Few things beat the smell of fresh cut hay on a sunny summer day,” says Raelyn Peterson, farm safety coordinator with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
“However, the challenge many farmers face is balancing their own wellbeing with this time of the year - break downs, soggy hay fields, rain showers and the rest of those farm chores that need tending.”
She offers these suggestions:
Eat healthy and nutritious meals and snacks
“Proper nutrition will leave you feeling alert and ready to focus on the task at hand.”
She suggests filling a lunch box with healthy and easy to eat snacks such as fruit, cut-up vegetables and nuts. Use refillable containers to prevent fruit from becoming bruised or too soft.
“Keep lunches interesting. Choose different types of breads, cheeses, protein and mix it up.”
Get adequate sleep
“Sounds easy enough, but getting enough sleep can be hard to achieve in the seasonal rush,” says Peterson. “Lack of sleep has detrimental effects on the body and can lead to brain fog and low concentration. That increases the risk of an injury or a safety incidence.”
Not enough sleep can also affect judgement, decision making and mood, which can lead to irritability, anxiety and depression. Try to keep to a sleep routine as much as possible, and power naps can also be helpful.
“Ask for help when you need it,” she adds. “Your family, friends, neighbours and community need you home safe every night. Know your limits and honour that. Without you, the farm is nothing.”
Take a break
“Make taking breaks a priority as they will help keep you alert,” notes Peterson. “Include some stretching as well, as sitting in the cab of a tractor or a hay bine for hours a day can take its toll on your body.”
She adds that stretching helps keeps muscles flexible and strong which is needed to maintain a range of motion in our joints.
“It is easy for muscles to seize up when you are bouncing over the fields and constantly turning your head to see your machine. Neck, shoulder and back pain creates tension and can lead to stress.”
Drink plenty of water, and she suggests either adding ice cubes to the water jug or freezing half bottles of water and then adding water to fill.
“Enhance your water by adding lemon slices, mint, cucumber or thinly sliced oranges for flavour.”
“It is pretty common to see rural Albertans and farmers walking briskly up and down rural roads as they understand the importance of exercise,” she adds. “Use this time to clear your mind, listen to music, your favourite podcast or as an excuse to see how the neighbour’s crops are doing. Sneak in some family time by taking a child along for the walk. They will love the one on one time with you.”
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