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By Staff | Oct 14, 2016

It was slow in coming but harvest is now completely underway and large machinery combined with long hours will make another harvest look easy.

Well, easy to those who are observers from the road or a TV screen.

And every harvest we are admonished from all directions to remember to operate safely.

I remember for many years when I would hear about having a safe harvest, my reaction was, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what I am doing.”

But I also noticed my judgment dropped off in the afternoon. I was not as sharp as I was in the morning and I would catch myself doing things in the afternoon that I would not have done in the morning, because fatigue was setting in.

Late afternoon was a dangerous time and accidents could happen more easily.

So, that is why I am saying, “Be careful out there.”

Shafts, belts, chains are all spinning under lots of power and a life-changing or life-ending event can happen in seconds – especially late in the day or after a long stretch in the cab – so please don’t dismiss me with, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what I am doing.”

I have my own example of poor judgment late in the afternoon and fortunately, the only thing that happened was a permanent lesson in safety.

Quite a few years ago, we were combining corn and I was unloading wagons into the drier.

It was an especially windy day and there was no escaping the steady wind. I couldn’t get away from it. It was wearing me down.

Late in the afternoon I had to go to the top of the bin to move something. I climbed the ladder to the top of the bin, did what I had to do, and the wind took whatever it was out of my hands and it caught on the ring that circled the bin roof about hallway between the top and the eaves of the roof.

To retrieve it I would have to climb halfway down the roof ladder and then side-step over onto the ring to get the piece. It might have been the bin cover.

That was a lot of bother as I looked at the piece caught in the ring.

Then I thought of a shortcut. I’ll just slide down the roof so that I will be stopped by the ring. I lowered myself into position while hanging to the rooftop with one hand. I lay flat so my feet would be as close to the ring as possible before letting go.

Then I let go.

I slid down that roof about 10 or 12 feet and as far as I can tell I was going about 200 miles an hour when my feet went under the ring. I was stopped when my thighs were squeezed between the roof and the ring.

Yes, it was painful. The pain made me alert to what I had just done.

What if I had misjudged the whole event and slid past the ring, down to the eaves, and then fell 30 feet to the ground.

How stupid can a person be? Or naive? Or careless? Or reckless?

It took a little doing,but I was able to extricate myself and outside of the pain, no harm was done.

I have heard that God watches over fools and little children and I knew which one I was.

It remains one of my best lessons in life.

So when I say, “Be careful,” don’t give me one of those, “Yeah, yeah, yeah …”

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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