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Traits of a Great Farm Spouse

I was planning on blogging again after school started, which was last week. I have all kinds of topics that I’d like to cover. This post was not on that list. This is going to be my rebuttal piece to “The Top Above and Beyond traits of a Farm Wife” that I read on Farmtalk Newspaper, written by Mark Parker. I feel very strongly moved to write this and hope the words that come through the keyboard mirror the thoughts in my mind. The strong feeling of emotion is because I cherish and value my wife so much more than washing a ball cap, which is my job by the way. You see I feel Mr. Parker took a swipe at my wife, my mom, my grand mother, and my great grandma

Before I begin lets clear the air on a few things. Mr. Parker’s piece could very well be a very poorly written attempt at humor. Anyone that has ever written an article or a blog has written one that they thought would be great, only to have it tank. It happens to all of us. Looking at the canned response from the publisher to some of the comments on that piece that’s how they are trying to spin it off.

Secondly, I have read a few of the rebuttal blogs written by ranchHers and FarmHers. You missed the mark too! Follow me on this for a second. When I go to some guys place and I am looking at purchasing some hay or cattle, or some other big purchase he always has a price in mind. He is always overpriced and I have to haggle with him to get the price down to fair market value. In the farmHer blogs I read the rebuttal still undervalued the farm wife.

Here is my list of outstanding traits of a farm wife

1A) Supportive I have blogged before about how necessary this trait is. I used to use the story of Andre Agassi in some of my public speaking, when talking to young people. I can never express enough how who you marry will impact your success.
Let’s take a look at the movie Rocky for a minute. In Rocky 1 he was trying to impress Adrian. In Rocky 2 he did not dedicate himself to training because Adrian didn’t support him. There is even a scene when Paulie, Adrian’s brother, confronts her about not supporting her husband. When Adrian woke up from her coma she said one word, “win”. Rocky rededicated himself to training harder than ever before and became world champ.

In Rocky 3 it played out again when Rocky was afraid and wanting to quit.

In Rocky 4 Adrian did it again when she traveled to Russia to be by Rocky’s side while he trained.

So ladies, there it is. Some of the things we do as guys, we are doing to impress you. Even after 20+ years of marriage. When the wife is supportive, of a determined and persistent husband great things will happen.

This might also be the place to point out that the book of Proverbs warns us multiple times about a nagging wife.

1B) Optimistic /Positive Attitude. I know one farmer personally who has a wife with a negative attitude. For years she has never had any interest in what he does. When times get a bit rough and she has to go sign some papers at the bank, for a loan, or at tax time, and she sees Mr. farmer didn’t make any money that year, he hears about it. I have no doubt her bad attitude has helped drag him in a downward spiral.

When one spouse is feeling down, it helps tremendously when the other half lifts them up.

Do not mistake this for the ole saying “next year will be better” That is betting on the come, and is gambling.

2) Flexible I think this is pretty self explanatory. For those who may not be very familiar with farming things happen occasionally that ruin family plans. For example the family may have plans to go somewhere that day. They are also expecting a load of cattle to arrive that morning. The truck driver may have over slept and the load will not arrive until after the family had planned to leave.

On my farm I have a saying, Whenever you are going to bring people, livestock and machinery together just expect that something is going to go a little off track. I feel Mr. Farmer should have a plan in place for most things, so that way he does not miss out on the important stuff in life if something would go wrong. The family needs to understand that sometimes that Mr. Farmer may miss some things if something goes a little off.

3) Initiative This one comes when the Farm Wife has an awareness of how things usually run. Now I am assuming here that she isn’t involved in day to day activities. She may call Mr. Farmer and offer to help if he’d give her some instructions.

4) Focus Things in agriculture take time. Sometimes those 1, 5 and 10 year plans just seem to take forever. This often times means delaying gratification, or giving up something to achieve a desired goal.

5) Faith Asking a farm wife to focus on the 10 year plan is hard to do when she can not physically see it. It requires her to have faith to believe in it, and be supportive of it.

6) Communication it takes a great deal of communication skill to send your wife on a parts run, or to the vet when she has no idea what she is supposed to get or what she’s getting it for. Yet they still manage to get it right!

