Big girl’s toy (my Big Rig)

UTV towing tandem trailer

Well, it’s not just a toy

This is a seriously fun way to get the farm work done. And, now, in relative comfort thanks to the posh roof and screen that came with my new beast on Friday.

WorkSafe and a consortium of others have been running a big campaign to move farmers from quads to UTVs like our Bobcat and, yes, they’re great. You can get the family (parent, two kids and dogs, at least) around the farm safely with a whopping toolbox and all the bits and pieces you need to tackle maintenance chores or major emergencies. It also has the grunt to carry about half a tonne in the box and tow another half tonne behind.

But there are limitations and we won’t be selling our two quads any time soon. Although difficult to bog, these machines do not float on excessively soft pastures, nor do they have the tight cornering needed to thread a wily heifer through a gate.

A UTV like this is a fantastic piece of farm transport that sits somewhere between a quad, a tractor and a ute. Just try taking mine away from me!

Early to rise in the freedom (and safety) machine

The UTV is safe and comfortable farm transport

The UTV is safe and comfortable farm transport

It’s been a race against time all day. Zoe and I got out of bed extra early this morning to see if we could remove fallen timber before the big set of discs arrived to make another pass of paddock B9.

By 7am we were out in the crisp autumn air tossing logs and branches into the Bobcat that I hadn’t been able to pick up with the tractor the evening before. I must admit to loving this little machine. It’s gutsy, is easy to get into and off, takes me all over the farm with all the tools I need and, most importantly, Zoe and I can ride together in comfort and safety. When Unicorn (Zoe’s nickname for our baby due in 3 weeks) arrives, it will be possible to fit all three of us on.

Safe transport is a big issue on Australian farms. Quad bikes have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Too many have rolled, killing their riders. We’re all too aware of this and although our farm is flat to gently undulating, we make sure our quads are as safe as possible by making sure they’re properly maintained. Anyone riding a quad on our farm first undergoes a thorough induction and must observe on-farm speed limits and a strict policy of wearing helmets.

We’ve also invested in a man-down alarm, which sends a text and voice call to our phones if the wearer has been immobile at the wrong angle for too long.

Our safety systems are not perfect but we’re working on them – controlling the most serious risks first – and quad bike use is right up there.