Whether you’re pruning a perennial crop or changing worn out disc blades on your planter or something in between, now is the time of year when many producers in Oregon agriculture are taking care of the business around preparing for spring and ultimately harvest season.
It’s the time when most growers have more moments and space to breathe than they do during the chaos of bringing in a crop. Now is a time to think, plan, and prepare for the upcoming season or even seasons further out than this year.
All this work obviously looks different for every operation, but many get plenty of shop work done making sure equipment is ready to go and will last for years to come. Plenty will also put pen to paper (or keyboard to computer!) to plan and strategize for a successful year. Others will engage with commissions and associations through annual meetings and get involved in the legislative process as the long session in our state begins.
One more thing we all need to make sure we take care of as we think about how we take care of our businesses? Taking care of ourselves.
This will also look different for every person on every operation. It could be making time to engage in a hobby like hunting or fishing, catching up with old friends, or reading a good book. Maybe it’s a family vacation getting off the farm or ranch. It can also be as simple as a long drive (not checking fields!) or not working quite as long of hours as some things really can wait until tomorrow. There are so many ways we can take care of ourselves and our mental health that will benefit your farming or ranching operation. This all goes for your employees, too!
A healthy work environment contributes to the success and sustainability of farming and ranching operations. Healthy, in this case, can mean taking care of ourselves through physical safety and wellness but also from a mental health standpoint. Jobs in the natural resource industry like farming, ranching, fishing, logging, and trucking are some of the most dangerous in the country and they also experience higher than average rates of suicide.
If you’re looking for resources for yourself or to share with your employees, OSU Extension just launched its Farmer and Rancher Stress Assistance Network project.
FRSAN is part of a national program by USDA with a goal to connect individuals who are engaged in farming, ranching, and other agriculture-related occupations to stress assistance programs. Check out extension.oregonstate.edu and search “stress assistance” to find more information.
Ever since I started working for Aglink more than seven years ago, I have signed my emails with the words ‘take care.’ It expresses a hope I have for anyone I interact with and a reminder to myself every time I type it. Take care of yourself and you can take care of others. The investment you make in yourself is the most important, and for many the most difficult, but the most rewarding, too.
We’ll have a panel discussion on mental health on the farm as part of our Annual Membership meeting on February 18th and I hope you’ll join us.
Oregon Aglink Executive Director