Or how about those B.S. hand signals we give them sometimes when they are driving a tractor.

7) Tolerance When you send her on that parts run and the parts guy treats her like she’s an idiot. Not to mention the less than tasteful remarks she’ll over hear at some cattle auctions. We can’t change the behavior of others, so she just has to put up with it.

8) Humor having that special someone that can laugh at them self, and can also make you laugh is such a big stress reliever, and there can be an over whelming amount of stress with farming at times. This past weekend my wife was at a horse auction with me. A result of it was an inside joke that will have us both busting up for weeks

9) Will Draw a Line in the Sand Recall the clip above from Rocky 3. Adrian asks “What’s the truth dammit?” and “You have no right to blame yourself for what happened” That is a perfect example of drawing a line in the sand.

Usually drawing a line in the sand is keeping our egos in check, and preventing us from doing something stupid. For example, I was thinking of buying a horse to break. I used to do that when I was younger. My wife politely reminded me I was not in my 20’s anymore, and that maybe I should get something our daughter could ride too. My first thought was I’ll buy two. But, after thinking about it for a bit I realized she is right. I have too many responsibilities to risk getting hurt. Just as a point of reference I used to really pride myself on breaking the bad ones.

10) Smoking hot Ha. I can get away with this one. Look at some of the other rebuttal blogs written by women and some of them pointed out they can do all the things us guys can and look better doing it. No argument here

We all know the west would have never been settled if it were not for women. A strong woman is the glue that often times holds things together.

I still would like to give Mr. Parker the benefit of the doubt and assume his post was an attempt at humor that came across wrong. If it wasn’t I suggest that he may need to take some time and reexamine his values. I think if you look over this list I put together, that it’s not just a list of traits for women.

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Posted by on August 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Agproud Q5 F.E.A.R

Question 5 on the Agproud list

What allowed you to move beyond fear and diversify a perspective of your farm/ranch/business?

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This is a great question! Much has been written on the subject of fear over the last century, and strangely enough, all this time later it is still a huge problem. That is probably because fear is one of the strongest human emotions there is.

First off I’d like to share my favorite definition of fear. It is an acronym F.E.A.R. standing for False Evidence Appearing Real. Now that may need an explanation for some people. Most of the things we fear demand that we believe in something that we can’t see, or that may not actually happen. Fear is an emotion, and as such it tells you nothing about reality other than something makes you feel something.

Since most of my blogging and expertise is in cattle I will continue to focus there for an example. Many people would like to be in the cattle biz. Thing is they conjure up all kinds of “reasons”, more like excuses, why they can’t be. For example I have seen fear freeze people solid when they go to an auction to buy cattle. The most popular excuses are they are afraid, there’s that word again, that the market will go down. They are afraid the cattle may get sick or die. They are afraid the weather may deal them a bad hand this year. They are afraid that if any of these happen they will lose money. They are then afraid that if they lose money the bank will take things away from them. They are afraid of being a laughing stock.

That is quite a list of things to be afraid of, and emotion. We are all human and have all stared these fears squarely in the face. It will suck the energy right out of you.

Some of you may be thinking that I made a list of things that are very real, yet called fear false evidence appearing real. Thing is, all the things in that list are not real, because they have not happened. If you let them stop you from bidding on cattle or starting a business, you just let images in your mind that are not real stop you. Do not create troubles in your mind that have nothing to do with reality and waste precious time. You can’t stop the bad stuff from happening, but you don’t have to let the fear of bad stuff happening stop you from the good things that are happening now. That would be recognizing opportunity. You see everything on that list is manageable, and will provide an opportunity.

Every successful person begins with two beliefs: 1) the future can be better than the present, 2) they have the power to make it so. Every morning when you wake up you have the ability to choose your attitude. You choose what ideas to become emotionally involved in. Whatever you focus on will expand. If you create scenarios in your mind that create fear, you will be given things to be afraid of. The universe has a funny way of doing that. Whatever you think about comes about. You see your beliefs cause your thoughts, actions, and emotions, which when added up will equal your results.

