Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Dangerous Farm

Non-farm folks generally think pastoral thoughts as they drive by.

"Martha, look at that there peaceful pastoral scene" said Freddy
"Yes, dear it sure is peaceful in a pastoral sense" said Martha

What they don't see is the behind the scenes drama that sadly can take lives. Farming is one of the most dangerous jobs (number 4 in the top 10) in the US. I was always the nag hag of the family, running after Keith and the boys when they did stupid, asinine, ought-to-be-slapped-upside-the-head, thoughtless stuff. You know, like riding on the tailgate of the truck, or the livestock trailer or the manure spreader. They all had issues with riding INSIDE of vehicles for some reason.

But vehicular related accidents on the farm are just part of the risks.

Hay, can be a bigger threat. A couple of year ago, a distant neighbor of ours was crushed, and died, when large hay bales fell on him. He was in his 30's. We use the same type of large square bale and after that particular accident I was the shreiking mama who put the big kaposh on climbing on the hay bales. It made me unpopular with the teens in our family who would climb up top for some private time away from the adults.

Then last week, I saw these bales of hay Keith pulled out of our barn.

At first I thought mold, but a quick feel (I'm too tired for anything more than that lately) revealed dry and crackly. Sure enough this black stuff is burn marks. Put away on the moist side, the hay heated up and started to burn. Fortunately for us, this happened at the farmers barn where we buy our hay. By the time it was shipped to us it was cold and no longer a threat.

But seeing it sitting out there has reminded me how dangerous our job is, how fortunate our farmer friend was and how we all need to remain vigilant when it comes to farm safety. So if you see me walking around our machine shed or large livestock barn with my nose up in the air please assume I am just checking for heat in the hay, not being a stuck-up Midlife Farmwife.


  1. Lots of things to be aware of when you farm and they are not all equipment related. We were not allowed to get silage out of the silo without a spotter because you can be overcome by the fumes in there.

  2. The French are wonderful at instigating new European agricultural safety rules, then ignoring them themselves.

  3. We lose at least one farmer to accidents around my neighborhood a year. And that is not even including the limbs lost. Thats what angers me about Americans buying cheap imported food. We kill ourselves to get the food to market, and then Americans farmers are always in the red since the market is so low. The hay igniting is also one of my greatest fears. This is no office job for sure ;)

  4. I remember as a pre-teen kid my cousin and I climbing to the top of the silo to fork down silage. Surprising the many things we did we survived. I couldn't imagine things like this happening nowadays.

  5. Oh Lord, I'm sure the dangers of farming is one of the biggest mental gaps that I own...since we are going to be doing some farming on our acreage, very soon, I'd better get with it and learn about some of these dangers that a city person, such as myself, has never heard of because we just aren't exposed to such dangers.

    Being from Texas, I've known about hay...not to play around it because it can indeed crush you. But, the fires started by hay...I knew it would begin to "cook" and compose, but I really didn't know that it could self-inflame. Again, Oh Lord.


  6. I recently posted about the number of deaths in agriculture........
    the biggest of any employment!
    take care sweet gal

  7. A lot of Australia is still rural, farming land and we tend to machinery-related accidents. My father grew up on a farm (as did I for a few years) and was always very careful. Often there is no-one around to go for help if you DO have an accident.

    Keep running after your boys!

  8. MBJ. I always had a "spotter" in my old days of gymnastics. Brillant idea for the farm

    Cro, I must be part French. About 10 seconds after our kids grew up and left home I started riding on the trucks tailgate. Don't tell the grandkids

    Jane, what an excellent point. So mnay accidents are due to rushing.

    Doug. Me too. How did we survive?

    Lana, many local 4-H clubs and extension offices do workshops about farm safety for free. Great to attend

    John. You called me "gal" like I was young. MAny thanks. And now I am off to your blog...a favorite daytrip of mine.

    Topcat, yes, one of the best farming tools ever invented was the cell phone. A huge life saver

  9. Burn marks, good grief. I've heard hay can generate heat, I reckon it has to do with how dry it is(?) So glad all is well.

  10. Yes there are sadly a lot of farm accidents. I grew up on the farm my hubby and I now own and you reminded me of so many childhood memories! I used to love riding on the tailgate of Dads truck and climbing on the hay in the barn loft was so much fun! But of course with my kids I had a different attitude. :)