Remember to talk about safety, on the road and in the field


It never took too much begging with my father. When his children wanted to be with him, he was a soft touch. Extremely safety conscious, he rarely allowed us children near the tractors. It was a rare and wonderful treat to ride with my father; sitting near him on the tractor seat inside his protective arms was a very loving feeling.” — Bettie B. Youngs, Values From the Heartland

I grew up knowing the power of the Earth, as well as the power of machinery, guided by my Dad’s tender respect of all it could provide, both the tangible and the intangible.

Woven through all of this stood the sweet little country church we attended, and to this day, I find myself humming songs learned in Sunday School, or, in times of painful loss, reaching for the powerful hymns we all sang together in that white church on our old country road.

Within this past two weeks of late summer, our community has lost three beautiful girls in two separate car accidents. It is with unspeakable sorrow the goodbyes have been said, knowing these lovely and vibrant girls will be so missed.

Living freely

There is mystery in the moment, the slow revealing of how life is meant to be. We hold a life with deep joy and gratitude on those amazing first days a newborn is brought in to our world.

We dream and wonder what all is yet to be. We love with a fullness, sometimes so much it hurts, and yet we also know the importance of letting go, as each child earns steps of freedom on their way to living a full life.

My dad respected the power of split-second judgment enough that he took every opportunity to constantly discuss farm safety as well as road safety with us. When each of his four daughters and later a son began driving, there was one rule that could not be broken.

Since we traveled down our road, then over four lanes of a very busy highway, U.S. Route 30, to get to school and back home again every day, we were to always completely stop in the median, rather than simply yielding.

“Until you stop completely, you can’t really judge how fast that traffic is coming,” he would say.


He went on to say that if he learned one of us didn’t stop there, the keys would be put up. It is in that very place that one of the fatal accidents occurred, taking the lives of two beautiful girls, recent graduates of our local school.

My heart aches for all that was lost, a bright light extinguished, in its place a deep well of sorrow. I find myself searching for peace, and it is in those old church hymns that peace is summoned.

“How Great Thou Art” is filled with the wonder and the power and the glory which is a balm in troubled times.

Hold your loved ones close, and never pass up the opportunity to discuss safety, because even when we think they don’t want to hear it, our children may be listening. We have to pray that they will.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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