There is nothing wrong with being a good advocate. There is nothing wrong with being passionate. And ...there is nothing wrong with being a good farmer.
Posts tagged ‘floodbrothersfarm’
...along with all the blessings of being a farmer there are the heartaches and pain that sometimes drown out all the good things. But because we are farmers we don't step back long because it's okay to get riled up. It's more than okay to fight for what's right. It is never wrong to protect your own, we just have to do it between milkings and after the crops are in... and we have to remember to #justsmile.
I despise typos. Not the typos of others…those I can stomach (though I have been known to scoff at them). But my own typos I ABHOR. I dislike any mistake I make and that includes typos, or the dreaded “unnoticed auto correct” that tosses away my “they’re” and replaces it with a “their”…or the bane of my iPhone existence: the interchanging of “gin” and “gun”. Interestingly enough I use both words frequently and though the context is usually clear enough for the reader to easily surmise which of the two I meant it bothers me that my phone would assume that I meant “gin” when I typed “gun” and vice versa. It’s just such a letdown that my phone 1) apparently doesn’t truly “get me” and 2) insists on being the one in control. Meanwhile, fatigued from the auto-correct battles and the user error typos (yes, I admit that I make many, many, MANY typographical errors that cannot be blamed on anyone or anything other than myself) there are the Tagging Battles….Anyone on Facebook knows that tagging can be easy, difficult or WAY too easy. Add a Page account into the mix and you get a whole new front in regards to tagging. Just the other day I struggled for what seemed like hours (but in actuality was closer to about 3-1/2 minutes) to tag a farm in a post. No matter what I did the wrong farm kept popping up, sneaking through…this went on for an eternity (in this case eternity=3-1/2 minutes)..until finally I was able to actually perform the very simple task I had set out to do. I was, for a while, horrified at the thought that I might have not noticed my error and proceeded with the post and the embarrassment that would have ensued…and possible hard feelings.
All that seems pretty minor now because at least I didn’t tag the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Or heaven forbid publicly endorse them. (Not that I would…as a matter of fact I quite often take the time to explain to folks that their support of HSUS is for a political & propaganda machine that is far more interested in ending farming, ranching, & agriculture than they are in protecting and caring for animals and that the efforts of local Humane Societies are not a result of HSUS fundraising and outreach…and I do so with civility and without vitriol). Now the presumably good folks The Original Muck Boot Company, did not have as much luck as I did in avoiding an unfortunate tag and if you would like to read a little bit on the backstory of this whole issue you can check out Ryan Goodman’s post. The whole point is that at some point someone somewhere may have confused A Humane Society with a THE Humane Society and to make matters worse someone posted something that probably shouldn’t have been on Facebook on Facebook (NOBODY I know has ever had that happen or been guilty of something so ridiculous or possibly wine induced, I am sure…) and then it happened….a full fledged assault on the makers of Muck Boots across multiple media platforms and I have heard that a permit for the burning of Muck boots is in the works. All because of a couple pics and a tag on Facebook. Or was it?
In fact the uproar wasn’t because of the posts on the Muck Boot page. The uproar was from the Muckraking that ensued. (cut me some slack-I spent so much time writing papers on muckrakers that there is NO WAY IN HELL I am going to pass up the opportunity to work it into this -I mean really, the name of the company is MUCK!!!!). The fact is that we farmers are a passionate lot. We work hard. We work an awful lot. We get really dirty, really tired, and really don’t get paid well most of the time and on top of that, we get really picked on by a lot of folks who basically get paid to pick on us. And disparage us. And attack us. And vilify us. And HSUS is one of those organizations that spends a LOT of time and a LOT of money doing all of that. Needless to say, when someone appears to be supporting the people or entity that spends most of their energy trying to destroy your life and way of life things get a little heated. And this was no exception.
I’m not someone to be trifled with. I am quite capable of getting my dander up. Feathers get ruffled. Teeth get gnashing. There have been times that a bit of frothing at the mouth occurred. BUT, I have learned that a little bit of research and a LOT of patience is usually the best course of action. When trying to find out what exactly the issue was the only results from web searches turned out to be the anger and crowd sourced Kraken that had been released overnight. Though full of very imaginative ways to dispose of Muck boots and where exactly they could be stored it didn’t really help to explain the issue at hand-quirky little Milkmaid questions like: “How much money was raised?”, “Was this a corporate wide fundraiser?”, “Why does the quality of the picture look NOTHING like the normal images the Facebook page posts?”, you know…things like that. I will admit that a few years ago I gave up my cheap, go to, readily available Yellow Tail wine when I found out they had provided a donation to HSUS. Of course I was getting a bit tired of the Aussies and was ready to start delving into the Argentinian and Chilean grapes so…I can’t really say that I made a stand as much as I made a bold palate change, and though many who know me would daresay that the loss of my wine purchases were surely felt by the company, I am confident (and keep telling myself) that I don’t drink THAT much wine. My point it that I wasn’t ready to set Muck Boots in my sights, and even though I realized around noon time that there were a pair of Muck boots in our household (I tripped over the pair that belongs to The Farmer’s Daughter and thought, “Oh. We do own a pair.”) I was in no way prepared to purge the house of them because I didn’t have the facts-like the folks who often comment and attack we farmers about our “veal houses” (we know them as hutches) or the folks who proclaim our neighbours and fellow farmers are “Monsanto shills” simply because when it comes to raising calves or the use of biotechnology they are without the facts and information. So I wait. Listen to the beat of my own drummer. Swim a bit upstream. And though I got bit dirty today in the cornfield I didn’t get down in the Muck, because the only Muck I will get down in is the Muck I know…not that which is raked up by others. No matter how passionately, honestly or well-intentioned it may be, the reality is that without all the facts and knowledge Muckraking is Muckraking and before I rake Muck over the coals I remember that it never feels good to be vilified just because someone doesn’t have the facts.
"These are the kind of moments that you can’t buy: someone WANTS to hear you tell them why your family farm is such a great asset to its community; why your family farm is hell bent on caring for your animals and the land; why the milk your cows produce is some of the highest quality, safest and most nutritious out there. This is one of those perfect, golden opportunities that only happens when you step off that farm and engage the person who doesn’t know a thing about you or your farm."
Last Tuesday we hit a milestone at the farm..we reset the clock…we got a do-over…we started from scratch: We went to 0 Days since our last work place injury. The short version is that a couple hours in the ER, 8 stitches, and a broken bone in the hand later one of the boys (technically, one of MY Boys-My #2 boy by choice and not blood or relation) was back home holding his baby boy Parker. The long version is that farming is one of the most dangerous occupations and accounts for a large amount of workplace injuries and fatalities. In fact, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) “Agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. Farmers are at high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries… Farming is one of the few industries in which the families (who often share the work and live on the premises) are also at risk for injuries, illness, and death.” Even in our quiet, under populated corner of the world the sharp and stinging reality of statistics far too frequently jolts us out of our complacency and comfort. When you grow up in a farming family and in a farming community the stories, the memories and the evidence by manner of crooked backs, legs that don’t straighten decades after being crushed by a tractor, scars that were hastily stitched up, aches and pains that still recall a body that met its match with an angry, calf crazy cow, and even more poignantly by the processions and flowers that accompany final goodbyes are hard to ignore.
And yet, we become complacent. We become lazy. And cocky. And forgetful….and we begin to rely on luck instead of common sense. It happens to all of us. How many bypass start prevention kits that were installed by John Deere in the late 80s still remain intact? Not very few I will wager. How many seat belts in skidsteers are fastened but not around the operator? How many folks drive a tractor with a ROPS folded down, or worse, without wearing the seat belt? Safety glasses, fire extinguishers, PTO shields, fender riding, loose clothing, grain bins, chemicals, manure pits, animals….and on and on and on….So many precautions and protections it sometimes feels like that if one were to take all the steps necessary to prevent injury the last thing to be accomplished would be the actual job at hand.
Then reality happens. The one thing you can’t plan for or prevent: an accident. So, long story short- when accidents happen it is a slight comfort to know that the correct precautions were taken and that when it happened everyone reacted and responded well. In our case it was a clogged merger. This relatively benign piece of equipment trails behind the tractor and and uses rotating “teeth” to pick up cut hay in a windrow and deposit it on a belt conveyor which empties it off to the side and adds it to the adjacent windrow, thus “merging” the two windrows into one. After becoming gobbed up with the grass my #2 Boy, Devon Watson, proceeded to “un-gob” it, AFTER disengaging the PTO (basically turning the merger “off” and following proper procedure) and when the pressure was relieved parts that had been immobilized were once again able to move…and did so quickly and with great force. Moments after the blood started flowing Devon had the shirt off the back of my #1 Boy (my son) to staunch the bleeding , was getting a very expeditious ride to hospital in a silage truck driven by Danny Bickford, and receiving orders on the phone such as “Apply pressure and keep the wound elevated above your heart” from a very crotchety, concerned old lady-me. We are extremely fortunate to have so many medical facilities in such close proximity to us and have availed ourselves of the ER many a time and even a LifeFlight to a trauma center on occasion.
After some triage and emergent care the pain was under control and the bleeding stopped and the waiting for a spot in X-ray and a doctor consult in the very busy ER began…and the review of what went wrong commenced. In all actuality Devon did everything correctly, except perhaps to have more experience with the equipment and understand even better just how it worked. Perhaps that might have changed how he approached the problem, but the fact is that sometimes the only way to avoid these types of things is to stay home in bed.
And that’s the real rub…that there are so many things that are not within our control; so many details we cannot foresee; so much we can not prevent and yet the stakes are just as high with the things we have command over. A little time in the ER to contemplate this makes it all so crystal clear that the safety, precaution and prevention that sometimes seems so tedious and superfluous, and are so easily and casually tossed aside in favour of perceived productivity and expeditiousness, is indeed worth the time and effort because while rain be coming; cows need to be milked; feed needs to be put up…and daylight’s a burnin’ we farmers are all just a day away from being 0 Days since our last workplace injury, or worse.
Because the reality is that what we farmers do is one of the most dangerous professions in the world and while our family farm is back to 0 Days we got lucky; we got a do-over and get to start from scratch, and Little Man Parker gets to be held by his Daddy tonight and the inconvenience of caution and safety will seem, for at least a little while, worth all the trouble.