Keep Farm Safety a Priority

Last week, third grader’s across Putnam County were treated to a fun-filled day learning about safety and preventing hazards around the home and on the farm. This Farm Safety Day event at the Gerding Farm has been a tradition in Putnam County for nearly 20 years. While the kids certainly learned a lot at Farm Safety Day, it is also a great reminder for adults across the county to revisit safety measures, especially now that field work and planting have begun.

More and more farm equipment will be on Putnam county roads in the days and weeks ahead.  Encouraging safety on the road during planting season can reduce potential risks and accidents.

As we enter the planting season, be aware of farm equipment, particularly as we are often running late to work, kids’ sporting events and other activities. Likewise, farmers must also be aware that they share the road with the general public. The following recommendations for motorists and farmers encourage safety on our local roads and are adapted from suggestions made by Ed Lentz, ANR Educator for Hancock County Extension.

  • Farmers should place a “slow-moving vehicle” emblem on all equipment so motorists can easily see you on the road. Amber flashers and turn signals are also recommended at all times.
  • Motorists need to be alert for slower moving farm equipment on the roads and avoid activities that may distract them.
  • Farm machinery operators may not be able to see motorists because the equipment can partially block their view. If you can’t see the operator, the operator can’t see you. Keep a safe distance behind machinery to ensure you are in the operator’s view.
  • Motorists need to be careful when passing farm equipment. Large tillage equipment and planters are often folded and may veer in any direction suddenly.
  • Motorists need to be aware that farm equipment that is half on the road and half on the shoulder may suddenly move completely onto the road. Extra-wide equipment may take up more than one lane to avoid hitting mailboxes and road signs.

Additional recommendations for farm equipment include:

  • Headlights and taillights are required until 30 minutes after sunrise, and 30 minutes before sunset and required during day hours in inclement weather, such as fog and rain.
  • Ideally, towed implements should have reflectors, lights, and a slow-moving vehicle emblem. Law requires these items when the implement blocks the lighting/marking configuration on the tractor.
  • Safety cables or chains should be used in any towing situation.
  • Lock tractor brakes together.
  • Wear seat belts while operating tractors with rollover protective structures (ROPS).
  • Ohio law states that only one wagon/implement may be towed behind any vehicle with two exceptions:
    1.) Towing with a tractor: more than one wagon/implement may be towed. While no maximum is indicated, common sense and safety should play a role. 2.) Towing with a pickup or straight truck: a truck designed by the manufacturer to carry a load of not less than one-half ton and not more than two tons may tow two wagons/implements.
  • Use an escort vehicle when possible.

Hooray for Tax Day!

I always look forward to Tax Day. Not for the obvious reason that I’m relieved my taxes are done but for the less obvious reason that this day generally marks the return of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird to our area! This is the only hummingbird that breeds in Ohio. It spends the winter months in Central America before making the trek back to Ohio (and much of the Eastern US) to mate, build a nest and raise its young before it departs again in late summer to head south for the winter.

This year, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird was spotted as early as April 8 in our area and, as of this week, arrived in lower Maine. The spring migration of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is reported by fellow citizens observing their activity on Local bird watchers may want to take note of this resource and submit their observations early next year.

Would you like to attract more hummingbirds to your yard? Hummingbirds are naturally attracted to orange and red flowers that are tubular in shape. The base of each flower holds a sugar-rich nectar that provides the necessary energy for their fast-paced movements. Hummingbirds beat their wings over 50 times per second, allowing them to dart and hover around the garden with ease. Garden plants like columbine, lobelia, penstemon, petunia, salvia, canna, and many others are among hummingbird favorites. Plant a few of these to attract these birds to your garden.

Another way to attract hummingbirds is to place feeders in your yard. Hummingbird feeders are designed to mimic the tubular flowers found in nature. These feeders are often red in color and filled with a sugar solution. Many prepackaged solutions have added red coloring, but that is not necessary to attract the hummingbirds. You can even make your own hummingbird nectar at home by dissolving ¼ to 1/3 cup sugar in 1 cup water. Place the solution in the feeder. Monitor the solution carefully and change it every 2 to 3 days or more frequently if it becomes cloudy, especially during hot weather. Bacteria and fungi can grow rapidly in the sugar water, so be sure to wash the feeder thoroughly when replacing the sugar solution.

If you are interested in learning more about the Ruby-throated Hummingbird or other birds, check out Cornell University’s site All About Birds ( In the very near future, Putnam County will also have a learning pollinator garden at the Quarry Farm in Pandora. The Putnam County Master Gardeners have designed and will begin installing the garden in early May. The garden will feature native Ohio plants that attract hummingbirds as well as a number of other pollinators including native bees and butterflies.