Friday On The Farm ~ 8/27/2021

“Find the off switch”

August is our slowest month on the farm. Crop management has just about wrapped up. We do some crop scouting in the morning and some maintenance to start preparing for harvest but in all its our time to try and relax. That said, we still have 3 houses of broiler chickens, plenty of office work to catch up on, and are prone to finding projects to do. Slowing down isn’t our strong suit.

As you may know, my wife Emily and I had a baby boy in March. It has been a wonderful adventure thus far as we adjust to being parents. The biggest adjustment I’ve had is spending time away from work. 50+ hour work weeks in August during our “slow season” are normal. Over the last month I’ve made a pointed effort to “find the off switch”. This is the phrase I’m using to force myself to spend time away from the consuming grind on the farm and spend time with my family. I think this is a particularly important mindset for people who work in agriculture.

When someone makes a decision to work in Ag you don’t choose a job, you choose a lifestyle. Hours don’t matter when the chickens need fed, cows need milk, and corn needs picked. Typically on many family farms we’re able to see our significant others frequently as we buzz in and out doing our daily task but do we actually see them and take the time to care for those relationships? I know at times I struggle with that.

Agriculture is a hard industry on both the body and mind. In 2019 cnbc rated Agriculture as the 7th most dangerous industry with 24.7 fatal injuries per full-time equivalent 100,000 workers. The total fatal injuries in Ag in 2019 was 257. Agriculture also has an alarmingly high suicide rate. The most recent suicide data available collected by the CDC in 2012 shows that suicide rates for workers in the farming, fishing, and forestry industries have risen to 90.5 per 100,000. Researchers at the University of Iowa found that farmers, and others in the agricultural trade, had the highest suicide rate of all occupations from 1992 to 2010. The rate was 3.5 times that of the general population.

Why do I bring those to sad and somber factoids up? It goes back to finding the off switch and staying grounded in knowing why it is we do what we do. For many, farming is a legacy passed down through generations. Part of the reason we stress so hard is because of wanting to uphold that legacy and leave it better for the next generation.

There is a lesson in this for everyone no matter the industry. Find ways to carve out special time for your family. Make them your first priority. Your job could disappear tomorrow yet your kids will still want and need the same love and affection no matter what’s wrong. Make them #1.

I hope there was something you could take away from this and think about for your own life. I’ll be honest: I wrote this for me. To remind myself that sometimes it’s best to spend Friday off the Farm.

Written by: Douglas Benjamin Lapp, RULE XVIII. Doug lives in Chester County and works on his families farm. Doug is active within the Chester/Delaware County Farm Bureau as well as the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.



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PSU RULE ~ Ag Division

PSU RULE ~ Ag Division


A collection of PSU Rural Urban Leadership (RULE) Scholars going in depth about modern agriculture. RULE is the premier leadership program in Pennsylvania