My Field Is Not Your Playground

Photo taken by Amboy Police Department

Photo taken by Amboy Police Department

To begin, this is not my field.  Or my father’s field.  Or my neighbor’s.  But it could be and has been in the past.

Last year, during harvest while driving the grain cart, my father-in-law came over a rise in one field and found a car.  It was determined by police that the driver and friends took a ride down the fence line and struck out into our field where they got hung up on a low-spot and killed the engine.  The group must have walked back to the road and caught a ride or stumbled home. Unfortunately, this is not an unusual occurrence.

What you see in the picture above is the path a vehicle – car, truck, or ATV – cut through a corn field last weekend.  According to the local police department’s report, it is one of three, the farmer discovered.  Was the culprit apprehended?  I haven’t heard but would guess probably not.  They rarely are and so the farmer eats the cost of lost product.

Vandalism to our fields happens way too often.  I attribute this to an incredible lack of respect for property, but also lack of knowledge that these rows of corn are owned by someone and those rows are his/her business.

Driving down Main Street in Any Town, USA, recognizing a business is simple.  There is a storefront, a sign, a parking lot, a door, hours of operation, lights, a person behind a counter or at a desk.  But driving mile after mile of open space covered in golden wheat, oats, soybeans or corn rows with no indication of borders or boundaries, no indication of ownership, one might think this is open public space on which no one has a claim.

Unlike stores, which may have security cameras or be in sight of cameras or someone out for a late night stroll, fields are not protected by alarm systems. Nor do they come with locks or brick walls; so, a vehicle can drive right in and all too often, drive right out with no consequence to the driver.

If you ever decide to take a joyride in a field, please know you are committing a crime.  You are trespassing.  You are vandalizing property and violating a family and their business.

Understand that you will damage your vehicle.  Guaranteed.  There are low spots, high spots, sink holes, rocks – boulders, for that matter, and fence posts. Whether it is day or night, you will not see what is coming next when flying through 10-foot tall corn.

And not seeing what comes next could result in harm to you and or your passengers.

But with so many acres of corn, what does a little trek off the beaten path really cost?  Brian, who writes The Farmers’ Life blog, posted this recently, “What Is One Ear of Corn Worth?”  He estimates one ear is worth an additional $25.63 per acre.  Check out his math and explanations.

Bottom line, destruction of property is always wrong.  Stick to the roads and stay out of our fields.


31 responses to “My Field Is Not Your Playground

  1. Oh, you have really touched on one of my hot-spots! My mother’s farm runs along the Kaskaskia River and people treat it as THEIR access RIGHT on and off the river. The trash and vandalism is sickening.

  2. It’s the same the world over. Here in England people use the fields to dump their rubbish so wherever possible there’s a hedge, fence or ditch alongside a road and every gateway is blocked with bollards or an old piece of farm machinery.

  3. We farm ground on the same road as a public campground where ATVs are allowed. The trails must be a little too quiet for some of the campers as they often decide to head to the cornfield. If we could only determine their address, I think a joy ride in our pick or tractor a few times around their back yard might give the vandals a better understanding of respecting private property.

  4. Reblogged this on Food, Farm, Life Choices and commented:
    So worth sharing. On many levels people don’t understand, big or small.

  5. I agree with your other commenters, this is a topic that gets my blood boiling. Unfortunately “Stupid” is a universal affliction as this is such a widespread problem. It goes on year round with people just changing from trucks and ATVs in spring and summer to snowmobiles in winter. Nothing is ever done about it. I also find that here (Southern Saskatchewan, Canada) some of the worst offenders are locals who should definitely know better!

  6. Charles Flanagan

    These same people would and do vandalize stores and other businesses when they can get away with it. I think sometimes punks start riots just so in the confusion they can break into a store and help themselves to a new tv, etc.

  7. In Rochelle, there are many, many people who TRESPASS and STEAL PUMPKINS each October from the DuPont field on the west edge of Rochelle. I have tried to tell people what they are doing is illegal, but all of them have an excuse such as: The city of Rochelle grows them for people to take, Del Monte has grown them for years for people to take, Down at the VFW I was told to come out here for free pumpkins. THEY BELONG TO DUPONT!!! People need to understand it is a CHEMICAL RESEARCH FARM!!!! I work there part time, but believe me, I would never just take things because I don’t know what has been sprayed on it. Also, they do lots of studies on their crops. It’s hard to get valid information when people have stolen most of your product.

    • I’ve read about this happening around produce farms in California. After the fields are harvested, people will go in and take what is left and sometimes sell the “leftovers” at farmers’ markets! That is just crazy!

  8. We’ve dealt with this too. I actually had someone say “we didn’t think anyone owned this” while standing next to our barn. I asked “then who do you think built that?” If I use the driving through your yard analogy they say “that’s different.” To which I respond “yep, what you did just took money out of my pocket.” They just don’t care.

  9. I can relate to your sentiments. Some people neglect to consider respecting the property of other people. They should be aware that people who cultivate and maintain this farm these fields invested time, money, sweat and hard work it.

  10. I always wondered why farmers don’t put up chain link fences around their property seems like it would help with loss and profit even though its something that cost money, it would be an investment…. a year you do well in your crop season would be a good time to invest in this.

    • That’s an idea, but that would be a lot of chain link. To enclose an 80-acre square field we’d need one mile of fence.

    • At a quick estimate, for our 2300 acre farm we’d need about 15 miles of chain link fence, plus several gates (we have to get into the fields ourselves somehow) so I imagine installation and maintenance of all that would be pretty pricey. The snowmobilers just cut the barbed wire fences that we already have around our pastures whenever they please.

