Over my last two years as a ranch wife, and working with cattle as much as possible, I’ve learned a very valuable lesson about a particular personality trait that farmers absolutely cannot afford to possess.
Unfortunately for me, like most lessons I learn on the farm, I had to learn the hard way. It was during processing this last spring; my job was to bring calves up from the holding tub, through the chute, and into the tipping table to be treated.
There were about 10 calves in the tub at the time, and I had my sights set on the biggest calf there. I put one arm by his neck, the other arm on his butt, and my dominant leg behind his front legs so he couldn’t back up. I wrestled with the calve to get him into the chute for a few seconds, but I knew that he was simply too big for me to handle.
I nearly gave up to pick another calf, when I noticed that someone was watching me. It was that very moment I learned that pride is a very dangerous trait to have when working with cattle.
My competitive personality took over and I decided that no one was going to see that I wasn’t strong enough to be bringing the calves up. I fought with the calf that probably weighed as much as I do for about a minute when all of the sudden the calf kicked his hind leg forward and caught the back of my dominant leg that was under his belly.
His sharp hoof cut through my jeans and cut my leg. The pain was enough to cause me to give up and let the calf go.
My pride was hurt, and it was my pride that caused me to be physically hurt. I traded the large calf for a smaller one, and once I had the little one through the chute I went to tend to my injury.
That experience taught me that pride is one of the most dangerous traits to have on the farm. Pride causes us to take risks that we simply should not take.
On a farm where risks are all around us, whether it be with large animals, or with large equipment, we cannot afford to let our judgement be clouded by pride. By doing so, we run the risk of not only hurting ourselves, but we run the risk of hurting someone else.
As a female in the industry (and a naturally competitive person) I believe I put myself in unnecessary dangerous situations just to prove to those around me that I am capable.
However, both men and women are equally guilty of pride on the farm.
Whether it’s a woman trying to prove she can be “one of the boys”, or a man attempting to keep his tough persona, both genders take risks that are not worth taking.
In actuality, accidents and injury as a result of pride can be avoided completely by simply being humble enough to ask for help.
Farm safety requires all members of the team to both be willing to ask for help, and willing to help when asked.
Though I am thankful my injury was minor, I will always be left with the scar that reminds me everyday that my pride will only lead to pain.
And I hope as time goes on, that I will never forget that a humble farmer is a healthy one.