So here’s the trick. Both fear and faith demand you believe in something that you can’t see. Faith is putting your trust in the good. Fear is putting your trust in the bad. You can easily change your future by changing your attitude. Have faith in your best outcome, instead of fear in your worst outcome.

So how do we build faith in such a volatile business? In one word: skill. Yup, here I go harping on skill again. Go back and look at the list of common fears in the cattle biz again. Market crash, natural disaster, death loss, poverty, and humiliation. With the right skills, and the right attitude you will find opportunities in all of these.

I have spent my time, and money traveling around the United States, and even Canada to learn from people that were/are the best. I learned valuable skills from them.

At first I was skeptical that the things I had learned would actually work. I placed some trust in them, and they did work. Overcoming fear and having success builds self-confidence. When you let fear control you, you lose self-respect, and that is a downward spiral. The only requirement is the ability to act, and action is the real measurement of intelligence.

At the end of the day just make sure that your own worst enemy is not living between your own two ears.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Q4 Agproud Lessons Learned

Question 4: How did your business get started? And lessons learned.

I started my stocker/feeding operation from scratch, when I was 21. I started with $6,000, and bought 15 head of fly weight heifers. They were mostly the junk no one else wanted. Over the years it grew from there, and in less than ten years became big enough I no longer had time for an off the farm job.

That previous paragraph just busted a huge myth, and destroyed many excuses.

I had to learn a great many things along the way to be successful. I am grateful every day for the people that came into my life and taught me the things I needed to know. Contrary to popular belief we do not inherently know the correct things.

I wanted to be the best, and one thing I learned from Rodeo was that if you want to be the best you had to study the best. That’s what I did. I have traveled around the country to learn the cattle biz from the best. I’ll give you a hint on how to find them, they are not in the universities.
It is always important to earn money. When you start young and broke there seems to be more of an urgency to succeed. I went to a marketing school, and it all just made sense. The skills I learned there changed my life, and the future for my family.

I learned stockmanship skills from the master. This helped eliminate problems, and the need for extra labor.

I had to learn to structure and manage a business. This topic right here is why most production agriculture operations fail, or are run as failures. I feel it is extremely important to point out, that most of the ag bloggers I have read are clueless on this topic and it is evident in their writing. The only reason I bring this up is so people may learn to recognize it and not accept any of their points as truth. I fear their writing sets a very dangerous precedent for young people getting into agriculture.

One of the hardest things I’ve faced in my business was making the leap to being a full time cattleman. My operation had to pay my salary, groceries, all the different kinds of insurance I buy, equipment purchases, feed, rents, and the list goes on. This is why marketing skill and business structure are so important. Doing this properly eliminates much stress. It also eliminates the desire to assign blame and come up with creative excuses for when you fail, and don’t want to take responsibility for it.

You have heard knowledge pays the best interest. Thing is very few actually heed that advice. More and more people rely on technology, that in reality is letting them down without them knowing it. I am talking about learning old school skills. By learning these I have been able to eliminate problems, and drastically cut overheads. What is old is new again

Another big lesson I’ve learned is to understand ecology. The more I learn about nature the more I’ve change my operation to work with it. Sounds simple, I know, but so many in production ag spend most of their time and money trying to dominate nature. You can read about our quest to dominate nature every day. It’s in the research papers, blogs, and magazines. It is so engrained in us we do not even realize it.

Who you marry will have a huge impact on your success. So will how you behave in that marriage.

Critical thinking, decision making, and problem solving skills are a must. I should’ve tied this in better with business management. Sometimes the most important thing is not knowing what to do, but knowing what not to do.

I also want to point out the reason most generational operations fail is because the old man held onto all the power, and never included the kid in the decision making process. This is why you see so many people who finally get to take over the farm, when in their 40’s or 50’s and they can’t do it. They just lock up.

