Baling ditches a dangerous job

The ranching profession has many hidden dangers. A recent farm accident serves as a reminder to stay safe this summer.

Amanda Radke

July 11, 2017

3 Min Read
Baling ditches a dangerous job
Amanda Radke

Rain clouds hovered over our ranch yesterday morning. We stopped what we were doing to pray for some desperately needed moisture. Our pastures are dry and brown. The grass is brittle and has already gone dormant for the season. Hay prices are rising, and folks are scrambling to round up winter forages before the snow flies.

And despite our fervent prayers and the promising rumble of the thunder overhead, the storm clouds left just as fast as they came without even a single drop descending from above.

READ: Montana, Dakotas get emergency drought grazing authorization

In recent weeks, we’ve been busy baling ditches for extra hay — both round and square bales, and we’ve purchased ditch hay from the neighbors, as well. I must admit, I get a little nervous watching my husband sitting at an angle in the tractor as he passes through the ditches.

What if there’s a rock or a hole? What if he gets tired, veers off course and overcorrects? If he gets pinned under the tractor, what would I do? What about the passing traffic? Will they give him some space on the road as they pass him by?

There are certain risks one assumes when baling ditches. It seems like any job on a farm or ranch comes with some level of danger, and keeping alert and aware of your surroundings is a critical component to staying safe while working outside with heavy equipment, livestock and dangerously hot temperatures.

I was recently reminded of this when I read a blog featured on The Farmer’s Daughter USA titled, “Farming accident a bitter reminder.”

Here is an excerpt: “Michael, my brother, found out first from his mother-in-law. There was an agricultural accident on one of the roads near her house and the farmer was so bad he was being airlifted from the field. Michael knew we have some fields on that road, which is a particularly hilly area, and knew dad was out spraying. Before calling mom, he drove out there to make sure it wasn’t dad. Thankfully, it wasn’t.

“Nonetheless, when dad got home, mom immediately gave him a big hug, an earlier disagreement forgotten. After dinner, when we expected the emergency personnel were likely gone, we drove out there to see if it was one of the farmers we knew. It wasn’t. We found the field though. It was eerie.”

The blog post reminded folks to never leave the house angry, to slow down enough to tell your loved ones you care, and to stay sharp when working on the ranch. Read the entire blog post here.

My prayers are with the family impacted by this most recent farm accident. Let this serve as a quick reminder to all of us to be safe this summer! Whether you’re in the hay field, working cattle or wrangling kids outside, be aware of the hidden dangers and avoid heartache.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Penton Agriculture.

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