This written piece is meant to be informative and to show our perspective as a farming family. With tourist season and the transition of urban population to rural Canada, it is so important to highlight the importance of farm safety as part of public safety, as well as talk about theft and property. This is important for the safety of people and animals.
Disclosure – This post is written in partnership with Canada Beef. All thoughts and opinions on this blog are honest and my own.
As a farming family, public safety and farm safety are of the utmost importance. We are always aware of the potential dangers on the farm that can cost us our business, and more importantly, our lives.
Farm Safety & Public Safety
Farm safety and public safety are always on our minds — not just to keep us safe, but to keep our animals, property, and others safe as well.
A few months ago, our cattle got loose and ended up on the highway. Our farm is located on a major thoroughfare on the island and during the summer season when the ferry is in operation, the highway gets quite busy. After doing a walkabout to check where the cattle got out, my husband noticed that several rails were stolen from our cedar rail fences.
I was in shock that A) someone would be so brazen as to physically remove someone else’s property and B) this seems to be occurring more and more in rural settings.
I posed a question in one of our local Manitoulin Island Facebook groups to see if this has happened to anyone else. To my surprise, over a dozen local farmers wrote that they too have had people steal cedar rails from their farms.
As beautiful as cedar rails are, and as much as people may want to add them to their own yards for ornamental use, they actually serve a purpose on farms. They are used to protect our cattle, property, and the public. They are meant for keeping our cattle in the fields they are supposed to be in.One would not want to meet face to face with a cow that has a calf nearby. Better yet, one would not want to come face to face with a bull!
An adult cattle beast can be 1200+ lbs. If the cattle got out on the highway and someone were to hit it with their vehicle, it could be deadly for both the animal and the people in the vehicle. On the island, it’s not uncommon to see deer killed on the side of the road (after being struck by a vehicle), however, with cattle it is a much larger weight and they don’t move very quickly. Most of our cows are in the 1300+ lbs range and our bulls can be up to 2800 lbs. Imagine the impact that would have on a vehicle. The result could be death for the driver and passengers, and the farmer could be held liable if their cattle got out on the road and caused a accident.
Some fellow farmers have mentioned vandalism or theft of tools, equipment and fuel. Their stories range from equipment being stolen from their farms, to even missing livestock. There are some unimaginable stories we hear that others have experienced.
We have found stone fire rings built in the middle of our hay fields. First off, it feels like a violation to know that people have been camping on our property without permission. Finding stone fire pits in the middle of hay fields unexpectedly can damage farm equipment and potentially injure the equipment operator (aka: the farmer).
When trespassers leave gates open, cattle can get out. Again, enabling the cattle to get onto the road or into crops that are supposed to provide feed for later on. These crops may be for feed for later on or they may be for sale. Once cattle get into crops, they like to return, and as a result can do a lot of damage or clean out an entire crop all together.
We’ve had parts of our fences taken apart and used for camp firewood. The island on which we live on does not have much Crown Land, meaning that most of the island is private property. Sure, a farmer’s field may look like a great place to camp out for the night, however, there is a potential for danger (it’s also illegal to trespass).
Cattle are curious animals and if they came across a trespasser who is camping or walking in one of the fields, the trespasser may not be familiar with livestock and may do something that could endanger themselves.
Most people wouldn’t want to wake up and find someone camping in their backyard, would they? This goes the same for farming families. It’s not a pleasant feeling to find uninvited guests camping on their farmland. With regard to trespassers, are they there for nefarious purposes or because they’re just snooping? Maybe they didn’t want to book a camping site or perhaps, like one man my husband encountered on our farm, don’t believe that land should be privately owned. This is funny, because we pay property taxes for that land.
For detailed information on farm safety (Farm Safety for Farmers and hired farm workers, Farm Safety and Children, Farm Safety with Farm Machinery and Equipment, etc), check out the OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs) website.
You may also be interested in:
- Real Agriculture’s What do you do for farm security?
Canadian ranchers, farmers get serious about security (CBC article from March 2017)
Thanks for reading. Looking forward to engaging with you about public safety and farming in the comments below or on social media (@lifeonmanitoulin on Instagram, Life on Manitoulin on Facebook, and @chancesmommy on Twitter).