The weather is warming up, but unfortunately, the rain is not staying away.
If the rain would eventually stop falling and the fields dry out, the countryside would take on a new appearance.
That new appearance would be due to farmers finally being able to get out into the fields and get to work. There are several that have started in the fields, but some are still holding off, waiting for the nice, dry weather to be here.
As more farmers decide to tackle their annual spring task of planting the fields, the number of slow moving vehicles on county and state roads will increase, making it important that all motorists are on the lookout. Depending on the size of the equipment being used, it could take up the entire roadway.
No matter what size it is, it is important that everyone shares the road. This means that farmers need to make sure their equipment has working lights (front, rear, and turn signals) and that they have a slow moving vehicle (SMV) sign posted where everyone can see it.
If you come up on a vehicle that has a SMV sign, don't honk your horn or try to pass, that puts everyone in danger. Instead, keep a safe distance between you and the farm equipment so you are able to stop quickly if the need arises. Farmers should be reminded to make sure their SMV signs are in good condition, can easily be seen and replace them if they are damaged.
In addition to the precautions taken because of traveling the roads this time of year, farmers need to be reminded of other farming hazards they will be coming in contact with. Remember to always start your tractor while in the driver's seat. Never start the tractor while standing next to it because it is unsafe. If you are standing by the tractor and trying to start it, you will have a hard time making sure the transmission is in neutral or park and you increase your chances of being ran over.
Try not to work on the tractor while it is running or walk around it when a power take-off (PTO) is in operation.
If you are near a PTO, make sure your clothing is not loose and you are extremely careful so that you do not become entangled in it.
Other injuries that can occur because of operating a tractor are the result of falling off of the tractor and either hurting your wrist, arm, hip, leg, or ankle.
Often times, these injuries occur when you are trying to mount or dismount the tractor in an unsafe, improper manner.
When mounting or dismounting, always use the steps of the ladder. When climbing, never take two steps at a time because that is just asking for an injury to occur. While climbing, face the tractor and try to use the handholds that are available.
When driving a tractor or even when using your lawn mower to mow your yard, it is best to follow the "One Seat, One Rider" policy. It might sound like a great idea to have a family member or friend ride with you, but accidents can occur when an extra rider is on the tractor or lawn mower. Therefore, it is always best to follow the one rider policy. Remember if the tractor or lawn mower was meant to have two riders, it would have two seats and two sets of seat belts.
Farming is a dangerous occupation but one that is needed to help support the world. During busy times (planting and harvest), farmers need to be reminded not to push themselves too hard. Working extended hours on little sleep can cause anyone to forget about basic safety precautions they can take to protect themselves, their family and their neighbors.
Farmers that being to feel tired while planting this spring should take a break and allow their body a chance to rest before continuing.
Due to the interaction of farmers and non-farm residents in the coming weeks, it is important that both parties understand the various safety precautions that need to be taken when working around farm equipment, such as slowing down and being respectful.
As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County or reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.
Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:
* Saturday -- Community Farmers' Market of Owen County Opening Day, 8 a.m.-noon, at the courthouse parking lot in Spencer (runs every Saturday until Oct. 15),
* Saturday -- Owen County Garden Club Annual Plant Sale at the Community Farmers' Market of Owen County Opening Day,
* Saturday -- Owen County 4-H Tag Day,
* May 18 -- Owen County Homemaker Lesson on Attracting Birds, 10:30 a.m.,
* May 19 -- Owen County Conservationist Class, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Owen County Library,
* May 21 -- Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment Forest Tour, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Martinsville. Cost $5. Contact 1-765-342-1010 to register (limited seating), and
* May 30 -- Extension Office closed. Memorial Day.