Last points, communication and listening skills are important, but most people do not have them so you will constantly have to double check. Also people like to play dumb, and are dishonest, so trust no one, again double check.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Daddy’s Day of All Stars

When my daughter was four she went through a phase where she was afraid of bugs. It didn’t matter what we said to her about bugs, she was terrified. At the time we also had what we called “Daddy’s Day”. On this day she’d spend most of the day with me, and all of it if the weather would allow. (feeding cattle in the rain or freezing cold is a bit much to ask a little one)

On one of those daddy days I had it with her freaking out about bugs. I came up with a plan on the spot. I asked her if she wanted to go for a four wheeler ride, which I knew she’d be more than eager to. I always have a spade on my wheeler, so I grabbed a fishing pole and we were off. I took her to an outdoor class room, a pasture I rent.

When we got there I got off the wheeler and tried to show her all the different bugs, and tried my best to explain to her how not all of them are bad. I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere with her. If I caught one and tried to show it to her close up she’d freak.

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Then we found an All Star team. Dung beetles. I didn’t know much about the other bugs I found, but I know these guys. I simply explained to her the beneficial role these guys play in supporting a healthy pasture, pasture feeds calvies, calvies feed dung beetles, the beetles feed the soil, and soil feeds the grass. We were trying to teach her to recognize patterns, and explaining that cycle like I did helped make sense for her. There also was the element that whatever is good for the calvies is good as a whole.

The beetles we found were rollers. These guys can easily entertain a little one. She became very excited, because she thought they were playing ball, just like she does.

dungbeetle

I then took out my spade and turned over some soil. Boom! There was the other All Star team. Earth worms. I again gave her a simple over view of the benefits of earth worms. She seemed to really be catching on.

After finding a way to get through to her and help her realize not all bugs are bad, we took a few worms and headed over to a farm pond that is always good for bull heads, which is just perfect for a kid her age, since they usually bite fast.

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I feel it is important to include this last bit. There was a lot going on in the first 400 words, that I’m afraid most may have missed, since the focus was on bugs. First, by setting up a “Daddy’s Day” we have provided a structure where our little girl really has a strong presence of me in her life. She gets exposed to many life lessons that farm life, and commerce provide. As you can tell from this story, I slow down a bit on daddy’s day. I take the time to use our large class room to teach her things, and we also use it for play time. Like four wheeler rides and fishing. The surprising thing is how much I have learned. It is difficult some times to explain things about agriculture to a four year old. But when I hear her explain what she learned to someone else I get to relearn about what I do through her eyes. This has opened my eyes to more things, helping me to learn more, by giving me a fresh perspective. It has also helped me communicate better.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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My Sustainable Competitive Advantage

Six or seven years ago I was asked to be part of an interview that included several other producers from around the country. The topic was focused on young producers and what our competitive advantage was due the region we each lived in.

It was mostly they typical stuff you’d expect. One guy mentioned he had a longer growing season and could easily double crop. The gal from the Flint Hills had access to some of the best grass on the planet. Pasture rent is cheap in Kentucky. One lived where urban sprawl was taking over but she was using that to sell direct to the consumer, giving her a huge profit margin.

When it came my turn I think the interviewer expected me to mention things like, Nebraska having a lot of crop ground and raising mountains of corn for feed. The ethanol industry was really gaining momentum here, and at the time they had some difficulty getting rid of distillers grain, making it a bargain. We have strong cash markets here, and we have packers.

I skipped over all of these and said my competitive advantage is my ability to learn faster and adapt faster than my neighbor. She did not like this response. I guess it didn’t fit her theme. She tried pointing out to me all the things mentioned in the previous paragraph. I dismissed them, and stuck with what I had said.

The interview was in both print media and online. My part was left out.

Today I was sorting some cattle and for some strange reason I recalled a quote I read in the Pharo Cattle Co. weekly newsletter. “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” ~ W. Edwards Deming. While I was thinking of that, for some reason I remembered the interview from years ago.

While I continued sorting cattle these things were rolling around in the back of my mind. All the reasons she listed off are definitely advantageous to those of us in Nebraska. While these things have certainly helped grow the cattle biz here, they do not make us immune from failure though. Some people still go broke. Change is not necessary, survival is not mandatory

I spoke wrong during that interview. Most people that I know that went broke have 4 year degrees. Some got good really good grades. I did not. I have enjoyed success in the cattle biz. They did not. It’s going to be difficult to argue who is smarter. What I should have said my sustainable competitive advantage is, is my willingness to learn and adapt faster than my neighbor. We all have the ability, few have the willingness.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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529 Plan Updated

My 529 plan was originally posted in March of 2013. In my example here, my daughter would have the original 5 head paid off at age 3.  As an update of how well this can work, my daughter has 8 head fully paid for and a few hundred dollars left over.  The cattle market has been extremely generous this year, making our original investment of just over three thousand dollars in February in 2011 worth over ten thousand dollars today.  I seriously doubt anyone has a college/future investment plan for their kid that has done this well.

