September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.


By Susan Steinke- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

My little Tate is two and a half. Sometimes you don't realize the trouble a two and a half year old boy can get into until he finds it.
Earlier this summer, I was outside with the kids while Kurt was working on afternoon chores. The sun was shining. Lily and Tate were playing on their swing set next to the barnyard. I was pushing Gemma in her stroller while checking on my garden.
I noticed that Kurt was carrying a five-gallon pail full of grain down the lane to the heifers waiting impatiently for him by their feeder. We had recently brought these heifers home from my brother-in-law's farm and they were still jittery and adjusting to their new surroundings.
I was thinking about what a lovely day it was as I leisurely glanced over to the swing set to discover that Tate was nowhere to be seen.
"Lily, where's Tate?" I called.
"I don't know."
Before I had a chance to wonder where he was, I heard Kurt roar, "Tate!" There was my little boy, about to walk into a crowd of pushy, jumpy heifers.
A wooden fence separates the barnyard from the yard where the swing set is. There's a broken board on the fence and we haven't fixed it because the electric fence is still intact. When Tate saw his daddy walk by, he abandoned the swing set, stepped over the boards, ducked under the wire, and followed.
There are so many ways a child can get hurt on a farm, especially a little one that doesn't know any better. Acid in the milk house, liquid nitrogen in the semen tank, heavy machinery, the cows themselves. Every day farm items that you don't give a second glance become major hazards when there's a two year-old around..
Last summer, when Tate was 18 months old, he thought it was great fun to throw his toys into the cow's water tank. Grandpa did not think it was great and repeatedly warned me to keep an eye on him. I did, of course, but when an older acquaintance shared with me that her husband's brother drowned in the cow tank when he was 18 months old, I doubled my efforts. Thankfully, the cow tank doesn't seem to hold the same fascination for Tate this summer.
Even when I think Tate is safe, he'll find mischief. For example, I order Tate to stay put in the milk house entryway while I duck into the barn to tell Kurt something. When I come back out, Tate is holding a bolt cutter left behind after the latest barn repair. The bolt cutter is so heavy that Tate can't lift them, but it doesn't stop him from trying to open and close it, with the snipping end right next to the toes sticking out of his sandals.
When Tate hears a machine start up, his eyes go wide, he freezes, and demands, "what's that?" It's pretty cute. What's not so cute is when he decides to take off running to find out what Daddy is up to.
I asked my mom to babysit Tate while I took the girls to a doctor's appointment. She offered to work in my garden while she was over, but debated on whether or not she could do that while Tate was outside with her.
"I wish I could put a bell on him," she said, "then I could at least hear him when he disappears."
Tate vanishes in the blink of an eye. I'll look up and he's not where he was a second ago. I always hesitate, not knowing which danger to run to first: the hole in the hay mow floor, the chemicals in the milk house, the cow tank, the four-wheeler in the yard, the skid loader I can hear running at the shed, or the driveway leading to the busy highway.
My mom insists that I should get some sort of leash for Tate. I insist back to her that no leash could hold him. I might have to employ her bell idea; it could make my life a little easier. My little guy's not a naughty boy, he's just, well, I guess he's just a farm boy.[[In-content Ad]]


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