Last Friday I posted a photo of a power point slide from a presentation that I went to, all about farm safety. We all joked about how funny the slide was, how a bit over the top it was, and maybe far fetched. But then I got a comment on my blog that day from a wife of a farmer in North Dakota. She wrote:
While this slide takes it WAY over the top and is quite comical, I do believe that lack of sleep for farmers is a big issue that everyone kind of sweeps under the rug. I totally understand that when there is work to be done, it MUST be done and that sleep becomes not a priority during the high times of farming. But it is simply not healthy and potentially dangerous to be operating on few hours of sleep for days on end. Not saying that it hasn’t been done for years, it is totally something I worry about as our farm is 20 miles from our house and requires him to commute back and forth during harvest/planting/etc. While I don’t believe that ENFORCING a nap time for farmers is the way to go, I think it’s an issue that many farmers don’t take seriously enough. There has got to be some happy medium where you aren’t compromising your life due to lack of sleep all while still “making hay while the sun shines”. Thanks for the giggle today!
I realized that all fun aside, she did have a very good point. Statistically people who have 6 to 7 hours of sleep a night are 2 times as likely to be involved in a sleep-related crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more!! So it’s really nothing to joke about. When we were sitting in the class they did a survey and over 60% of us said that we had driven while drowsy or tired, or even dozed off while driving. I wasn’t really that surprised by the number at first, but then when you think about how dangerous driving in those situations can be for you and for other drivers, it was a sobering statistic.
One of the first things that you hear when someone mentions a farmer is usually something about hard work. Something about how they are up with the sun and don’t rest until all the chores are done. And most times, that is true, although I’m up before the sun today to write this blog not feed the cows I still count it as a little bit of work. And the phrase, like in the comment above, “When the sun shines…” has come out of my mouth many times in this line of profession.
But all of that aside, we can’t beat out the reality that we might be putting our lives in danger by making those sacrifices. Just last year a young kid fell asleep at the wheel and hit our house, literally drove into our house (which is one heck of a story in itself for another time). He was very banged up and while recovering now, I doubt whatever he was doing to stay up was worth the pain he went through. And he’s extremely lucky, 100,000 crashes are because of someone falling asleep at the wheel, which accounts for more than 1500 deaths a year!
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect farmers to not get up before the sun, and I fully understand that coming in May with this little baby and harvest coming in right after my own sleep will more than likely be down to null, but maybe it needs to become more reasonable to rest your eyes in the afternoon so that when you do head back down the road towards home after a long day, you can up your chances of getting there in one piece.
So thank you Jenny for adding a little serious to my slide last week, you hit the nail on the head with an issue that as you put it, “…sleep for farmers is a big issue that everyone kind of sweeps under the rug.”
**You can read more about what Jenny is up as a farm wife and photographer in North Dakota by checking out her blog….http://prairiecalifornian.com/