In all fairness and objectivity, I am fully aware that this bull market will not last, and the value of her cattle will drop. Even so, she has added three more head than projected, which will generate an income even in the bear market that will come someday.

I also mentioned that the cattle biz will help me teach her life lessons. My buttons pop off my shirt as I swell with pride over how much she knows already.  Most of that knowledge coming from her just being around and observing me.  Seeing as how I have seniors from K-state and UNL calling me now seeking advice on everything and anything to do with the cattle biz, I’d say my little girl is way ahead of the curve in more ways than one.

Her lunch is there on the left.  She is following along during the sale with barn card and pen in hand.  Still a bit young for a cell phone

Her lunch is there on the left. She is following along during the sale with barn card and pen in hand. Still a bit young for a cell phone

cat walks provide the best view.  From here she can see all the action in the yard.  This can provide entertainment for quite awhile

cat walks provide the best view. From here she can see all the action in the yard. This can provide entertainment for quite awhile

 

 

The original post:

Ever since I was a little kid all I wanted to do was farm and raise cattle. Everything seemed so simple back then.  Just grow up and do what you want to.  We all had that dream.  When you get older, and especially when you have a kid, things get real.

 

In the last year and a half I have spent way more time in the lawyer’s office and CPA’s office than I care to in a lifetime. I did not get into the cattle biz to learn all about LLCs, Trusts,  payroll taxes and crap like that.  Thing is I do get to do one money/parent thing I love.  Invest in my kid’s future with nothing other than cattle.

 

A couple years ago I got fed up with the stock market, and pulled all my money out of my Roth IRA, and used the money to buy cattle. I’ve had a 20%, or better, return on my money since 2005 with cattle.  My IRA never did that.

 

So here is my thinking. As a parent it is always a concern of how to pay for college, even though I would not recommend college, or how to at least give our kids a good start.  After Bernie Madoff ,  John Corzine, and computer generated trades I do not trust the markets.  Thing is I know cattle, so I stick with what I know.

 

Here is what I’m doing for my kid. The numbers are based off my last trade just last week.  I know the cattle markets will move so for this example I am going to freeze these numbers for the next 18 years.  Thing is even in the last 8 years I’ve still managed to make a 20% return.  Keep that in mind

 

I market my cattle on a real time cash flow reckoning, so this allows me to always buy back replacement cattle at a profit. You will need to learn how to do this in order for what I am about to outline for you to work.

 

So when my daughter was born I bought her five head of calves. In this example I am using 480# heifers at $1.43 or $687 head.  So five head would cost a total of $3385.  We are going to back ground these heifers and resell them, and replace at a profit.  So in this example we are selling 730# at $1.33.  My real cost of gain is $.93 with a 2.75# ADG so when I add on a 20% return my cost of gain goes up to $1.15.

 

The 20% return is a $55/head profit. Buying 480# calves and selling them at 730# with our rate of gain we get to turn 4 times a year.

 

Now those first five calves I bought for my daughter are financed through the Bank of Dad (BoD). So when we do our first four turns in year one the BoD collects all $1100 of profit and subtracts it from the $3385 that was loaned to the new baby.  At this pace the kid pays off the first 5 head by age three and has $84 left over.  After this point we make the kid reinvest their profits into buying more cattle.  So after four more turns the kid will have enough saved up to buy 6 calves.  I think that would make for a pretty proud four year old.

 

Now I am going to assume you see the pattern here and I don’t need to do all the math for you and show you the year by year turns.

