“Let go of the goat and no one gets hurt!” That’s what I told one of the research techs who thought he should help me move my 35 does and all their babies from the birthing barn to their spring pen. It was a crisp afternoon, and they were hungry, so my plan was to lead them from one place to the next, shaking a feed bucket all the way. It was how I’d trained my research goat herd to move with me on the National Guard Base where they worked summers grazing firebreaks, and it had never failed me. I taught them to do this because it was easy and safe.
But the research tech didn’t listen. He had hold of the horns of a doe with one hand, and they were fighting it out. She won, giving him a broken finger in the process. I sent him off to take care of himself, and the goats and I finished our peaceful walk to their new home.
This was back in the ’90s when I was running my research project using goats to graze firebreaks to reduce fire danger for homeowners. Goats have horns, they’re wily and fast on their feet, and it was clear in no time at all that chasing them, grabbing them by the horns, shoving and lifting them was a recipe for injury. So I learned to start every herd move by telling everyone involved, “It’s just a goat project. There’s no reason to get hurt.”
I’ve been thinking about this lately because of a story that Drover’s published last week about a Nebraska man who was killed by a bull while checking his cattle. It’s the sixth time, since I started publishing On Pasture 6 years ago, that I’ve heard of a death or severe injury caused by a bull attacking someone in its pasture.
It turns out that cattle and horses account for 90% of all animal-related deaths in the United States. In the United Kingdom, cattle are considered to be the most dangerous animal they have.
But it’s not just animals that put us at risk. It’s the equipment we use, it’s the rough conditions we sometimes work in, and it’s the times that we’re careless about our safety. The National Ag Safety Database says that about 80% of our accidents and fatalities are the result of being careless. About 20% of us will suffer lost-time injuries, and there will be 60 to 70 fatalities per 100,000 farmers and ranchers.
So, it’s February, and Valentine’s week, and I want to remind you that you’re important and I hope you’ll take good care of yourselves. And to help you with that, I’m sharing the list of resources that Drover’s provided to give you places to start.
Being careful with yourself is one of the best ways to show someone you love them.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Here are some articles that provide safety tips and resources for farmers and ranchers: