Let’s be careful
With harvest approaching, farmers and everyone in the vicinity of harvest receive frequent reminders to be careful.
I am probably not the only farmer, who upon hearing these admonitions, think to myself, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. I’ve heard it before. I know what to do.”
However, while they seem like a nagging wag with a finger pointed at us, it is important to remember to keep safety first throughout each hour of every day.
So, remember to keep all shields in place, be careful where you stand or work near spinning shafts, pulleys, chains and belts.
Think ahead when repairing so if something slips or slides, the chances of being caught or pinned are reduced.
One poorly thought-out shortcut to save a few seconds or minutes can create changes that will be with you the rest of your life.
Even something as simple as a bin or combine ladder can be hazardous when there is a fall.
I am not sure it is possible to be too careful.
From my own experience, I have learned that late afternoon is a dangerous time.
It is when fatigue is setting in and the edge we had in the morning is not there.
Another problem with fatigue is that it sneaks up on you.
I have made decisions in the afternoon that I would not have made in the morning because they were not smart.
I have actual experience with fatigue in the afternoon from an event that, while it happened about 25 years ago, I can recall easily.
It was during corn harvest and I was unloading wagons.
It was a warm fall day with a steady south wind that was fairly strong.
Every time I did anything, there was that wind making it more difficult from standing where the chaff didn’t blow in my eyes to having to chase down my cap when the wind caught it.
Late that afternoon I needed to climb to the top of a bin and remove the cover. Another job in the wind.
When I got the lid loose, the wind caught it and it slid down the side of the bin roof until it was caught by the bar that circled the roof about halfway down.
Now I needed to go down the ladder and work my way on the bar over to the lid and carry it back to the top. More bother.
But what if I just lowered myself from the top of the bin roof as far as I could by hanging on, then let go and slide the five feet or so to the lid.
Yeah, I can do that. I’m tired of fighting the wind and the extra work it has made.
I lowered myself as I planned and then let go.
It was when my feet went under the bar, at a speed of about 300 miles an hour, pinning my legs snugly (and painfully) under the bar at just above the knee that I realized I just did a dumb thing.
Pain gave me new insight to the poor decision I had just made.
As I was extricating myself, I realized getting caught by the bar was the best thing to happen, even in pain.
Had I not gotten caught, I would have slid all the way down the roof and over the side of the bin to the ground about 25 feet below, not the outcome I wanted.
In the morning, I would have taken the long and safe route. By afternoon, sliding down a bin roof seemed do-able.
What was I thinking of?
They say God watches over fools and little children.
I know which one I was. And that’s not an excuse to take risks.
Let’s be careful out there.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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