The Recovering Farmer

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What a Relief????

I heard an interesting talk show on radio this week. The host was talking about tests that had been done on people to establish the participants’ level of fear. The test involved electrical shocks. (glad I was not involved with that one) One group new what to expect while the other group new something painful would happen, during the test, but were not sure of when it would happen. Overwhelmingly the participants who were unsure of when the pain would hit were more nervous and apprehensive than the other group.

Reminds me of a neighbor who, one late, but warm, autumn day was doing some yard work. I suggested to him that it was a good thing that it was not -40. His response was interesting. He said he kind of wished it was because then he would not dread it any more.

A friend dropped into my office this week. She was happy, she was relieved and in a better mood then I had seen for awhile. Seems that for some time she had been concerned that she might have Attention Deficit Disorder. This was based on a certain amount of self diagnosis but worrisome none the less. Through a referral from her doctor she was able to see a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist confirmed what she had been thinking. But, he also told her that it was not something to be overly concerned with and suggested to her that she should continue with the coping skills she already used and gave her a few other tips. Bottom line. When she had confirmation of what she had been concerned about she felt a lot of relief.

Reminds me of when I would not open mail because I was afraid of what I might find. Of particular concern were the monthly onslaught of bills. And yet, when I did finally open them I felt relief because I knew for sure what the bad news was. Sounds bizarre.

There is a lesson here. Often times we try to hide from the realities of life. It may be a health concern, a financial concern, worried about the future, or others. We work ourselves into a real dither. The lesson is simple. There is help. There is hope. There are resources available for most any problem you might think you have. The key is to avail yourself of those resources. And remember. You are not alone. Make it a good one.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ouch, that hurt. . . .

I have always been known to be somewhat accident prone. As a matter of fact my drivers license was once put on probation because I was accident prone. Still don’t think they were being fair. If people would get out of my way I wouldn’t hit them. Quite simple really. There I go again. Ranting. I suppose there is always something to rant about.

Let me get back to the subject at hand. When I was working on the farm I had a myriad of accidents. Many, if not most, were minor. But they still hurt. During the days of intense stress there was a significant increase in these mishaps. My mind would be churning with all the different stressors in life. Hogs would not have grown as much as I expected, or had hoped for. Finances were tight. Creditors were phoning. Kids were having issues at school. I was having breakdowns. Always had a difficult time with breakdowns because I felt so helpless and unsure of my “fix it” abilities. Lots of stress. And the more stress I had the more I bumped into things. Not concentrating on the job at hand. Made for lots of pain and, quite frankly, really messed with my ability to get things done.

The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association is having a conference to deal with safety in agriculture. I am preparing a presentation that delves into the whole issue of the link between stress and safety. I have been surprised at the lack of research and information available, dealing with this topic. An American study shows that 80% of workplace accidents are as a result of unsafe behaviors. I think it is safe to say that the same would apply to agriculture. In my experience, unsafe behaviors were a direct result of to much stress. With what I have learned over the last year, in regards to stress, I think I am very fortunate not to have operated large equipment. Would seem to me that my “ouches” would have been a lot worse.

So, what is the point you ask? Take the time to recognize when stress is having a negative impact on your life. Find ways to de-stress. Although it is obvious that stress will always be part of life there are ways of eliminating some stress and finding new ways to deal with stress that sticks around. It is well worth your while to find ways dealing with stress. Try it. It may well save your life. Make it a good one.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Farmer’s Share

Okay, I am back on a subject that has been a sore point with me ever since I became involved in agricultural “politics”. I had a reminder of this as I was enjoying my morning coffee on Monday. As per usual, although a tad later than normal, after all it was Thanksgiving, I watched news on CTV. Story that caught my interest mentioned increased meat prices to consumers for next year. Why? Because there has been a significant decrease in livestock inventories. Although the newscaster did not mention the reason for the decrease I knew what the reason was. Livestock producers have been losing gobs of money for years. Simple economics dictates that inventories will drop. The business reporter went on to say, rather shyly that “we kinda need farmers”. No $%@#%*% kidding we “kinda” need farmers. Do they need a reminder, AGAIN, that “farming feeds us all”?

Then again, as per usual, I switched to some American news. Guess what. Same story. Meat prices expected to rise. Of course, the second part to the story was the fact that there have also been significant increases in feed prices. Corn futures higher than they have been in over two years. So, what does this mean for farmers? Good question. Noticed hog prices dropped significantly over the last two weeks. Wait a minute. I thought there was a decrease in livestock inventories. Simple economics dictates that a decrease in animal numbers should mean an increase in prices. Apparently not.