 

By age ten in this example the kid will have 37 head. Since there was an income for a minor dad paid the taxes for them.  By now I figure it’s time to secure voter registration, and make the kid a tax payer.  Ouch!  So just figure between Fed and State tax kiss 15% good bye.  Gotta pay for the roads we are using to haul these cattle.  Long before we get to this point, a responsible parent is having/helping the kid pay bills, and balance a check book.  Lots of lessons to be taught here.  I have a buddy doing this with his kids, and it helps them to see there is a purpose in learning math in school.  Also all the lessons that come from helping, do chores.  Some real character building here.

 

Now by the time the kid is 14 we stop adding more cattle. We stop at 75 head.  That is enough for a pot load.  Also when we stop at 75 head after the first turn we have the rest of the year to do the other 3 trades and save money.  At 14 what kid doesn’t want a car?  So, let them buy one with their own money.  They will have enough.  Also let them pay for some gas, tax, title, insurance and so on.

 

Now after the car is paid for with cash, we have a decision to make. Do we just hold it here with 75 head, or do we keep buying more?

 

For my example here I stopped at 75 head and just started saving money.

 

By 18 the kid will have 75 head of cattle worth $72,000 and saved $39,000, and spent $35,000 on car, gas and so on. So our original investment of $51,500 turned into $146,000 in 18 years.

 

Now I know the doubting Thomas out there is thinking well you didn’t figure feed and so on. That was in the cost of gain and subtracted from the dollar difference between selling the 7 weight and replacing with the 4 weight.  Leaving us with the $55 retained profit.  And it took 14 years to get up to a load lot.  This is a crockpot not a microwave.

 

Now what if we took that $51,500 and invested it into a 529 over 14 years, and stopped and then just let the interest compound for four more years until the kid was 18. At a 10% rate of return we would have $169,000.

 

I really think cattle can compete with a 529, IF you market correctly.

 

This is what I am doing for my kid. Now according to this example the 529 out performed my cattle plan.  Thing is the 529 didn’t give a sense of accomplishment, or ownership like the cattle do.  The 529 didn’t teach responsibility of paying bills, buying and caring for a car, and cattle, managing cash flow, or understanding where money comes from, and marketing skill.  The 529 didn’t teach the kid how to run a business, and looking at how many animal science and ag business majors corkscrew operations into the ground college didn’t teach that either.

 

So when my kid is 18 there will be three choices to make. 1) Go to college, keep the cattle and hire dad  to take care of and manage it and use the income for school, or sell them off and go to school, with the goal of graduating debt free.  2) Sell them off and pursue something else.  3) Continue to do the cattle thing.  And I can tell ya with a track record and cash flow like this even at 18 a banker will finance the youngster, with daddy’s supervision of course.

 

Now suppose I’m half right. And after 18 years you only have a net of $70,000.  Still pretty damn good.   What if I’m half wrong and by 18 you have $300,000?  Wow!

 

My kid is two and already owns 6 calves all on her own. But she gets to take advantage of my buying power too.

 

Dave Wright President of Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) said something to this effect once “I raise kids, the cattle are there to help me teach them life’s lessons”

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Time is Not Always Money (Farm Safety)

Labor Day morning I woke up and gazed out the window sipping my coffee, when I thought back to four years ago.  That was the last time I’ve had even the smallest of injury.  As I’ve gotten older I take farm safety a bit more seriously.  Becoming a father has also made me more aware of the importance of taking precautions and changing habits.

Proper Set Up

The Labor Day incident involved cutting bulls.  At the time I did not have a squeeze chute.  I just had a head catch at the end of an alley.  I had to climb over the alley fence and get in behind the bull.  I had a friend there helping me, which is out of the norm for me.  After I cut the bull he fired off one good shot with his hind foot and hit me right in the eye.  I had protective sun glasses on and they cut into the side of my face, just a fraction of an inch from the corner of my eye removing a chunk of flesh.  It was a real challenge for the doctor to stitch it back together.  The hole in my head got infected, and when I’d wake up in the morning I’d have a bump bigger than a golf ball that I had to drain daily.  The doc told me he thought the sun glasses may have saved my eye.  This has made me an advocate for protective eye wear that matches the task you are doing.