      I’m no lawyer, but it is my understanding that if someone were to run into our fence and injure themselves, WE would be liable for damages. As would also be the case if someone ran into some farm equipment parked in our field, regardless of the fact they are essentially trespassing on private property.

  11. everyone tore out the fences to gain a bushel of grain now they are losing several bushel because the fence is gone. that is why I have mine fenced in!

  12. None of your business

    It was Me dude… I crashed My F’ing car coming over the hill on the opposite side. It wasn’t on purpose Vandalism. Get your facts straight. I didn’t know what to do so after 5 minutes i finally got my car out and back up the ditch, and left. I didn’t want anything to do with the police, especially since I’m only 16 and just got my License. The breaks gave way. I tried to Stop before I reached the corn, but I couldn’t. Sorry. Its a few lines of corn. Cry about it. Farmers have more fields.

    • Forgive me for playing the mom role, but a) I hope you are okay and not hurt from the accident. b) Honesty is always the best policy. Always. Had you called the police or even found the farmer and told him/her what happened, I would venture that he/she would have been understanding. Why? Because they would know what happened and not be left to think the damage was done intentionally. (i.e. Getting the facts straight as you say.) c) This is the farmer speaking . . . a few lines of corn = lost product, lost profit and for a farmer that is the paycheck.

      • Rather not say who

        I apologize for being extremely rude before. My friend (who knew about my accident), seen this and shared it to Me. So it got Me Fired up to see that it was just assumed as Vandalism. I had no intentions of destroying any property and had taken a country road I didn’t know. Even then Speed limit (55) on country roads is a bit fast, I ended up going over a Hill. In which I had two options 1.) Turn the wheel and flip My Car -because of the speed I was going- or 2.) Hold the wheel straight and slam on the brakes before I even reached the cornfield.
        I chose #2
        Luckily I had My seatbelt on. So the only pain I suffered was terrible whiplash the next day. This accident happened on a Wednesday.
        My Car wasn’t too damaged, and I did feel bad about the cornfield honestly. I wasn’t thinking at the time about others. Just that I didn’t want My Parents to find out or get in trouble with the Law. I feel like if I revealed My name now, someone would turn Me in.
        I appreciate that you did not backlash at My comment, I know that I came off aggressively but I did not mean it.

      • Rather not say who

        P.s. Also My Breaks didn’t work until I was partially down the path through the cornfield. I guess they couldn’t catch up because I slid down the Grass Hill and then down the Ditch into the Corn. So I did try My Best to stop.

    • You made it someone else’s business. Getting a driver;s license is a commitment to act as an adult and drive responsibly. You did not! You need to man up and take responsibility for your actions, and you need to “cry about it” while your license is revoked and you pay a fine! How about paying for the corn you destroyed?! You obviously have more money than you need!

      • Respectfully, Indiana Farm Girl, as was described – and granted not in a respectful manner – this seems to be an accident and the individual wasn’t sure how to proceed. I think we’ve all had situations in our lives like that. As I pointed out in a previous comment, I think we can all agree that honesty is the best policy and while this young person may have had to suffer a few consequences, avoiding the assumptions that were made about the incident would have been worth it.

  13. Here in Oklahoma our alfalfa fields get drove thru a lot, the dope heads go down on the creek to cook their drugs and decide a little joy ride around the alfalfa would be fun! They shoot donuts all over the fields, it ruins the alfalfa for years in those spots!
    My husband was heading to one of our hay fields one night to bale hay and caught one of them having fun! He pulled up to the vehicle and the young fella got out and came up to his pickup door and asked him if he had a problem? My husband always carries a gun or two for critters, he pulled out his pistol & stuck it between the guys eyes and said I just wanted to see if brain matter glows! The guy nearly peed his pants & said sorry & begged for his life! My husband told him he better not catch him in our hay field again or he would shoot him & let him go!
    A few days later our County Sherrifs Department called my husband and was laughing so hard you could hardly understand him. He said they caught a guy driving across our hay field and they took off after him! The guy slammed on his breaks and jumped out of his vehicle with his hands high in the air screaming “don’t shoot, don’t shoot” the Sherrif asked what in the world made him think they were going to shoot & he said oh thank goodness it’s the cops! I thought it was that crazy farmer & he was going to kill me!!
    Needless to say word got around to all his drug buddies and they didn’t come around our area any more!! It’s sad that it has to come to that kind of tactics to get your point across!!

  14. You always write about very relevant topics. This is one of those topics. I’ve seen this very thing happen in a corn field on my way to work last year. My heart broke for the farmer. It just seemed senseless. One could tell that they drove in at the beginning of a curve in the road and out where the curve came around. Clearly just for fun. Now soybeans are planted there, and one can still see where the car drove through. Not funny. But Ronda Musick’s story, funny, only because the farmer got the upper hand!

  15. Accidents do happen, but this points to a large movement in our culture away from agriculture. Years ago, 9 out of every 10 families were farming as a way of life. If you were the 1 that wasn’t, pretty much everyone you knew was. Their was a greater respect for the farmer’s business because most people knew first-hand how hard that farmer had to work to reap his harvest.

    These days we have less(?) than 1% of our population working in agriculture. So not only do most people not have any first-hand knowledge of how important every patch of ground is to the farmer’s livelihood, they very likely may have never met anyone who does know. They may respect a worker’s commute, but they don’t respect a farmer’s fields. Their view of agriculture is what they see on television with huge combines working tens of thousands of acres, and they can’t comprehend that someone could care about a little patch of ground.

  16. This aggravates me to no end. We don’t go driving in your yard, why because our property is bigger do you think you can wander in and help yourself. Our property is not your state park! Grrrr….

  17. at my place for maize have been no reports of vandalism, destruction usually on commodity rice, so when already in the barn there are some people who have experienced vandalism.

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