Endless hours outdoors in the heat and dust can wear on farmers and ranchers during their busiest time of year. Follow these tried-and-true tips for thriving during the harvest and putting another safe and healthy season.

1. Don’t skip meals

You might be tempted to skip meals but proper nutrition will help you power through the day and keep your blood sugar stable - a must when operating heavy equipment. Meals also offer a great opportunity to check in with family members. Ask them to bring lunch or dinner to the field and take that time to relax and catch up.

2. Eat healthy snacks

Keep nuts, fruit and other healthy grab-and-go items handy so you can stay fueled during long hours. Eating sugary snacks will lead to an energy plummet after an hour or so, and you will want sustained energy. As a farmer, you’re producing fresh food for others; you deserve the same.

3. Stay hydrated

Keep water with you at all times and take frequent water breaks. Hydration will stave off exhaustion and keep you cool. Sure, you can drink your morning cup of joe and the occasional afternoon soda, but make good old-fashioned water your main choice. If you’re working through hot days, sip an electrolyte drink to stay replenished. 

4. Get enough sleep

You’re busy from sunup to sundown so don’t forget to grab enough shut-eye. Your body needs time to rest overworked muscles, and your mind needs time to recharge. Sleep deprivation can lead to decreased efficiency or even accidents.

5. Take frequent breaks

You’ll need breaks for food and drink, but take time to stretch as well. Stretching periodically can help you avoid aches and pains and even prevent injury. Sitting all day in a combine can wreak havoc on your back muscles, causing stiffness the next day. A short break will re-energize you for another shift.

6. Wear proper protection

Protect yourself with a two-strap disposable lung mask to prevent farmer’s lung or organic dust toxicity syndrome (ODTS). Slather on sunscreen and reapply often to prevent sunburn and skin damage. Make sure your clothing isn’t loose enough to get caught in machinery, and footwear is sturdy enough to protect your feet.  

7. Schedule a checkup

You might be extremely busy in the weeks before harvest, but take time to schedule a checkup with your doctor in order to treat or prevent health issues that could derail the season.

8. Run safety checks

Make sure your equipment is operating at peak efficiency. Take your time and run all proper safety inspections on your equipment before using. Review our farm and ranch safety tips.

9. Check exposed skin

Each night, check your skin for ticks and other bug bites as well as for cuts, scrapes, chafing, rashes, or anything else that could cause problems later on. Clean and treat wounds with antibiotic ointment and moisturize sunburnt or dry skin.

Harvest can be a busy time of year, with long hours and stressful days. Make sure you follow these simple tips to stay in shape for the long haul. Make the most of your hard work throughout the season by protecting what matters most. Contact your Farm Bureau agent to schedule a SuperCheck to ensure you are covered for this year’s harvest and beyond.