The take away from this example is I did not have the proper set up for cutting bulls.  Even though it meant I was leaving some profit behind I quit buying cutting bulls until I purchased a squeeze chute.  It was one of the better purchases I’ve ever made, given how many cattle I run through it in a year.  Its hard to justify risking your health because you are cheap like I was.  I might add, that at the time this happened there was no rescue unit service in the near by town because some political muscle flexing shut it down.

Years ago I put in a retrofitted version of a Bud Box onto my facilities.  This allows the cattle to flow nicely into my alley, and I can do it without having to get in with them.

Other People

The worst bumps I’ve ever taken have been while working with other people.  I almost flat refuse to have anyone around while working cattle anymore.  For the longest time I could never figure out why it always went better while I was by myself.  Then last month it hit me, I am having to deal with the pressure they are putting on the cattle.

One day while loading cattle out, the driver was in the corral with me.  In typical trucker fashion he reached up and zapped one with his hot shot.  She kicked me square in the groin at full stroke.   Having been a bull rider for years I know how badly dewclaws can mess a guy up.  I’m not joking when I tell you that it went numb quickly and I felt blood running down my leg.  I had to check to make sure things were still there.  Problem later on was the bruising and swelling.  I had to psych myself up to endure the pain just to take a leak

Now I clearly communicate to my drivers exactly where I want them to stand and what I expect of them.  If they move from that spot or do something out of turn, I just stop.  At these moments time is not money, if it keeps a guy from going to the ER

Take Charge of Your Area

Years ago I was messing around with some recip cows.  I was running them through to synch them one day.  Now I’m one of those guys who knows how I left things.  One day my mom, for some reason picked up the bars I place in the alley to keep the cows from backing up, and placed them vertically along the alley fence.  I kinda spaced that out.  I placed a bar behind one cow and in front of another.  When the lead cow moved forward the cow in back lunged forward too.  She pushed the bar in the alley forward and into one of the bars my mom placed along the fence.  That bar slammed into my forehead with all her weight and force behind it.  The last thought I recall going through my mind was “Don’t hit the ground or you’ll die”.  I came to over at the water hydrant some time later.  I’m not sure how I got there or how long I was there.  Looking at the blood trail I didn’t walk very straight.  I felt fine and went back to finish up.  I lost control of my hands and jabbed a needle through one of my hands when I missed the bottle I was trying to draw from.

From then on, I get upset if someone messes with anything around my working facilities.  Thing is, it is my responsibility to take a look around and make sure everything is in its place.  So now I just do a quick walk through before I bring the cattle up.  Again, time is not money in this instance.

Habits

Habits, we all got them, good and bad.  I kinda have a system to make sure things are in a certain place.  Take my branding iron for example.  Its and electric one so I make sure its in a metal bucket while processing cattle.  Otherwise I know I’d bump into it, trip and fall on it or something.

I now have a place for everything when processing cattle.  This is especially important for me since I’m ambidextrous.  I might perform a task with my left hand, and set it a certain way only to place it differently when I use it with my right.  One day this ended up with me getting a scalpel buried into my under arm

I know a guy who was forced to sell off all his cows a few years back.  He was feeding them a round bale.  He had it up in the air and walked under it to open a gate when the loader gave out and it all came down on him.  He was crushed under it and was pinned there in the mud and cold for hours before someone missed him and went looking.  I am still guilty of doin this.  I try to always remember to walk all the way around it.

One good habit I do have is to never mess around with a PTO.  I was at a youth ag leadership conference once and they spent some time there on farm safety.  They showed us a slide of a boy who stepped over a PTO while it was running and he got caught in it.  The slide showed his testicle sitting on his leg, after his scrotum had been ripped off.  Might seem a bit to graphic for some, but hey, it made its desired impression on me.

Last year my dad’s combine caught on fire.  It went up pretty fast so a fire extinguisher would have been no use.  Thing is after that day, I have a whole new appreciation for those things.

And lastly, as more and more people in this country seem to be popping some kind of pill, I would suggest making a list of the meds you are on and keeping that list on you.  That’s good info for medical responders to have

I know this was a bit long.  With harvest and weaning time coming up, people tend to lose their heads.  Just remember, sometimes time is not money

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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