By Glenn Brunkow, Pottawatomie County Farmer & Rancher
This is the season of busy here in the ag world. It seems as though we are simultaneously in wheat harvest, crop planting, haying and there are always things to do with the livestock. There are never enough hours in the day to get things done, and we catch ourselves working long hours at a frenetic pace. Then you add in what we do in agriculture can be incredibly dangerous, and we are often alone. The bottom line is farming and ranching is always dangerous, but right now it is exceedingly dangerous.
Believe me I am preaching to the choir, and I speak from experience. A couple of years ago I was unhooking the rake from the tractor, I knew the jack was not good, and I knew the rake was on a slight incline. Despite knowing all of that, I still pulled the hitch pin without any thought of where my feet were or what could happen. The pin was in a bind, and I got closer to give it a better yank.
I admit it, I was in a hurry and more than a little annoyed the pin was not coming out easy. In any case, I set my shoulders and gave the hitch pin an extra hard pull. It came and what happened next was a blur. The rake rolled back, the jack gave out and everything fell straight down. Straight down on my foot. I was stunned at first and then I realized the rake was on my foot. I could not move my foot and had to have dad come over with another jack.
Actually, it was on my boot and near my foot. It did not take too long to get the rake off, and I assessed the situation. It had sliced through the leather toe of my boot, which I am fairly sure is tougher than my foot. Then it hit me, just how close I had come to losing at least part of my foot and just how lucky I was to not be alone that day. Another inch or two and my life would have changed forever.
I bet my story is not unique, and I would guess all of us in agriculture have similar stories of near misses and many of us were not so lucky. What is the difference between a near miss and a catastrophic accident? The answer is luck. What can we do to make sure we are not in that situation? The answer is to slow down and realize that the more we hurry and the more corners we cut the more dangerous this job gets. Throw in the long hours and stress and it is a dangerous combination, but one that can be avoided.
Please, in this time of busy be careful and cautious;’ go the extra mile and slow down. Remember, those of us in agriculture account for less than 2 percent of the population, we cannot afford to lose anyone.