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On The Farm, A Spring Tune-Up Can Prevent Downtime

It is when the snow begins to thaw and the warm breeze blows through the yard that producers get the Spring “itch”. This is not a physical itch, but a feeling of anticipation... a signal to start getting ready. It is the time of year when perhaps new life comes to the farm in the form of babies. Plans are made for the quickly approaching season and checklists are reviewed. Orders are placed for fuel, chemical and/or parts for the projects that carried over from winter. Motor oil is changed the equipment, hydraulic oil is topped up and air filters are changed. A big part of that checklist is making sure all of the equipment is ready to go, so that costly breakdowns during the spring critical time can be avoided.

The one piece of equipment that is often forgotten, or neglected, is the physical body. With a thousand thoughts, each fighting for priority and taking up head space, it is easy to forget that the human body is the most versatile machine on the farm. While it does not need an oil change, it is important to make sure that it is in top condition after winter.

On the farm, it’s not about who can lift the most or run the fastest. Physical fitness is about keeping the body safe and healthy so that it is in the best possible condition to handle the stresses of a very busy season. As is the case with farm equipment, a well-maintained body will be around for a long time.

Are you confident that you have been healthy enough that YOU will not break down this coming season?

It is a sad truth that producers often take better care of their tractors and equipment than they do their own bodies. Farming is a long-term business, so it’s as important to practice healthy living as it is to guard the other investments of a farming operation.

Start by conducting a quick lifestyle assessment by asking, “Do I get the sleep needed each night?”, “Am I eating healthy foods most of the time?”, “Do I drink 8 – 10 glasses of water per day?”, and “Am I exercising regularly?”

A good night’s sleep leads to more energy, increases the ability to handle stress and improves overall well-being. Some additional benefits – sleep improves heart health, concentration and higher cognitive functioning; strengthens the immune system; and aids in weight management.

A producer would never choose sub-par fuel, fluids and parts for farm equipment. Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables; and limiting processed foods, sugars, fats and alcohol will ensure that you are refueling with the good stuff. Some other things to keep in mind -  sugars are often hidden in ‘healthy’ drinks such as juice cocktails, smoothies, or vitamin-infused water. Be cautious of ‘energy drinks’, the ingredients of which could accelerate a heart rate too quickly. Energy drinks contain caffeine, which is a stimulant, as well as a diuretic, which will speed the fluid loss that causes dehydration. Drinking sufficient water can help stave off fluid loss and heat exhaustion on especially hot days.

A producer may have a mechanic look at the farm tractor, or other equipment, routinely to ensure it is running at peak performance. Likewise, that same producer should consider consulting a physician routinely to ensure that their body is performing at peak performance as well. Incorporating physical fitness throughout the year has lasting benefits. Research shows that regular physical activity can help reduce the risk for several diseases and health conditions and improve overall quality of life. Remember, physical activity should always feel good and energizing, never painful. Always consult a doctor before beginning any new fitness plan or weightlifting program.

Spring is a time of renewal. As preparations are being made to ready the equipment, make sure to take some time to consider those ways in which your personal lifestyle tune-ups may impact your operation.

You can learn more about physical preparedness and farm safety through our free Online Agriculture Training System.

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