Sunday, 22 March 2015

Farm safety a Topic on most peoples minds 26

Farm safety a Topic on most peoples minds   

A Topic for as long as I can remember.

One man went under the back of the dray on his knees and pulled the hitch pin, it was a bit tight but he managed, only to realise that the load and the tractor had started to move forwards.

Over the years I have had upwards of fifteen school leavers, some starting while still at school, but every one without exception had some sort of bump or miner accident on the way. I recall one who was loading strawy box muck by hand with me, before we had fore end loaders. To get a bigger load this lad jumped on the top to level out the load way above the trailer side boards, but just above him was a pair of electric wires, very old and ragged insulation. He stood up and caught the back of his head on the wires and he dropped like a stone right into the pile of muck we were loading. He was okay but wondered what had hit him, and it turned out to be one of many near misses that lad was to have. After a number of road crashes he got killed at the age of twenty two, by just shear speed.

Way back in my twenties I recall taking a Friesian bull up the lane about half a mile, he was always all right to lead in the yard , but as we got nearer to the field of heifers in the distance he started to bounce, and picked up speed and I still clung onto him. Then being along side of his shoulder I was getting pushed toward a steep hedge bank, on top of the hedge bank was a three foot hawthorn hedge, some eight foot in all. Next thing I knew I was standing the other side of that hedge still hanging on to the long chain that I was leading him by. Basically I had run along side of the bank gradually being pushed higher up it, and with the speed I had thankfully cleared the hedge on top. I have used that lane all the years since and can never come to terms of how I cleared that height, but when you are in a tight spot, its surprising what you are capable of. Fortunately I was not on the end of his horns.

One of the most dangerous things that lads tended to do is to hitch a tow chain to the top link point on the tractor. In the days I am talking about there were no cabs or roll bars, so a rearing tractor would turn over backward flat onto the driver in the spilt of a second. I made a point of never leaving the top link pin in place and not send any lad out with a chain.

Another lad had a narrow escape when he was out with the rota spreader, he drove the wrong way round the field, in other words he drove on the slurry that had been spread from the previous load, and on going up a slight gradient and along side of the slope as well, the spreader started to swing sideways directly towards a steep drop, the tractor start wheel slip and also hung back in the same direction, then the whole outfit was sliding backward and gathering speed. This I witnessed with my own eyes from the distance, and saw it all disappear down the steep drop, the whole thing stayed in line and as it came to a stop the front of the tractor whipped round into a jack-knife. No damage was done, the lad hung onto the steering wheel and stayed in the seat, it was one of those thing that you can see from the distance, and could predict what was going to happen, but could do dam all about it.

As a lad myself on that same slope a gang of us were loading loose hay onto a four wheel dray towing a hay loader behind it (A Pitcher). This was before we had a baler and before contractor balers were about, we were just going down this same slope, when the pitcher blocked. Two men were on the load and I (the lad) was driving the tractor, so I stopped and got off to help unblock the blockage. Both men jumped down off the near full load and decided that the pitcher had got to be tilted forwards onto its nose. One man went under the back of the dray on his knees and pulled the hitch pin, it was a bit tight but he managed, only to realise that the load and the tractor was moving away from him. Nothing was said but he thought I was on the tractor until he looked and saw me behind the pitcher helping to unblock it. NO ONE was on the tractor. By this time it was nearly up to running speed and heading for this steep slope, fortunately the one chap had a good turn of speed and mounted the drawbar and reached forwards and turned the steering wheel across the slope and it all came to a stop. The tractor did have a parking brake but it had not been applied, the pitcher mechanism was wheel driven and being blocked held the outfit when we stopped. Moral of this story is to always apply the parking brake every time you get off.

To see one of these Hay Loaders working, tap in “Hay Loader” into Google and there is a You Tube clip of Mormons working an almost identical thing that we used to have.  

Another example, one about my grand daughter and the ride on lawn mower a couple of years ago. At the age of twelve she was getting very keen to learn to drive and the only thing I would let her drive then was the lawn mower. Set her going, showing he the gears the clutch and throttle. After ten minuets it was only top gear and only full throttle. This went on for quite a few weekends until one afternoon she came walking /limping back to the house. On investigation she had mistook the turning circle of the mower and still going at full throttle had rammed it full speed ( about seven miles per hour)under the back of a parked tipping trailer.

The mower is one of those with a racy sloping tapered front so wedge very tight under the back cross member. She had slid up the seat and bumped her knees and the steering wheel had gone into her tummy. The mower was recovered with a scratched bonnet, and the grand daughter had a very severely dented pride, and bruised knees. It was a thing she will always remember and a good lesson learned without too much grief.
I won’t let her drive the old tractors, the ones with no cab and no roll bar, she now has learned to drive the Agrotron and is very happy about that as it has a good radio and tape player. Its still got its doors and still got all its windows, the foot pedals are light and easy for her to use, the seat and the steering wheel both adjust, so she customises them, and now got used where all the gears are, and four wheel drive is just a rocker switch. The only thing I cannot get her to learn is when turning (chain harrowing) at the end of the field, on short ground turn away from the ditch and circle into the field. Turning towards the ditch you have got to judge your turning circle very accurately or you will soon be in the ditch.

This one is about my workshop, and the pile of tools that are thrown on the bench some of which missed, a bit of clear floor space to walk up the middle, and off cut and other items deemed to be too good to throw away are saved and left where they land. Only I know where everything is, it’s just a matter of finding it.

Axle Stand and his Mate Jack

Axle Stand and his mate, Hydraulic Jack,
Live in the workshop, right at the back,
When they’re called out, together they work,
Lifting things heavy, they call it teamwork.

Adjustable Spanner, he lives hanging on nail,
Expected to fit every nut, in the box he assail,
He’s first responder, carried into the field
No hammer to hand, a thraping to weald.

Poor old Hack he looses teeth from his blade,
Abused and used to cut anything for what he’s not made,
Hack Saw gets hacked off, thrown on the bench,
Landing on top of him, a great heavy old wrench.

Open and Ring Spanner, Siamese twins in the tools,
Kept in a rolled bag, with pocket like modules,
Twenty of them, all different sizes,
Clean and in line should win all the prizes.

Pillar the drill , stands aloof in the corner,
His own leg to the floor, and quite a loner,
His energy comes down, a wire from the switch,
Grips bit in his chuck, turns quick without glitch.

Ball Pane is Hammer, comes in a good many sizes,
Large for the blacksmith, hot metal he teases
Small one that the Mrs. keep’s, in the cupboard draw,
And ones in between, working all have loud guffaw.

Claw is another member, of the same clan,
Pull bent nails, blame the hammer and not man,
Soon break the stale, when pulled and abused,
Thrown onto the side, no stale and unused.

We know how it should be all tidy and straight,
But never got time to put back all polish its late,
As long as I can walk up the middle OK,
And find where I chucked it, neat pile to display.

Owd Fred

It is one of the worst errors to suppose that there is any path for safety except that of duty.
William Nevins

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