So, really, the reason for my rant is wondering how much of the increase in meat prices will actually make it back to the farm gate. I recall seeing graphs showing a gradual decrease in the farmer’s share of the consumer dollar. Retailers have all kinds of justifications for the share they take. Where does that leave farmers? Keystone Agricultural Producers did a survey, earlier this year, showing that the farmer’s share of the consumer dollar had actually increased marginally. If memory serves me right it was somewhere around 1%. Me thinks that is not enough to keep farmers farming. So, decrease in inventory, increase in feed prices and higher meat prices. Again, any increase in price to farmers will be needed to cover higher input costs. Sound familiar?

Sorry for the rant. I think I feel better. Make it a good one.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Common Cold

What an absolutely beautiful week we have had, weather wise. Just about when we thought summer had come and gone, just about when we had started thinking it might never stop raining and just about when grain farmers had given up on getting the crop off, we get a week of abnormally warm weather. Hopefully this weather will see the grain harvest begin wrapping up. And to think, the forecast for next week is predicting more of the same. Perhaps we can all find something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend. Might actually consider dusting off the old clubs again. Although two weeks ago, when I last golfed, I swore high and low that was it for this year.

Although weather wise it’s been a good week, I am battling the mother of all colds. I have hacked, sneezed, coughed and sniffled my way through the week. The kind of cold where muscles ached. Just walking felt like a chore. In fact, because of my fever, I felt like I could feel every molecule in the air when I walked. And just about when I thought things were getting better I was told that the cold going around this year is one that comes back. Great. Is it my age or why does it seem that fighting a cold is becoming more difficult? Not only that, we can send people into space, we have technology that allows us to communicate instantaneously with anyone, at anytime, anywhere in the world, but we cannot find a cure for the common cold? Something is wrong with that picture.

Enough of that whining. A woman in my eye doctor’s office suggested that I was a man and I had a cold so everyone should treat me well. I detected some sarcasm in that comment. When I told my wife about it she agreed with that woman. I am reminded of the commercial where the guy is lying in bed suffering from a cold. His wife walks by the door and in a stuffed up, nasally, whining voice asks her to call his mother. Go figure. Why is it that mothers would be sympathetic?

So, okay, I will suffer in silence, get over this cold and carry on. Just wait till they catch this cold. Let’s see how they feel. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

P.S. Bring on the turkey. If memory serves me right there is a saying that goes “feed a cold and starve a fever”. Or wait. Is it the other way around. Who cares? I’ll just eat. And, perhaps, a game of golf might help too. Make it a good one.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Better Half, REALLY

Remember the quote from last week about relationships? Let me remind you. Relationships provide us with identity, purpose and direction. In essence, relationships and therefore community is a life giving, life defining, life nurturing process. Just this morning, watching news, while enjoying my first cup of coffee for the day, heard about research that was done showing that having solid relationships can increase your life by 50%. Quite astounding actually.

I was reminded again, this week, of the important role women have in a man’s life. If you recall, I mentioned in my last blog that women often hold down three jobs. If you forgot let me remind you. First and foremost many women are mothers and the energy and wisdom it takes to raise kids is incredible. Secondly, many hold down an off farm job. And then, after all is said and done, they cook and clean and do laundry. After that they head out and help their partners with farm work. Wait a minute. That is four jobs and I have probably missed some. Each year, during harvest, I see my neighbor’s wife bring supper to the field. Always, and I mean always, it’s a full course supper. Good for him. Good for them. I recall when my mother would bring meals to the field. Those meals usually consisted of soggy tomato sandwiches. Scarred me for life. Just in the last few years I have been able to again appreciate tomato sandwiches.

Read an interesting article today about research that was done in western Canada dealing with women on the farm. The researcher suggested that early in her research she had come to the realization that women were holding the farms together. Far too often I found myself getting immersed in farm work and did not appreciate enough the work that my wife was doing in “keeping the family together”. Far too often it was taken for granted. I am very thankful when I now observe my kids and see how they have grown and developed into responsible adults that someone was there for them when I was to busy doing what I was doing. Not going to get into what I was doing because that would be enough material for a book.

So guys, I know you are all busy now but when things slow down for you this fall and early winter take the time to show your appreciation to your better half. Work on those relationships. Remember, it could increase your life expectancy. Make it a good one.