On a recent trip to the US, Roy overheard the following priceless line on the CB radio, “Farming is hazardous to your wealth.”
Anyone having grown up on a farm or, worse yet, trying to earn a living at it, will acknowledge the unvarnished truth in that statement. Yet we couldn’t help but grin at the wit of the anonymous speaker who changed just one letter in the more common version “Farming is hazardous to your health.”
With harvest just now finally beginning in earnest, all of us are up against it. There are the usual challenges of keeping the machinery going. However, the late start has resulted in a build-up of angst. Anyone who’s lived in Alberta for more than a few minutes knows the hours of daylight are shortening. We see the dew settle way too soon on windless nights and know the combines will have to stop early. We groan inwardly when we wake to frosty mornings knowing full well that we may not get back to combining until one, two or three in the afternoon. It is not really a good thing when it gets dark and dewy early.
We also know some farmers are better than others at controlling their emotions and managing these stressful times. Seeing your livelihood, a year’s worth of labour and your financial input in jeopardy is hard on the most optimistic among us. After last year’s harvest from hell which saw some crops over-winter–farmers are a little gun-shy. Crops were damaged from mice and weather resulting in either an un-saleable product or one downgraded to a pathetic price and grade.
With fuel prices out-of-sight and grain prices nose-diving, farmers don’t need this extra pressure. I implore everyone to take the extra time to stay safe. If you don’t have time to shut off motors and to service machines or unplug the header, you definitely don’t have time for an ambulance (or hearse) ride. If you don’t have time to eat or sleep, you certainly don’t have time for a trip to the emergency department. If we can’t ensure the safety of our children, spouse, and hired help, perhaps we need to reassess our priorities.
If we aren’t all very careful, conditions are ideal for disaster. Everyone’s anxious to get this late harvest over before it snows. Everyone’s got money worries and needs to get the grain off in the best possible grade and condition. We need to balance the need for well-planned, productive days with the need to stay smart and safe.
In an ideal world, the machinery will all have been serviced weeks ago. Grain bins will have been emptied and cleaned. Mom will have pre-planned some of the meals and have frozen dishes to grab when time gets tight. Children will only do those age-specific jobs they can safely handle. Everyone will take the time to thank and cherish those closest to them during this stressful time. Sacrificing health for wealth is not an option from where I sit.