dennis Becker and Layne Langridge
Dennis Becker, left, and his grandson Layne Langridge, right, are shown in family handout photos. Becker and Langridge both died on the family's farm near Burstall, Sask., on Aug. 31, 2015. 

"Having had a long career off the farm and returned to it, Dad is a little intimidated by the speed with which they fill grain trucks now. The equipment has changed and gotten bigger, because farming is a business. But rural culture encourages children to hang around when the work is being done. Because farming is not just a business."
"I chatted a bit with my father, who is back on our family's Saskatchewan homestead tending cattle and shooting gophers in retirement ... He observed that a child wouldn't have had to worry about being suffocated in grain by the augers of his  younger days. [Mainly those kids would be warned to keep their fragile extremities away from the auger, as the farm kids I went to school with incessantly had to be.]"
Colby Cosh, "Against the Family Farm", National Post

"Our kids died living life on the farm. It is a family farm. We do not regret raising and involving our kids Catie, aged 13, Dara, aged 11 and Jana, aged 11, on our farm. It was our life."
"Thank you for all the overwhelming support we have received from all of the first responders, neighbours and friends. We would ask media to respect our privacy at this time of grief."
Roger and Bonita Bott, Alberta

It is beyond difficult to believe that farming communities, the very farming families who grow great fields of grain in Canada's Prairie Provinces are not completely familiar with all of the dangers inherent in farm living, and most particularly the dangers that farm living poses for children. All the more so when people far removed from farms, living in urban centres, are sometimes aware of those dangers, and primarily because of tragic news stories that relate them.

From tractors overturning and trapping farmers, to noxious gases from grains going through the process of fermentation in silos, asphyxiating farm workers, and the occasions when farmers, workers and children lose digits and limbs getting disastrously caught in the mechanical devices designed to make farm work more efficient, there is danger lurking in the primary industry of farming. So the first lessons children should be exposed to is to be alert, have a care, avoid exposure to danger.

The Becker family of Saskatchewan lost two of its members in an inter-generational tragedy that took place on grandfather Dennis Becker's farm when the 63-year-old man attempted to free his 14-year-old grandson Layne Langridge who had fallen into a hopper and sunk into a semi-trailer filling with grain. Southwestern Saskatchewan mourned two deaths; one a seasoned farmer, the second his grandson, familiar with farm labour.

Is it that familiarity and love of agricultural output breeds carelessness? A sense of over-confidence? The boy's father attempted to open a slide gate under the truck, to rescue both his son and his father. But both son and father had become victims, their life-breath swallowed by spilling grain sucking them into the truck interior and filling their every orifice until they could breathe no longer.

And a week ago yet another tragedy of dreadful proportions, when an Alberta farming family lost three of their four young children in a very similar accident. When 13-year-old Catriona, and her 11-year-old twin sisters Dara and Jana, playing in a transport truck loaded with canola seeds on their family farm near Withrow, Alberta, drowned in the seeds, asphyxiating to death before anyone noticed what was happening.

Parents Roger and Bonita Bott sit with their children Caleb, 9, Catie, 13, Jana, 11 and Dara, 11.
Parents Roger and Bonita Bott sit with their children Caleb, 9, Catie, 13, Jana, 11 and Dara, 11.

The girls' funeral took place a week later, with thousands of people attending, at the Red Deer CrossRoads Church. It wasn't called a funeral. It was termed a life celebration, an opportunity for extended family to come together with their neighbours and supporters, to speak in one voice of their shared grief. Where other young girls, cousins of those who had died, memorialized the dead girls in stories about who and what they were and cared about.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet