We can all join the rural communities who feed us, in faithful attention to their greatest fears and concerns. The risk of injury is real and especially present during the fast pace of harvest time. The following is based on conversation with the family of Jaxon…
There are few callings or vocations that are as deeply felt as parents and grandparents longing to protect their children or grandchildren from danger. On a farm or ranch there are many more dangers that can harm or end the lives of people.
As we approach harvest season we want to call adults to deeper awareness as well as children to greater care around preventing farm accidents. One tool to help is through the gift of a children’s book that has a sad and painful history behind it.
How do you move forward after the sudden, unexpected accidental death of a seven year old child?
The accident that took Jaxon’s life happened in a place he loved, on a farm. Though it has been a number of years since the accident happened, his family continues to live with his aching absence. They struggle with many questions and also live with deepened trust in God’s gracious and powerful love. They trust that God’s love can defeat even our worst enemies, including death. God has also called them to work to prevent other injuries and deaths.
Troy Boomsma and his family were inspired to create a children’s book that seeks to both celebrate the joys of being a child on a farm and teach about farm safety. To test the book, I read the book Staying Safe on the Farm with Jaxon to a five year old grandson. He had all kinds of questions. The book did what the authors and family wanted: provoke awareness and conversations. The questions led to coaching my grandson on safety practices when on the farm.
This book, written by Troy’s sister Mary Boomsma and Jaxon’s siblings Jaiden, Callie and Carter teaches about farm safety and the joys of farming using images created from actual scenes of their family farm. The family dreams that their storytelling will prevent another child and their family from a life altering or life ending accident. The children’s book focuses on animals and gently lifts up safety issues and practices. It names the fun and beauty of a farm. It also lifts up the dangers on the farm like grain bins, four wheelers, animals, machinery and toxic chemicals of many kinds. Many times fun things on the farm and in other contexts carry risks with them, such as being around large animals. This book seeks to provoke safety awareness for adults and children.
The children’s book does not reference Jaxon’s death. It focuses on his joy and his smile as he learns at the farm about animals and farm life. In a subtle and effective way, the book teaches both the reading older one and the younger listening one(s) to practice farm safety.
“How do you move forward after the sudden, unexpected accidental death of a seven year old child?” The Boomsmas both seek to trust God more deeply still and seek to protect all the farm children and people they can from ever having to face such a devastating loss.
We remember Jaxon and give thanks for their mission to protect others.
Many congregations will lift up petitions in the Prayers of the People/Church prayers around farm safety in the coming harvest season. Here is one prayer from five years ago that you may find inspirational as you pray in the midst of the harvest and lift up a request to God for the safety of all on the farms.
Gracious and Holy God,
We thank you for the bounty of the land
and for those who plant and harvest
that the world might be fed.
We are grateful for the harvest that has
been successfully and safely completed.
And, we pray that you graciously watch over
those farmers yet to complete their harvest.
Grant them favorable weather conditions and keep them safe.
Where there is anxiety, give peace.
Where there is depression, restore hope.
Where there is economic uncertainty, grant protection.
Life-giving God, we trust in your faithfulness
and your promise to abide with us always.
So, we are bold to pray that joy and
gladness be restored to our orchards and farms and ranches.
We pray in the name of Jesus, in whom we
have our hope and salvation. Amen.
–Bishop Bruce R. Ough, former bishop of the Dakotas-Minnesota Area of The United Methodist Church. A prayer for the harvest
Jaxon’s family and friends in the Yankton area have set up a Jaxon Boomsma Memorial fund to enhance parks, give scholarships and promote farm safety. The book is available by sending a message on this Facebook site where you can also learn more https://www.facebook.com/jaxonboomsma23/.
Additional Resources about farm safety can be found on this site. Remember National Farm Safety and Health Week 2023 is Sept. 17-23.