Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 3-12-12
The Congressional Department of Labor has decreed that no individual under the age of 16 may lift his or her hand to help out around the farm or ranch if such help involves machinery, animal reproduction or farm vehicles.
Things a country kid will no longer be allowed to do:
Mow a lawn using a mower tractor: Anyone under 16 might be attacked by a rogue mower.
Milk a cow or goat: Anyone under 16 could get kicked, slobbered on or trampled. The child would be exposed to and have to touch a four-footed creature’s mammary glands.
Shovel manure: Anyone under 16 might get some stuff on him/herself.
Collect eggs from the chicken house: Anyone under 16 might get pecked by an irritable hen or spurred by an irate rooster.
Saddle a horse, donkey or mule: Anyone under 16 could get bit by a cranky critter; saddles are heavy and might strain a youngster’s back.
Shoe a horse: Anyone under 16 could get his/her foot stepped on or strain his/her back from prolonged bending over like a croquet wicket.
Trim a horse’s hooves: (see previous)
Pull a calf, lamb or piglet: Anyone under 16 would be exposed to reproductive areas of female animals as well as having to observe afterbirth.
Introduce bulls, boars, rams or Billy goats to female animals: Anyone under 16 would actually see what goes on.
Feed livestock: Anyone under 16 could be stepped on, jostled, bumped or butted causing post traumatic stress and years of psychotherapy treatment.
Drive a four wheeler, tractor, baler, swather or any other machinery under the age of 16 – the child’s age, not the machine’s. Anyone under 16 could fall off the machine and/or suffer sunburn from too many hours outdoors.
Operate a chain saw: (see previous).
Drive a ranch truck: (see previous previous).
Use a hammer: Anyone under 16 could bash a thumb, drop the tool on his/her foot or sprain his/her wrist.
Pick apples or other tree fruit: Anyone under 16 might have an apple drop itself on his/her head.
Climb a ladder taller than a footstool: Anyone under 16 might misstep and crash thus injuring a precious body part.
Weed the garden: Anyone under 16 might see a worm or a slug and suffer stress, not to mention the possibility of breaking a fingernail.
Preserve or can vegetables or fruits: Anyone under 16 could suffer burns should boiling liquid slop out of the kettle.
Use any battery powered tool: Anyone under 16 could be attacked by rogue screwdrivers. (Ditto chain saws).
Open gates anywhere on the ranch or farm: Anyone under 16 could suffer strain to his/her back plus suffer wounds from those pesky barbs of wire gates.
Ride a horse, mule or donkey: Anyone under 16 might get bucked off; horse might shy causing child to fall off; horse might then run off leaving child having to walk home thus causing blisters on heels which could become infected.
Be present at brandings, dockings or pig-cutting: No one under 16 should be present when bull calves, boar piglets or ram lambs are undergoing surgery to lose their reproductive bits.
The above list describes only a few of the tasks no one under 16 should be allowed to do on farms or ranches – according to the Congressional All-Wise Dept of Labor.
Question: What is left for a ranch/farm kid to do during calving, farrowing, lambing, haying, shipping, planting, butchering, gardening, harvesting, fencing and on and on …?
Answer: Sit around doing nothing thus qualifying him/herself to become a Congress person.