Remember that commercial? Fred the Baker is so busy that at the end of the thirty second spot, he meets himself coming and going.
That’s us for the next few weeks. It’s time to make the donuts.
If you’ve been in the game for even just a single season, you know that for the next six to eight weeks, there isn’t much time for life. “Life” as we will know it, will be in the field: out on the edges before the sun comes up and working until we can’t see.
At the end of those twelve to fourteen hour days, everyone will be tired. Me, you, your helpers and neighbors and families. You know that we’ll all be a little testy and you know that we’ll all be a little loopy.
Which is why I want to say this: slow down.
Take a breath. With the long days and much to think about, everyone will be feeling the pressure. Be kind to one another and realize that we’re all stretched to our limits. More importantly, be careful with one another and keep an eye out for yourself and others. A little barking can usually be smoothed over, but a physical injury has much wider consequences and very unfortunately, avoidable accidents happen every season.
In just a fifty mile radius in Kansas last year, our industry suffered two fatalities, both children, and both avoidable. Let’s not repeat that this year. When you’re too tired to pay attention, go to sleep. When your brain is too scrambled to think straight, take a break. And when you’re out on the roads or in the fields, pay attention and be aware of your surroundings, including others who might be working with you or driving around you.
Because though planting is tiring, it is also really exciting, especially for kids, and unusual for those around us not in the industry. Though they live through it year after year, the people commuting on the roads will be surprised to see you out—watch out for yourselves and for them as well.
Take a few moments to prepare yourself mentally before work each day, to commit to safety, and take a few moments to make some practical adjustments that support that commitment. Check to make sure that your flashers are working, that your headlights are working. Do a simple general maintenance check on your equipment to ensure that everything is in working order. When you’re in the fields, take note of guy-wires and high lines and for pity’s sake be careful as you maneuver giant machinery around them. When the sun begins to set and your vision is compromised by the dark, by all means, call a day a day.
As I’ve mentioned here before, we all get a finite amount of seasons to do our stuff, and we need to work to ensure that those seasons aren’t cut unnecessarily short. In order to be productive and diligent, we need first to be healthy. Here’s to a safe planting for us all.