Be Safe

I have a sore back this morning.  Nothing serious, just a little uncomfortable stiffness that will go away once I’m warmed up. But still, a reminder that I need to be more careful.

Most likely the reason my back hurts is because I had to change implements on the tractor several times yesterday and I didn’t always do it in the most back-friendly way.  That’s a no-no.

A lot of the things we do on the farm are inherently dangerous.  Agriculture is the deadliest occupation in the U.S. and has been for years. More than half the workplace fatalities in the world occur in agriculture. Farmers are frequently killed or seriously injured by accidents involving tractors, PTOs, farm machinery, chainsaws and livestock. And for every fatality there are probably scores of ruined backs and compromised limbs and digits. Farming is a great way of life.   But it’s important to be careful.

If doing something safely takes a little longer, spend the extra time and do it safely.

The foregoing public service announcement may be read as me lecturing myself.

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33 comments on “Be Safe

  1. I don’t know if these will be helpful but I get a lot of relief (and protection) from stretches like these: http://simpleorganiclife.org/7-stretches/

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks. My wife has been after me for years to take up yoga. I do some basic stretches but it would probably be a good idea for me to be more disciplined about it.

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  2. Sue says:

    So true!
    And the worst part is we often ARE careful, but it’s that one brief moment of not paying attentioin that gets you every time. (says the gal that was “thinking” instead of paying attention and got kicked in the mouth by a cow as I was millking)

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    • Bill says:

      Ouch. I had a close call with a goat horn recently. Got poked in the check, dangerously close to an eye. You’re right. My guess is that farmers are as careful and safety-minded as anyone else. It’s like with driving. We’re careful almost all of the time, but who doesn’t ever take their eyes off the road for a moment?

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  3. vpfarming says:

    A lot more dangerous than, say, sitting behind a desk all day (at least in the short run). We have a policy to always 1) say a prayer before working with any power equipment (both for thanksgiving and safety) and 2) stop using equipment whenever we feel too tired or rushed. There are probably several other good guidelines to ensure better safety, just haven’t figured them out yet.

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    • Bill says:

      Those are good practices. Fatigue and hurry are probably responsible for a lot of the accidents.

      As for the comparative danger of the desk job, I’ll take the dangers of farming over the health risks of that life anytime. I can honestly say I’m not sure I’d still be alive if I had stayed on the treadmill at the pace I was keeping all those years.

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  4. shoreacres says:

    Ah, yes. And it’s often the most ordinary things that get us. I’ve never fallen off a boat or from a mast, but thinking I could board a boat with a high freeboard despite the absence of steps, because I could just haul myself up? Hello, torn rotator cuff. And that rolled ankle? Tripping in the coils of water hose that I intended to put up “in just a minute.” 🙂

    I hope you’re feeling better already.

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    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      There, you said it, that’s exactly what I was going to mention… Those internal “conversations” we have and listening to (or ignoring): that little cautioning voice: “Shouldn’t you…?” To which you reply – usually in an exasperated tone – “Yes, I’ll get it in a minute!” And then promptly proceed to do yourself harm… Yup! Been there):

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    • Bill says:

      I’ve heard that most driving accidents occur when you’re almost home. We let our guard down I guess.

      If we learn from our mistakes, I’ve learned a lot.

      As predicted the back was fine in no time. Just a little stiff to start the day. I prefer to think that’s because of some strenuous lifting the day before, as opposed to just being natural for someone with this many trips around the sun under his belt.

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  5. In a hurry? That’s when things go wrong. Exhausted? That will do it for sure. Mind wandering? Inattention leads to trouble. Your health both physical and mental is the most important tool on the farm. Take care my friend.

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    • Bill says:

      Last year my back went out when I did nothing other than step out of the truck. It was freaky. Thinking of all the times I could’ve hurt myself doing something dangerous, and it happened doing something simple and seemingly harmless.

      It turned out not to be a serious problem but it had me worried. This life requires a healthy back. Without it and I’m done here.

      I’ve been especially careful since that scare. Yesterday I did cheat a little and muscle a heavy implement into place. I don’t know if that gave me the sore back or not, but I knew it could have. A good reminder.

