While carving out a life on the land sounds appealing to many, farming is often far more difficult than many people are aware of. Think 5am starts, getting urinated on by sheep and cattle daily (and we’re not talking a light golden shower but more of a heavy down pour) and the breeze being your only form of air conditioning and you’re starting to get a picture of the hardships faced by farmers.
Changing demands of the agricultural industry
One of the major difficulties of farming is the changing demands of agricultural consumers and the industry. For example if you’re a sheep farmer reliant on exporting wool sales for the bulk of your income and the price of wool drops internationally, then you will either struggle to stay afloat or have to rely on other ways of making money. Depending on how much money, time and energy is spent on your primary form of income, having alternate ways of making money is not always an option.
Broad range of specialisations required
Being a farmer means you have to wear many hats on a daily basis and have a broad range of specialisations such as veterinarian, mechanic, truck driver, accountant and animal midwife, just to name a few. Having the knowledge and skill-set to be experienced in such a broad range of areas is often not possible, which can result in an expensive process of trial and error. While hiring experts to undertake these tasks or to provide training would save time, this is often not financially viable for farmers.
Poor work life balance
Being a farmer is not a career path that allows you to work 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, instead you generally work 10 to 12 hour days, 7-days-a-week, often missing meal breaks and quality time with loved ones. This lack of work life balance often has a lot of side effects for farmers and their families is very tough and can result in broken homes.
Farming is hard on the body, both mentally and physically. From installing fences through to man handling sheep and cattle, it requires a level of endurance that even a WWF wrestler would struggle to deliver on a good day, let alone a regular basis. This often leads to farmers experiencing health issues.
Dangers of farming
Farming has many hazards that can lead to accidents and even mortalities, if not managed correctly. Some of the many hazards of farmers that can cause farming injuries include:
- Animal injuries: handling animals can lead to injuries such as kicking, trampling, biting, ramming and the transmission of a range of infectious diseases.
- Chemical injuries: regular use of pesticides and herbicides can cause poisoning, burns and various types of respiratory illness.
- Machinery accidents: tractor accidents and motorbike accidents in farming are common and handling chainsaws and augers have also been known to cause injuries.
- Weather hazards: there are numerous side effects from weather hazards experienced in farming such as dehydration, sunburn and heat stroke to hypothermia.
Because farming is hard not only on the body, but also on the mind, it is certainly a difficult career path for those who choose to undertake it.