The news came as a jolt this morning, hitting our farming community hard. One of our own was killed last night in a tractor accident. Farming and ranching are very dangerous occupations, ranking right behind coal mining but it is different when you can put a name and face with the statistic.
Fred worked for our local COOP and applied herbicide and fertilizer for many of us. In fact, in many cases, farmers asked for Fred when ordering herbicide and pesticide. He truly was one of the best when it came to his occupation. He took great pride in doing his job well and single-handily kept business for his employer. You knew when Fred was in your field the job would be done right.
I always marveled how Fred could remember where every field is, how many acres were in it and who owned them. We have some very small fields and he always remember each one. What's more he always remembered who I was. Let me tell you, my operation is very small and not very memorable but Fred made me feel like I was one of the big operators. I always appreciated that and I always enjoyed talking to him. Fred was one of the many people I rely on and probably one that I should have gotten to know better.
Fred's death hit me pretty hard, because in a lot of ways I could identify with him. Like me, Fred loved agriculture enough that he spent his entire life working in agriculture, then he went home and farmed. He worked many long days taking care of other farmers before coming home and working on his own farm. Long, hard days at work often turned into long, hard nights of work back home in his own fields.
I don't know anything about the accident but I would guess that the long hours had something to do with the accident. Farming is dangerous enough but when you have fewer hours to work, often times in the dark and after a full work day, it is even more dangerous. We will never know and that is not what we should focus on.
The focus should be on a man who dedicated his entire life to feeding us. He took pride in his "day job" and was recognized as one of the best by those in the business. Then he spent his time away from his full-time job pursuing what I suspect was his real passion, farming. He, like many who bring you the food on your table, viewed farming and ranching as a way of life and not a part-time hobby. It is something that is a part of men like Fred and lives down in their bones. So as you sit down to supper tonight, take a moment to think of Fred and his life dedicated to producing the food you are about to eat.