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  6. Laurie@hinterlands.me says:

    Yes, be safe! Hope your back heals soon.

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  7. bobraxton says:

    lesson taken

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  8. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, yes, aches and pains each morning tell me that I’m getting old and can’t be doing what I want when I want. It becomes a way of life as I age. The schedule for the day has become work a little ,rest a lot, and drink lots of water. I never leave home without an insulated half gallon water bottle. I’ve been around farm implements all my life but my now eighty something uncle instilled into me safety safety safety. During my teen years I can remember many older farmers with missing fingers, crippled arms, and other injuries due to farm related accidents. My uncle and I as well made it through all the years of farm life with out any major injuries. Farming today is much safer from the high above the ground perch that’s air-conditioned and has all the comforts of home. Still, safety has to be a constant focus. Lifting, twisting, or other body movements that are not a normal routine can quickly become a health issue if ignored. I have learned that there is nothing so important or needs to be done so quickly that safety has to be ignored. I guess experience and wisdom have over come the need for accomplishment in my retired life. There’s always tomorrow, next week, or even next year for some things. Of course my gardening is for pleasure and not income. I could never live off what I grow. That would make a big difference.

    Have a safe day in the garden my friend.

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    • Bill says:

      Well said Dave. There are dangers in all jobs, especially if they involve a lot of physical labor. We just need to know our limitations and not take any shortcuts.

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  9. avwalters says:

    Sure, an upturned bucket would be just the ticket, instead of running clear across the property to get the ladder, right? We try to be safe. I find that our biggest enemy in that department is working too tired. So be careful and double check.

    As for dangerous, I read an article the other day that identified the chair as the most dangerous invention in Western life, followed immediately by sugar. They kill slowly, though. Sneaky little bastards, them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Amen on both counts. So I got a stiff back from some lifting something the wrong way. I know people my age (and younger) who are getting artificial knees because they’ve become so obese that their skeletons can’t support them anymore. It is common here to see middle-aged people riding around in grocery stores in motorized wheelchairs, because they’ve grown too big to walk.

      Sofas, recliners, sugar–definitely deadly. More dangerous than any farm implement.

      Liked by 1 person

      • avwalters says:

        Get well. If not better in just a couple of days–see a massage therapist or a chiropractor. You’re too valuable moving to be laid up.

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  10. And here I thought football was dangerous… 🙂 –Curt

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  11. associatedluke says:

    I don’t know you face to face, but I’m happy you’re safe and doing things the right and slow way. In time, my friend. I am not blessed with the gift of patience. So what little I have, may you add to yours 😉

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks Luke. Patience doesn’t come easy to me either. But with respect to some of the most dangerous jobs on a farm, it might be said that I’m blessed with an absence of natural skill. That forces me to go slow. Involuntary patience perhaps.

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  12. Joanna says:

    All the best to you Bill. Ian has hurt his back a few times, a bit of a weak spot and always at the most inconvenient time. We have a friend who has physio training fortunately, but nothing beats being careful.

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    • Bill says:

      Cherie’s back injures easily, probably a lingering effect of a car wreck she was in long ago. She has the good sense to avoid jobs that would put her back at risk. I’ve been fortunate that back problems have been rare, and minor. I hope it stays that way. This is a job that requires a healthy back.

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  13. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    I know I already tacked on to Linda’s comment, but also wanted to mention making sure we get things straightened out (if at all possible) before 48 hours have passed and your body’s gotten used to “the new normal”. Don’t be fooled into believing the “Oh, I’m okay, it doesn’t hurt any more…” Trust me when I say, that, if you haven’t literally put things back where they were before you hurt yourself, then it won’t be okay until you do – indeed, the longer you wait, the less likely you’ll be able to make a full recovery; indeed you’ll merely be sitting on a ticking time bomb of re-injury. (And that would be me preaching to myself; )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      I appreciate the good advice Deb. In this case I don’t think my back was hurt. Just some minor soreness that went away quickly. Sorta felt like it would if you slept funny. But I do wonder if my cheating on hooking up a harrow had something to do with it. Thinking about that just put me in the mood to lecture myself (publicly) about farm safety.

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  14. EllaDee says:

    Good advice. Sometimes it takes telling it to or hearing it from someone else!

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