One thing that concerns me regarding safety is how many people with no farming background are now starting farms or homesteads.
I don’t want people to be discouraged from farming or homesteading. I just want them to be safe.
I’ve compiled a few tips for being safe on the farm or homestead:
Wear closed-toed shoes. I have a really bad habit of wearing flip flops around the barnyard, and have regretted it more than once. (And yes, I still sometimes do it…but I really shouldn’t.)
Turn off all equipment before working to repair it. No matter how quick or simple the repair will be, shut it off. You don’t want to be faced with a situation where your only choice is your limb or your life.
Wear protective clothing and gear when needed. Don’t neglect this, especially eye protection, gloves, and face masks. I know it’s a hassle, but it’s not worth the risk.
Don’t let children be alone with livestock, no matter how trusted. Even your sweetest animal can suddenly go rogue, and animals can also hurt humans unintentionally. I was knocked out by a Lamancha as a child. It wasn’t being malicious, it was just being a goat.
Don’t let children operate machinery. Just because they can physically run it doesn’t mean they are mentally mature enough.
Don’t let children run and play in the barnyard or near farming equipment.
Always be alert. Not just for your own safety, but to watch for others who might be coming to get you for lunch, tell you someone called, etc.
Know the proper techniques and safety procedures for whatever tool you are using. Have someone teach you if you’ve never operated it before.
Don’t try to work in dangerous weather. If there is lightning, flooding, dangerously strong winds, or tornadoes, just go inside and wait it out.
Don’t play loud music while running machinery. You might miss hearing someone yelling at you.
Don’t wear jewelry while working on the farm. Flat, post earrings are safe — not hoops or dangles. Necklaces, rings, bracelets, and the like are all no-nos. If you have long hair, pull it back as well; It can also get caught in machinery, as can long or loose clothing.
Never turn your back on an intact male animal, or any unfamiliar animal, especially during breeding season or when a female in heat is nearby.
Don’t keep dangerous or aggressive animals. If you know a particular animal is dangerous, it needs to be culled from your farm and from breeding, as aggression can be an inherited trait.
If you must wait until after the breeding season, never tend to it alone and never let children care for it. Put signs on its enclosure that it is dangerous. Keep the gate locked (not just latched).
Clearly mark “off limits” areas to visitors or children. Any area which stores dangerous machinery, livestock, chemicals/medications, or tools needs to be locked up.
Avoid barbed wire. Just spend a little more for a better quality fencing material. If you don’t, the first time you, an animal, or a child gets wrapped in it, you will regret it. (Trust me — it hurts.) If you do have barbed wire, never electrify it.
If you’re working alone, let people know when to expect you. Sometimes farmers will work well past dark, so if you plan to be home by a certain time tell someone so they know to look for you if you aren’t back.
Never do farm work while intoxicated in any way. This includes being sleep-deprived or on medication. And never smoke in a barn or a dry field. (Or at all, if you value your lungs.)
Use common sense. If it seems like a bad idea, don’t do it.
Bonus: Accidents will happen no matter how careful you are, so just be prepared by staying calm, knowing how to do basic first aid, and having an emergency first aid kit.