Tired, stupid, almost dead farmer

FireRadishI was knackered. It’d been a long few days of really physical work and I’d just finished burning a paddock of dead weeds. I was tired, hot, stinky and pushing through a three-day-old crushing headache.

It was almost 8pm and I just wanted to go home. I only needed to ride the quad around the darkened paddock to make sure the fire really was out and safe to leave.


Squinting into the smoke, I darted west across the charred flats. And then, suddenly, a single strand of electric fence wire appeared where no wire had ever been. Until the day before, at least.

Yes, I had rolled out, strained and rammed in the posts for that very same wire just 26 hours earlier. But in my stupor, in autopilot, energy-saving mode, it didn’t exist.

I slammed on the brakes instinctively trying to lean back while hanging onto the handlebars. In slow motion, the wire lifted over the handlebars, twanging savagely against my forearms.

I was 30 or 40 cms – a fraction of a second – from being garotted.

Stunned at my own stupidity, I backed away from the wire and tried feebly to jam the steel post that I’d sent flying a couple of metres back into the ground.

It’s a salutary lesson. Once, I would’ve had contractors in to build that fence instead of wearing myself so thin. Today, the budget simply doesn’t allow for such luxuries. The ripple effect of the dairy crisis shouldn’t be underestimated.

13 thoughts on “Tired, stupid, almost dead farmer

  1. You never said a word about this in our chat last night! Too close by half. What can be done I wonder except to learn a lesson not to do too much when overtired and/or unwell AND THEN to REMEMBER that lesson every day for the rest of your working life.
    I hear of too many close calls on quaddies, and now side-by-sides around here.
    SO glad you have pulled up OK though. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks Kaye, I don’t know. It’s hard when you feel there’s little choice but to keep going. I put this pretty embarrassing story up here because I know others will be in the same situation and as a reminder to take extra care if you’re exhausted.

  2. Have a brother who bears the scars to this day of exactly that sort of accident. Night time, on the bike, going across a paddock towards hoe, regular short cut as he was tired. What he didn’t know was that day had run a wire that afternoon to mark out a new fence line! Luckily his neck was cut on the side away from the artery and he is still very much alive and nearly 50…but he wears collars, high neck jumpers and polos to hide the scars. Glad you are OK.

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