“Be careful, Dan!”

“Why?”

“Because you’re going to get hurt!”

“No, I won’t! I’m a super-boy!”

“Even super-boys get hurt!”

Every time we have this conversation, I always ask myself afterward, where did he get this super-boy idea from?

He certainly didn’t get it from me. I’m about the biggest klutz to ever survive growing up on a farm. (I could write a book.) And certainly the biggest klutz to ever operate a farm. 

As proof, I’m currently nursing three injuries. The only one of which is farm related involved slipping on the wet concrete in a calf pen and landing on my shoulder, resulting in a partially-separated acromioclavicular joint.

Accidents like mine, and conversations like the one I repeatedly have with Dan, are good examples of why each year there is a National Farm Safety and Rural Health Week and why September is Farm Safety Month: farming is still one of the most dangerous jobs in this country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What’s scary, though, is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics only counts workplace fatalities. That means non-fatal accidents and “close calls” go uncounted. And that means we all need to do more to prevent these accidents and close calls.

I think about farm safety every time my son puts his barn clothes on and steps out the door. The purpose of National Farm Safety Week is to make every farmer think about farm safety. And hopefully provide the motivation to tackle those I’ll-do-it-later safety projects, like replacing the guard on the mixer tractor’s PTO and fixing the headlight on the skid loader.

This summer we tackled a simple, but overdue, farm safety project – making our pipeline chemicals more inaccessible to our children.

First, we constructed a barrier around the chemicals in the milkhouse. Constructing the barrier only took about an hour once we had all the materials, but we had been putting it off for way too long. (If you’d like to see a picture of our barrier, I posted one on our blog. Just click on our photo on the Dairy Star web site. It’s not Alcatraz, but it provides a much-needed physical and visual barrier.)

The push we needed to start the project came after I had a nightmare about Dan swallowing pipeline acid. Thankfully, my nightmare was only a dream. I have heard several stories this year about little tykes who actually have had too-close encounters with farm chemicals. 

After hearing the second story about kids and farm chemicals, we started phase two of our pipeline chemical project: replacing the worn drum pumps we had with high quality pumps equipped with anti-pumping safety straps. The new pumps were more expensive than our previous pumps, but we figured they were a worthy investment. 

And, for me, having one less thing to stress out about is priceless. (I still worry, even with the new pumps, but I believe worrying keeps me vigilant. Plus, I’m a woman. And women are programmed to worry. Worried + Man = Woman.)

How inaccessible are your milkhouse chemicals? Do they make you worry? Take a good look around your farm. What other farm safety hazards need to be addressed?

Too often, we farmers fall into Dan’s super-boy mentality, thinking that accidents won’t ever happen to us. Then we become complacent. We need to replace complacency with vigilance. I know our farm – and yours – won’t ever be 100 percent safe for our kids, but we still need to be aware of the dangers and do what we can to prevent accidents. 

Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 70 cows near Melrose, Minn. They have two children – Dan, 3, and Monika, 1. When she’s not parenting or farming, she’s writing for the Dairy Star. Sadie can be reached at gsfrericks@meltel.net.