Thursday, December 1, 2011

My view on child labor

This blog is in honor of one of my former students Kayla, who texted me frantically about the new farm bill this morning.  The farm bill which I will have to say I am severely undereducated on, apparently is discouraging our youth from working.  Was there a poll taken or a census given that people are concerned that our kids are working too hard? Was their research that concluded that our children do not have enough toys and do not have enough time to watch tv. 

My first Top 5 in the State Livestock Team
Kids with animals - criminal?

I can’t think of to many people that I know that didn’t learn to drive a tractor before a car.  I am happy to confess that my younger brother Jason taught me to drive both a tractor and a truck in a field before we were both 16.  I don’t know that I know very many people that didn’t get a great start to life through an FFA or 4-H project with an animal before the age of 10.  This new law would prohibit working in a pen or stall with an animal until they are 16.  Prevent by law as if 4-H and FFA were crimes.  I am really sure that if I wait until Jacie and Jaelin are 16 to take them out to help with farm related activities, they won’t be interested by that time.  I also wonder what they will do for the next decade, while we are working cattle. 

Jaelin and Jake checking cows.

On behalf of Kayla I got out the Buckeye News and did some research.  I was happy to see a familiar face, one who has done several years of research on farm safety.  Dee Jepsen also is the mother of two girls.  I know that her girls were raised working livestock and driving tractors before 14 years old.  If she has done years of research and still feels her girls are safe.  I believe my girls are safe too.

I know there are a lot of farm accidents and that we should be extra careful raising children on farms.  I will have to say out of all the things I worry about hurting my girls or negatively changing their lives, the farm isn’t even on the list.

When I think of all the things Jenny, Jamie, Jodi, Jason , Julie and I did on Poorman Farms and we still live to tell about it; all I think is I hope our kids have the same experiences.  Here is the short list.

1.       Hours spent playing I have no idea what in the corn crib.  Only injury: Jodi’s bee sting.
2.       Jason at the age of probably 9 changing a tire on a gravity wagon for three hours alone.  He was then told he put it on backwards.  Another three hours and the job was finished.  Only injury: Jason’s pride.
3.       Walking all six steers from one barn to the other (through the grass for the first time) on a late summer evening.  Where five of the six steers got loose.  Only injury: Julie’s tennis shoe
4.       While Jodi was trying to pet a pig she fell through the crust of the manure run off. Only loss: one flip flop
5.       While walking steers one evening where Jason wore flip flops (he will deny memory of this).  He was stepped on by his steer.  Lesson learned.
6.       While rinsing pigs, where a couple of us walked them around the corn crib, a couple of us sprayed them off and a couple of us were usually shirking responsibility and having a water fight, Jamie sprayed a boy named Matt who baled hay.  This I believe started a five gallon bucket water fight. Outcome: a marriage and two boys.

In conclusion I don’t believe this farm bill will pass with this wordage.  I have more faith in America than that.

Please share your funny stories of responsibilities, hard work and mischievous behavior on your farms.  


  1. There's a link on OAAE's homepage ( that takes you to a side-by-side comparison of current regulations and proposed changes to the Child Labor Laws. It's actually the Department of Labor that would like to impose stricter laws, not the Department of Ag through the Farm Bill. Not that it matters a whole lot, because they're still absurd! I completely agree that children are ultimately safer as a result of the common sense they learn on farms.

  2. Thanks for the link Rose. I am going to check this out.